Go

4 Tips For a Family Weekend in Hershey


Read about Visiting Hershey at the Holidays, too.

We went to Hershey, PA last summer on a whim. We had no weekend plans, it’s a reasonable drive from New York City, and my husband and I both had childhood memories of the place that made us curious about it.

We had a good time, but there are a few things we would have done better (like not saved our sojourn into Pennsylvania Dutch Country for Sunday when things are closed).

Here’s what we liked about our weekend and what we’d do differently.

Play in Hershey

make your own chocolate bar at HersheyI loved Chocolate World. It’s expensive, but fun. The highlight for us was making our own chocolate bars. Using touch-screens, TT and I chose the kind of chocolate we wanted and selected fillings. Then we followed our bars as they progressed along a mini assembly line. While the chocolate cooled, we each designed a box for our treat.

We also liked the ride through a pseudo Hershey’s factory where cows sing and you learn how Kisses are made. A trolley tour mixes group singing with actors telling story of the town and it’s namesake Milton Hershey. I really enjoyed learning about Milton and his many failures and innovations. But TT was only interested in the free candy they gave out and Rich rolled his eyes often at the singing and hammed-up acting.

Hershey Park is probably a great deal if you have kids who want to ride its 11 roller coasters or if you need to entertain both older and younger kids. With only a small child we didn’t think it was worth the $153 in entrance fees. The few rides that would entertain us without scaring the heck out of our child had very long lines. We spent most of the day watching her go on kiddie rides alone or squeezing into too-small rides alongside her.

Lancaster is an easy side trip from HersheyNext time, we’ll try Dutch Wonderland, which local families have told us is better with small kids. And at $108 for three of us, it’s a little easier on the wallet.

We’ll also spend more time in Pennsylvania Dutch country and will certainly head to the Lancaster Central Market for seasonal produce and local specialties like fresh horseradish, egg noodles and pickled vegetables. We’d also consider a ride on a restored steam train in Strasburg, especially with young Thomas fans.

Eat in Hershey

Troegs is a family friendly grown-up spot in HersheyRich and I were thrilled to discover that microbrewer Troegs has a reasonably kid friendly taproom just down the street from the Hershey Park. The very good beer was a welcome change from the morning’s chocolate binge. The menu has more than first meets the eye. And the food is nicely done, often featuring local ingredients. Rich and I shared spicy tortilla soup and a charcuterie plate while TT chomped on chicken saté.

For dinner one night we managed to wangle a table The Chocolate Avenue Grill (not easy to do). The cocktail menu was fun and familiar sandwiches and entrees all had enough of a twist to make them interesting. The kids’ menu had steak, salmon, shrimp and coconut-crusted chicken as well as the usual pasta. The Luna Grill is a Mexican restaurant further from town center that seems to be owned by the same people. We didn’t get to try it, but based on our experience on Chocolate Avenue, I certainly would.

The one thing we did manage to do as we drove home through Amish country was eat lunch. We sampled local specialties like chicken and waffles, baked cabbage and buttered noodles along with several kinds of pie at Miller’s Smorgasboard. Afterward, we stopped at the nearby Dutch Haven to bring home a gooey but good shoo-fly pie.

stay on a Lancaster farm when you visit HersheyStay In or Near Hershey

Instead of staying in Hershey we would probably look for a farm stay in Lancaster county that would give us a taste of local life and a chance to breathe some country air.

If you do want to stay close to Hershey you have your pick of budget-friendly chain hotels nearby. We stayed at a Comfort Inn, where the indoor pool was handy on a rainy morning and the free breakfast was fine if not stellar.

If your budget is very deep, try the elegant but pricey Hershey Lodge or even pricier Hotel Hershey.

Sidetrips From Hershey

The road from New York City to Hershey passes through Easton, PA, home of the Crayola Experience, which is reopening on Memorial Day weekend after a major renovation. It promises games and interactive activities (probably arts & crafts). Plus, you get to learn how crayons are made. It seems like a good way break from driving if you need it.

Gettysburg mixes history and fun on a trip to HersheyIf your kids are the right age to be learning American history, a sidetrip to Gettysburg is essential. National Parks Service rangers who work at historic sites know their local history. They excel at engaging kids and adults in the stories of the place you are visiting.

With all these great things to do, you might just see us there this summer, for our Hershey-Lancaster-vacation do-over.




Previous post

5 Kyoto Activities Kids Will Love

Next post

Sidney: Vancouver's Top Family Travel Secret

8 Comments

  1. Karen Schofield-Leca
    February 8, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Dutch Wonderland is great for younger kids, probably best for up to age 8. It’s got some charming “old fashioned” storybook features alongside rides plus a coaster or two. The park’s scale is very walkable. And they have a water park section with play areas for little ones and a very cool water slide good even for grownups. Definitely worth a visit.

    • February 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      Thanks for that feedback. It seems like a great destination for small kids.

  2. EverywhereAmy
    April 13, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    I was wondering about making this trip. Thank you very much for your information on what you would have done differently!

  3. Mary {The World Is A Book}
    April 13, 2013 at 1:31 am

    As chocolate lovers, we have always wanted to spend some time at Hershey Park and Chocolate World. It’s great to know that there are so many other attractions around the area. Crayola Experience and Dutch Wonderland sound fun and worthy visits. Throw in the farm stay and this would make for an original and unforgettable trip. Thanks for this and moving this part of PA up the travel bucket list.

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    April 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    We haven’t been to the Hershey Factory since my teen was just shy of 2 years old. It sounds like the customized chocolate bar is new since then. I would have definitely done it if they had it back then.

  5. Lucia
    April 12, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Great post. We are heading to Lancaster for the first time in June. Bookmarking this to help with planning our trip. Thank you!

  6. April 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    I remember going to the Hershey factory when I was a child but haven’t been able to make it there with my children yet even though PA is a short drive from where we live.

    Thanks for the suggestions on other things to see (Dutch Wonderland and Crayola Experience). Now to convince my husband a road trip to PA this Fall would be worth it…. 🙂

  7. InsideJourneys
    April 11, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    A couple of my friends have taken their kids to Hershey.
    It’s a great place for chocolate lovers.