Hersheypark is part of Hershey, PA, a year-round destination in central Pennsylvania, close to Amish country. Hershey PA is three hours from NYC, two hours from Philadelphia, two hours from Washington/Baltimore, and 15 minutes from an international airport at Harrisburg.
What's in "Chocolate Town USA" for families?
- Hersheypark - voted top amusement park by FamilyFun Magazine; see more, below
- ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, a modest-sized walk-through zoo
- the Dutch Wonderland family amusement park geared to younger kids, 30 minutes away in Pennsylvania Dutch country
- The Hotel Hershey- a grand old hotel, with kids' club and spa with chocolate treatments (and a major expansion in 2009)
- Hershey Lodge and Convention Center- welcomes families
- Hershey's Chocolate World: visitors' center with fun free "Factory Tour", and FactoryWorks where kids package their own Hershey Kisses; also (paid admission) the Really Big 3-D Show, by same creators as It's A Bug's Life at Disney World, and trolley tour with a singing conductor.
- The Hershey Story: interactive museum tells Milton Hershey's story (which is an interesting one) and has fun classes in a "Chocolate Lab".
Hersheypark is the best known attraction, and was built by chocolate entrepreneur Milton S. Hershey in 1907 as a place where his employees could enjoy a Sunday afternoon. Hersheypark is now a major theme park on 110 acres, with sixty rides including some wicked coasters; there are water rides, family rides, kiddie rides, live concerts and shows. (Click to see some coaster photos.)
Hersheypark is basically a summer-month theme park, but it's also open quite a few days in May, and some days in September as well, plus there's a special preview "Springtime in the Park" on several weekends n April. During October and December, Hersheypark re-opens for seasonal fun.
October is the month for the Halloween-themed Hersheypark in the Dark, and in December the park turns into Christmas Candylane. The Holiday Season brings other festivities too: Hershey Lodge has Breakfast with Santa, and a live musical holiday show; both Hershey Lodge and The Hotel Hershey have special packages and family activities; nearby "Sweet Lights" is a two-mile drive through the woods past a million sparkling lights. Dutch Wonderland celebrates too.
- Read about Christmas at Hershey
Hersheypark celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2007 by opening a major new area. The Boardwalk --built in the style of classic seaside boardwalks-- has water-play attractions, including xtreme slides, a tot zone, a wave pool, surfing, a giant water-play structure, and the Intercoastal Waterway "lazy river" float. All the waterpark fun at The Boardwalk is included in admission to Hersheypark.
The The Hotel Hershey was built in the 1930's, high on a hill overlooking the town, amid 300 acres of formal gardens with fountains, pools. The Hotel Hershey almost always offers a seasonal package that includes admission to Hershey attractions. The Hotel Hershey has a Cocoa Kids club.
The Hershey Lodge and Convention Center is a sprawling and very family-friendly place, with a big welcoming lobby that features a 4-sided stone fireplace. The Lodge has indoor and outdoor pools, family activities, and encounters with Hershey product's characters.
Naturally, at both properties the chocolate theme dominates: expect chocolate bars at checkin, that type of thing. Kids stay free in the same room as paying adults. Guests can also buy an "Sweet Access" pass for Hersheypark, including tour, front-of-the-line rides, and more.
Hershey Highmeadow Campground is another option for families, open year-round with over 55 acres where guests can rent log cabins or stay in their tents or RV's. In summer, kids can enjoy swimming pools, basketball and volleyball courts, and some special activities. Extra perks include: preferred pricing for Breakfast at the Park and admission tix, "Hersheypark Sweet Start" early access to certain rides and attractions, and a free seasonal shuttle service to Hersheypark.
Hershey PA also has other lodgings choices such as Best Western, Days-Inn, etc.
- See photos of The Hotel Hershey, Christmas at Hershey, and Hersheypark.
- Check for packages throughout the year.
- The Hershey PA site covers the town, Hersheypark, other attractions, spa, golf, and dining.
- Check prices for The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge
*Always check destination web sites for updates!