Most summertime visitors to Hershey have one destination in mind: Hersheypark. But there's so much more to Hershey than the amusement park! Here are some tips for making the most of your visit to our community, with a few tips for accommodations, dining and other attractions. To get the latest news and event information about Hershey, follow us on Facebook.
In addition to operating Hersheypark, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts runs the luxurious Hotel Hershey and the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center.
If you want to be pampered on vacation, the Hotel Hershey is the obvious choice. With its acclaimed Chocolate Spa and a recent $75 million dollar expansion (featuring new cottage-style accommodations and a brand-new outdoor pool), the hotel is a destination itself. Room rates during the summer start at $400, but there are often special packages offered and the room rate includes a number of perks, including complimentary admission to the Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story museum, local shuttle service, access to golf and kids’ activities and more.
The Hershey Lodge offers family rooms starting at $300 in summer, with many of the same perks as the Hotel Hershey, in a slightly less luxurious setting. Hershey bar characters roam the lobby and family-friendly activities abound.
There are plenty of alternative accommodations in the Hershey area, including many newer suite hotels. We like the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott, just a few miles north of Hersheypark on Route 39. Within a half-mile, you’ll also find a Quality Inn & Suites and a Country Inn & Suites. A Hampton Inn & Suites is located on East Chocolate Avenue, and another suite hotel is planned for the downtown.
If you’re not planning to bring the kids, there are some impressive bed & breakfast accommodations in the surrounding area as well. The Annville Inn and The Inn at Westwynd Farm come highly recommended.
Hersheypark Tickets and the Free Preview Evening
If you plan on spending more than two days at Hersheypark, consider a season pass. It will pay for itself —not only does it cover your admission to the park, it also gives you free parking, a 15% discount off food and merchandise in the park and a coupon book with excellent deals (10% off purchases at Hershey’s Chocolate World, for example). If your time is more limited and you've purchased one-day tickets, make sure you get to Hersheypark for the Free Preview Evening : the evening before your full day at the park, you can get in a couple hours before closing for free, and it's well worth the trip. Crowds are lighter, and you have the chance to get a feel for the layout of the park.
Making the Most of Your Day at Hersheypark
If you plan to try the waterpark attractions in the new Boardwalk theme area, a good advice is to wear your swimwear under your clothes and be at the main gate right at opening time (10 a.m.) Then get to the Boardwalk (on the far end of the park, in the shadow of the Ferris Wheel) as fast as you can and send one person to get a big locker there—they go quickly, and they're essential if you want to stow your swimming suits and enjoy the rest of the park after the Boardwalk. Another person should go to the wave pool area and claim lounge chairs for the family—lounge chairs are very hard to come by after 10:30.
Now you can enjoy the park!
If you like big water rides, do the Vortex and the Whirlwind at the Boardwalk first to avoid hour+ waits later in the day. Then enjoy East Coast Waterworks. The wave pool, where your lounge chairs are located, is a fairly central location and a good place to relax with a drink and a snack mid-morning.
By noon, the Boardwalk is elbow-to-elbow people and the rides have long waits. That's a great time to change, stow your swimsuits in your locker and head out to see the rest of the park. The rides around Midway America (just outside The Boardwalk) should have short lines just after noon. If you're getting hungry, a great recommendation is the Sidewinder food court area. There are several good food stands there—a favorite is Mixed Grille, where you can actually find healthy food, and it's made from scratch. But there's a good burger stand, a sausage concession, a smoothie place and an ice cream place there, as well as a Subway, and it's a nice shaded area that tends to stay quiet.
Another tip: Take a break in the heat of the afternoon and head to the adjacent (and air-conditioned) Hershey's Chocolate World. It's just outside the main gate of Hersheypark, but it's easy to get a handstamp for a quick return to the rides. Chocolate World has recently reconfigured almost everything in the building—there’s the chocolate tour ride, a revamped merchandise area, a fairly good 3-D show, a chocolate-tasting experience, the "Factory Works" (kids get to "work" on a Kiss assembly line) and a Create Your Own Chocolate Bar attraction. It's worth spending at least an hour or two here. The milkshakes in the food court area are excellent and there are often new products and other surprises to be found around the central garden area.
Once you've returned to the park, don't forget to take in the shows. It's a nice break from the crowds and the entertainment value is excellent, whether you choose the aquatheater or one of the music/dance productions.
But Wait, There's More...Now How Much Would You Pay?
If you're in Hershey for more than a day and you want to see some other attractions, there are countless options nearby:
- Take a trip on the Hershey Trolley Works (tickets and departures from Chocolate World);
- Have lunch on the veranda or afour-star dining experience at the Hotel Hershey;
- Take a stroll through the Hershey Gardens (don't miss the Children's Garden and the Butterfly House);
- Play a round of golf at one of the courses in the Hershey Golf Collection;
- Take in The Hershey Story Museum downtown and by all means, schedule a class at the museum’s Chocolate Lab;
- Catch a performance or take a Spotlight Tour of the Hershey Theatre, offered Friday mornings year ‘round;
- See the animals at Hershey's ZooAmerica, a small zoo that's perfect for kids or a two-hour stroll;
- Stop by Founders Hall at the Milton S. Hershey school, gaze at the dome and find out what made Mr. and Mrs. Hershey so amazing;
- Go back in time and see more than 100 historic cars, buses and motorcycles at the AACA Museum;
- Visit Adventure Sports on Route 743S (batting cages, mini sports cars and boats, miniature golf and an arcade);
- Cool down at Indian Echo Caverns, just a few minutes west of Hershey;
Stop by one of the many great downtown restaurants (we love Bricker's Pizza on West Chocolate Avenue for an Old World Pizza);
- Don't miss the Kiss-shaped streetlights while you're downtown, and by all means, drive past the factory on East Chocolate Avenue to see the Hershey Cocoa hedges on the east side;
- Visit the impressive Pennsylvania State Capitol building, located just 10 miles west of Hershey ;
- Take in all the sights (and tastes!) of Pennsylvania Amish Country, located less than an hour’s drive from Hershey.