If you are a first-time visitor to Hershey it’s my guess you are probably making the trip in order to experience the town’s one-of-a-kind connection to chocolate. There are tons of fascinating things to do in the Harrisburg and Hershey area, but if it is your first time in the area the chocolate attractions are the way to go.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
The Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction gives you a pretty good idea of what the Hershey of today is all about. It’s a great way to get a good lay of the land when it comes to the theme parks, chocolate making process, history of Hershey chocolate, and of course, it has an enormous gift shop.
When you arrive at Chocolate World, you have the option of purchasing packages of tickets for different themed activities appropriate for the whole family. It is recommended that you purchase the tickets ahead of time as day-of availability may be limited. If you purchase the tickets ahead of time, you just trade the ticket in that day for a timed ticket the day you attend the activity.
The four activities that require tickets are the 4D Chocolate Movie, Hershey Trolley Works, Create Your Own Candy Bar (one of our favorites!), and the Hershey Unwrapped Chocolate Tasting Experience. The Hershey’s Chocolate Tour ride is free and does not require a ticket.
This attraction would be ideal for a first day activity when you arrive in Hershey as it doesn’t take all day and it’s a perfect way to prepare for the fun that is in store the next day.
If you are a first-time visitor to Hershey, you are probably planning to go to Hershey Park. This park is probably unarguably one of the largest amusement parks in Pennsylvania. I highly recommend getting the lay of the land beforehand because otherwise the park can be a little overwhelming.
Download the app because not only will it give you a park map, but it will also show you ride wait times and places to eat. Knowing the wait times is particularly useful for the bigger rides as well as the rollercoasters.
Speaking of rollercoasters, this is absolutely a rollercoaster park. With a variety of steel and wooden coasters a coaster fan such as myself could plan to spend the entire day just with the coasters. As a bonus, the park is planning on unveiling a new coaster in 2020 which will become the state’s new tallest coaster (sorry Steel Curtain, it was fun while it lasted!).
If you are going to the park, plan on spending the entire day there because there really is that much to see and do.
As far as what to expect, Hershey Park isn’t your small, local amusement park. If you have ever been to Disney World, the Hershey experience is similar in regard to lines, parking, and process. (A good tip is to take a picture of the row that you park in using your phone, so you know where to have the trolley drop you back off at the end of the day!)
Let’s be honest, without Milton S. Hershey none of the other attractions or even Hershey chocolate would exist. His rags to riches story and philosophy of giving back lend itself perfectly to the creation of a museum dedicated solely to the story of the chocolate’s founder.
The Hershey Story museum highlights Milton’s early life and his early entrepreneurial efforts as well as his failed businesses before founding Hershey Chocolates. The museum also examines the history of the factory, the Hershey product, and the town surrounding the factory. Plus, it explores his personal life and philanthropic activities.
As a part of the Hershey Story there is also an opportunity to visit the Chocolate Lab in order to make your own chocolate. Additionally, you can do a chocolate flight and taste chocolate from around the world.
There are some activities directly related to Hershey and Milton S. Hershey that actually have very little to do with chocolate. One of these is the Hershey Gardens and Arboretum.
Located on a hill above Hershey Park and within walking distance from the Hershey Hotel, the gardens are home to thousands of beautiful flowers. Outside there are six themed gardens surrounding a pond. My personal favorite was the rose garden. In fact, I loved their roses so much that I bought one to take home for my own garden.
Additionally, there is a children’s garden which has some cute interactive exhibits for the garden’s youngest visitors, including spraying Hershey Kiss sculptures! While all of these things were beautiful, the real showstopper at Hershey Gardens is the Butterfly Atrium.
The Butterfly Atrium opened in 2016 and features hundreds of various species of butterflies which are free flying throughout the atrium.
After entering the atrium, you can take your time on the atrium’s path viewing, observing, and taking pictures of the butterflies. There are also benches to sit and meditate on the peacefulness of the space.
There is also a window through which you can see the butterflies coming out of the chrysalis. Once the butterfly is born, it is then released into the room.
There are so many things to check out in Hershey and Harrisburg, but if you are planning to check out the attractions inspired by Milton S. Hershey then these four are must-sees. To find out more about planning a trip to visit the Harrisburg and Hershey area, visit VisitHersheyHarrisburg.org.
Note: This was a hosted trip, however, all thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.