Hershey, Pennsylvania is one of those places that reminds me of childhood every time I get close. Now that I live a little further away, it’s quickly become one of my favorite weekend trips from Pittsburgh. The chocolate smell as you drive into Hershey isn’t quite as strong, but the Hershey’s Kisses lining Chocolate Avenue bring back the excitement of going to Hersheypark every time. While the main draw for a weekend in Hershey, PA with kids is almost always Hersheypark, Chocolate Town USA offers so much more.
Our guide to a weekend in Hershey includes the amazing Hersheypark, plus other fun things to do around Hersheypark. From the Hershey Gardens to ZooAmerica and the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Hershey, PA. And if you’re looking to fill your weekend with even more chocolate, Chocolate World and The Hershey Story both offer experiences to cure any sweet tooth.
Keep reading for our family-friendly guide to the sweetest weekend getaway in Hershey!
Sponsored Post: We were hosted at Hershey by Visit Hershey Harrisburg. As always, all opinions are our own.
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Itinerary for a Long Weekend in Hershey, PA with Kids
We arrived in Hershey from Pittsburgh late on a Thursday night so we could start our day on Friday early to explore. Below is our itinerary for a 3-day weekend in Hershey.
Traveling with a 2 year old always means leaving time for naps. So if your kids are older, you may have a little more time for all the fun things to do in Hershey, PA. We still were able to fit a lot into one weekend, though!
- Day 1 in Hershey
- Breakfast at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hershey
- Hershey Gardens
- Lunch at the Chocolate Grill
- Hershey Story: Chocolate Lab, Chocolate Tasting & Museum Experience
- Dinner at What If Hershey, PA
- Day 2 in Hershey
- Breakfast at the Fairfield Inn & Suites
- Dinner at Philip Arthur’s Cafe and walk around Chocolate Ave
- Day 3 in Hershey
- Breakfast at The Pantry Cafe
- Hershey’s Chocolate World
- AACA Museum
- Leave Hershey
Where to Stay in Hershey, PA with Kids
There are so many great Hershey, PA hotels that it can be hard to know where to start in your search for the perfect hotel. We prefer budget-friendly rooms with suites when traveling with our son, especially if it’s more than one night. The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Hershey was exactly what we were looking for. The location on Chocolate Avenue perfect for visiting Hersheypark and other things to do in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It’s also walking distance to several shops and restaurants on Chocolate Avenue.
We stayed in a 2-Queen room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on both recent trips to Hershey, PA. There’s a spacious living area in the back with a full couch, desk and TV. The bedroom isn’t completely closed off from the living area, but it does have a half wall. The room has an additional TV in the bedroom area and a mini-fridge and microwave as well. I also love that the bathrooms at the Fairfield Inn have a bathtub, making bedtime with a toddler much easier.
Looking for Hershey, PA hotels with indoor pool? The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hershey has both an indoor pool and a fitness center. Plus the free hot breakfast offers a variety of hot and cold options, including eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and make your own waffles.
For rates and booking information, go here.
- Address: 651 W Areba Ave, Hershey, PA
- Website: Fairfield Inn & Suites Hershey Chocolate Avenue
Getting to and Around Hershey, PA
Hershey is located in Central Pennsylvania with easy access to many major cities. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway from Pittsburgh, Hershey is about a 3 1/2 hour drive. Hershey is also under 2 hours from Philadelphia and Baltimore, making it a great weekend trip (or longer) from these two areas as well. If you’re flying and looking for airports near Hershey, PA, each of the major cities have international airports. The nearby Harrisburg and Lancaster also offer smaller airports close to Hershey, PA as well.
If you want to access Hershey via train or bus, Harrisburg has both an Amtrak station and Greyhound bus station about 15 miles from Hershey. You can then connect via the Capital Area Transit system, which offers transportation between Hershey and Harrisburg.
I definitely recommended for getting around Hershey, PA. If you prefer public transportation, there’s also a bus system throughout Derry Township. Uber is also popular in Hershey and readily available as well.
The Best Things to Do in Hershey with Kids
There are so many fun things to do in Hershey with kids that it’s impossible to all squeeze it into one weekend. Whether you’re just visiting Hersheypark or looking for ideas of what to do in Hershey, PA besides Hershey Park, we have you covered!
If you’re looking for more fun things to do in Hershey, PA this weekend or in the future, be sure to check the Hershey events calendar as well.
With the awesome rides, family atmosphere and chocolate every where you look, it’s no surprise why Hersheypark is the biggest draw to the area. Hersheypark was originally built in 1907 by Milton Hershey, who wanted something fun for his employees to do. Since then, it’s evolved with newer and better rides each year.
Hersheypark now boasts 15 rollercoasters, with a new rollercoaster, Candymonium, added in 2020. While you’re at Hersheypark, don’t miss the new Chocolatetown section and entrance to the park. It includes great restaurants like Chocolatier plus Milton’s Ice Cream Parlour and The Sweeterie for sweet treats all day long. Chocolatetown also includes specialty gift shops, the relocated Hersheypark carousel and other fun things to solidify Hershey’s spot as the chocolate capital of the USA.
The Rides at Hersheypark
From Kiddie Rides and carousels to bumper cards and swings, Hersheypark has a wide variety of rides for kids of all ages. One thing I love about Hersheypark is the mix of old and new. Some rides date back to the early 1900s. Other rides, like the Reese’s Cupfusion and Hershey’s Triple Tower, were just added in recent years. The Kissing Tower is also great for views of the Park. It’s one of the first rides I remember going on at Hershey as a little girl.
Hersheypark also offers Chick-fil-A, Moe’s Southwest Grill and several other casual dining options for families.
The Boardwalk at Hersheypark
This Hershey, PA water park is located within Hersheypark and is aptly named The Boardwalk. It has completely evolved since the handful of water slides I remember a child. It now includes several waterslides, a large wave pool, a lazy river and more.
Although The Boardwalk is essentially a separate waterpark, it’s still included with your Hersheypark ticket.
Visiting Hersheypark with a Toddler?
There are several rides for toddlers at Hersheypark, especially at the kiddie area near the entrance. Below are a few things to keep in mind if you’re visiting Hersheypark with a baby or toddler.
- Children under 3 get in FREE at Hersheypark and children 3-8 receive discounted admission.
- Hersheypark uses a candy bar themed height system. Be sure to measure your child at the entrance to the park to confirm their height. For the youngest kids, there are about 25 rides a child under 36″ can do (either with or without an adult.)
- Hersheypark has restrictions on outside food and drink, but you can bring water bottles and snacks without issues.
Tip: If you’re staying at a Hershey property like the Hershey Lodge or Hotel, you also have access to free extra hours at Hersheypark.
- Address: 100 W. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.hersheypark.com
The Zoo at Hersheypark was first created in 1910 as a way for Milton Hershey to keep a few animals he aquired. It’s a great little zoo that’s easy to get around, even if you’re limited on time. ZooAmerica is unique from other zoos, in that it only houses North American animals. The animals at ZooAmerica include a variety of cat species, birds, alligators, bears and deer, to name a few.
ZooAmerica is included as part of your Hersheypark ticket. You can also visit it separately without going to Hersheypark, which we did on our last trip to Hershey.
- Address: 201 Park Avenue Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.zooamerica.com
After previously driving by the Hershey Gardens on our way to the Hershey, PA Spa for a girls weekend, I was so excited to check out the gardens in the warmer weather. It’s amazing how large the Hershey Gardens are, with 23-acres of beautiful and diverse gardens and greenery. From an arboretum to themed gardens including a rock garden, an herb garden, and a Japanese garden, there’s something different around each corner.
One of the highlights of the Hershey Gardens is the Butterfly Atrium. It’s open all year round and jam packed with a diverse assortment of butterflies. While we’ve visited several butterfly gardens in the US before, the Hershey Gardens had more butterflies than I’ve ever seen in one place.
If you’re visiting Hershey Gardens with kids, there’s also an amazing Children’s Garden that’s unlike any I’ve seen. After following the caterpillar path, you’re greeted with Hershey kisses that mist water in the warmer months. From a pretzel maze to a hidden picnic area to a Native American garden, there are so many things for kids to discover throughout the garden. My son could have stayed there for hours just wandering around and exploring the interactive features of the Children’s Garden.
In addition to the awesome children’s garden, there are several family-friendly activities throughout the year.
- Address: 170 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.hersheygardens.org
The Hershey Story Museum on Chocolate Avenue
Are you looking to learn more about the history of Hershey’s and chocolate in a fun and interactive way? Then the Hershey Story is perfect for you. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I learned in just one afternoon.
The Chocolate Lab
I highly recommend starting your visit with the Chocolate Lab experience. Chocolate Lab is a hands-on lab that where you can make your own chocolate bar and learn everything about chocolate from its Mayan origin.
A lot of the focus at Chocolate Lab is the impact geography has on taste, cost an other factors related to chocolate. In addition, they also teach you the process of making chocolate, starting from the time the cocoa beans are harvested from cacao fruit. (I had no idea before this experience that chocolate came from a fruit!)
Children must be 5 years old to do the Chocolate Lab, so I visited this Hershey attraction without my 2-year old. If you’re visiting The Hershey Story with kids, there are a number of kid-focused activities that can be found here.
Chocolate Tastings at Hershey Story
After the Chocolate Lab, I embarked on the Around the World Chocolate Tastings at The Hershey Story. The flight of six chocolates encourages you to taste the difference between chocolate depending on it’s origin. I started from dark chocolate to the lightest milk chocolate. As a dark chocolate lover, the 70% cacao from the Dominican Republic was definitely my favorite. There’s also a special chocolate tasting for children, so be sure to check it out on your next visit to Hershey, PA with kids.
The staff at both the chocolate tasting and lab were also super friendly and knowledgeable about all things chocolate. I highly recommend both experiences as an add-on to your Hershey Story experience.
Note: Be sure to check the Hershey Story’s daily calendar before planning your day at the The Hershey Story. Hours vary daily for both the Chocolate Lab and Chocolate Tasting.
Museum Experience at The Hershey Story
Last (but certainly not least) I had a chance to check out the museum experience, which is the main attraction at The Hershey Story. The museum at The Hershey Story is filled with artifacts and an interactive timeline on Milton Hershey’s life. As part of that, it contains so many interesting facts about both the creation of Hershey’s chocolate and the town. I love how inspirational Mr. Hershey is and how the entire museum aims to inspire others by telling his story.
On your way out, be sure to catch the special exhibit at The Hershey Story Museum. The current special exhibit is all about Mr. Hershey’s Cuba, and it has some interactive features that are great for kids. If you’re like me and had no idea that there was another town of Hershey in Cuba, you’ll definitely find this exhibit interesting.
Tip: If you’re visiting both the Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story in the same day like we did, you can buy a combined ticket to save money. See here for more information. See below for pricing and more information on all three attractions at The Hershey Story.
- Address: 63 W. Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://hersheystory.org
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Chocolate World is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Hershey, PA with kids besides Hersheypark. The main draw to Chocolate World is the FREE Chocolate Tour. The Chocolate World Tour is an interactive experience that takes you through the process of chocolate making. From the murals and fun facts on the walls to the ride itself, its a fun experience for adults and kids of all ages. Every ride also ends with a sweet treat on your way out!
Chocolate World has a great food court area as well, with several meal options and sweet treats. The Chocolate World store is also huge, and contains every Hershey-themed item you can imagine.
If you’re looking to enhance your Chocolate World experience, there are now several things you can do for an additional fee. Attractions at Hershey’s Chocolate World include:
- Create Your Own Candy Bar- This interactive process allows you to choose your ingredients, design your wrapper and follow the candy bar making process every step of the way.
- 4D Chocolate Movie– Help Hershey’s chocolate characters solve a mystery in a movie theater style production.
- Hershey’s Unwrapped– Take part in a live theatrical experience that encourages the audience to use all 5 senses when exploring chocolate.
- Trolley Works– Explore Hershey’s history on a trolley tour throughout town.
While we didn’t do the add-on experiences on this particular weekend, we did the candy bar making and shows at Chocolate World on a subsequent visit. If you plan to visit Chocolate World on a weekend, I recommend getting arriving when they open at 9:30am to get first pick at planning out your experiences.
You can find more information on the different experiences at Hershey’s Chocolate World in the website below. Note that timed ticketing is currently required at Hershey’s Chocolate World.
- Address: 200 Crystal A Dr, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld
Antique Automobile Club of America Museum
When I was planning our trip to Hershey, I thought the AACA Museum would have a few nice cars and be something we would just breeze through. After two hours, however, I had to drag my son out of there since he was having so much fun. From Studebakers to Fords to DeLorean prototypes, there’s a seemingly endless number of both well known and rare antique cars. We even saw the Hershey Kissmobile, which was parked outside of the AACA Museum at the time of our visit.
The Route 66 gallery is especially cool, and it reminded me of our visit to the Lincoln Highway Experience in Ligonier earlier this year. In addition to cars, there’s a huge collection of Harley Davidsons and a number of antique buses. The AACA Museum even houses the bus from the Keanue Reeves movie, Speed!
The best part about visiting this awesome car museum in Hershey, PA is that there are so many things for kids to do. There’s a designated kids area with train tables, puzzles and other activities. And the model train display at the AACA Museum in Hershey is one of the best I’ve seen. Throughout the entire display, there are dozens of buttons to push to make the interactive features come to life. Another highlight for us was the Cars movie scavenger hunt at the AACA Museum. While it’s geared toward children, anyone will love looking for the characters throughout the museum.
- Address: 161 Museum Drive, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.aacamuseum.org
Kid-Friendly Restaurants in Hershey, PA
With Hershey being such a family-focused place, there’s no shortage of great places to eat. Below are some of our favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Hershey.
The Pantry Cafe
The Hershey Pantry is one of the most popular restaurants in Hershey, and it’s known for the best breakfast in Central Pennsylvania. After realizing that the Hershey Pantry is closed on Sundays, we opted for its sister restaurant, the Pantry Cafe. The Pantry Cafe is located within the Hershey Story, and it has much of the same menu and great service you can find at Hershey Pantry.
- Address: 63 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA
- Website: http://www.thepantrycafe.net
What If… Of Hershey
This great Hershey, PA restaurant is a hidden gem tucked in the Howard Johnson Hotel on Chocolate Avenue. After hearing great things about it from friends and family, I had to try it. They have an awesome happy hour and cocktail selection, and the menu is innovative with a ton of great options. My veal was cooked perfectly, while my Mom’s lamp chops were super flavorful as well. While “What If” is definitely more sophisticated, it’s also very kid-friendly. My son loved his pizza, and the highlight was the ice cream and cookie that was served it with it after.
Special thanks to What If… Of Hershey for the amazing service and also making my Mom’s birthday extra special with a yummy chocolate cake. We rarely get to spend birthdays together, and it was wonderful celebrating at What If in Hershey.
- Address: 845 East Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.whatifdining.com
Chocolate Avenue Grill
Chocolate Avenue Grill has been a Hershey staple for years with its great location right on Chocolate Avenue. We took advantage of the warm weather while we were there and ate on the spacious patio. The ahi tuna salad and chicken wrap that I shared with my Mom for lunch were both yummy and super fresh.
The kids’ menu at Chocolate Avenue Grill also comes with Wikki Stix. My son loved the change from the usual coloring page, and it was the first time I saw this at a restaurant.
Travel Tip: Wikki Stix are one of the best travel toys for toddlers. We’ve loved using them recently on flights with our 2 year old.
- Address: 114 W. Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.chocolateavenuegrill.com
Phillip Arthur’s Cafe
We were looking for a quick, casual restaurant after a day at Hersheypark and Phillip Arthur’s Cafe couldn’t have been more perfect. Phillip Arthur’s has counter service so it’s quick to order and reserve your food. They refer to themselves as “fast elegant,” and it’s a totally accurate description.
The food at Phillip Arthur’s is freshly prepared, and you can watch them make everything from scratch. My son loved his wood-fired pizza, and our marinated veggie salad and panini were especially as good.
Looking for the best ice cream in Hershey? Phillip Arthur’s is known for its amazing sundaes made with Hershey’s Ice Cream. Hershey’s Ice Cream is always amazing in my book, and the sundaes at Phillip’s didn’t disappoint.
- Address: 108 West Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA
- Website: http://philliparthursic.com
You can find more information on the best family-friendly restaurants in Hershey in this post:
Have you been to Hershey, PA recently? Please share in the comments if you have any favorite kid-friendly restaurants or Hershey, PA activities that we haven’t mentioned here. We’re already thinking about the next trip back!
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