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.
Keep reading for our family-friendly guide to the sweetest weekend getaway in Hershey, PA!
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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 Hersheypark 3-day itinerary.
- Day 1 in Hershey
- Breakfast at the hotel
- 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 hotel
- Dinner at Philip Arthur’s Cafe/ walk around Chocolate Ave
- Day 3 in Hershey
- Breakfast at Hershey Pantry
- Hershey’s Chocolate World
- AACA Museum
- Leave Hershey
On a subsequent weekend in Hershey, PA, we stayed at the Hershey Lodge and spent a lot of time at the indoor waterpark at Hershey Lodge. In addition, we visited Hershey Story one morning with a visit to Hersheypark at 2 for Halloween at Hersheypark. We then visited Hershey Gardens the next day before driving home.
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. The Hershey Lodge is one of the best hotels in Hershey, PA for families and it’s located right down the road from Hersheypark. Some of the amenities at Hershey Lodge include:
- Outdoor sports like mini golf, a basketball court and outdoor pool
- The Hershey Lodge water park called Waterworks; a large indoor waterpark with several swimming areas, slides and activities for all ages.
- Kids activities at Hershey Lodge all weekend long, including character greets, scavenger hunts, campfires and more.
- A free shuttle to Hersheypark with commentary about Hershey along the way.
- Several onsite restaurants including the Bears Den, Fire & Grain and the Cocoa Beanery for coffee, ice cream and snacks. (If you get the Hershey Lodge breakfast package, there’s a buffet Fire & Grain. You can also pay separately without the package.)
One of the only downsides is that the Hershey Lodge is huge, so it can take a while to get around depending on where you’re located.
If you’d like help planning a Hersheypark vacation, I’m a Travel Agent and would love to help you! Contact me for Hershey Lodge or Hershey Hotel packages and rates. If you stay at Hershey Lodge or Hershey Hotel, all of the amenities (minus food) plus tickets to Hershey Lodge
More Hershey, PA Hotels
If you want a more budget-friendly hotel in Hershey, PA, the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Hershey is a great option too. The location on Chocolate Avenue is perfect for visiting Hersheypark and other Hershey, PA attractions. 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 two separate weekends in Hershey, and the rooms are spacious with a separate living area. I also love that the bathrooms at the Fairfield Inn have a bathtub, making bedtime with a toddler much easier. If you’re looking for Hershey, PA hotels with indoor pools, the Fairfield has both an indoor pool and a fitness center. It’s also a great option for Hersheypark hotels with a free breakfast that includes a variety of hot and cold options, including eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and make your own waffles.
For rates and booking information, go here.
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 everywhere 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 Parlor 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 Hersheypark. 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 from my childhood. 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, but only if you enter through Hersheypark. You can also visit it separately without going to Hersheypark.
- 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 at Hershey Gardens 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.
Museum Experience at The Hershey Story
The museum experience 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.
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.
If you’re visiting Hershey Story with kids, be sure to grab an eye spy game. There are also several interactive displays at the Cuba exhibit.
The Chocolate Lab
Chocolate Lab is a hands-on experience 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 and 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!)
Note: Children must be 5 years old to do the Chocolate Lab.
Chocolate Tastings at Hershey Story
After the Chocolate Lab, you can embark 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 its origin. You start with dark chocolate and make your way to the lightest milk chocolate. 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.
Note: Be sure to check the Hershey Story’s daily calendar before planning your day at the Hershey Story. Hours vary daily for both the Chocolate Lab and Chocolate Tasting.
Additional Tip: If you’re visiting both the Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story in the same day, you can buy a combined ticket to save money. Admission to both is also included with your stay at Hershey Lodge or Hershey Hotel.
- 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, it’s 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.
Pro Tip: If you plan to visit Chocolate World on a weekend, try to arrive when they open to get first pick at planning out your experiences.
- 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 the Lincoln Highway Experience in Ligonier. 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 kid’s 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 family-friendly restaurants in Hershey.
- Chocolate Avenue Grill has been a Hershey staple for years with its great location right on Chocolate Avenue and outdoor seating. I love that the kids’ menu at Chocolate Avenue Grill also comes with Wikki Stix.
- Lisa’s Cafe on Chocolate is a great option for breakfast, lunch or a coffee/ snack, and it’s located right inside Hershey Story.
- The Mill is one of the best restaurants in Hershey with a huge menu and live music on the weekends.
- What If of Hershey is a great special occasion restaurant in Hershey, PA. It’s a more sophisticated ambiance but they have a great kids’ menu.
- Troegs Brewery is surprisingly very kid friendly and has a kids menu in addition to other great food offerings.
- Philip Arthur’s Cafe is a quick and easy option if you’re looking for casual restaurants near Hersheypark. They have woodfired pizza, wraps and yummy ice cream. (If you’re looking for the best ice cream in Hershey, they’re known for their sundaes.)
- Chocolatier is one of the newest restaurants at Hersheypark with fun, Hersheypark themed food options and huge milkshakes.
The Best Time to Visit Hersheypark and Hershey, PA
Hersheypark is open almost all year round with various seasonal events throughout the year. For the full Hersheypark experience, the summer weather is ideal, but we love visiting Hershey during all four seasons. Special events at Hershey include:
- Springtime in the Park at Hersheypark starts in April. There are typically discounted admission rates and lower crowds as Hersheypark reopens for the season.
- Halloween at Hersheypark is super fun, with trick or treating and Dark Nights. Hershey Gardens is also beautiful in the fall, and Pumpkin Palooza is one of the best things to do in Hershey, PA in October besides Hersheypark.
- Christmas at Hershey is also amazing. There are so many fun things to do in Hershey, PA in winter, including decorations throughout the park, Sweet Lights, breakfast with Santa and more.
Getting 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 3.5 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. A car is recommended for getting around Hershey, PA, but 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.
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.
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