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 getaways from Pittsburgh. While the chocolate smell as you drive into Hershey isn’t quite as strong as I remember, the Hershey’s Kisses lining Chocolate Avenue bring back the excitement of going to Hersheypark every time. While the main draw for weekend in Hershey with kids is almost always Hersheypark, which shouldn’t be missed, America’s chocolate town offers so much more.
Our guide to a weekend in Hershey includes the amazing Hersheypark, plus other fun things in addition to the Park. From the Hershey Gardens to ZooAmerica and the Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum, there are so many fun things to do in Hershey. 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 family 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 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 more time for naps. So if your kids are older, you may have a little more time to explore. 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
- 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 with Kids
There are so many family-friendly hotels in Hershey 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 nearby attractions. It’s also walking distance to several shops and restaurants on Chocolate Avenue.
Rooms and Amenities at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hershey
We stayed in a 2-Queen room at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. There was a spacious living area in the back with a full couch, desk and TV. While the bedroom wasn’t completely closed off from the area, it did have a half way that was perfect for hiding the pack-n-play. The room had a separate TV in the bedroom area and then a mini-fridge and microwave as well. I also loved that the bathrooms at the Fairfield Inn have a bathtub, making bedtime with a toddler that much easier.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites in Hershey also has an indoor pool and a fitness center. Plus the free hot breakfast offers a variety of options hot and cold options, including eggs, sausage, fresh fruit and make your own waffles.
I also have to mention that every employee we came into contact with at the Fairfield Inn was super friendly. From the desk personnel to breakfast staff to cleaning staff, the service was amazing. (And that’s not something I can consistently say about hotels.)
For rates and booking information, head here or check out their website below.
- 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, each of the major cities have international airports. The nearby Harrisburg and Lancaster also offer smaller airports closer to Hershey 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 definitely recommended for getting around Hershey, but if you’re looking for public transportation there’s 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 planning a few days at Hersheypark or looking fun things to do at Hershey in addition to Hersheypark, we have you covered!
Keep reading for the best things to do with kids in Hershey. (And kids at heart, too!)
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 S. Hershey, who wanted something fun for his employees to do. Since then, it’s evolved to add newer and better rides each year. It’s been almost 10 years since I visited Hersheypark during the Summer, and I was amazed at how much has changed in that time alone.
Hersheypark now boasts 14 rollercoasters, with a new rollercoaster, Candymonium, being added in 2020. After seeing the massive amounts of construction on our recent trip, I’m super excited to see what’s to come for Hersheypark with the addition of Chocolatetown in 2020.
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, and others 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 and I was excited to share it with my son.
Not only are the rides at Hersheypark awesome, but there’s Chick-fil-A inside the park. Chick-fil-A is definitely my favorite fast food chain, and it was awesome to see this option. Hersheypark also offers Dunkin Donuts, Moe’s Southwest Grill and other casual dining options my family loves.
The Boardwalk at Hersheypark
Hersheypark’s waterpark is aptly named The Boardwalk. And it has completely evolved since the handful of water slides I remember a child. Although The Boardwalk is essentially a separate waterpark, it’s still included with your Hersheypark ticket.
Since The Boardwalk is closed after Labor Day, we didn’t get to visit on this recent trip. I did take a peek at all the awesome water slides, though. The Boardwalk includes several slides, a large wave pool, a lazy river and more. After seeing it from a distance, we definitely plan to make it a priority to visit next time!
Visiting Hersheypark with a Toddler?
Our 2-year old had a blast as there are several rides for toddlers at Hersheypark. 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. My son was just barely a Hershey Kiss at 36.” At last count, though, there were 25 rides a child under 36″ can do. This is either with or without an adult depending on the ride.
- Hersheypark has restrictions on outside food and drink. Typically they don’t allow anything other than one sealed water bottle per person. That said, we did not have issues bringing 2-year old’s water bottle and a few snacks for him with us.
Tip: Regular Admission tickets to Hersheypark come with access the night before via Hersheypark’s extra hours preview. Visit the website below for more information on tickets and hours.
- 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. While we didn’t visit ZooAmerica on this trip, 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 I’ve been to in that it only houses North American animals. The animals at ZooAmerica include a variety of cat species, birds, alligators and deer, to name a few. My son’s favorite of the 200+ animals at ZooAmerica was the Black Bear, who was very lively when we visited in the Fall of last year.
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 driving by the Hershey Gardens on our way to the Hershey Spa for a girls weekend this winter, I was so excited to check out the gardens in the warmer weather. I was amazed at 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. Every inch of the Hershey Gardens is well maintained, and you could easily spend a whole day just walking around.
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. The large, blue butterflies were my favorite, and my toddler was mesmerized the entire time.
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 at Hershey Gardens, there are several family-friendly activities throughout the year. Pumpkin Glow is coming up soon for Halloween, and it looks so fun!
- 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? If so, 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
My afternoon at The Hershey Story started 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 on the difference between cacao throughout the world and the impact geography has on taste, cost an dotter factors. We also learned about the process of making chocolate, starting from the time the cocoa beans are harvested from cacao fruit. That’s right, chocolate comes from a fruit!
Children have to be 5 years old to do the Chocolate Lab, so I did this 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 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.
Additionally, the museum has a newly added feature with wooden coins that activate interactive story boards in a personalized way. It was pretty cool to see my name pop up every time I used the coin to activate a kiosk.
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 actually 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 with kids besides Hersheypark. The main draw to Chocolate World is the FREE Chocolate Tour. It’s been one of my favorite things about Hershey since I was a little girl, and I love doing the tour any chance I get.
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. While I totally miss the old Hershey’s Chocolate song from the 80’s, the enhancements to the ride over time are well worth it. And the one thing that hasn’t changed is that every ride ends with a sweet treat on your way out!
Chocolate world has a great food court area as well, with several food options and sweet treats. The 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 by choosing your ingredients and designing your wrapper
- Help Hershey’s chocolate characters solve a mystery at the 4D Chocolate Movie
- Take part in a live theatrical experience at Hershey’s Unwrapped
- Explore Hershey’s history on a Trolley Works tour
While we have yet to do these, the candy bar making in looks especially fun. We’re definitely planning it for the next trip to Hershey! Check out the website below for more information on these experiences at Hershey’s Chocolate World.
- Address: 200 Crystal A Dr, Hershey, PA
- Website: https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld
Antique Automobile Club of America Museum
I have to be honest. 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 had a chance to see the Hershey Kissmobile, which is currently parked outside of the AACA Museum.
The Route 66 gallery was 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 with kids is that there are so many things for them 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 its geared toward children, we all loved looking for the characters throughout the museum.
The AACA Museum was definitely a nice surprise for me. After one visit, I can say that it’s one Hershey attraction that shouldn’t be missed.
- 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 having the best breakfast in Central Pennsylvania. After realizing that the Hershey Pantry is closed on Sundays, however, 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.
The Pantry Cafe is open daily from 8am- 5pm and has a full service coffee bar in addition to the restaurant. This was my second time eating at The Pantry Cafe for breakfast, and both times the food and service were both top notch. I had a breakfast bowl while my Mom had a bread pudding french toast made with fresh peaches. My 2-year old was also super happy with his “go-to,” chocolate chip pancakes.
- Address: 63 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA
- Website: http://www.thepantrycafe.net
What If… Of Hershey
This great restaurant in Hershey 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.
I was also impressed that the kids’ menu at Chocolate Avenue Grill 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 we could see 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 prepared with Hershey’s Ice Cream. Hershey’s Ice Cream is always amazing in my book, and the sundaes at Phillip’s didn’t disappoint.
Philip Arthur’s Cafe is open for breakfast on the weekends and lunch and dinner throughout the week. Hours vary by day, so be sure to check the website before visiting.
- Address: 108 West Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA
- Website: http://philliparthursic.com
In addition to the family-friendly restaurants in Hershey that we visited on this trip, we also love The Mill in Hershey and Troegs Independent Brewing. Believe it or not, Troegs is super kid-friendly and they even have a kids’ menu and crayons to boot.
Have you been to Hershey Recently?
Please share in the comments if you have any favorite kid-friendly restaurants or things to do that we haven’t mentioned here. We’re already thinking about the next trip back!
If you’re planning a girls weekend or couples trip to Hershey without kids, check out this post: The Perfect Girls Weekend in Hershey, PA
For more on visiting the Hershey & Harrisburg area, head to Visit Hershey & Harrisburg.
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