While planning our recent trip to Hershey Pennsylvania, I had one thing on my mind- chocolate! Hershey is known for it’s awesome theme park, Chocolate World, and the infamous Hershey Lodge- but what I hadn’t known was the amazing story of the town and of Mr. Milton Hershey himself. During our trip I quickly realized there was a lot more to the reason why Hershey is known as the sweetest place on earth.
February in Hershey is known as Chocolate Covered February– with over 90 events taking place throughout the month featuring chocolate. Follow along on our stay, and use it to plan your next trip to Hershey!
Checking out the bobcats
201 Park Avenue, Hershey, PA
First up, we stopped for a visit at ZooAmerica. While Hersheypark is closed during the off season, right across the street families can venture outside and explore animals from all over North America. Compared to the Bronx Zoo, it’s much smaller- but it’s the perfect size when trying to fit in several activities into one day. We spent around an hour or so checking out everything from armadillos to bobcats, to gray wolves.
There are also opportunities to add even more fun to your visit with ZooAmerica’s Outreach & On-site programs- check out www.zooamerica.com for more info and to see what programs are being offered during your stay.
Tips: Bundle up! It was cold on our President’s Day visit. Also, be sure to have quarters on hand to buy corn to feed the ducks!
Checking in at Hershey Lodge
325 University Dr, Hershey, PA
After Zoo America, we headed just a few minutes down the road to Hershey Lodge to check in. Hershey Lodge is made up of 665 guest rooms- each section being named after a different chocolate of course! Inside the lobby you’ll find guests gathered by the 4 sided fireplace, enjoying a glass of wine- or chocolate martini. Check in was smooth, and we were handed both our room keys and not surprisingly- a Hershey bar for each guest.
The wallpaper in our bathroom
Our room was in the Hershey Tower. The rooms have a classic resort feel, but you will find sweet little surprises- like candy printed wallpaper and bed linen. After settling into our room, we quickly got familiar with the map and made our way to Hershey Waterworks- the indoor pool complex.
The Sand Castle Spray Zone
Hershey’s Waterworks is made up of 2 water slides, a swimming pool with basketball hoops and a fun Reese’s Water Walk, a zero entry pool for the little swimmers, a sand castle spray zone, and a hot tub for the adults to enjoy. There’s also a Cocoa Cabana for food and drinks, an arcade, and an outdoor pool during the warmer months.
Tip: The pool complex is open until 10 pm, while the arcade is 24/7 access with room key- so enjoy the pool first!
Inside the Bear’s Den
The Bear’s Den
Located off of the main lobby
All of that swimming worked up an appetite, so we changed into something comfortable and headed to The Bear’s Den, a fun hockey themed restaurant inside the resort. Opened until 1 am (kitchen closing at midnight), it’s great for families who aren’t worried about bedtime while on vacay and want to enjoy a late night dinner.
The Steakhouse Burger
And enjoy we did- hubby opted for the Steakhouse burger, which consisted of blue cheese, onion rings, steak sauce, lettuce, tomato, and onion on a grilled onion brioche. I enjoyed the Smokehouse burger, while the kids noshed on chicken wings and chicken tenders. Yum!
Sign in the elevator lobby
On our way back to our room, we spotted a cute reminder to keep it down during the late night hours. Being a family friendly resort, Hershey is a great balance of fun and relaxation. We made our way back to our rooms and planned out day 2 before drifting off to sleep.
Pedicure at MeltSpa
MeltSpa by Hershey
11 E Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA
The next morning I had an appointment for a Dark Chocolate Body Wrap at the fairly new MeltSpa by Hershey. I checked in at the front desk and made my way to the Relaxation Room after changing into my robe and slippers. The relaxation room was similar to most spas, but with the sweet addition of bowls of Hershey kisses spread around the room.
Tip: Not sure how to fit in some me time with the kids in tow? Plan your spa service for first thing in the morning so you can leave the kids sleeping with dad or grandma. Then plan to meet up afterwards at Hershey Story, which is just down the block from the spa.
Dark Chocolate Body Wrap supplies
About the Dark Chocolate Body Wrap:
This full body treatment includes a gentle exfoliation to prepare the skin, followed by a luxurious deeply hydrating and detoxifying, dark chocolate mousse mask. A rich blend of cocoa, red mineral mud, and organic cocoa butter is smoothed over your body. While cocooned in a warm body wrap, choose from a relaxing face and scalp massage, or reflexology foot massage, followed by an application of our cocoa-infused body lotion.
My treatment was nothing short of amazing. After being cocooned in the warm body wrap of cocoa, I enjoyed the foot massage. I then showered, and the cocoa-infused body lotion was applied. I both looked and smelled amazing. And I also regained some much needed patience to meet up with my family at the nearby Hershey Story. I absolutely recommend moms to sneak off for a massage during their vacations- it’s well deserved and everyone benefits from a relaxed mama.
The Hershey Story
63 W Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA
In between my Body Wrap and Chocolate Pedicure appointments, I met up with the kids and hubby to check out The Hershey Story- a museum for all things Hershey complete with Chocolate tastings and a Chocolate Lab. They had a fun scavenger hunt for kids during our visit, which really got the kids engaged and learning about Milton Hershey. The museum follows the story of Milton and his life that started as a struggling entrepreneur and ended as a philanthropist who’s legacy will forever live on. More on that in a bit.
After checking out both the permanent and special exhibit (currently on Hershey’s influence in Cuba), we headed to enjoy a Chocolate tasting. The tasting consists of 6 different hot chocolates from around the globe- featuring both milk and dark chocolate options. My youngest was given a fun hot chocolate mix to enjoy since she most likely wouldn’t care for the dark chocolate flavors. It was a fun way to see how others around the world enjoy their chocolate!
After, we headed to the Chocolate Lab inside Hershey Story, where families participate in fun workshops and learn more about the chocolate making process. Since it was February, we made fun heart shaped chocolate bars using milk chocolate and candy. Our bars set in the fridge while we learned more about the cocoa beans used to make chocolate.
Hershey’s Chocolate World and Trolley Ride
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Next up was Hershey’s Chocolate World. Here visitors can take a free chocolate tour, create a candy bar, enjoy a 4D mystery, a trolley tour, and more. We arrived right when a trolley was boarding, so we hopped on to get a full tour of the town of Hershey and learn the history of Milton Hershey.
View from the top of Hershey on the Trolley Ride
Let me just say- I am so glad that we experienced the trolley tour. Our host was amazing- and we learned so much about the history of Hershey. Milton Hershey only had a 4th grade education as he was expected to help out on the family farm. At 14, his mom sent him to Lancaster Pennsylvania to learn the trade of candy making. He went on to experience two failed businesses before finally getting it right.
Mr. Hershey’s first successful business wasn’t actually chocolate- it was caramels! He then sold that business to purchase farmland and open a company making milk chocolate using fresh milk from the local farms with the formula he developed. And the rest was history…
But the sweetest part is not actually the chocolate- it was his philanthropic ways. Milton was one who believed that providing better conditions for workers would result in better workers. He helped his employees purchase homes and created a private foundation that benefits local residents. Also, he and his wife Kitty were not able to have children so they established the Hershey Industrial School- a boarding school that was originally for male orphans, but is now home to students grades pre-k through 12 of various backgrounds. The Milton Hershey School Trust he created for the school has interest in all of the Hershey fun that families come to enjoy in the area- which in return benefits the school and its students. Students at Milton Hershey receive housing, medical and dental benefits, and clothing. Hershey spends about $110,000 a year per student, according to its nonprofit IRS tax filing, more than the nation’s most expensive and elite prep schools (wikipedia).
Today the Milton Hershey brand stands at around 10 billion dollars and the school is the nation’s biggest and wealthiest boarding school for needy children.
Now you can feel even better about buying that next Hershey bar.
Poolside drinks at WaterWorks
After taking advantage of the Valentine’s sales back at Hershey’s Chocolate World, we headed back to the lodge for some more swimming. We then enjoyed the rest of the evening by the pool, sipping on frozen cocktails from the Cocoa Cabana.
Specials at Fire & Grain, located inside the Hershey Lodge lobby
Overall, we created some amazing memories in Hershey and I didn’t realize how much both the kids and I would learn as well. From chocolate making to the history of Milton Hershey, it was much more than just a trip to chocolate town.
Your stay at the Hershey Lodge includes tickets to Hershey Gardens and The Hershey Story. Unfortunately we woke up to an oncoming snow storm on our last day, so we weren’t able to check out the gardens- but we will definitely return again in the warmer months to experience more of both the Hershey and Harrisburg Region.
To plan your vacation, visit www.visithersheyharrisburg.org to check out things to do in both Hershey and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Maybe we’ll even see you there!
Special thanks to Visit Hershey & Harrisburg for putting this trip together and hosting us. As always, all opinions and ideas are our own.