I associate the holidays with all things sweet, but I had never been to the town of Hershey, Pennsylvania for Christmas. When my friend suggested bringing our kids (ages 5-12) to Hershey in December, we were all very excited to see what Christmas in Hershey is all about!
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Hershey Park at the Holidays
This amusement park is huge and has a wide array of rides including lots of roller coasters. Not all the biggest rides were always open but there are so many you can’t hit them all in one day anyway. The grounds were spectacular with light everywhere I looked. Rides and shops were all transformed into a winter wonderland. You can also visit Santa and his reindeer. Did you know that they have a zoo?Apparently many people appreciate this time of year here, because it was pretty crowded. Visit this site for a complete list of holiday activities and hours.
The Factory Tour
Hershey’s Chocolate World is a place to learn about the creating and manufacturing of Hershey chocolate. This was my family’s favorite activity of the weekend. We all love chocolate and we got a great education about how was first discovered and is now made. The attractions in the factory are sold a la carte. There is a cute interactive 4D mystery movie, a free factory ride and Santa shows up for kids to sit with.
There is also chocolate tasting. I have participated in Budweiser’s beer school and numerous vineyards’ wine schools, but I think chocolate tasting school at Hershey is one of my favorites. I love that you can find complex flavors in chocolate much like as in wines. We tried the chocolates that you know and love, but also some artisan ones that are also under the Hershey umbrella. All the chocolates were delicious, and we found hints of mushroom, leather and even mild cheese in some. I must admit, some of the young kids weren’t as crazy about the fancier offerings. I found the history of chocolate intriguing as well and need to add visiting a cocoa plantation to my bucket list. If you know any good ones add it in the comments please. (Especially in the southern Caribbean as I’m heading there in February!)
There is also a make-your-own chocolate bar which we all enjoyed. You design it all the way from bar to packaging. Then you get to watch it travel along the conveyor belt being made. Best of all, you get to take it home to eat and as a one of a kind souvenir.
Sweet light is a drive through light display of over 600 animated lights. You can also take the trolley from the factory to see it.
We stayed in The Hotel Hershey, a luxury hotel full of families. Everything about our stay was wonderful. The facility is beautiful and clean, very well decorated. Upon check-in we received our own full-sized Hershey bar (milk or dark). Service throughout the hotel was prompt and friendly. In spite of the fancy surroundings, since there are so many families around, it feels casual and comfortable (except for the hard the beds). There are also shuttles to the attractions that run regularly. I feel like I may need to return without kids to take advantage of their chocolate spa treatments.
Hershey Lodge is another great option. It is still lovely, but not quite as upscale, but has an indoor water park included in its stay.
Hershey really is a chocolate lover’s dream. You will be given free chocolate at every turn. And any chocolate recipe you can imagine, you are likely to find. I loved the chocolate-infused barbecue pulled pork and chocolate salted caramel martini. But my absolute favorite was a warm and gooey s’mores I bought in the park served between two chocolate chip cookies.
I can see why they call this place the sweetest place on earth and it was a great way to make out holidays a bit sweeter. What is your favorite holiday treat? Have you been to Hershey? Let me know in the comments.
Check out The Best of NYC at Christmastime for another holiday day trip in the area.