I was treated to the sweetest opportunity a blogger could dream of: a trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania! I was hosted for the weekend in exchange for my honest opinions and reviews of the places we visited. Spoiler alert: I loved it all, honestly. Here are my top four tips for visiting Hershey PA, The Sweetest Place on Earth from a first-timer.
Sometimes you open your email and give a loud groan. Sometimes you open your email and squeal in delight.
When the much-coveted blogger invite called the Sweet Welcome landed in my inbox, I definitely did the latter.
I was one big girlie squeal over here.
Little known fact about me: I’ve always wanted to visit Hershey, PA. It’s been on my “need to visit” list since I was a kid.
This was a visit made for me as I’ve never met a chocolate I didn’t like. A streak that still holds true today, despite trying a chocolate bar that had both red chili flakes & cinnamon on top.
Sounds weird, tastes GOOD.
So yeah, this was going to be cool.
But I had no idea just *how* cool it would be. Here are my tips for visiting Hershey, Pennsylvania as a first-timer.
Four Tips For Visiting Hershey As A First-Timer
VISIT WITH AN OPEN HEART
I’m going to start here because you will fall in love with this town. I know I did.
I thought this would be a typical experience where we would visit the theme park, see a resort or two, and of course, get the story behind Hershey chocolate.
Basically, I thought this would be a standard trip for travel bloggers who are experiencing a new location.
I was right, and oh so wrong!
We did see the theme park, visited world-class resorts, and heard all about chocolate.
What I didn’t know is how warmly we would be embraced by the people of this town.
From the moment we stepped out of the car and entered the Hershey Lodge to the moment we were packed up and leaving, I wanted to hug everyone.
And not just because they kept handing me full-sized Hershey bars!
But I won’t lie- that didn’t hurt. Ahem.
The locals are clearly proud of their town, their history, and the empire built by chocolate.
When they discovered why we were there to visit they kept adding to our “don’t miss” list and I knew immediately a return trip (or three!) would be needed to do it all properly.
MAKE TIME TO LEARN THE HERSHEY STORY
Milton Hershey was an amazing inventor and entrepreneur.
Thank goodness he didn’t use that Titanic ticket to sail home from Europe- could you imagine the world without Hershey chocolate?
Nope, me either. I weep at the thought!
But more importantly I learned he was one of the best kinds of human beings: he cared about people and used his business to support the town through the toughest of times.
The Great Depression was never felt in Hershey, PA, due to the way Milton Hershey conducted his business.
I highly recommend jumping on board the Hershey Trolley Works as soon as you arrive in town.
The tour, lead by Fred and his driver, George, (I suspect there are multiple Fred and George teams involved!) covers the city as well as the history of the town.
We learned through humor and poignant stories how the Milton Hershey School came into being and how it’s sustained (hint: every time you purchase a Hershey product, YOU are helping orphaned and disadvantaged children obtain a world-class education!).
Buy all the Hershey chocolate the No-Guilt way, y’all!
This tour hooked me on the town and the man, and when I take the family back, this is a must-do for my children to experience.
Plus they kept passing out chocolate, so you know, I was ok with that!
BE PREPARED TO EAT ALL THE THINGS
Resistance is futile when it comes to food in Hershey.
I don’t think I’ve ever been fed as well as I have while visiting this glorious, chocolate loving town!
Bring your comfortable pants because it was all wonderful.
There was chocolate, of course. But there are also delicious restaurants that deserve your attention.
One yummy location was Fire & Grain, located in the Hershey Lodge.
It’s brand new for 2017 and it’s serving innovative comfort food. See this S’mores in a Jar? COMFORT FOOD ON POINT!
Oh, I’m sorry, was I shouting? Yeah, it was that good. All of it was.
Another standout is the Circular, a restaurant in the historic Hotel Hershey.
We popped in here for Sunday brunch and it was delightful. The resort itself is breathtaking but this dining room is simply stunning! The view out onto the grounds makes a perfect backdrop for a high-end meal.
Our entire party opted for the brunch buffet and no one left disappointed.
The sticky buns & Kiss waffles are legendary here- do not miss them when you visit!
Make sure you make reservations for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
VISIT HERSHEYPARK AMUSEMENT PARK
This was high on my list of things to do during the visit because I just love theme parks! And Hersheypark did not disappoint.
Here are some quick details for my theme park lovers: there are more than 70 rides and attractions to entertain all levels of thrill seekers. I’d say every age is represented well here and this would be a fun trip for the entire family.
For those who love to drop in: check out the new Hershey Triple Tower attraction. It’s brand new this season and offers a choose-your-thrill drop tower option.
Start at the Kiss Tower and work your way up to the Hershey Tower, if you dare!
We visited on a rainy day and found that rain doesn’t stop the attractions from running.
Most outdoor coasters were in operation and the lines were moving quickly.
But the most popular rides that day were the ones with a cover on top. For obvious reasons.
I was impressed at the variety of attractions available for families to enjoy.
This is certainly a park for the whole crew and I know my kids are looking forward to their first visit.
With a one-price admission, you get to not only ride all the rides at Hersheypark but can also visit both The Boardwalk at Hersheypark water park and ZooAmerica.
And ZooAmerica was a hit with our group!
Look, I got to hold a screech owl and feed a bear.
A BEAR, y’all.
It was all pretty awesome.
While it was a short visit, the folks at Hershey made sure we saw a whole lot of their town. And it sure was a sweet one!
Have you made a trip to Hershey, PA before? What tips would you share for a first-timer?
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)