Confession. I avoided Hersheypark for years. There are a few reasons. For starters, I grew up in California and had an allegiance to a particular mouse amusement park (the only mouse I’ll ever be okay with). It felt funny to attend a park based on chocolate, as delicious as chocolate is, I didn’t quite get how there is a space-based on candy. I was also a bit wary of a hotel stay as our youngest is autistic and the sorts of spaces we stay overnight require a lot.
But as I started to research family getaways for long weekends, my search seemed to always circle back to Hersheypark. And when the universe (aka my job) presented the opportunity to visit the famous chocolate park, I decided it’s time to give Hersheypark a whirl.
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Hershey Lodge Exterior, Swan Lake, Water, blue sky, trees, fencing
Where to Stay When Visiting Hersheypark
We stayed at the Hershey Lodge, which is a convenient 3 – ish mile drive from the park. The hotel’s overall message is one of being very kid-friendly, and this vibe was felt as soon as we checked in. The chocolate experience starts immediately at Hershey Lodge as I was handed about 4 milk chocolate bars as a welcome gift. My oldest was ecstatic at this gesture! The lodge is quite large, there is a bit of a walk to get from one section to another, so we ended up driving to find our room. Our room was simple, there wasn’t anything super grand about it, and this was perfectly fine, it was clean and cozy, which is all we needed.
Pool Time at Hershey Lodge
There are two pools, an indoor and outdoor — we had planned to visit the outside pool but never made it there as my children went bonkers for the indoor pool known as Hershey’s Water Works. This water area is 30,000 square feet of fun. There are two giant water slides and basketball hoops for water basketball. My youngest loved the kiddie areas, and was it was a relief to see that he could safely, with my watchful eye have fun for hours. My oldest especially loved the fun water challenge called Reese’s Water Walk is basically what it sounds like — you try to walk on water on floating Reese’s Pieces. And my favorite, the Cocoa Cabana, a snack and cocktail bar in the pool area meant I could eat while the kids played.
Other fun attractions my oldest gravitated towards was the Arcade, which can be accessed 24/7 with your room key. There is also an 18 hole private golf course available to guests of The Hershey Lodge that my husband tee off at one morning (no extra fees) as well as mini-golf.
Where to Eat at Hershey Lodge
There are many food dining spots at Hershey Lodge. Options are a huge plus in a hotel stay in my opinion as to when there are limited restaurant options; it is a total game-changer on how the outcome of the stay will go. The restaurants we dined at were kid-friendly and super accommodating with kids. My top two restaurant picks — The Forebay and Fire & Grain. The Forebay is open only for dinner and is fine dining, so not cheap. But most fine dining spots aren’t exactly pro kids, and there was not one eyelash batted when my youngest threw milk on the floor. So totally worth it to have a lovely dining experience where kids are tolerated. The Fire and Grain is also super kid-friendly with a delicious breakfast buffet as well as a children’s menus for both breakfast and dinner that my kids found quite yummy.
Hersheypark With Kids
We headed to Hersheypark early, which is always a good idea as long lines are never ideal when visiting amusement parks. The park was created by Hershey’s founder and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey as grounds for his chocolate factory employees. Immediately when entering the park, you are encouraged to measure your kids with the candy measuring system. From Hershey’s minis, Reeses to Twizzlers — your child’s measurement is defined by a brand of (Hershey, of course) candy. Once this size is determined, your child now knows what rides they are allowed to go on.
Sylvester McMonkey McBean| Flicker
The vibe of the park is very happy and all about the candy. My oldest, who is the only kid I know who complains about amusement parks, ate (literally) it up. In the past, I have had to coax my children into going on rides at fairs — with this visit; it was so not the case. For the youngest who is only 3, this was his first experience going on rides. Ever! I was a bit worried as my little babe is autistic and I wasn’t sure if he would be okay going on the rides solo and he did great. He loved every ride we put him on.
The kids’ favorite rides were the Mini Pirate, Space-Age, Pirate, and Swing Thing. When it was time for the youngest to nap, I strolled around while my husband and oldest splashed around at The Shore. The Shore is a wave pool that gradually deepens from zer0 to six feet; thankfully, the park provides lifevests. There are many water options at the park, which was an excellent way to break up the day, especially as we were there during a heatwave.
Before we left the grounds, we stopped over to Hershey’s Chocolate World, where we made a personalized candy wrapper and created a candy bar, a birthday gift for grandma. There is also the Food Hall & Bakery where you can sit and eat, rest up a bit. The bakery serves up extravagant Ice Cream cups and milkshakes —we tried and devoured the dark chocolate s’mores that are made to order. Yum! If you have the time, check out the free chocolate tour on how a chocolate bar is made starting with the first ingredient, cocoa beans!
To Visit Around Hershey, Pennsylvania
Before we headed home, we checked out the Hershey Gardens featuring the new Butterfly Atrium, which was quite gorgeous and The Hershey Story’s Museum Experience. These two spots were not on our radar, but we were happy that we checked them out as it was fascinating to learn about Milton S. Hershey’s philanthropy work and legacy. Recommend checking both out.
As a family, we had zero expectations for this trip, but from the moment we arrived at The Hershey Lodge and then the park, we ended up having a fantastic time. I do believe that staying at a hotel that is geared for kids added to this trip to Hersheypark being an overall success. As my 10-year-old stated, “this was the best trip ever!”
Hersheypark is located at 100 Hersheypark Dr, Hershey, PA 17033