Looking for some different ways to spend the day near Hershey Park?
Founded in 1906 as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, the award-winning theme park now known as Hershey Park has grown to become the most-visited theme park in Pennsylvania. It began with a single carousel and got its first roller coaster, the Wild Cat, in 1923. Today it has some 76 rides and attractions, including a waterpark, spread over 120 acres, and is open in all four seasons.
Before the pandemic, it drew an average of 3.3 million visitors a year. About 30 miles northwest of Lancaster, PA, it’s an easy day trip from Bird-in-Hand—and there is more to Hershey The Sweetest Place on Earth® than just the theme park. If you’re planning a visit, here are three family-friendly ways to spend the day near Hersheypark.
1. GET A TASTE OF HERSHEY’S CHOCOLATE WORLD
Take advantage of free admission to Hershey’s Chocolate World, with its shops, restaurants, and chocolate-themed factory tour ride. On the free 30-minute chocolate tour, which runs continuously throughout the day, you’ll learn how tropical cocoa beans become chocolate candy bars—and get a product sample at the end of the tour. Ticketed activities include a 30-minute Chocolate Tasting Journey and a 45- to 75-minute guided tour of the town that combines history, song, and laughter aboard the Hershey Trolley Works.
Visitors can create their own candy bar, including the candy wrapper, in a 45-minute session. Until Labor Day 2022, the whole family can solve the mystery that unfolds during the 30-minute 4D Chocolate Movie, featuring digital animation and special effects. After the holiday, the attraction is closing to make way for a new experience that will open in 2023. For the ultimate souvenir, consider REESE’s Stuff Your Cup, a chance to create a 1-pound peanut butter cup with your choice of mix-ins and fresh Reese’s peanut butter. If that doesn’t appeal, you can find gifts, apparel, and sweet souvenirs in the world’s largest Hershey-themed gift shop.
2. GO WILD AT ZOO AMERICA
If you’re at Hersheypark and are looking for a change of scenery (or energy level), take the walkway from the park’s Kissing Tower Hill area over to ZooAmerica, which is included in the price of your Hersheypark admission. If you aren’t going to the park, you can get zoo tickets at the entrance off Route 743 (Park Avenue).
This unique educational and conservation facility focuses mainly on the animals of North America. Its exhibits feature native species in their natural habitats. You’ll see American alligators, Florida garfish, and roseate spoonbills in the Southern Swamps’ wetlands, gray wolves, Canada lynx, bald eagles, and snowy owls in the evergreen forests and tundra of the Northlands. The deserts and grasslands of the Great Southwest exhibit are home to the nine-banded armadillo, endangered thick-billed parrots, the venomous Gila monster, the burrowing owl, the ocelot, and the coati and the ringtail, both relatives of the raccoon. Black bears and white-tailed deer, river otters, and red-tailed hawks are among the species in the Eastern Woodlands area. You’ll find mountain lions, American elk, pronghorn antelope, sandhill cranes, and other species in the diverse habitats of Big Sky Country, dedicated to the expanse from the Mississippi River to the foothills of the Rockies. In a greenhouse in that exhibit, zoo staff is raising Regal Fritillary butterflies for release—one of many projects the zoo has undertaken to ensure species survival.
3. STOP AND SMELL THE FLOWERS AT HERSHEY GARDENS
In addition to a theme park for employees, candy magnate Milton Hershey built a rose garden as a gift for the community in honor of his wife, Catherine. What began in 1937 as a request to “create a nice garden of roses” has grown into the 23-acre botanical garden known as Hershey Gardens. Sitting on a hill overlooking the theme park and the town of Hershey, it has 11 themed gardens.
The rose garden now has 3,000 roses, representing 115 different varieties, on 3.5 acres. In addition to floral displays, the Conservatory houses an indoor tropical butterfly atrium, with dozens of rare butterflies from South and Central America, Africa, and Asia, along with tropical plants like plumeria trees, Hawaiian Ti plants, and, of course, cacao trees. Budding horticulturists will enjoy the hands-on Children’s Garden. If you want to take it all in, allow two to three hours.
REST YOUR WEARY HEAD AT BIRD-IN-HAND FAMILY INN
At the end of the day, come back to a clean, comfortable room or suite at Bird-in-Hand Family Inn. If the kids still have the energy to burn, they can take advantage of resort-style amenities, including lighted tennis and basketball courts, a playground, a game room, and walking paths. Cool off together in our outdoor pool, which features a walk-in zero-grade entry, or one of our two indoor pools. If you’re hungry after your Hershey adventure, walk to the Bird-in-Hand Family Restaurant & Smorgasbord, where everyone in the family can find their favorites on our all-you-can-eat buffet, kids menu, or on-the-table service menu. You can eat your fill of our farm-fresh foods while talking about your favorite parts of a memorable day.