Our calendar has been jam-packed recently, so when Tru by Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue invited us for a family getaway I decided it was the perfect time to melt away from our responsibilities for a weekend road trip to Hershey, Pa.
The sweetest place on Earth is just a few hours' drive from some of the biggest cities on the east coast making it a great weekend destination for families. You certainly won't run out of things for the whole family to do here — there's Hersheypark, a beautiful downtown, great restaurants, a wonderful hotel, and chocolate everywhere you turn!
The author was hosted by Tru by Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue for the purposes of this review. All thoughts and opinions are her own.
Here are five ways to make the most of a trip to the Hershey area:
1. Stay at a great hotel
I didn't know much about the Tru by Hilton brand before we arrived, but we all absolutely loved the laidback and fun vibe of the place. I'd definitely choose to stay at this Hilton brand again — there are 222 Tru by Hiltons across the world!
The Tru by Hilton in Hershey is just a quick five minutes from the park and downtown Hershey. It offers guests an affordable stay while also making you feel spoiled. We enjoyed the daily free breakfast — my kids loved the futuristic pancake machine!
I was taken in by the great lobby, where there were plenty of places to sit and work or chat, along with two foosball tables. (My husband and son barely beat my daughter and me in a showdown.) The Hershey mural on the wall was a great spot for photos. Each Tru by Hilton has a special mural showcasing highlights in their region — love that local feel.
I also liked the wall where the hotel staff — all of whom made us feel right at home — wrote their recommendations for places to visit and dine while in town. Such a great touch!
We chose two adjoining rooms — which you can request right online. That gave the four of us plenty of room to stretch out for our weekend away. There's nothing worse than feeling like we're all crammed into a small hotel room when we travel. Doesn't feel very vacation-like!
My kids also loved seeing dogs around the hotel occasionally throughout the weekend. The hotel is so pet-friendly that dogs even get their very own goodie bag when checking in and — as part of Hilton’s expanded partnership with Mars Petcare — travelers can access virtual support from the Mars Pet Expert Team (PET) during their stay via Mars PET On-Demand — a convenient online service to answer questions related to traveling with your cat or dog — at more than 4,600 hotels in Hilton’s portfolio across the U.S. and Canada.
Other touches we appreciated: The pool, the free wi-fi, the cleanliness, and the "Eat & Sip" area where we could choose snacks and drinks to take up to our room after a long day at Hersheypark. Tru by Hilton Hershey was really a great family headquarters for us all weekend long and we very much appreciated their hospitality!
2. Scream your way through Hersheypark
Hersheypark has more than 70 rides, including 15 great roller coasters. My kids are still talking about Candymonium, the hypercoaster that took us 210 feet up in the air before dropping us at 76 mph. This is a BIG coaster, with a track spanning seven acres.
One of the great things about Hersheypark is that it isn't just a summer destination. When we visited, just a few weeks before Halloween, the park had transformed itself for its annual seasonal event called Dark Nights, which included four spine-tingling haunted houses, lots of smoke machines throughout the park, and other great touches.
And in just a few short weeks (select dates Nov. 11-Jan. 1) comes Hersheypark Christmas Candylane, when more than 5 million sparkling lights transform the park for the holiday season. There is also a special spring event, before the big summer season begins.
Tip: Springing for fast passes saved us hours in lines at the busy park.
Check out these tips on visiting Hersheypark from Macaroni KID Harrisburg publisher Kat Dinsmore.
3. Stroll through downtown
Don't forget to look up when visiting Hershey's charming downtown — there are 128 one-of-a-kind streetlights are shaped like Hershey Kisses, and you might just find yourself taking a left at the intersection of Cocoa and Chocolate. There are also great restaurants, breweries, a beautiful theatre, a museum, and a park where there are often community events taking place. We happened to be there during Choctoberfest (do you sense a theme?). We had a great beautiful fall afternoon, listening to live music in Adirondack chairs and enjoying the community feel. It felt like we were in a Hallmark movie!
4. Make a candy bar at Hershey's Chocolate World
We heard a visit to Hershey's visitor center was on the itinerary and expected a ho-hum history of the Hershey company, and the chance to buy a candy bar or two. Um...
Hershey's Chocolate World is an explosion of sights, sounds, and smells — really an experience for all your senses and a serious local attraction in its own right. There's a live show, a 4D movie, a free tour, and an unbelievably great souvenir shop.
We also had the opportunity to make our own candy bars. We each designed our own labels, chose what kind of chocolate we wanted and what we wanted inside, and then watched our candy bars be made from beginning to end. A one-of-a-kind experience for sure!
5. Take a trolley tour of Hershey
Another unexpected delight? Our fascinating trolley tour of Hershey. We learned all about the successes — and failures — of Milton Hershey. We saw the house where the peanut butter cup was invented; heard how Milton Hershey started with caramels; and learned about the amazing Milton Hershey School, where children from all over the country come to live and learn tuition-free. Our Hershey Trolley Works tour guide, a retired engineer, was one of those students decades ago.
We also learned:
- Milton Hershey never had more than an elementary education and failed at four businesses before creating Hershey's.
- There are professional chocolate tasters on staff at Hershey — my daughter's new dream job!
- The factory in Hershey makes 70 million Hershey Kisses and 25 million Reese's Peanut Butter Cups every single day.
Hershey truly is the sweetest place on Earth — and left us with the sweetest family memories. We can't wait to go back!
A big thanks to Tru by Hilton Hershey Chocolate Avenue and its amazing staff for all their recommendations and wonderful hospitality all weekend long!