This past summer, a good friend and I went away for a girls weekend in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We found an abundance of activities in the town that calls itself “The Sweetest Place on Earth”, along with a great quilt show to boot.
The town of Hershey, Pennsylvania was established in 1903 when Milton Hershey built his chocolate factory and the surrounding planned community. From the very beginning, Mr. Hershey promoted the area for tourism, and by the end of the 1930’s, Hershey became a nationally known tourist destination. Today Hershey Park gets about 3.5 million visitors a year and this amusement park is undoubtedly the biggest tourist draw to the area. But there is so much more to do beyond the amusement park, as my friend and I found out on our girl’s getaway weekend in Hershey.
The Spa at Hotel Hershey
The highlight of our weekend in Hershey was without a doubt the day we spent at the Spa at the Hotel Hershey (read my post here ) where we indulged in the complete Chocolate Escape Package. We bathed, were scrubbed, massaged and oiled with all things chocolate. The package also included a fantastic lunch at the spa’s Oasis restaurant and as much free time as we wanted in their quiet and silent rooms and aromatherapy room. It was an absolutely wonderful and relaxing escape and I did not want it to end.
We capped off the day with dinner at the Hotel Hershey’s signature restaurant, The Circular. Sometimes I like to just try a few appetizers so that I can taste different dishes, which is what I did in this case. Both the Cocoa Dusted Diver Scallops and the Roasted Heirloom Beet and Arugula Salad were delicious and were sufficiently filling, while leaving room for dessert – Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding – YUM!
For up to date spa information visit http://www.chocolatespa.com/
Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey
Just outside of town is a wonderful facility that makes its own wines, ciders and beers – the Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey. My friend and I signed up for the VIP Wine Tasting Experience which included a tour of the vineyard and the production facility, followed by a tasting of a flight of six wines paired with local cheeses, fruits and chocolate. You could choose from either a dry or sweet flight of wines, (or you could do their VIP Beer Tasting Experience which includes tasting four beers and two ciders). I chose to taste the sweet wines, and especially liked the bubbly Muscato which wasn’t too sweet and was especially refreshing on a hot summer day – I went home with two bottles.
The Vineyard at Hershey also holds a variety of events during the week and on weekends, such as yoga, Zumba, unplugged music nights and much more.
For up to date information, visit http://vineyardathershey.com/
Milton Hershey and his wife Catherine loved to travel, and they used their travels as inspiration for the buildings they built back in Hershey. The Hotel Hershey was inspired by their visit to Cairo, while the Hershey Theater is a throwback to Venetian architecture. Elaborate gold mosaic tiles inspired by Venice’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, decorate the inner foyer. Once you step into the theater auditorium, you are transported to a Byzantine castle – it is hard to believe you are still in central Pennsylvania. The theater brings in touring Broadway productions and world renowned performers. We saw the Broadway touring production of Motown which was a lot of fun.
for up to date information visit http://www.hersheyentertainment.com/hershey-theatre/
Hershey Story Museum
The museum chronicles the life, entrepreneurial failures and ultimate successes, and the great philanthropic spirit of Milton Hershey. Each exhibit has many interactive components to it that make it fun for young and old alike. I really did not know much about Milton Hershey before visiting the museum, and was especially impressed by how much he gave back to the community that he built and supported. During the Depression he kept the factory open and initiated a building boom which kept many employed. Much of his legacy still lives on in the community, but his biggest legacy was the foundations of the Hershey Industrial School for orphaned boys in 1909. Since he did not have any children of his own, the majority of Milton’s $60 million fortune was deeded to the school.
Today, the school continues to prosper and educate those in need. It is now known as the Milton Hershey School and supports about 1800 boys and girls from pre K to 12th grade.
For up to date information visit https://hersheystory.org/what-youll-see/
You don’t have to be a gardener to enjoy a visit to Hershey Gardens. The centerpiece of the gardens is the collection of 7000 roses, but there is also a Japanese garden, a magnolia grove, a fun children’s garden, an arboretum, a conservatory, and much more, all covering 23 acres. The butterfly house in the conservatory is a real treat. 500-600 butterflies in a rainbow of colors flit around you in a tropical setting. In the Chrysalis Cabinet, you can see the developing pupae as they go through this magical stage where they turn into a butterfly.
For up to date information, visit http://www.hersheygardens.org/
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Unfortunately, one of the activities we did not have time for was a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World. So I was very pleased to have recently had the opportunity to participate in a sponsored event at this venue. Hershey’s Chocolate World contains the company’s flagship and largest retail shopping space, a food court featuring chocolate, and a number of interactive experiences.
I had the chance to try the Make Your Own Chocolate Bar experience, and I have to admit, it brought out the kid in me. At a computerized kiosk, I picked out the flavors that I wanted to add to my chocolate bar (I chose toffee bits, pretzel bits and chocolate chips), and then I watched as my own chocolate bar worked its way through the production line.
The flavoring bits were added, the bar was dredged with more chocolate, and then went through a long drying oven.
At the end I received my one-of-a-kind chocolate bar in a special box with a personalized wrapper that I had designed at another kiosk. And yes – my chocolate bar was delicious!
From Hershey’s Chocolate World, you can also go on a 90 minute trolley tour that takes you around the town of Hershey. The tour comes with a very entertaining and delightful commentary about the history of the town of Hershey, the establishment and continued success of the Hershey company and on our particular tour, anecdotes about growing up in Hershey, PA. One of the most interesting aspects of the tour was driving onto the campuses of the Milton Hershey schools and learning details about the everyday lives of the students that get to attend these private boarding schools.
Nearly 1800 underprivileged, talented students from pre K to 12th grade get the opportunity for an excellent education paid for by the Milton Hershey School Trust. Of all of Milton Hershey’s lasting legacies, I think it is these schools that are the most impressive.
For up to date information visit https://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/en_us.html
For Quilters – Quilt Odyssey
I planned the weekend getaway during the Quilt Odyssey quilt show weekend. Quilt Odyssey is a quilt show at the end of July held at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. The show includes a quilt competition and quilt exhibits, numerous classes and lectures and a large merchant mall. The Hershey Lodge offers great rates for those attending the show. If you are a quilter, this is a good time to enjoy a weekend in Hershey and take advantage of all that the city has to offer, like my friend and I did.
For up to date information on Quilt Odyssey, visit https://www.quiltodyssey.com/
Chocolate, wine and fabric – is there a better combination for a girl’s getaway weekend in Hershey?
Do you have thoughts or comments about this post? I would love to hear from you on my facebook page.
Thanks for visiting.
Please note, the visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World was sponsored by Visit Hershey-Harrisburg, but all by opinions expressed are strictly my own. All other activities described in this post were at my own expense.