Need a weekend getaway? Our 48 hour edventure series profiles family-friendly escapes that you can really do in a weekend! Leave after work on Friday or early Saturday morning and get home before bedtime on Sunday, ready to start the week. We’ve scoped out how to do it with style AND kids in tow (naptimes included).
When I think of a visit to Hershey, I think of summertime roller coaster rides and ‘racing’ my brother on the speedway… I hadn’t thought about a wintertime weekend at the Central Pennsylvania destination. But what a fun, easy getaway for the whole family! Especially this time of year when the whole town celebrates their love of chocolate during Chocolate Covered February. Add some wonderful kid-friendly attractions in surrounding towns and the perfect ‘no ski’ mid-winter adventure.
Here’s where to stay, eat, and play so you can make the most of your sweet weekend away!
In all honesty, you could probably pick any of these ‘play’ destinations and make a day trip out of it. But you’d miss the Hershey Kiss turn down service and running in the splash pad at the hotel… two of the major trip highlights, according to our kids.
where to play
Hershey’s Chocolate World
251 Park Boulevard, Hershey, PA | Open 9 AM – 5 PM, Monday through Friday, 9 AM – 6 PM on Saturdays | Free to Enter, Individual Attraction Prices Vary | Website
We had the best time at Chocolate World! From donning a hairnet and apron to make our own Chocolate bars, to a 4D interactive mystery adventure with giant talking Hershey Kisses, to learning how to taste chocolate like a pro — our kids we awed by everything Hershey’s Chocolate World had to offer. Strollers are not permitted in the individual attractions (you can have them in the shopping area/food court), so pack light. I know what you’re thinking (tourist trap?), but Hershey’s Chocolate World was truly an “ed”venture. In the NEW chocolate tasting experience, kids (and adults!) have a chance to try straight cocoa Ppods (sans sugar, cue grimace) and several kinds of chocolate just like a professional chocolate connoisseur would. They’re then asked to ‘map’ the taste by mapping the flavors they taste to a flavor/aroma wheel. Part lecture, part tasting, part history lesson and under 30 minutes — which is great for younger elementary school kids and squirmy preschoolers. The toddler, however, was not really amused passed the point of trying to stuff all of the chocolate bits in her mouth at once. So if you have very young kids, you may want to skip this.
Everyone in our family enjoyed the 4D movie which is truly interactive. During a pre-show chat, a Hershey employee finds out information about the audience and then the movie characters speak to various audience members during the show.
The highlight of our whole morning? When everyone created their own candy bar. Participants choose their chocolate base and then program the machine to mix in other favorite ingredients. Hands down winner among our crew and we have awkward hairnet selfie memories, too.
Create Your Own Candy Bar – $15.95/pp | NEW Chocolate Tasting Experience – $6.95/child, $9.95/adult | 4D Chocolate Mystery – $6.95/child, $7.95/adult | Hershey’s Chocolate Dessert Journey (Winter only) – $12.95/pp
From the 6-year-old: Make sure you mix in cookie bits in your candy bar! And yes, you need the sprinkles! They may try and trick you in the chocolate tasting. Cocoa pods do not taste good. But the Cocoa trees look so pretty in the food court!
100 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA | Part of Chocolate Covered February, Check Website for Dates/Times | $31.50/pp, includes tax and gratuity | Website
Sitting down for a hot cup of afternoon tea is one of my favorite things to do in the winter, so enjoying high “Chocolate” tea at The Hotel Hershey was a true treat. It was also the perfect thing to with the Bug while her younger brother and sister napped (with Pat, of course) in the room. Cozy couches, a lovely menu, and a hot cup of tea by the fountains. Not only was it delicious, it was a great way to decompress after a busy morning while catching up with my favorite “big” girl.
From the 6-year-old: Mix the peppermint and green teas together with a little honey. YUM! I didn’t like the salmon sandwich, but if you ask politely they might give you an extra chocolate-covered strawberry. Just saying.
Chocolate Dessert Buffet at The Hotel Hershey
100 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA | Part of Chocolate Covered February, Check Website for Dates/Times | Adults: $29.00; Children (Ages 3-8): $15.00 (includes tax and gratuity) | Website
Want to see your kids’ eyes light up? Take them to the Dessert Buffet at The Hotel Hershey. Sundae station, heart-shaped s’mores bananas foster, and a huge selection of delectable sweets. Coffee, tea, and milk available, too. We opted for plain milk because, well, So. Much. Chocolate. Can’t beat the gorgeous setting by the fountain either. Note: If we do this weekend getaway again next February, we’ll probably do the dessert buffet on a day we don’t also do Chocolate World. It’s a lot of chocolate and you want to be able to enjoy the desserts to the fullest!
From the 6-year-old: When can we go back again for s’mores?!?
Indian Echo Caverns
368 Middletown Road, Hummelstown, PA | Open daily, 10 AM – 4 PM | $18 adults, $10 chilren 3-11, Under 3 free | Website
A muddy but fun adventure! Indian Echo Caverns is a geological wonder located between Hershey and Harrisburg. Go 90 feet underground and be prepared to be wowed by stalactites, stalagmites, crystal lakes, and more. There are 72 stairs to get down to the caverns and strollers are not permitted, so a baby carrier is essential on this tour. 15-month-old toddlers and caves don’t mix well; She only lasted 32 seconds underground. So she and Pat missed the moment where the tour guide turned out the lights and we were standing in total darkness. The three-year-old and six-year-old loved it? LOVED it. Definitely wear your wellies or waterproof shoes as it gets muddy. Think caves aren’t for winter? It’s a constant 52 degrees in the cave. Felt positively balmy. Our little guy even refused to wear his jacket (before jumping in every puddle and getting soaked; that made for a fun walk UP the 72 stairs…). There’s a cute playground and a great place to picnic in the summer.
From the 6-year-old: If your tour guide forgets to tell you, ask about Wilson, the guy who lived in the cave. And total darkness isn’t so scary. Just hold your mom’s hand! Don’t forget change to ‘ride the horse,’ too.
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
222 Market St, Harrisburg, PA | Open 9:30 AM – 5 PM, Tuesday-Saturday, 11:30 AM – 5 on Sundays | Adult $16.00 , Junior (3-17) $12.50 m Under 2 FREE | Website
I’m not all that familiar with “The Burg” as Harrisburg is often referred to as, but the Science Center has to be one of the best gems in the city! Surprisingly, we had the place virtually to ourselves on a Sunday afternoon — but it was Super Bowl Sunday, so that may have had something to do with. KidsPlace, a gated playspace designed for kids under 5, was exactly what our kids needed to expend a little energy before the car ride home. A pint-sized stage, grocery store, ambulance to climb on, and even a waterworks (note: bring extra clothes for your toddler). Touch a tornado, test out your building skills against an earthquake, assemble and race model cars, launch paper airplanes, make play with levers. No one wanted to leave! A must-stop on your trip.
From the 6-year-old: Don’t miss the hurricane simulator! So windy and cool.
1.5 hour travel to Hershey, PA.
Check Into Hotel
Dinner at Harvest
Coffee and Muffins at The Cocoa Beanery (inside the hotel)
Swimming and Splash Pad Fun at the Hotel Pool
Hershey’s Chocolate World! Attractions + lunch in the food court
Naptime for Littles/ “Girls” Chocolate Tea
Rest Time/Television Show in the Room
Dinner at Trevi 5
Dessert Buffet at The Hotel Hershey
Bedtime for Littles/Night Swimming
Breakfast at The Yellowbird Cafe
Indian Echo Caverns
Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
Late Lunch at Appalachian Brewing Company
1.5 Hour Drive Home
where to stay
The Hotel Hershey
100 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA | Website
Impeccable service and beautiful accommodations — but the (cool)est thing about this hotel may be the history. Milton Hershey decided to build the Hershey Hotel in the throes of the Great Depression as a way to employ those who lived in the Hershey community. Our kids loved the indoor pool area which included a toddler/preschool friendly splash pad to run through and large pool. The hardest part was keeping them out of the hot tub, which is designated for those over 14 years of age. The double queen room we shared was comfortable for a family of five with three small kids, but we’ll probably opt for two adjoining rooms on our next trip. The staff was more than gracious and welcoming. Will caution that all of the complimentary soaps and body washes in the bathroom have a hint of chocolate scent. Great for me but not so much for Pat. He said he’ll throw his own stuff in the dopkit next time. On our next stay, we definitely plan to check out the hotel’s award-winning spa. During warmer months, the property offers a huge outdoor pool facility with slides, golf, orienteering, paintball, hiking trails, and more.
The Hershey Lodge
325 University Drive, Hershey, PA| Website
The Hershey Lodge is another official resort of Hersheypark and just happens to be the largest convention resort between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. A new indoor pool complex is opening this summer, so the indoor and outdoor pools are currently closed. The Lodge is designed for families and they offer a special kids check-in. Children experience their own check-in upon arrival, by signing the “Kids at Hershey Lodge” guest book, participating in a Hershey’s candy guessing game, and receiving their own chocolate surprise. Kids even get a lanyard that can be personalized with their name and contact information.
where to eat
at The Hotel Hershey | Open 10 AM – 9 PM Sundays, 11:30 AM – 9 PM Mondays, 11:30 AM – 10 PM on Fridays and Saturdays | Website
We stopped for a late-for-kids dinner here after we arrived at the hotel on Friday. When I mentioned to our server that we probably were in for a short visit, she winked and brought me a Pear Elderflower Collins. Yes, it’s pretty much as delicious as it sounds. Harvest is developed around a farm-to-table concept and their seasonal menus are inspired by local ingredients. Again, we didn’t think our kids were in a sit down dinner for the long haul after an hour plus car ride, so Pat ordered the Burger and I ordered the Lobster Cobb Salad. Both were delicious. The kid’s menu had more than just your standard kidfare (think grilled chicken and veggies, hanger steak with whipped potatoes, kiddie shrimp cocktail), although our bigger kids opted for butter noodles, chicken tenders, and Shirley Temples. It was vacation after all. If your kids are older or you’re there with three kids under 6 before 7:30 PM, definitely go for one of the grill entrees. They looked amazing.
at The Hotel Hershey| Open daily 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM | Website
We didn’t have to wander far to find authentic Italian cuisine — Trevi 5 is located right on the Hershey Hotel property. Which is perfect when you have a 5:15 PM reservation and a toddler melting down about wearing pants (he wanted shorts). Half of your party can be seated and snack on polenta crusted zucchini fries while whichever parent pulled the short straw convinces your toddler that pants are the way to go. Root beer bribery may be involved. Regardless, everyone will be back to smiling by the time dinner is served. Definitely try the Taleggio and Ricotta Ravioli.
1320 N 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA| Open 7 AM – 3, Tuesdays-Saturday, 10 AM – 2 PM on Sundays| Website
This charming cafe came highly recommended because of their ginormous cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any when we stopped by Sunday morning — but the banana chocolate chip muffins were a sweet substitute! They offer delicious drip coffees and have a huge tea selection. But the main stage items are their breakfast sandwiches. Get it on the english muffin. Buttery, flaky, and worth every carb. Not the Thomas variety. I tried it with roasted red peppers, pepperjack cheese and egg; Pat had a standard ham, cheddar and egg. Perfect for a chilly February morning! The cafe is small but bright and they have a cute, kid-size chalkboard wall so be sure to grab the table next to it if you can! We ended up with the table in the center of the room, which meant our kids could join everyone else’s breakfast conversations. Luckily, the regulars didn’t seem to mind. Next time we’ll plan our Yellowbird visit a little later in the day so we can stop by The Midtown Scholar Bookstore, which opens at noon on Sundays.
Appalachian Brewing Company
50 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA | Open 11 AM – 10 PM, Sundays through Thursday, 11 AM – 12 AM on Fridays and Saturdays | Website
A local brewpub that serves cheese and crackers to your kids while you wait for entrees? Scores huge points in our book. While they have several locations throughout Pennsylvania, this location is their original brewery. ABC doesn’t only brew their own beer — they brew their own root beer, birch beer, and cola. Kids got a kick out of the fact that their sandwiches come ‘branded’ with the ABC logo. Pat is now an ABC Mountain Lager convert, just in case you’re looking for a new brew to try. They offer a complimentary guided tour and sampling at this location every Saturday at 1PM. Kid’s meals are half price on Sundays.
Editor’s Note: We received complimentary accommodations, meals, and attraction entrance courtesy of Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. For more information and ideas for planning your ‘sweet’ getaway, check out their websites!