A gooey, chocolatey day in Hershey, PA

We woke up this morning to find rain.  Conveniently, we were planning to spend most of the day indoors.  We drove 2 ½ hours from Altoona to Hershey, PA and went straight to Hershey’s Chocolate World.  We rode the Chocolate Tour dark ride, which was both educational and fun, had lunch, and saw the new 4D movie (which employed some innovative interactive technology, where the characters on screen interact with the audience, and the audience chooses the outcome of the film).  We then bought some gifts and couldn’t resist getting a bag of Hershey’s kisses with macadamia nuts inside, which are only available at Hershey stores and in Hawaii.

We purchased the “Create Your Own Candy Bar” experience, where you select type of chocolate and the add-ins (today they had chocolate chips, toffee, butterscotch, pretzels, and sprinkles), then watch it actually get made on the assembly line.  You then design custom packaging and get a one of a kind candy bar at the end.  We enjoyed it, although the weather resulted in long lines, so it took about an hour to get our candy bar made from beginning to end.  It was the longest wait we had on the trip thus far.  Chocolate World also has chocolate tasting “classes” and a “Dessert Creation Studio” where you buy the ingredients to construct your own delectable dessert.

Next stop was The Hershey Story, a beautiful museum dedicated to the life of company founder Milton Hershey.  Filled with artifacts and interactive exhibits, the museum takes you through his entire life, from his early bankruptcy to how he built an empire, developed a town, and gave all his money away to help others.  Truly inspiring.  They have an “apprentice” program for kids (for only $3) where kids look for answers to questions throughout the museum.  It’s fun, requires critical thinking, and at times is surprisingly hard.  The kids receive small gifts along the way, and it’s  well worth it for kids 6-12.  The Hershey Story also has several classes in their Chocolate Lab each day, from a candy bar making class to a s’mores-making class.  They run about 45 minutes and you get to eat the chocolate fruits of your labor at the end.  Had I understood the difference in advance, I would have chosen this over the Chocolate World experience – you get to actually mix the ingredients rather than making the choices on a computer screen, and you get to sit rather than stand in line for 45 minutes.

The town of Hershey also has beautiful gardens, but since it was pouring rain, we skipped them on this trip.

Food in Hershey
Chocolate World: They have a food court with slow-moving lines and acceptable sandwiches and salads.  The big appeal here is the chocolate desserts, milkshakes, ice cream, etc.

The Hershey Pantry: This quaint restaurant on Chocolate Avenue was next door to the Hampton Inn.  They have won many awards for their breakfasts, but we went for dinner and had one of the best meals on our trip, including Mandarin cashew chicken, portobello mushrooms stuffed with crab, and salmon filet with couscous.  Great place.

Hotel in Hershey
This appeared to be an older Hampton Inn, with an elevator that one guest said reminded her of the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  That said, we had a large, fully-equipped room, the staff was very friendly, it was convenient to all Hershey attractions, they had a pool and Jacuzzi, and they even had a Lord of the Rings pinball machine in the lobby.  Another great Hampton Inn experience.

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