Known as “the sweetest place on earth,” Hershey, Pa. is home to the company that created Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and York Peppermint Patties. The aroma of chocolate fills the air as soon as you arrive on Chocolate Avenue, the town’s main street, which is lined with vintage Hershey Kiss street lamps. Hersheypark buzzes with excitement as kids and adults squeal with delight at an amusement park filled with thrilling rides and attractions. Taste buds are tempted at a warehouse-size candy shop and chocolate food court. And sad sacks don’t stand a chance here, as a one-tank trip to the the town Milton built promises chocolate-coated perfection every time.

Getting There

The 95-mile, two-hour trip from Philadelphia to Hershey begins with a 78-mile ride along I-76 West. Take Exit 266 to PA 72 North for two and a half miles, then head west on US 322 for 11 miles of dairy farms and fertile farmland. Make a right on Homestead Road, then turn left on East Chocolate Avenue. If you travel on summer weekends, expect thoroughfares choked with tour buses and family minivans.

Photo Credit: Hershey Park/Facebook

100 W. Hersheypark Dr.
Hershey, PA 17033
(800) 437-7439

Price: $57 ages 9 to 54/$36 ages 3 to 8 and 55 to 69/$23 ages 70 and older/free ages 2 and younger

Ninety-acre Hersheypark was originally developed by founder Milton Hershey in 1905 as a recreation center for his factory workers. Today, the popular playground houses 65 rides, games and attractions. A couple dozen amusement and water rides are offered, but don’t miss the Sooperdooperlooper, the East Coast’s first looping coaster, and the Roller Soaker, a roller coaster featuring a wet and wild water fight between riders and spectators. Kiddie rides for the tots, old-fashioned wooden roller coasters, amphitheater concerts and sea lion hijinks at the Aquatheatre make for a fun-thrilled and memorable experience for young and old alike.

Related: 5 New Rides Coming To Six Flags During 2012 Season

Photo Credit: Hershey’s Chocolate World/Facebook

Hershey’s Chocolate World
251 Park Blvd.
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-4900

Price: free

After filling up on rides, head over to Hershey’s Chocolate World to fill up on chocolatey treats. While you can’t actually tour the chocolate factory, visitors may take a free tour ride of a mock factory and receive a complimentary sample of a Hershey’s confection. Stop into the chocolate shop for all of your favorite Hershey products, or make a stop at the smaller shops that sell Hershey T-shirts, toys and tins. Create your own original candy bar, visit the 3D theater, or take a chocolate tasting mini-course. To satisfy your sweet tooth further, try some fresh-baked cookies and specialty milkshakes at the chocolate food court.

Related: Top Chocolate Shops In Philadelphia

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201 Park Ave.
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-3860

Price: $10.50 ages 9 to 54/$8.50 ages 3 to 8 and 55 and older/free ages 2 and younger/$40 per person for after hours tours

Be sure to visit the wildlife at ZooAmerica, an 11-acre zoo featuring more than 200 North American animals that includes everything from alligators to long-eared owls. For true nature lovers, schedule your day so that ZooAmerica is last on your agenda, and enjoy the after-hours tour, a kid-friendly close up and personal look at the zoo held on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Be sure to plan ahead, though, and book and pay for your tour 72 hours in advance!

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Cocoa Beanery Coffee Shop & Cafe
325 University Dr.
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 533-3311

Hersheypark has plenty of eating options, but if you want to break free of the amusement park madness, try the Cocoa Beanery Coffee Shop & Cafe. Located in a restored Victorian building, the cafe offers scrumptious pastries, gourmet coffees, soups, sandwiches and paninis at prices that won’t break the bank. While the adults partake in a croissant ham BLT, the kids can chow down on a Hershey’s chocolate, peanut butter and fluff sandwich. Just make sure to leave room for locally-made ice cream.

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Chocolate Avenue Grill
14 West Chocolate Ave.
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 835-0888

Situated in historic downtown Hershey and overlooking Hersheypark, the Chocolate Avenue Grill has a menu to please every taste. Despite the eatery’s moniker and location, there are no cutesy candy-named entrees here. The kids’ menu offers such fare as personal pan pizzas for $4 and fried shrimp for $4.50. Satisfy those starved palates on salads, wraps, sandwiches, pasta, steak, veal, chicken and seafood dishes, including Mrs. D’s Lasagna, teriyaki chicken and Key West Scallops.

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Mount Gretna Lake
130 Lakeview Drive
Mount Gretna, PA
(717) 964-3130

Price: $16 ages 12 to 59/$8 ages 4 to 11 and 60 and older/free children younger than 4

If the crowds and heat get you down at Hershey, cool off at Mount Gretna Lake. Located about 12 miles southeast of Hershey, the eight-acre property offers a sandy beach for sunbathing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and inner tubing. Kids may even swing into the water from a circus-style trapeze or dive off a wooden dock. Forest trails, a garden with fairy statues, a playground and picnic areas complete the picture.

Susan DeFeo has been a professional writer since 1997. She served as a community events columnist for New Jersey’s “Cape May County Herald” for more than a decade. A writer for numerous online publications, Susan has covered health, fitness, beauty and travel, all subjects that are near and dear to her as a married mother of seven children. Her work can be found at