11 Delicious Romantic Things to Do in Hershey PA And Downtown Hershey: Kiss Kiss

WHY GO: The product that made Milton Hershey a household name – chocolate – dominates mostly all things to do in Hershey PA: at Hershey Park; in the Resorts; and on Chocolate Avenue downtown Hershey, where the streetlights are shaped like Kisses. It’s not been called “The Sweetest Place on Earth” for nothing.

One of the most overlooked attractions in Downtown Hershey, though, is its most important: The Milton Hershey School. If you come to Hershey and do nothing else, take an in person or virtual tour of this free residential school for 1,900 disadvantaged kids in K-12.  A part of every dollar you spend in this company town goes toward the care, nourishing, and education of the children there.

Of course, most people come to Hershey, in PA’s Derry Township, for the amusement Park, the Chocolate Spa, or the stars who appear at Giant Center. But make it a point to learn a bit about The Hershey School.  You will be moved.

Hershey PA joins this roster of 18 Top Romantic Getaways in Pennsylvania. You might just get some more romantic getaway ideas.

Things To Do In Hershey PA Including Downtown Hershey

Milton Hershey School PA
Milton Hershey School PA

VISIT: The Milton Hershey School

Built in 1909 by Milton Hershey and his wife as a school for orphan boys, the Milton Hershey School has grown from a handful of students to nearly 1,900 boys and girls today. Childless Milton left his complete fortune to the foundation that keeps this free sanctuary in operation for kids from broken families or dysfunctional homes.

Dedicated teachers are of the Miss Honey variety; compassionate, engaged and warmhearted.  If you’d like to stand within the World’s Second Largest Rotunda – Founders Hall – and learn about the difference this place makes to many kids, please make arrangements through the School Office.

Hershey Story Hershey PA
Hershey Story Hershey PA

VISIT: The Hershey Story Museum, Downtown Hershey

During WWII, when aluminum foil was unavailable, the Hershey Chocolate Co. stopped making Chocolate Kisses and churned out 1.6 billion Ration Bars for US Troops instead.  Find this bit of trivia and the Parade Magazine version of Milton Hershey’s life at the engaging Hershey Story Museum in downtown Hershey – with interactive exhibits galore.

In response to the harsh and abusive conditions Hershey saw in other Industrial Company Towns, he vowed to make his a kinder, gentler, prettier place.

He offered decent housing at reasonable prices for his employees and encouraged residents to start their own businesses. He built community buildings, two theaters, a school for orphans and a recreational park that would become roller-coaster central – HersheyPark.

His Foundation established the Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center in 1963, and according to one bank Chair,  “Milton measured success not in dollars but in the usefulness of those dollars for the benefit of his fellow man.”  Stop long enough to watch videos of the kids who went to or are attending the Hershey School; they talk about the stability, motivation, and compassion they find there.  I dare you to leave the museum dry-eyed. Check website for hours, programming, and admission costs.

VISIT: AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum

The AACA (Antique Automobile Club of America) Museum showcases dozens of iconic motorcars displayed in a hanger-sized building, and is fast becoming a hotspot for “quirky” weddings. Pick up a souvenir in the Dog House Garage Store on your way out. Check website for dates and hours open – and entry fees.

VISIT: Pennsylvania State Police Museum

Yet another museum that has nothing to do with chocolate, the Pennsylvania State Police Museum does provide an appreciation of what these officers do on a daily basis. Learn the history of the force, what it takes to be an officer, and a memorial to those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Among a range of exhibits, there’s a Thompson Submachine Gun – aka “Tommy Gun” – initially sold to the US Postal Service (to thwart robberies at the time). These deadly weapons became the hallmark of Depression-Era gangsters, and were banned from being manufactured in 1986.

Chocolate World, Hershey PA
Chocolate World, Hershey PA

DO: Hershey’s Chocolate World

The Hershey’s Chocolate World attraction is free, fast (only 15 minutes), and fun. It’s  just like a Disneyworld ride without the expense. Jump aboard carriages that convey you through the chocolate-making process.  Animatronic cows croon “it’s all about the milk,” as you see cocoa beans roasted, milled, pressed and mixed with milk and sugar to become, ta-da, Hershey’s kisses and other chocolate products.

Amazingly, Hershey Chocolate Co. still produces over 70 million kisses every day, and you can buy bags of them, along with Peanut Butter Cups, and other favorites, as you exit through the gift shop. Check website for hours, always free.

Jack Hubley Falconry Experience at Hershey Hotel PA

DO: Learn Falconry

“There’s nothing like calling a hawk and seeing this small bird getting bigger and bigger as it approaches your gloved hand,” says Master Falconer and NBC News 8 Naturalist, Jack Hubley.  Hubley teaches beginners to handle these birds of prey through his Falconry Experience at The Hotel Hershey. Take a 1 ½ hour lesson, then holler for your own hawk.

DO/SPA: Chocolate Spa, Hotel Hershey

Luxuriate in a 15 minute patented Whipped Hot Cocoa Bath Awarded a U.S. patent in 2001, it’s an experience comparable to sitting in a cup of hot chocolate and the Chocolate Spa At Hershey‘s most popular add-on treatment.

There are dozens of various treatments including a new, edible facial and Caramel Kiss Mani-Pedi. Leave it to the folks at Hershey to determine all kinds of ways to be immersed in the sweet stuff; dipped like fondue, wrapped like a burrito, and submerged — all without a single calorie! Contact the Spa far in advance to secure reservations, since they fill up quickly. 

Melt Spa By Hershey Downtown Hershey PA
Melt Spa By Hershey Downtown Hershey PA

DO/SPA: MeltSpa by Hershey

Chocolate spa treatments are in high demand in Hershey PA. So, it was wise of Hershey Co. to open up the second Day Spa, Meltspa By Hershey, in downtown Hershey to 1) catch the overflow of guests at Hershey Hotel’s Spa, and 2) serve as an alternative for locals.

I had a chance to chat with several local professional women who appreciated the fact that they can easily visit this in-town spa without all the rigmarole of checking in and waiting for services at the hotel. I’ve been to both now and can attest to the timesaving factor and similarities of services. Though the ambiance at MeltSpa, including the small “Relaxation Room,” is not as posh as the hotel’s, the treatments are equally fine. All in all, MeltSpa at Hershey measures up to the Hershey name.

SEE: Hershey Entertainment Shows And Sporting Events

The Hershey Company manages two entertainment venues. When you tire of all the roller coasters and rides, check out what’s playing (or who’s playing) at either one of these:

Hershey Theatre

The Hershey Theater presents touring Broadway Shows, concerts, and other stage performances.

Giant Center

Watch your favorite hockey team play the local Hershey Bears at the Giant Center, which also hosts large scale productions, like top star performers, and Disney on Ice.

Restaurants In Hershey PA, And Downtown Hershey

The Circular Restaurant at The Hershey Hotel

EAT: The Circular, Hotel Hershey

The Circular was updated to reflect the tastes of today’s foodie travelers. An O-shaped bar and baking station takes up the center of the whitewashed room (no more mural).  Gas-light-style lamps illuminate wood furniture made in the USA. Gone are “bartenders,” and in their place inventive “mixologists” who use house-made infusions in artful (and delectable) cocktails.

Chefs and managers understand au courant – small-plates market. Sit at the circular bar (hey ladies, it’s got built-in purse hooks!), graze on absurdly scrumptious meat, fish, and veggie dishes.

Golden brown pastry stuffed with seasoned wild mushrooms

End with assortment of chocolates in many forms.  The Circular is Hershey Hotel’s return to excellence and relevancy on the upscale, destination dining scene. 

EAT: Trevi 5, Hotel Hershey

You can hear screams from the nearby roller coaster riders while enjoying your meal on the patio of Trevi 5, a lovely linen-tabled Contemporary Italian restaurant.  The food is terrific, and the service warm and gracious.

EAT/BREAKFAST: Hershey Pantry

Go “off-campus” to the local favorite breakfast place, The Hershey Pantry, where you can stuff yourself with Stuffed French Toast and other only-on-vacation breakfast splurges.

EAT: The Chocolate Avenue Grill, downtown

The Chocolate Ave. Grill offers an inventive and delish take on burgers, sandwiches and salads.  Not an ounce of cocoa in them.

EAT/DRINK: Iron Hill Brewing

Iron Hill Brewery has made a name for itself, since it opened its first facility in 1995. Now, with 20 locations (each independently owned) this one in Hershey is popular with those who love fresh beer and folks who are looking for some decent upscale pub food.

EAT/DRINK: Rotunda Brew Pub

Visitors and locals rave about the friendly service, great food, and nice ambiance at Rotunda Brew Pub. Sip cocktails or the latest brews (seems that Rotunda has a focus on fruity sours) while joining a Trivia contest or other event.

Where To Stay In Hershey, PA

Fountain Lobby at Hotel Hershey PA

STAY: The Hotel Hershey

Philanthropist Milton Hershey put 600 people to work during the Great Depression in 1933 to build his marquee Hotel Hershey. Though a bit bland on the outside, the interior, particularly the colorful Moorish Fountain Lobby (designed like the Heliopolis Hotel in Egypt), and The Circular Dining Room, are magnificent.

Family-crest chic rooms in soothing neutral shades are lusciously appointed. The Chocolate Spa is located on-premises, as are a slew of resort amenities and of course lots of shops that carry all things, Hershey. You stay includes discounts to Hershey Park, a free shuttle to local attractions, free passes to area museums, and a host of amenities.

Hershey Lodge Guest Room Hershey PA
Hershey Lodge Guest Room Hershey PA

STAY: Hershey Lodge

Once upon a time, The Hershey Lodge was the more rustic, “family-friendly” brother of the upscale Hotel Hershey. But most of the 665 rooms and suites at the Lodge have been refreshed to luxury standards. Plus, the lobby sports a large and impressive four-sided stone fireplace around which HersheyPark-weary parents take a much-needed load off.

Hershey Lodge Lobby Hershey PA
Hershey Lodge Lobby Hershey PA

Of course, as a Hershey Co. property, you get a full-sized Hershey’s Chocolate Bar at check-in. And, your room includes an hour early access to Hersheypark, complimentary admission to Hershey Gardens, complimentary admission to the Hershey’s Story Experience, free front-gate shuttle service, and discounts on Park Entrance fees.

Guestroom at Inn at Westwynd Farm Hershey PA

STAY: Inn at Westwynd Farm

Not every lodging in the Hershey area is part of the company town.  Take this 32-acre working horse farm /B&B, just three miles away. With an ambience ripped from the pages of a romance novel, 11 pasture-view rooms at the Inn at Westwynd Farm have a fireplace and bedside Jacuzzi and are done up in whites and creams offset by deeply colored window treatments and bedding.

Watch a variety of horses gambol all over a vast expanse of farmland. Westwynd Farm is known for its three course hot breakfast served in the cathedral-ceiling great room or on an outside patio besides a koi pond.

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  • Malerie Yolen-Cohen

    Malerie Yolen-Cohen is the Author of the cross-country travel guide, Stay On Route 6; Your Guide to All 3562 Miles of Transcontinental Route 6. She contributes frequently to Newsday, with credits in National Geographic Traveler, Ladies Home Journal, Yankee Magazine, Shape.com, Sierra Magazine, Porthole, Paddler, New England Boating, Huffington Post, and dozens of other publications. Malerie’s focus and specialty is Northeastern US, and she is constantly amazed by the caliber of restaurants and lodging in the unlikeliest places.

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