We’ve starting doing more and more little family side trips, especially at Christmas. We started a few years ago when we took a totally for-fun, not sponsored, not hosted trip to Philadelphia. We were amazed at how just a little time away from the daily stresses of home life, surrounded by beautiful holiday decorations really got us into the Christmas spirit. This December, I was determined to squeeze in a similar trip to a city well-suited for holiday family travel, Hershey, PA.
When I joined the Sweetest Moms program with Hershey, they offered to host two family trips for us. Our summer trip to Hersheypark was a no-brainer. It’s prime time for theme parks! For our second trip, we were offered a stay at Halloween time for Hersheypark in the Dark or at Christmas time. I knew that Hershey must be magical at Christmas time and our trip this past weekend confirmed it.
If you live within driving distance of Hershey or you’re looking for a family holiday getaway, here are the top 3 reasons to check out a chocolate-covered winter wonderland!
1. The Decorations!
The Hotel Hershey
We were fortunate enough to stay again at The Hotel Hershey, an elegant mediterranean themed hotel commissioned by Milton Hershey himself. Throughout the hotel, you’ll see many influences from his time spent in Cuba, one of his original sugar suppliers.
Throughout the hotel, we saw wreaths and trees and lights, even outside on the lamp posts.
The Hershey Gardens
In fact, we saw evidence of Christmas everywhere we went including the Hershey Gardens. Tickets to the Gardens are included anytime you stay at a Hershey property. And if you’re worried that it’s too cold for the Gardens, you won’t be disappointed. We ventured over to the Hershey Gardens just across from The Hotel Hershey to enter the Butterfly Atrium (at a balmy 80 degrees) filled with all sorts of exotic butterflies. We even got a lovely view of an indoor poinsettia tree.
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
The real Christmas happenings were over at Hersheypark.
The time of year, the park is reimagined as Hersheypark Christmas Candylane. A few rides are still open including most of the kiddie rides and classics like the Kissing Tower, Sunoco Speedway, and many of the smaller coasters (including the indoor Laff Track fully decked in holiday attire).
We skipped most of the rides because we were there mainly to enjoy the Christmas-specific festivities like ice skating, live reindeer, and the Christmas-themed show at the Music Box Theatre.
To be completely honest, we were there for the Christmas-specific festivities AND the lights. When it comes to lights, I say you can’t have too many.
2. The Lights!
Hersheypark Christmas Candylane
The park is open most weekend days (and Friday evenings) and well into the night. It pays to arrive early if you want to experience less crowds. And even as dusk hits, you’ll still be able to see the lights bringing the park to life.
During the day actually allows you a better look at the candy-themed decorations like the lollipops and candy canes. And it allows you to truly get a sense of just how many lights are used, especially on the trees.
After dark is when the park really comes alive. At the entrance, you’ll see your favorite Hershey’s characters like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (one of my favorites!) as well as what I’m calling gumball trees and more lollipops and candy canes.
Just walking through the park is worth the view when you see a simple eatery like Founder’s Way transformed into a magical show of lights.
My absolute favorite view in the park was standing on one of the bridges and catching the light show. The trees were synched to Christmas music as the whole park came to life with holiday lights and sounds.
Hershey Sweet Lights
After we left the park and enjoyed a fabulous dinner in downtown Hershey at Devon Seafood + Steak, we made one last stop to get our fill of lights. Right behind The Hotel Hershey is the drive-through light show known as Hershey Sweet Lights. With nearly 600 displays, this is the longest and most elaborate light show I’ve seen!
Although lights are one of my favorite parts of Christmas, the last reason is my favorite reason to visit Hershey at Christmas.
3. The Memories!
Had Evan been a little younger (he’s never liked taking pictures with Santa), I would have loved a photo in the Fountain Lobby of The Hotel Hershey where a very authentic Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for family photos.
I did, at least, get him to post (willingly!) outside of Hershey’s Chocolate World.
And I loved that he suggested a photo just inside the Hersheypark gates where he said we could take a picture every year and compare how much he grows. I guess he’s planning a return trip!
Memories are also made with friends as well as family. We coordinated our trip with my friend Susan and her daughter, Mia, who giggled when I did an impromptu photo shoot of her in the Fountain Lobby.
She must not have minded too much because she invited herself along with my family for a second look at the butterfly atrium.
Although our time was short and the weather was cold and the crowds were, well, crowded, we had a blast getting a chance to experience Hershey at Christmas.
We received a complimentary one night stay at The Hotel Hershey as well as admission tickets to all of the events shown above as part of the Sweetest Moms program. All opinions are my own.