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The Complete Kids Guide to Hershey

Why Hershey is the Perfect Kid-Friendly Summer Destination

Looking for the perfect family vacation all kids will love? We know just the place! Hershey, Pa. is home to world-class roller coasters, a North American zoo, three resorts, live concerts and shows, delicious dining options and chocolate around every corner. Centrally located within driving distance of five of the largest metropolitan areas in the Northeast, the town built on chocolate is truly a sweet destination for families. 

If you have little ones and are considering a summer getaway to The Sweetest Place On Earth, we’ve got you covered with our complete guide to Hershey for kids.  

Where to Stay

The first step in planning a family vacation is figuring out where to stay with the kids. Lucky for visitors to Hershey, there are plenty of kid-friendly hotel accommodations in close proximity to all of the attractions. 

The Official Resorts Of Hersheypark

From the Hershey’s chocolate bar received upon check-in to meet-and-greets with Hershey Characters in the lobby*, families will love The Official Resorts of Hersheypark and their many sweet amenities perfect for kids. Guests can choose from accommodations at The Hotel Hershey, a historic Forbes Four Star, AAA Four Diamond property celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, or Hershey Lodge, a warm, welcoming, distinctly Hershey resort. Or, enjoy the fun of camping at Hersheypark Camping Resort, a year-round campground celebrating 60 years, which features cabins, RV sites and tent sites. 

The Official Resorts of Hersheypark offer many kid-friendly experiences to sweeten any stay.

Kids’ Check-In: Offered seasonally and on select weekends at The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge, kids can start their getaway with their very own check-in at our Kids’ Check-In desk in the lobby. This sweet experience allows kids to sign the kids’ guest book, participate in a Hershey’s candy guessing game and receive a chocolate surprise.

Kid-Friendly Resort Activities: Throughout the summer, kid-friendly recreation and activities are available at all three resorts. At The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge, guests can enjoy family fun, such as chocolate bingo, s’mores roasts, mini golf or glow putting, Hershey Character appearances, and more. At Hersheypark Camping Resort, kids can play at the playgrounds and indoor game room and look forward to activities ranging from educational animal programs to comedy magic shows.

Splashes At The Pool:  Don’t forget to pack the swimsuits! Kids won’t want to miss out on the splashing good times to be had at the resorts’ pool complexes. Weather permitting, outdoor pools at all three resorts open for the summer season Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Perfect for families, the outdoor pool complex at The Hotel Hershey features a family pool with zero-grade entry, two large slides and a kiddie spray deck, as well as an infinity-edge adult pool and whirlpool. Campers at Hersheypark Camping Resort can cool off in two outdoor pools and a kiddie pool. And in addition to an outdoor pool, guests of Hershey Lodge can enjoy a sweet indoor pool complex year-round called Hershey’s Water Works, complete with Twizzlers Twists water slides, a Reese’s Water Walk, zero-entry pool, sand castle spray zone, lighthouse tipping bucket, basketball hoops and more.

Families can save on a getaway to The Official Resorts of Hersheypark with sweet multi-night packages. Plus, all resort guests also receive FREE Resort Benefits, including the best price on Hersheypark tickets, free front gate shuttle service to and from the Park, extra hours at the Park, free or discounted admission to area attractions and more.

*Available at The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge

What to Do

There is plenty to see and do with kids in The Sweetest Place On Earth. Families can spend the day at an amusement park, learn about North American animals at a zoo, attend a family-friendly show, create their own candy bar, see dozens of rare butterflies, explore the history of Hershey at a museum and so much more.

Ride all day at Hersheypark

For 117 years, Hersheypark has been known as a clean and green destination for family fun. The 121-acre amusement park is open every weekend from April 1 through the end of 2023 with daily summer operations returning May 25 through Sept. 4, 2023. A great value, Hersheypark tickets include three parks in one with dozens of rides and coasters for all ages, an entire water park (open Memorial Day through Labor Day) and a zoo. 

Families Can Ride Together: Hersheypark features a unique layout with 121 acres of outdoor attractions surrounded by shady trees, ample green spaces, and fresh Pennsylvania air. Unlike other parks, Hersheypark was specially designed with thrill rides in the same area as kiddie rides to ensure families don’t have to split up throughout the Park. 

Fun For All Ages: Our extensive lineup of more than 70 rides offers something for everyone. Guests can explore rides on the Hersheypark app or website by Hershey’s candy height categories. Hersheypark has more than 20 kiddie rides, plus family favorites like the 104-year-old Carrousel with all 66 original horses and the Kissing Tower for an aerial view of the Park. We also have 15 mild to wild coasters, with Cocoa Cruiser for our smallest thrill seekers to sooperdooperLooper as the first upside-down coaster for many young guests. This summer, Wildcat’s Revenge hybrid coaster will join one of the largest and most iconic coaster collections in the United States when it opens in summer 2023. Guests must be 48 inches tall or Hershey's height category to ride.

Kiddie Swap: Ideal for families, Hersheypark offers a Kiddie Swap program where one parent may ride while the other stays with the child and then, at the conclusion of the initial ride, the parents may "swap" places. Similarly, if one parent has two children who meet the height restriction but must be accompanied by a responsible rider or who wishes not to ride alone, the parent may ride with one child while the other child waits in an appropriate ride area. At the conclusion of the initial ride, the parent may remain on the ride while the children "swap" places. 

Character Photo Opportunities: In addition to the rides, a beloved family tradition is taking a photo of children next to the Hershey Character-themed height categories in Hershey’s Chocolatetown as they grow each year. And, of course, Hersheypark is the only amusement park in the world where guests can snap a selfie with a Hershey Character.

Sweet Treats:  It wouldn’t be a trip to Hershey without treats kids love, from King Size Shakes and giant cookies to King Size Donuts and tricked-out funnel cakes. It’s every kid’s dream to visit a place themed around chocolate!

The best part? General admission tickets include a free preview, allowing guests to enter Hersheypark for 2 hours the night before their full-day visit by presenting their tickets at the main entrance to enjoy a fun-filled evening. Resort guests can enter 3 hours before closing.

Cool Off At The Water Park

After working up a sweat riding coasters this summer, park-goers can cool off at The Boardwalk At Hersheypark, an 11-acre water park located inside Hersheypark that is included with admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The Boardwalk has one million gallons of water among 16 water attractions, including water slides, a water coaster, a lazy river and a wave pool. Families with young children can splash and play all day at three kiddie attractions in The Boardwalk. Sandcastle Cove features water slides, cannons, water curtains, jets, and a pool that reaches depths of 18 inches and is accessed via a zero-depth entry ramp. Shoreline Sprayground is an all-ages water fun playground with misters, bubblers, dancing fountains, spraying jets, water curtains and a drenching tipping bucket. Bayside Pier is an ideal water attraction for little ones. It has a zero-depth entry ramp, rolling waves, fountains, tipping cones, and more. 

The Boardwalk is also home to East Coast Waterworks, an attraction that offers more than 600 interactive water features alone. The biggest splash comes from a 10,000-gallon tipping bucket for those looking to get drenched on a hot summer day.

See Dozens of North American Animals At The Zoo

ZooAmerica is an 11-acre walk-through zoo that cares for more than 200 animals representing more than 60 species from five regions of North America. Guests can see gray wolves, black bears, Canada lynx, river otters, elk and many other animals native to this continent.

Families with young animal lovers should consider elevating their zoo experience with a behind-the-scenes tour. ZooAmerica offers three special tours that guide participants through non-public areas, get them close to the animals and leave them with a deeper understanding of the animal world. For kids, we recommend the After Hours Tour, which includes feeding the river otters and black bears and touching a reptile!

ZooAmerica is included with a Hersheypark ticket only when accessing the zoo through the Hersheypark bridge during posted park hours. Regular admission to ZooAmerica is $15 plus taxes and fees. Juniors ages 3-8 and seniors ages 62+ are $13 plus taxes and fees. Children 2 and under are free.

Create Your Own Candy Bar

Conveniently located just across the plaza from Hersheypark, Hershey's Chocolate World is the official visitors center of The Hershey Company with many fun activities for families. 

Guests can learn how tropical cocoa beans become Hershey’s Chocolate on a free chocolate factory tour ride and participate in various paid experiences, including Create Your Own Candy Bar, Hershey’s Unwrapped: A Chocolate Tasting Journey, Reese’s Stuff Your Cup and Hershey Trolley Works. Plus, sip milkshakes and embrace the feeling of being a kid in a candy store as you browse their selection of Hershey’s exclusive chocolates and retail.

Pay a Visit to the Museum

The Hershey Story in downtown Hershey provides an interactive museum experience for children and adults alike, making it an excellent stop for the whole family. Guests can learn all about the life and legacy of our founder Milton S. Hershey, the town he created, and the lives he touched. Additional paid experiences are also available, including the Chocolate Lab, where guests can try their hand at chocolate pouring and decorating.  

Note: All guests of The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge receive free admission, and guests of Hersheypark Camping Resort receive discounted admission.

See Hundreds of Butterflies From Around The World

Hershey Gardens is a 23-acre walk-through botanical display garden that offers 11 themed gardens, including thousands of roses in the summer and a Children’s Garden with interactive play areas, a performance space and a place for students to learn how to grow food. During a visit, guests can check out the Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory, which includes a year-round indoor tropical Butterfly Atrium featuring hundreds of colorful butterflies from around the world. The atrium is one of only 25 year-round indoor tropical butterfly atriums in the U.S.

Note: All guests of The Hotel Hershey and Hershey Lodge receive free admission, and guests of Hersheypark Camping Resort receive discounted admission.

Where to Eat

Hershey is home to more than a dozen deliciously unique and award-winning restaurants, including some sweet dining options for families with children. 

Eat Breakfast At Fire & Grain

Families should start the day with a family breakfast at Fire & Grain. Located inside Hershey Lodge, the restaurant offers breakfast daily either as a buffet or a la carte menu based on availability. Children’s menus and buffet pricing are available, and kids receive their beverage served in a Hershey’s kid’s cup. Then, get ready for a day of exploring Hershey! Dinner and happy hour are also available daily at Fire & Grain.

Dine At The Chocolatier

Families looking for a fun lunch or dinner spot should consider making a reservation at The Chocolatier Restaurant, Bar + Patio located in Hershey’s Chocolatetown. The full-service restaurant, bar and patio is open daily this summer and features nods to past and present elements from the Hersheypark ride collection, one-of-a-kind views of neighboring attractions, and two bars. An open kitchen serves up classic family fare with a fun spin and hints of chocolate. 

Families can sit in a Tilt-A-Whirl booth at The Chocolatier to enjoy a Ferris Wheel sampler, popular burgers, and a signature dessert menu filled with your Hershey's chocolate-inspired treats like over-the-top milkshakes. The Fun to Table menu also features kids' mocktails like Laff Trakk Lemonade (blue raspberry lemonade with crushed Jolly Rancher candy). Check out our list of the top 10 items you should order during your next visit.

Cheer On Your Team At The Bears' Den

For families, sports fans and guests of all ages, The Bears' Den offers a fun hockey-rink atmosphere modeled after the hometown team, the Hershey Bears. Located inside Hershey Lodge, guests can enjoy classic American fare for lunch or dinner daily while taking in a game on one of 39 HD televisions and an enormous 7' x 12' HD video wall tuned in to all the sports action. 

Enjoy Some Dessert

Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor is located in Hershey’s Chocolatetown for guests seeking something sweet or savory. Inspired by Mr. Hershey's early ventures in sweetness that came before his famous chocolate factory, expert Ice Creamologists craft custom creations from 100% local dairy house-made ice cream, Hershey's candy toppings, decadent sauces, and more. Plus, there is a tasty shareable menu, which is perfect for families.

Right next door to Milton's is The Sweeterie Confectionery Kitchen. A great grab-and-go option, guests can choose from mouth-watering confections, including chocolate-dipped treats, decadent desserts and signature hand-crafted fudge.

For more dining options across Hershey, visit DiningInHershey.com.

If your family visits us this summer, be sure to snap some photos to remember your #HersheyparkHappy memories and tag us on social media at @HersheyPA on Twitter and @TheSweetestPlaceOnEarth on Instagram.