Anyone who grew up in the Northeast knows of Hershey, Pennsylvania. Hershey is more accessible in the north than Disney World, and has roller coasters and larger-than-life candy bars that are just as tempting. Maybe you grew up making repeat pilgrimages to the park, or maybe you went once and still feel intimately familiar with the destination. But if you aren’t from this corner of the country, more than likely, that’s not the case.
Hershey is an ever-evolving city, constantly adding new attractions, exhibits, and seasonal activities. The Hershey Story Museum, for instance, is celebrating its 10th year in operation. As an adult returning to the area, the iconic Hershey’s Kiss street lights were just about all I recognized.
Which made it all the more exciting as I watched a flight of warm drinking chocolates coming my way while sitting on the ground floor cafe of the Hershey Story Museum.
I’d tried flights of beer and wine before, but never chocolate. The barista instructed me how best to proceed, starting with the darkest chocolate and working my way to the lighter ones with less cacao. The map on the counter was my guide. The barista pointed to a box labeled “Tanzania” that read, “this rare chocolate from the rich soil of East Africa represents a small percentage of the world’s chocolate production. 75% cacao.”
I took my first taste. It was rich, exquisite, and gone in one sip. Apparently, chugging is even more of a hazard with single-origin drinking chocolate than it is with alcohol. I tasted the next two, from Venezuela and Mexico. Each disappeared just as quickly, but it wasn’t until I got to the option with 40 percent cacao content from Ghana that I appreciated the distinction between dark and milk chocolate and experienced a sense of bliss only sugar can bring.
Hershey’s Chocolate World, which used to only have trolley and factory tours with a free snack-sized chocolate at the end, now also has a 4D movie and the chance to make your own chocolate bar, complete with a custom tin. The site has also upgraded select freebies from snack-sized to full-sized.
In May 2019, Hershey’s Chocolate World unveiled its latest project, “Hershey’s Unwrapped: A Chocolate Tasting Journey.” Part class, part show, and part tasting, this interactive experience encourages guests to use all five senses in assessing chocolate, from the feel of snapping off a piece of a candy bar to the aroma of Hershey’s most popular brands.
Across the street, Hershey Gardens uses chocolate to teach about horticulture. Anthony Haubert, communications and public relations manager for the M.S. Hershey Foundation, notes that the complex “features a large variety of chocolate-themed plants throughout the Children’s Garden. The plants either smell like chocolate (such as chocolate mint) or have a chocolate name, such as Hot Cocoa Rose and Chocolate-Covered Cherry Coleus and many more.”
Hersheypark isn’t just a haven for kids anymore, either. Recent additions include adult-friendly options like the day spa that opened in 2017 at the Chocolate Spa in the high-end Hershey Hotel. The MeltSpa by Hershey is another spa that lets guests indulge in services like a dark chocolate body scrub or cacao facial at slightly lower rates than the Chocolate Spa.
The biggest upgrade, however, is yet to come. In 2020, Hersheypark is revealing Chocolate Town, a $150 million investment with five new dining options that will span 23 acres and feature a new entrance to the theme park: a one-of-a-kind fountain where the water shoots up at varying heights to form a Hershey’s Kiss. The new food options include an ice cream parlor and a themed restaurant that will be open year-round with a second-floor patio and panoramic views of the park.
Hersheypark is also installing its 15th roller coaster, called Candymonium, in Chocolate Town. It’ll be the longest, tallest, and fastest in the park. This is in addition to Boardwalk, an 11-acre water park added to Hersheypark in 2007, and seasonal offerings like the Christmas Candylane celebration and Hersheypark in the Dark, held during Halloween.
You may think you know Hershey, but this is a vastly different landscape than the one you visited as a child. Whether you want to drink chocolate, cover yourself in it, or make your own, there are plenty of sweet reasons to start planning your next trip, whether or not you have children.