I’m fresh from our family’s annual pilgrimage to HersheyPark, and boy do I have a lot to share about this weirdly awesome place in the middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. Yes, it’s freakin’ weird to go on a family vacation to a chocolate-filled theme park, when your main focus in life is fitness. Let me tell you something – – it’s freakin’ weird no matter what.
Most of the time when I tell people we’re going to HersheyPark, they either A.) politely smile and then think ‘WTF?’ or B.) Say “OMG is that place still around? I went there when I was a kid!” I’m here to tell you that yes it’s absolutely still around (I also went there when I was a little kid) and the very best thing about it, is the Hotel Hershey and this pool:
What if I also told you that, in addition to the alone time I get at the pool, there are also miles of running trails surrounding the hotel? That’s right! Just add sneakers and a 6am wake-up call (which is an hour longer then I usually sleep!) and I have a blissful hour of running with only the deer (I saw 7 one morning!) and my thoughts.
Not a runner? No need to fret, you can also swim laps in the indoor pool! However, before you envision an Olympic-sized swimming mecca with lap lanes and kick boards, sadly the indoor pool is not as fabulous as the trails. In fact, I showed up at 6am to one very sleepy and sour-looking lifeguard who thought I was insane. She’s probably right. You see, the pool was rather small and shallow. It went from 6 feet at the “deep end” very quickly to 4 feet at the shallow end. I still swam laps like I was at the London Aquatics Center. I was alone, it was quiet and I was on vacation. Win. Win. Win.
Now, let’s get back to the chocolate factor. It’s everywhere! When you check-in? Everyone in your party (5 year-olds included) gets a full-size chocolate bar. My husband told them I prefer dark chocolate and I got that instead of the classic milk chocolate bar. It would take me seven lifetimes to eat three giant dark chocolate bars. Sorry Mr. Hershey.
Want to spend time at the spa? You can choose from a plethora of chocolate spa treatments, while you eat chocolate and sip on chocolate drinks. There’s a chocolate shop (of course!), Chocolate World (where you can make your own personalized chocolate bars) and dishes overflowing with Hershey’s miniatures everywhere you turn. Everywhere. Even your hotel key card looks like a freakin chocolate bar!
My favorite? How about a Hershey’s Kiss Chocolate Martini? Yes, please. They also have Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and Milk Choclate martini choices. These people are chocolate geniuses.
So yes, your kids start collecting weird stuffed animals that are shaped like Ice Breakers mints, just because they’re shinny, and they’re taking pictures with life-sized candy bars every day, but hey – – it’s pretty much the same as Disney if you think about it, but you can’t eat Mickey Mouse and, last time I checked, you can’t even drink at the Magic Kingdom. Where is the magic in that?
Then, there’s the whole, truly awesome story of Mr. Milton Hershey himself. I’ll bullet it for you because, after all this chocolate chatter, I know you’re just thinking about the off-chance of a stray Hershey’s kiss in the house somewhere:
1. He was a self-made man who failed many times before finally making his first big sale in caramels. Yes, caramels.
2. He and his wife had tickets on the Titanic, but he was delayed by a business meeting, and had to miss the boat. Seriously.
3. The Hershey’s were unable to have their own kids, so instead of adopting a few kids, they adopted them all. Milton Hershey set up a school (and everything that goes with it – housing, athletics, food, counseling, etc.) for orphan and underprivileged kids that stands to this day. Actually it’s not just one school, but an elementary and high school. None of the students pay a full tuition to attend, or to live in the housing. It’s truly, truly one of the most selfless and giving acts I’ve ever seen. Oprah has nothing on Milton Hershey.
Lastly, I cannot end this post without paying tribute to the oh-so-awesome t-shirts that the public at theme parks never cease to amaze me with. With the help of my husband, we were able to narrow down our top picks of 2014:
*I received no compensation whatsoever from Hershey to write this post…but I should have!
What’s your favorite thing about vacation?
Seen any good t-shirts lately?