Going to an amusement park in the off-season is fantastic. Over the weekend, my kids and I drove two hours to Hersheypark in Hershey, PA. The weather was reasonable (in the upper-40s), the crowds were light (at least compared to summer crowds) and the shows were well worth the drive.
Beyond Hersheypark, there’s a lot to do in Hershey, PA and it’s a great place to spend the weekend with kids, especially during the winter holidays. We took a free tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World and saw lots of great light displays at the drive-through Hershey Sweet Lights. Plus, we saw Santa. 🙂
Since we spent most of our time at Hersheypark, here are 12 fun things to do as a family at Hersheypark Christmas Candylane this holiday season (runs Nov. 11 – Jan. 1).
1. Go Ice Skating. Rent skates for $3 per pair and take a lap or two around the rink at Rudolph’s Skating Pond. It’s a fun activity that everyone can enjoy and a fun break after riding a few of the rides or taking in one of the festive shows.
2. Enjoy the Holiday Lights Show, NOEL. Starting at 5 pm, 200,000 holiday lights will dance along with holiday music like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The show takes place every 30 minutes. If you can wait until 5:30 (or later), it’s worth it to see the light show in the dark.
3. Watch A Music Box Christmas at the Music Box Theatre. I loved this colorful, musical show about a mysterious and magical music box that’s discovered up in grandma’s attic. It’s a 45-minute show that will keep your kids engaged and entertained the entire time. Plus, it’s warm in the Music Box Theatre (and they sell popcorn!).
4. Decorate Holiday Cookies. At The Cookie Workshop, choose from a snowman or a Christmas tree to decorate with icing and three cups of toppings, like sprinkles, chocolate chips and Reese’s Pieces. This is a great activity when you want to warm up and are hunting for indoor fun at the park.
5. Pose with Holiday Characters. Look out for popular Hershey’s characters decked out for the holidays ready to strike a pose with you and your kids. About mid-day, we spotted Mr. Hershey Bar wearing a festive Santa cap and a red and white scarf. Instagram-worthy, for sure.
6. Listen to a Christmas Story. Several times daily, one of Santa’s elves reads a holiday story to the boys and girls inside The Cookie Workshop. As a bonus, wait until storytime is over to pose with a friendly holiday helper, like Jingles the Moose. As a double-bonus, the storytime is in the same room as cookie decorating, so it’s a two-fer. 🙂
7. Drink Hot Chocolate. Sure, you can get hot chocolate anywhere, but only at Hersheypark can you get hot chocolate made with Hershey’s Chocolate. No Swiss Miss here. For $10.75, buy a red souvenir mug and drink all the hot chocolate you want for free the day you’re in the park. It’s perfect for chilly days.
8. Go on the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour. If you’ve ever been to Hersheypark, you’ve probably visited Hershey’s Chocolate World. And, you’ve most likely gone on the free Hershey’s Chocolate Tour (we love the singing cows), but since the tour was re-vamped earlier this year, you’ll want to check it out again (as a bonus, free chocolate!).
9. Visit with Santa. Wait in line at Santa’s Candy Cottage to meet with Santa and share all of your holiday wishes. Go early and make note of the times when Santa will be on a break. You can also see Santa at Hershey’s Chocolate World as part of Breakfast with Santa & Mrs. Claus or at Hersheypark Place where you can eat breakfast or lunch with Santa and Mrs. Claus weekends through Dec. 18.
10. Meet Santa’s Reindeer. Where else can you visit with all nine of Santa’s reindeer? Certainly not the shopping mall. Head over to the stables inside Hersheypark for a meet-and-greet with a few of Santa’s most important helpers on Christmas Eve.
11. Get a King-Size Milkshake. Trust me on this. We ordered just one Reese’s milkshake for the four of us from Simply Chocolate. It’s so amazing, and apparently well-known, since we had two families come up to us to ask where to get the shake. For the holidays, look for two special shakes, mint chocolate chip and frozen hot chocolate.
12. See Hershey Sweet Lights. Though technically across the street from Hersheypark, it’s a must to drive through Hershey Sweet Lights for all the fantastic light displays. There’s a separate fee, but there are a lot of displays to enjoy. Plan to spend at least 30 minutes driving through the displays. Here’s a 15-second preview.
Disclaimer: My kids and I received complimentary tickets to check out Hersheypark and Hershey Sweet Lights. However, I was not compensated for this article and all views expressed here are my own.