Hershey, Pennsylvania for the Holidays - Simply Magical

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Disclosure: I was recently invited to visit Hershey Pennsylvania by Hershey Entertainment and Resorts.  Accommodations and schedule of activities were provided by HE&R.  All opinions are my own.

I was so excited to be invited to attend the Sweet Welcome Weekend in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  Even though we're only about 2 1/2 hours away from Hershey, I've never visited.  I'm a huge fan of all things Hershey (YUM) but I really had no idea what to expect outside of Hershey Park... and chocolate beyond my wildest dreams.

If I needed to give my review of Hershey, PA in one sentence I would have to say: I was simply blown away by how much there is to do in Hershey beyond Hershey Park.  I really had no idea (and I'll share more in 2 more posts about Hershey!).  Hershey during the winter Holiday Season is simply magical.  We had an unusually warm November weekend for our visit... but it was otherwise a Winter wonderland full of sparkles and sweets.  I fell in love with how festive absolutely everything was. How could I not?  I LOVE chocolate... and I LOVE Christmas decorations!

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Hershey Park

For the end of November through January 1st, Hershey Park turns into Christmas Candylane.  In the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas Candylane the staff of park engineers puts up 4 million light.  Read that again... 4. Million. Lights.  The sweetest park on earth becomes full of sparkles and glitter and holiday cheer.  You can find Santa and his nine reindeer resting up before their big night... and ask the reindeer helpers questions about each and every one of the reindeer (like... did you know that Rudolph has actually learned to control his shiny red nose?  He can make it shine bright when Santa needs it on Christmas eve... but otherwise... he looks like like "all of the other reindeer".)  My favorite part of our evening in Hershey Park had to be the sky-ride.  It feels very much like a ski-lift as you fly over a huge area filled with lights and the air full of holiday songs.  Even the ride line areas are decorated with trees and lights.  I found myself simply in awe of all the work that the Hershey Park crew puts in to decorating.  (I thought it was hard enough just to put out my own lights for Christmas!)

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hershey-park-christmas

Hershey Lodge

We stayed in the Hershey Lodge.  It truly does have a cozy lodge feel while actually being pretty massive and extravagant.  Right now it is so perfectly Winter holiday. It's like the lodge was made for Christmas decorations.  The evergreens everywhere, the big fireplaces, the sparkling lights, the sleigh in the lobby full of gifts, the huge 2 story tree decorated with kisses and chocolate.  The details throughout the entire lodge are amazing.  It just gives you that feeling of Christmas morning each and every day.  One of my favorite things???  Each night we would come back to the resort to find people having bedtime cocoa in their pajamas around the fireplaces.  (OK.... mostly it was kids in their pjs... but if I had my kids with me I would have ventured down in my fuzzy rob and slippers too!)

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hershey-lodge-christmas

The Hotel Hershey

We didn't stay at The Hotel Hershey, but we did get to take a tour.  It has a totally different feel from the lodge... with it's own sort of beauty.  When Hershey had the hotel built (in the middle of the Great Depression and completed in 1934), he had it designed based on a postcard from a 30-room hotel he had visited in the Mediterranean.  The Hotel Hershey has gone through renovations over the years... but amazingly when comparing current day to 1934 they have done an amazing job of staying true to the design.  For the holidays it's decorated in a little bit more of a minimalist way... but it is absolutely perfect for the hotel decor.  I was so engrossed in the historic tour that I snapped very few "holiday" photos.  But trust me... if you visit Hershey you don't want to miss seeing the Hotel Hershey.  (And ask if there is anyway to schedule a tour to learn the history!)

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Hershey Gardens

When we went to the Hershey Gardens it was the perfect day to visit their Butterfly Atrium... but it was so chilly and windy that I just couldn't get myself to explore the outdoor garden areas.  I could see through the windows that it looked lovely... but I couldn't make myself venture out in the wind.  They had us taken care of inside too though.  The tree built out of poinsettias was spectacular.  I wouldn't have wanted to miss it.  (And the highlight truly was the butterfly visit... which I'll share soon.)

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hershey-conservatory-christmas

Sweet Lights

And finally... the high light of holiday lights in Hershey?  The Hershey Sweet Lights Holiday Drive-thru Spectacular.  Amazing.  Pictures cannot do it justice.  After taking a few blurry shots I gave up and put the phone and camera away.  With over 600 illuminated displays, through over 2 miles of wooded trails to drive through... you just have to sit back in awe.  We spent the entire time exclaiming and pointing "Look reindeer! Look elves!  Look at the angels!  Look 12 maids a milking!"  Keep in mind we were a group of adult bloggers!  I can only imagine how much more magical it would be with the kids in the car.  (It's open nightly until January 1st.)  Even Hershey's Sweet Lights video doesn't show the entire display through the woods!  I'm telling you...easily one of the most impressive light displays I've ever seen.

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hershey-sweet-lights

In edition to all of the lights and holiday attractions we were shown in just a short weekend, Hershey has so many events and activities for their Merry, Bright & Happy Holiday Season.  Every location website (I believe) has some sort of calendar of events listing everything from

stories with Santa

, to

music & holiday crafts

, to

Little Elves Chocolate Workshop

.  It's just an entire month of holiday cheer!

Oh... and don't forget the hot cocoa!  (Because oh. my. goodness. the Hershey Hot Cocoa is to die for!)  On our last day they treated us to a special Cocoa Bar. Hershey's Cocoa doesn't need ANYTHING added to make it delicious... but some marshmallows and vanilla and chocolate whipped cream... oh my.

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If you're looking for a little getaway before the year is over... think about visiting Hershey, PA!

Maybe for an adults only getaway?