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need help planning a trip please

Lexington, Kentucky
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need help planning a trip please

We are planning a trip to Hershey PA in October of 2013. I realize it is a ways off, but we plan a save usually a year in advance. This is our one big vacation a year. Usually we go to the Pigeon Forge/ Gatlinburg TN area, but everyone wants to do something different this year. Someone had suggested Wisconsin Dells, but after much consideration I think we will skip it. It seems like there wouldn't be much to do there other than the Waterpark Hotels. Hershey looks neat, and we've never been to PA before.

It would be my husband and I, and our 2 boys ages 14 and 9 (at time of travel.) We enjoy pretty much a little of everything-- touristy stuff to educational, hiking.

Any ideas or suggestions to help me plan would be greatly appreciated!! Thanks so much!!!

Karen

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1. Re: need help planning a trip please

You asked for quite a tall order, there is a lot to do in the Hershey area. In Hershey itself there is Hershey Park, which has 12 coasters, a water park, thrill rides, and shows, next door is Chocolate World which has a free 'factory tour' ride, a huge chocolate store, and other activities. Nearby is The Hershey Story, a museum about Hershey, the man , the town, the company, and ZooAmerica, which has a collection of North American animals. Some other places in the area are: the State Museum and the Riverfront Park in Harrisburg, Indian Echo Caverns in Hummelstown, historic Lancaster and York, the trains at strassburg. I am sure this list could go on forever because this area has so much, but I hope that will give you a starting point.

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Bangor, Pennsylvania
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2. Re: need help planning a trip please

For the many family friendly activities in Lancaster County go to www.padutchcountry.com

most attractions will bre about 45 minutes from Hershey.

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3. Re: need help planning a trip please

Be aware of the fact that Hersheypark is only open on a few weekends in October for Halloween in the Dark. The dates for 2013 are not yet on their website. Following is a list of the many attractions in the Harrisburg/Hershey area.

1. There is the Whitaker Center, which has the Harsco Science Center (many hands-on exhibits) and an IMAX Theater (Harrisburg). (www.whitakercenter.org/science/index.asp).

2. The PA State Capitol has tours and there is the PA Museum with a variety of displays, both are in Harrisburg. (http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/toursWelcome.cfm and http://www.statemuseumpa.org/).

3. There is also a Civil War Museum in Harrisburg. (http://www.nationalcivilwarmuseum.org/).

4. Fort Hunter Park in Harrisburg has a Victorian-era mansion, restored barn, church, stable, and tavern house that illustrate life in the 1800s (http://www.forthunter.org/).

5. Harrisburg’s Wildwood Lake Sanctuary is a scenic wetland home to rare birds, delicate flowers, amphibians, and animals; the Olwine Nature Center has exhibits (http://www.wildwoodlake.org/).

6. The Middletown &-Hummelstown Railroad (http://www.mhrailroad.com/) is a nice relaxing old-fashioned railroad trip.

7. Indian Echo Caverns (http://www.indianechocaverns.com/).

8. Hershey attractions (http://www.hersheypa.com/) which include:

a. Hershey Park (http://www.hersheypark.com/index.php

b. Hershey Gardens (http://www.hersheygardens.org/)

c. The Hershey Story (http://www.hersheystory.org/)

d. Hershey Trolley Works (http://hersheytrolleyworks.com/)

e. Chocolate World (http://www.hersheys.com/chocolateworld/)

f. Milton Hershey School Founder’s Hall (mhs-pa.org/about/…)

g. Hershey Theatre (http://www.hersheytheatre.com/)

9. The Antique Auto Museum near Hershey Park( http://www.aacamuseum.org/)

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Lexington, Kentucky
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4. Re: need help planning a trip please

Thanks, everyone. I had read through the suggested travel itinerary online, but I always like to have real people give suggestions and advice....if that makes sense. :)

We don't necessarily have to stay IN Hershey. I am open to staying somewhere else centrally located then driving to other must-see attractions.

We are taking a week for vacation, so we don't have to spend the whole time in Hershey. We are open to dividing the trip up and staying at 2 different places. (We are in central KY so this will be quite a drive for us. 10 hours by car)

Thanks again!!

Karen

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5. Re: need help planning a trip please

With a week for PA in the fall, I'd recommend including Gettysburg and Philadelphia.

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6. Re: need help planning a trip please

I would also recommend Gettysburg it is not too far from Hershey. But another suggestion would be Pittsburgh. If you like wildlife there is a large Elk heard in Benezette, PA, northeast of Pittsburgh. They have a new Visitors Center and in October you can see and hear Elk bulgling.

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7. Re: need help planning a trip please

Gettysburg is a good choice if your family has any interest in history. It is the 150th Anniversary of the Battle in July, 2013. I would suggest hiring a Licensed Battlefield Guide to drive you around the Battlefield. If you are from Kentucky, the guide could point out important facts about your area and the role those men played. I would start at the National Museum and go from there.

Additional info:

http://www.gettysburgfoundation.org/

Guide info:

http://www.gettysburgtourguides.org/

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8. Re: need help planning a trip please

Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit PA. You should consider the PA Wilds area. You indicated that your family likes a wide variety of things to do. There are many hiking/biking trails. This is also the perfect time of year to see the elk.

Clearfield County is centrally located and is easy to travel to and from on I-80 (I am not sure where you would be coming from). There are many hotels located off of 80 or if you wanted a camping experience there are cabins available for rental. Of course you would want to visit Denny's Beer Barrel Pub home of the Worlds Largest Burger Challenges.

If you need more information you can go online to www.visitclearfieldcounty.org for more suggestions and ideas. Hope that helps!!

Hummelstown
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9. Re: need help planning a trip please

I'm glad that you are thinking about coming to our area! A couple of words of warning...

If you are coming in October and one of your primary objectives is to enjoy Hersheypark, it may not be the best time of year. As already mentioned, it is only open on select weekends and not every ride is available. There are many other things to see and do, so I don't want to discourage you, just make sure you know.

Also something to keep in mind is that the first full week of October is when the AACA Fall Auto meet is held. This could be a good thing or bad thing depending on how you feel about cars. If you absolutely love cars - all types, all ages, all conditions - this might be a good time. If you are not absolutely into cars, avoid Hershey during the Fall Meet. Whichever way you feel, this is the worst week of the year to drive around town, find a hotel room that is even somewhat reasonably priced, eat at a restaurant - you name it. It's all whether being a part of the Fall Meet is worth it.

That said, there is a lot to do in the area. If you are coming to our area and have any interest in history, do not miss Gettysburg. I second the suggestion of a licensed tour guide. They are amazing and do a wonderful job bringing the battle to life - at least ours did. Plus, they will drive your car and customize the day however you choose. It is about an hour away from Hershey.

Lancaster can be a fun day to see a different culture. Best place to really learn about the Amish is the Mennonite Information Center. It is the only place I've found that does the Amish and Mennonites justice without overly commercializing them. They used to offer a tour guide service much like the one in Gettysburg. It might be worth looking into.

http://www.mennoniteinfoctr.com/

You should also know that Philadelphia and Washington DC are only about 2 hours away, just in different directions. You might want to look at your travel routes and see if you can include them in this trip, but both cities could warrant a vacation into themselves.

The areas surrounding Pittsburgh are lovely for an outdoor vacation, but that might also be worth a trip into itself. These are not really day trips from the Hershey/Harrisburg area.

Good luck planning!

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York, Pennsylvania
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10. Re: need help planning a trip please

Karen6021, before you take some of these suggestions, I hope you will look at a map. Clearfield County is not what I'd call central to anything.

Since you indicated you are willing to stay in two locations, and your family has a broad range of interests, AND since Hershey Park is quite limited in hours in October.... I would recommend splitting the trip like this:

Part I:

Stay in south central Pennsylvania for three or four nights, as a base. Day trips to: Gettysburg; Lancaster; Baltimore; and if you want it, Hershey. As wild as this is for me to recommend (living here): York would be a good base for such a trip, centrally located for all these day trips. York itself is boring boring boring, but it would be just about an hour from each of these day trip locations.

Part II:

Move to Philadelphia, stay three or four nights in the city. Visit attractions in the city. There is a ton to do here--from the revolutionary era historic sites (Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc), to Eastern State Penitentiary, to theater, to art museums, to shopping, to dining.

Assuming you have, say, a Saturday to a Sunday, your trip could look something like this:

Day 1: drive to York, check-in hotel

Day 2: Lancaster / Amish country

Day 3: Baltimore

Day 4: Gettysburg

Day 5: Drive to Philadelphia, maybe see Valley Forge or Longwood Gardens en route, check-in hotel, explore

Day 6: Philadelphia

Day 7: Philadelphia

Day 8: Start the drive home--you could stay one night in western PA to break the trip up. Pittsburgh would be a good choice, and then you could get a little taste of that city.

Day 9: Drive home

Just a suggestion. I don't know if this is in fact the amount of time you have. But I think this gets you the best of southern Pennsylvania in a week's time. Of course there's no day for Hershey in there (!), so if you were set on that, you'd have to swap things around. Just keep in mind that Hershey Park itself has extremely limited hours (not open on week days at all), and limited attractions, in October.

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