Day 5: Highway to Hershey

Trip Start Jul 15, 2011
Trip End Jul 25, 2011

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Where I stayed
The Hotel Hershey
Read my review - 4/5 stars
What I did
Traveled to Hershey, PA

Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday July 19th

After four busy days in Philadelphia, we checked out of our hotel this morning and prepared for our trip to Hershey, PA. I reserved a rental car which I obtained by walking a few blocks down from our hotel to retrieve and we were officially pulling away from the hotel just after 10:30am. But, before we left Philly we had some unfinished business to attend to: visiting the Liberty Bell. If you read our experience from Saturday, the line was too long and the day was too hot wait to get into the Liberty Bell Center. As we drove by the Liberty Bell Center this morning we noticed a short line to get in so that provided our opportunity to see the famed bell. The problem with now having a car was finding a parking spot on a weekday/workday in downtown Philly. As we circled a bit we finally found a parking garage charging basically by the minute – but at least we found a spot.

We rushed over to the Liberty Bell Center and after a short 10 minute wait in line we were in the spiffy and air-conditioned building (yes, it's still hot and humid in Philly – the Texas heat is following us!).

The set up inside the Center showed pictures of the Bell and its history as you walked towards the opposite end of the facility and the Liberty Bell itself. A mass grouping of folks stood around the Bell waiting for their turn to stand next to it for a photo. The more famous side with the crack had the longest queuing so we simply went on the opposite side and were able to walk right up and snap away. (check out our family picture).

After a few more pics and some videotaping we headed back for our car and our next, and last, stop in Philadelphia, a special quest to satisfy Aria’s love of ketchup. You’re saying, "OK, what???" Well, here’s the background: If you didn’t know, Aria loves ketchup and puts a ton of it on fries and other things. So when I found a magazine article about unique, regional-flavored potato chips one that caught Aria’s eye was a brand called Herr’s Ketchup-flavored potato chip. This was sold only in Pennsylvania. So we saved that article and I promised Aria we would get her some of the chips before we left PA. Online I found a store in south Philly which sold them and there we headed. Once in the store we almost became crushed when, after Aria, Jadin and I searched the chip aisle, the ketchup chips were nowhere to be found. I just knew for sure they had them since I even called the store last night to confirm and I was told they were there. Well, after our futile 10 minute search up and down the aisle and noticing a dejected Aria – I started my walk to the customer service desk to voice my displeasure. Things changed in a hurry when I found a special display of the prized ketchup chips right near the front of the store! My face lit up, and when I brought a handful of the small snack-sized packages to Aria she was smiling so big I almost melted. We got them! Our quest was complete!

Bye-bye Philly!

Next, we headed for an outlet mall just outside of Philadelphia to do some quick shopping but didn’t find much in the way to excite us. We did purchase a few items but not much in way of unusual. In all the extra time spent going to the Liberty Bell and our ketchup chip quest we ran out of time to get to the Crayola Factory in Easton, PA as I had on our itinerary. The 1 ˝ hour drive to get there would have left us with not much time to enjoy ourselves, so instead we headed straight for Hershey. As disappointed as the kids were to hear we were not going to the Crayola Factory, I offered them swimming at the Hotel in Hershey tonight and that cheered them up. They’ve wanted to go swimming since we started our vacation.

The drive to Hersey was smooth along a turnpike. I notice there were plenty of dairy farms along the way with a winding and tree-filled landscape. An uneventful drive is a good thing. We arrived at the Hotel Hersey around 5pm and what a beautiful hotel it is. Built by the Hershey Family and their chocolate empire, it’s a spread-out resort with elaborate landscaped gardens, detailed crown molding and elaborate trimming throughout the hallways and rooms and well-attended staff (the valet remembered my name!). There were nice touches in the room such as fluffy robes a big flat-screened TV and even a DVD player. Upon check in we were provided room keys that looked like Hershey chocolate bars but not to tease us, we also were handed four full-sized Hershey bars (yes, Aria immediately wanted to eat it).

As Laneshia took to her routine of cleaning the hotel room upon arrival (Thanks Laneshia for taking care of us!), I got the kids out of her way by taking them to the massive grounds on the back of the resort. Here the resort featured an outdoor ice skating ring (with no ice but usable with in-line skates), a huge pool with waterslides (the kids eyed this big time) and the Cocoa Kids Club which was an indoor playhouse for kids which Jadin and Aria will attend tomorrow morning while I golf and Laneshia spas. I took them inside the cool looking Kids Club for a preview and to meet the staff that will be entertaining them as well to find out what was they had planned to do with the kids in the morning. Let’s just say Jadin and Aria became very excited with the options: skating, swimming, arts/crafts, videos, video games, basketball, soccer, etc… I could go on. The best part is the staff said: “you’ll have the run of the pace” as Jadin and Aria were the only kids who signed up so they would be free to choose the morning activities. The kids are not going to sleep tonight they’ll be so excited.

Heading back to the main part of the hotel the kids took a quick run through an outdoor garden/maze – this place is nice. By the time we returned it was now time to grab some dinner which Jadin didn’t want (he wanted swimming and eating was getting in his way). Well, he had to wait, sad to say.

We took a 25 minute car ride to downtown Harrisburg, PA to a used bookstore/café called MidtownScholar Bookstore ( that was well regarded in the Harrisburg tourist guides. Unfortunately, right as we arrived at 6:50p we found the place was closing early tonight at 7pm (Ugg, again we’re being forced out at closing time!)

Well, the website didn’t say anything about a 7pm closing. We found out it was for a special concert they were having there in the bookstore and they were charging a cover charge to get in – so everyone had to leave or pay $10 to stay. Feeling frustrated, I asked for the manager—we didn’t make this trip for nothing—and upon calmly explaining we read about his store in Texas and made a special trip from the Hotel Hershey to get here, the manager gladly welcomed us to stay and browse (hooray! Way to show PA hospitality). I offered to show my ID to prove we were from Texas, however the manager nicely said no need, he knew I wasn’t from around there from my “accent” (but I promise you, I didn’t say “ya’ll’ once!)
While we browsed for books we got to hear the band that was to perform do their rehearsal for their 7:30pm performance. We purchased some books but didn’t stay too long however – I’m sure the band was going to be good but it wasn’t our type of music.

By now we really needed to eat so we drove aimless through downtown Harrisburg but found nothing that tempted us. We hit the road back to the hotel where along the way we exited at another location and found a small brick pizzeria called Santos Pizza – obviously locally owned. The sign said it was open but there were no cars in front. I got nervous: What does not having any customers say about the quality of the food???

We decided to take a chance simply because I didn’t want to go to a chain restaurant (a Pizza Hut was down the street, but why play it safe?) To our relief a few local folks did filter in after we ordered. And upon receiving our food 15 minutes later it was well presented and tasted great. Laneshia had a salad and shared baked lasagna with Aria. Jadin had a cheese pizza and I had this wonderful looking stromboli.

Returning to the Hotel at 9pm, the kids were antsy to get in the pool so they rushed to change into their swimsuits and they rushed me downstairs to the indoor pool. There they got about an hour of splash time before the pool shut down – just enough to wear them out. After their baths they were knocked out just about mid-night, pretty late for them, but hey we’re on vacation.
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My Review Of The Place I Stayed

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Yvette on

were the ketchup chips any good?

dubnation on

Aria loved them. If we get a chance we'll have to buy some more. The company that sells them (Herr's) has them available for online purchase as well.

Jaleen on

Hmmm... Ketchup chips... I suppose I'd try them! Glad you finally got to see the bell!

Cousin Von on

Wow! it looks like you guy's had a ball. Jr remember those vacation we had when we were little. It's great to see kids have a vaction too.

Love you guy's see you soon.

dubnation on

Yeah, I remember getting bit by a dog on a trip to Oklahoma with my cousins when I was little!

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