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Things to Do Across the US: Part 3 - Tennessee to Pennsylvania

Updated on May 6, 2014

Part 3 - Tennessee to Pennsylvania

Day four of my travel started in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and ended in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which is close to Hershey. If you missed day one of my trip that included Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, or days two and three that included Missouri and Tennessee, check out Part 1 and Part 2. Part 3 will talk about the drive from Gatlinburg to Harrisburg, and the attractions in Harrisburg, Hershey, and other nearby cities.

It was another 8 hours of driving from Gatlinburg to Harrisburg, but it was manageable. Manageable with several coffee stops, that is. Also, it was nice to be back on the East coast, so that made the ride that much sweeter. We were finally closing in on our final destination of Rhode Island. Harrisburg was our last stop before getting home.

The drive was smooth, and it was nice to see a little space between things after taking on the large cities of Missouri and Tennessee in the days prior. The drive didn't become stressful until reaching Pennsylvania. I had to switch highways more frequently, which means on-ramps, off-ramps, yielding, and merger. Yes. Yielding and merging are two different things (although most people apparently do not know that). It would be unfair of me to take the small number of Pennsylvania drivers I had the displeasure of driving near and make them representative of the entire population of Pennsylvania drivers. So, all I will say is be vigilant when driving in Pennsylvania. They're not all bad drivers, but the bad ones are definitely there. Other than that, Pennsylvania was great, just as it was the last time I was there, three years ago on the reverse of this trip.

Things to Do in Hershey, PA

Let me start by saying: If you cannot find something to do in Hershey, you are doing something very, very wrong. To help you along in your attraction finding endeavors, here is a list.

1. Hersheypark. The number one spot on this list belongs to Hersheypark, as you may have guessed. Hersheypark is a great way to spend the day. The park had rides, shows, food, and a lot more. Also, the park is very child friendly. The park isn't fully open until late May (at least this year (2014)). Having been there in early July, I can vouch for the weather. You can expect temperatures in the 80's and 90's (F). Also, it will be rather humid, but that's the East/Northeast for you. Tickets can be a bit expensive, but rest assured, you will have a great time. For adults, tickets will be close to $60, and around $40 for children ages 3-8 and seniors ages 55-69. As per usual, children under 2 years of age are admitted for free.

2. Hershey's Chocolate World. The place is called Chocolate World! Need I say more? No, but I will anyway. Chocolate World houses a number of great attractions. You can get a tour, create your own chocolate bar, watch a 4D movie, and taste a whole lot of chocolate. Additionally, there is a food court and shops where you can purchase a number of Hershey's products. In order to see all of the attractions, tickets will cost adults around $40, seniors around $35, and children around $30. Unlike Hersheypark, Hershey's Chocolate World is open year round.

3. Hershey Gardens. Hershey Gardens is a flower and butterfly garden. It isn't chocolate, but it's pretty cool to see, nevertheless. The Gardens consists of a several acres of flowers and trees, as well as the butterfly house. Like most attractions in Hershey, the gardens is kid friendly. Being as it is a garden, Hershey Gardens is open from April until October, with limited hours in November and December. This is one of the cheaper attractions in Hershey. Tickets will cost an adult around $10, seniors around $9, and children around $8.

4. ZooAmerica. ZooAmerica is a zoo located in Hershey. Like Hershey Gardens, it isn't chocolate, but who doesn't love the zoo. Like Hershey's Chocolate World, the zoo is open year round. Especially for a zoo, the tickets are very affordable. Adults will only have to pay around $11, and seniors and children are both around $9.

Harrisburg - Hershey


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More than Just Hershey

You may have decided to stay in Hershey or the nearby Harrisburg, but that shouldn't limit your vacation radius. Drive about 30 minutes south/southeast and check out Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Lancaster Pennsylvania is home to the Pennsylvania Dutch. Fun fact, the Pennsylvania Dutch are actually German. Moving on from my irrelevant fact, Lancaster is a sight to behold. Ever want to see a function Amish town? Look no further than Lancaster. If you are staying at a hotel, most of them will have brochures for area attractions. Look for brochures with specifics about attractions in Lancaster. To give a brief overview, there are a number of Amish attractions. You can tour a functioning Amish village, take a buggy ride, visit an Amish market, or enjoy any number of the county's museums and historical sites.

So, we forgot the camera in the hotel room while at Hershey.  Instead, here is a picture my wife took of me and my co-pilot.  My wife sat in the back with our son, so the Beagle got to ride shotgun.
So, we forgot the camera in the hotel room while at Hershey. Instead, here is a picture my wife took of me and my co-pilot. My wife sat in the back with our son, so the Beagle got to ride shotgun.

You Have to Enjoy the Little Things

Like the subtitle suggests, you have to enjoy the little things. Being in Hershey was great. Being only a day away from being back in Rhode Island was great. But, what really made my day was seeing a Friendly's restaurant. We got into Harrisburg around dinner time and were, of course, famished. We asked the hotel for a list of nearby restaurants. When we found Friendly's on the list, my wife and I instantly agreed to go there for dinner. It had been over three years since either of us had eaten Friendly's. Was it the best part of our trip? No, it wasn't. But, was it a nice treat? You better believe it.

Where to Stay

As I mentioned in Part 1, and in all my blogs for that matter, do your research. The Hershey area offers a plethora of hotel accommodations. There is a hotel for every budget.

So, we decided to stay at the La Quinta, as we usually do now. The La Quinta was in Harrisburg, but as you can see from the map above, Harrisburg and Hershey are in close proximity and the hotel was literally minutes from Hershey's attractions.

As I mentioned in Part 1, La Quinta hotels are great because of their spacious rooms, pillow top mattresses, rewards program, and of course, complimentary breakfast.

Next - Things to Do Across the US Part 4

Soon to come will be Part 4, the final part, of Things to Do Across the US. Part 4 will feature day five of the trip: Pennsylvania to Rhode Island. On day five we drove from Hershey, Pennsylvania to Providence, Rhode Island. Be sure not to miss Part 4, coming soon.

DISCLAIMER: I did my research, so you should do yours. While I hope my blog helped you, do not take my word for anything, especially those involving prices, weather, etc. I take no responsibility for anything that may go wrong on your trip (although hopefully all will go well).


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