This weekend, I attended the iRetreat Conference put on by the lovely ladies of Double Duty Divas. This year, it was family friendly and they hosted it at Hershey Lodge. I love this hotel myself.
You might be thinking, no WAY can I bring dairy-free, gluten-free my kid to Hershey. This is where you are wrong! We were pleasantly surprised. Here is how we managed it:
Eat at the Bear’s Den at Hershey Lodge
This was awesome! First of all, they did it totally right – the chef came out and spoke with us. That is how it’s SUPPOSED to be handled, but you’d be surprised how rare that is. The good news is that they can cook food separately, so you can get chicken, steak, burgers with veggies or fruit for your kids – and French fries are cooked separately in canola oil. Not only that, but they served and charged for kids’ meals – not every restaurant will do this. The only thing was that one night, they still put chocolate kisses on the table (for Mom & Dad, I guess), so I advise you ask them not to include it. The food was, by the way, delicious.
Bring Breakfast and a Toaster
Lunch and dinner were great, but it’s so much easier – and cheaper – to bring breakfast. They are a traditional hotel so they do not have suites with mini-kitchens but they do have small, empty refrigerators. My husband whipped up some French toast and brought bread and peanut butter and lots of fruit, so breakfast was easy peasy since we brought our toaster!
Avoid the Characters
Nothing is worse than having your kids pout over giant-sized candy figures – who sometimes give out candy. Just avoid them. Believe me, they won’t miss them and there’s plenty of other things to do.
Avoid Room Service, or Ask Not to Send a Chocolate
Every single room service order came with a chocolate bar, and the kids would be buzzing over it. We kept forgetting but now we know better – ask them not to send or avoid room service altogether!
At The Park
Now, when you go to Hersheypark, they will list “GF”, “DF” and “NF” food locations all around the park, however, I’m a cautious person and generally stay away from grills, as the cross-contamination issues are almost never addressed at these. If cross-contamination is not an issue, then Hersheypark has lots of options. We, however, always prefer the sit down restaurants, so we went to Hersheypark Place full service restaurant, where they have the same policies as they did at the Bear Den and the food was great.
WHAT TO DO IN HERSHEY
There is so much to do here. With my kids, the pool is a GIVEN, they loved it. Next, = when you stay at Hershey Lodge (or Hotel), you get free tickets for Hershey Gardens, which includes a gorgeous Butterfly Garden (must see with your camera) and is going to be expanded to include a Conservatory in 2016. Go on a cool day! You can also check Hershey Story, the Hershey museum, which we went to last time and shows pretty much the history of accessible chocolate and, of course, Hershey. 🙂
At those hotels, you also get a nice discount off Hersheypark tickets. What I love about this park is that it has lots of music in the “streets” and tons of rides for little ones, not to mention heavy duty coasters for even strong-stomach coaster fanatics. The kids had a blast but we only went after 5pm, when you can get an even bigger discount. The Lodge and Hotel have shuttle buses to the attractions as well. This park is a bit hot, though, so try to go on a cool day, in the evening, or make sure you do what you have to keep your little one cool. As far as disability access, go to Hospitality Services and take a few minutes to fill out the form for your disabled child. You get directly on to rides by going to the exit with your wristbands. Easy as pie and no waits when we went!
You can also go to Chocolate World and take the tour. We avoided it this year – too frustrating for the kids, but I understand they have “make your own” candy which makes me a little sad for the allergies. We’d love to try that!
Now, for adults, may I recommend the Hershey Spa, especially one of their packages? Hands down, this was the best massage and treatment I ever got! Also for adults, please do not miss the Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Martini. Simply YUMMY!!
There are lots of other things to do in Hershey too and a new campground – check out Visit Hershey/Harrisburg PA for more ideas!