There are many reasons to visit the sweetest place on Earth. With over 120 acres of endless fun to be had for kids of all ages and 15 world-class roller coasters, Hersheypark is the family-favorite destination of the northeast. Set on the rolling hills of Pennsylvania, it’s a rare gem of a theme park that feels homey and charming while boasting an impressive selection of attractions. Of course, given it’s a theme park inspired by the rich history of chocolate, it’s also the place where all your candy-coated foodie wishes can come true.
By Carly Caramanna
At the property’s theme park, two Hershey resorts, and neighboring Chocolate World, you’ll find an impressive array of all things sweet and savory to satisfy any craving. Their culinary team has made major upgrades in recent years and the park now proudly holds its own against the other premier theme park destinations in the U.S.
The list of musts includes longtime fan favorites and regional delights as well as some newcomers, thanks to the park’s most recent expansion, Chocolatetown. The company’s most ambitious and largest expansion to date features three new restaurants honoring Milton S. Hershey’s history, including The Chocolatier, set to open for the 2021 season. This full-service restaurant is poised to offer a truly unique theme park dining experience with past and present pieces from their ride collection, as well as chocolate infused menu items and selections inspired from Milton’s own family recipes.
Here are the 15 best things to eat and drink at Hersheypark:
Hand Rolled Pretzels
Pennsylvania — or as I like to call, it “Pretzelvania” — is the motherland of pretzels in the U.S. Hersheypark makes some of the best, if not the best, soft pretzels in the region using the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. The result is a pretzel that is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside with a rich and buttery flavor. At the Pretzel House near the front of the park in Founder’s Way, you can choose from six flavors (cinnamon sugar, parmesan, garlic, jalapeño, and cinnamon raisin), but I’m partial to the classic salted pretzel. Dips include chocolate, honey mustard, vanilla buttercream icing, or classic cheese. This will put other theme park pretzels to utter shame.
Don’t be fooled by their seemingly simple nature, these donuts are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Hersheypark’s mini donuts are made right before your eyes and are somehow so incredibly light you’ll be able to avoid rolling yourself to the next coaster.
Chicken bucket & sauces
Located in Hersheypark’s newest expansion, Chocolatetown, you’ll find Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor. The timeless atmosphere and menu are a nod to Milton Hershey’s early days in confections, long before his famous chocolate factory. If you aren’t in the mood for their standout ice cream, they serve a number of savory items, including an enticing bucket of chicken bites — because once you pop, you can’t stop.
The souvenir bucket (you’ll notice a trend here with buckets) is overflowing with incredibly fresh and quality fried boneless chicken pieces. While they are impressive in their own right, Milton’s also serves over 10 unique dipping sauces, like chocolate mole (you are in Hershey, Pa. after all!), rosemary garlic aioli, bourbon buffalo, and my favorite, a classic chicken gravy.
Candymonium Ice cream
From succulent scoops to sundaes fit for a king (and his entire entourage), Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor serves expertly crafted, house-made ice cream using 100% local dairy. With an almost gelato-like, whipped texture, there’s an endless list of flavors to choose from with standouts including graham cracker swirl, lemon cookie butter, and toasted marshmallow. No matter what you set your sweet tooth sights on, I can guarantee you it will exceed all expectations.
My favorite, and what I deem to be the most unique flavor, is Candymonium — inspired by the park’s newest coaster of the same name. Made with Twizzlers, Reese’s, and Hershey’s candies, it sounds like a lot is going on in this nightmare for dentists everywhere, but it somehow works. The flavor is reminiscent of strawberry with an added dash of pizzazz. After you’ve secured your scoops from their team of ice creamologists, feel free to go wild to your heart’s delight at the toppings bar with their array of sauces and Hershey’s candies.
Some cities have their pizza, while others are known for their buttery croissants, but here at Hershey, it’s all about the chocolate. Located next to Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor, you’ll find The Sweeterie Confectionery Kitchen. Think gourmet chocolate shop with a number of whimsical desserts, including irresistible chocolate-dipped treats and homemade fudge.
While their jumbo-sized, house-made cookies are a popular draw, the most interesting options here are those that serve as nods to the historic park and its attractions, including the Comet coaster bar and the Kissing Tower Mousse Cake. My personal favorite is the Chocolatetown Cheesecake, a mini masterpiece that is super decadent using rich, quality chocolate. With a crumbly, cookie crust, the creamy cheesecake melts in your mouth while a thick ribbon of dark chocolate sits atop. Milton would be proud.
Whoopies are a time-honored tradition in nearby Lancaster, Pa. Hersheypark brings this to the next level by allowing its sweet seeking guests a moment to tap into their creative side. At Makin’ Whoopie, in the park’s Kissing Tower Area, you can create your own, made-to-order whoopie pies. Don’t worry if you’re lacking inspiration, their house-made whoopie pie shells come in a variety of flavors, like chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, pumpkin, strawberry, and my favorite, confetti. Fillings range from classic to creative and include original, peanut butter fudge, salted caramel, chocolate, strawberry, orange creamsicle, cotton candy, raspberry, mint chocolate chip, and mocha buttercream.
This positively messy creation is absolutely delicious and features a shell so fresh it had to have just been baked. If you’re looking to cool off in the summer months, you can also order a whoopie pie ice cream sandwich here.
Tower Fries is an iconic concession stand in the park’s Kissing Tower Hill area and longtime favorite of visiting families year after year. They serve buckets of piping hot, fresh-cut, boardwalk-style fries, but they also continue to keep us on our toes with their ever-changing toppings as part of their loaded menu.
While I’m not one to stray away from their sweet BBQ pulled pork or their savory disco fries (a regional favorite that includes gravy and melted cheese), the recently-added cheesesteak fries had my taste buds singing all the right notes. Tower Fries has reached its pinnacle with this one that is loaded with chopped and tender steak, sautéed onions, and a savory, swoon-worthy white cheddar cheese sauce.
Chickie’s & Pete’s Crabfries
Chickie’s & Pete’s is just as much a Philadelphia rite of passage as a visit to the Liberty Bell or a stroll along South Street. Luckily, you don’t have to venture to the city of brotherly love for their signature Crabfries… because Hersheypark has several spots in the park where you can get your Old Bay seasoning-covered hands on them. Here, crinkle cut fries are cooked to a crispy perfection before they are topped with the chain’s secret blend of crabby spices. Perfect on their own, they also come with a side of their ultra-creamy, velvety white cheese sauce.
Lemonade is fairly standard theme park fair, but it’s something that, when done exceptionally well, can prove to be quite delicious. Served from the aptly-named Lemon Drop Shop in the park’s Founder’s Way region, Hersheypark’s version is made from freshly-squeezed lemons and serves as a preferred way to quench my thirst on those hot, marathon long park days. They offer a welcomed spin on the classic with fruit-forward upgrades that include peach, cherry, and my personal favorites, mango and watermelon.
MEGA Pretzel & Dips
Just beside the gates of Hersheypark, you can bask in the glory of your favorite confection during an entirely meta experience inside Hershey’s Chocolate World. Housing Hershey’s largest chocolate store, you can also find an array of merchandise themed to your favorite candy bar and take a spin on a dark ride that gives you a peek into how chocolate is made that is hosted by… a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
This is also the home of a next-level Chocolate-themed food court, Hershey’s Kitchens Food Hall. Cookie dough cups and s’mores aside, if there’s one thing you get here, make it the MEGA pretzel. This massive, one-pound pretzel is so big it’s served in a pizza box and comes with three of the most unique dips you’ll ever find accompanying your favorite carb: beer cheese, Heath Honey Mustard, and Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Ganache.
Coffee is practically a main food group when visiting a theme park. If you’re looking for a caffeine boost, there’s Starbucks and Dunkin’ locations to be found inside the park, but at Hershey’s Chocolate World, you can sip on a cup of something a little more interesting than your typical Venti latte, the Nibby Coffee. This unique coffee is actually brewed over real cocoa nibs and gives off subtle notes of chocolate throughout every sip.
After a packed day in the park, there may be no better place to relax than cozied up at the Fire & Grain restaurant tucked inside the lobby of the Hershey Lodge, one of Hershey’s two official resorts. In addition to standout gourmet bites, like cheese boards and a selection of flatbreads and pasta, they also serve a Chocolate Manhattan. Unique to this property, the bar infuses their own Bourbon using Maker’s Mark and cocoa nibs (you can even take a peek at the process happening behind the bar) resulting in a super drinkable cocktail with just a touch of sweetness from the cocoa.
Skillet S’mores Fondue
You may have had your fill of chocolate (and chocolate manhattans) when the day is done at Hersheypark, but I promise you it’s worth it for this next one. Opt to dine on Fire & Grain’s stellar selection of small plates, because you’re going to want to save room for their skillet s’mores fondue. Made with Hershey’s dark chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and graham crackers, this is the most delicious and dare I say, the quintessential way to close out your day.
You haven’t visited Hershey until you’ve tried one of their chocolate martinis — and I proudly stand by that. A longtime fan-favorite, they come in chocolate caramel and Reese’s peanut butter cup versions as well as my personal favorite, the original signature chocolate martini.
This is the embodiment of a chocolate lover’s dream, encapsulated in one long-stemmed, frosted glass. The cocktail combines 360 Chocolate Vodka, vanilla vodka and white crème de cacao with a Hershey Kiss for garnish. You can find all three at The Hershey Lodge, The Hotel Hershey, as well as in Downtown Hershey at Devon Seafood + Steak and Houlihan’s Restaurant + Bar, both of which are operated by Hershey.
Chocolate Barbecue Sauce chicken wings
Our favorite place at Hersheypark to imbibe in Hershey’s signature chocolate martinis is the Iberian Lounge at the Hotel Hershey. Inspired by Milton Hershey’s travels around the world, you’ll find this lively nook just off of the lobby’s Spanish garden-inspired courtyard. Cocktails aside, one of the most unique bites on property can be found here as well. Standard barbecue wings are given the Hershey upgrade with the addition of cocoa powder. The sauce almost mimics a honey barbecue but the use of cocoa gives it a more subtle sweetness that’s also without that unwelcome syrupy texture.
To learn more about Hersheypark, visit Hersheypark.com.