Cheap and Free Things to Do in Hershey


June 20, 2017

Hershey got its start as the model town envisioned by The Hershey Company founder, Milton S. Hershey. He started the community to give workers at his chocolate factories a place to live. He loved the idea of creating a place for families to thrive. More than a century later, his vision remains evident in clean and attractive Hershey, Pennsylvania, where the public schools, beautiful housing and bustling businesses have kept the town thriving long after Hershey’s death.

Many people come to town to visit Hersheypark®, and of course, that’s a fun place to spend any day. For families looking for additional activities, Hershey offers a wide variety of other fun, too.

What to Do in Hershey, PA

We’ve compiled many of these cheap or free things to do in Hershey in this guide. Whether you’re connecting with the animals at ZooAmerica®, exploring the beautiful Hershey Gardens or riding the trolley through the town’s many historic landmarks, you’ll enjoy your day in Hershey, and you won’t have to break the bank to do it. Here are seven ways to have a sweet time.

1. Hershey’s Chocolate World®

Any list of what to do in Hershey, PA has to include Hershey’s Chocolate World®. While located on the park grounds, the Hershey’s Chocolate Tour is free and does not require a Hersheypark® ticket.

If you’re willing to spend a little money, you can also solve a mystery with the Hershey characters at the 4D Chocolate Mystery for less than $8 a ticket.

2. Hershey Trolley Works

Hershey Trolley
Photo used with permission from Hershey Trolley Works

Right outside of Hershey’s Chocolate World®, you can catch a ride on the Hershey trolley, a system of transportation implemented by Milton Hershey when he was planning his ideal town. As you ride, learn about the history of the town and have a few laughs with your tour guide.

Prices are $16 and under, and you can also celebrate Halloween and the winter holidays with specially themed trolley rides.

3. Hershey Derry Township Historical Society

What was Hershey before the chocolate came? If you answered nothing, you need to visit the museum at the Hershey Derry Township Historical Society. For an admission donation of $2 per adult, you can learn about Hershey’s pre-candy days as well as:

  • The Hershey transit system
  • Native Americans who lived in the region
  • Local hero, Major Dick Winters

The building also includes a Discovery Room for kids, where they can touch and play with early Hershey artifacts.

4. Pennsylvania State Police Museum

PA State Police Museum
Photo used with permission from PA State Police Museum

Do you love CSI and Law & Order? Then you’ll enjoy the Pennsylvania State Police Museum located in Hershey.

For just $5 per person, you can see an exhibit on forensics, which traces the growth of the practice from 1932, or another on women in the state police. Many of the exhibits offer interactive elements, plunging you into the center of an investigation.

5. Shank Park

Many communities have a signature park, and for Hershey, it’s Shank Park. The largest park in the Township has 90 acres and includes baseball, soccer and softball fields.

For a fun and free day, pack up a picnic and head to the park. You can barbeque on the grills for free, and hit the interpretive nature trail for a dose of wildlife. During the summer, you can also take a guided nature walk that’s available for free.

6. ZooAmerica®

ZooAmerica®, located just across the road from Hersheypark® and accessible via a walking bridge from the park, houses hundreds of animals. Ticket prices are $11.50 for adults and $9.50 for children three to eight years old and seniors over age 55.

From monkeys to bears to birds, this park features a wide range of species and habitats. Watch the bears swim underwater through a water tank or see a Gray Wolf in the Northlands Biome.

Check the ZooAmerica® site for discounted tickets and special events. In January, there is a free community day every year, and in March, $6 admission is offered every Friday.

7. Hershey Gardens

Hershey Gardens
Photo used with permission from The M.S. Hershey Foundation

Finally, no trip to Hershey should end without visiting the Hershey Gardens. This beautiful slice of nature opened in 1937, at the behest of Milton Hershey, who wanted a garden of roses to enjoy for himself and his workers. The gardens include:

  • A sampling of rare and exotic flowers
  • Shrubs
  • Signature trees you won’t find anywhere else in Hershey

Ticket costs vary by season and age. In the summer, a regular ticket for those ages 13-61 costs $12.50. Admission to the Butterfly Atrium is included with your ticket. If you have kids, you may want to visit the Children’s Garden, which includes 32 themed gardens where kids can enjoy hands-on activities.

Enjoy Your Visit to Hershey

With plenty of free and low-priced activities, the “Sweetest Place on Earth” truly lives up to its name. Learn more about other affordable entertainment in Pennsylvania on our blog.

Feature image courtesy of The M.S. Hershey Foundation. 

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