Oct 1, 2012

Hershey is a great destination for many reasons

Gardens like Hershey Gardens are wonderful places to visit.  They appeal to people for all sorts of reasons. I enjoy the overall view of gardens appreciating the mix of flowers, trees and lawns, while John usually seeks out trees, especially bonsai, and others are interested in the individual blooms of the flowers.  And, then there are others who feel the need for a few hours of serenity.  While I was sitting on a bench absorbing the expansive view of Hershey Gardens a lady sat next to me and shared her story.  She lived three hours away and had recently experienced a great loss in her life.  She took the day off from work to visit the garden which she said made her feel better.  Flowers and nature can do that.

Hershey Gardens is another lasting gift from Milton Hershey. The gardens first opened in 1937 as a rose garden.  On the first day 20,000 people came to see the gardens.  In 1938 the American Rose Society honored Mr. Hershey by naming a rose after him. The gardens were so popular that additional gardens were added.

I love all the Milton Hershey stories especially this one.  During a site review the land adjacent to the Rose Garden was deemed not suitable for farming so Mr. Hershey turned to Harry Erdman, his head gardener, and said, "All right, Erdman, go ahead, make a garden out of it.  We'll make an awful lot of other people happy."  When Erdman asked if Mr. Hershey wanted to see a plan or cost estimates Mr. Hershey replied, "No, go ahead.  If it gets too big, I'll stop you.  Make it look as good as the Rose Garden does, and everything will be all right."  Over the next few years 58,000 trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials and annuals were added along with spring bulbs and later six theme gardens, a Butterfly House, and a hands-on Children’s Garden were added. There is a nominal fee to view the gardens but we stayed at the magnificent Hotel Hershey on the hill above the gardens and a complimentary ticket to the Gardens was included.

The Hotel Hershey is a wonderful destination unto itself offering excellent service and famed for its elegant, full-service spa with stain-glass windows, a cozy pecan paneled relaxation room with great views, and the Oasis is the perfect place for a healthy lunch while clad in a spa robe. Guests can also enjoy their fitness room and pools – one indoors and one outdoors.

Hershey is also a great golf destination with four unique and distinctive courses including a nine-hole course especially designed for the younger set but fun for all ages.

The best known un-chocolate attraction is Hershey Park with over 65 rides that include 11 coasters.  My roller coaster days are over but John and I took the monorail around the park that gave us a great overview plus there are less intimidating rides and free entertainment.  Connected to the amusement park area, but also with a separate entrance, is Zoo America. The 11-acre, walkabout zoo has more than 200 animals from five regions of North America. When we were there the staff was all atwitter with their newest arrival, an albino alligator. The rare genetically inherited condition produced a white alligator with pink eyes.  It is one of only 100 known to exist. Hershey is a great destination.