If you like roller coasters, water slides, and chocolate, you’ll love Hersheypark, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Washington, D.C. in Hershey, PA. In fact, Hersheypark has 13 different roller coasters, including the popular Sidewinder, which takes you out in one direction and then whips you back over the same course in reverse, and two different wooden coasters. Thirteen is probably too many for one day, but some are a lot tamer than others, so you can pick and choose according your thrill-seeking threshold. If it’s a hot day, bring your swimsuit so you can shoot down the high-speed water slides, play in the half-acre wave pool, or raft on the slow current of the Intracoastal Waterway.
When you’re done with the water rides, check out Hershey’s Chocolate World, next door, for a free tour of the chocolate-making process that ends with a free Hershey’s product. For $9.95 ($6.95 for kids), you can take a Chocolate Tasting Adventure and sample milk chocolate, dark chocolates, and various other specially-flavored chocolates. If you’re still peckish after all that, the ice cream and milkshake shop in the restaurant area is worth a try.
Hours: Park hours vary with the seasons. From June through August, the park is open most days from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 11 p.m. on some weekends. In May and September the park is closed most weekdays and may only be open on weekends until 8 p.m. In October, November, and December, the park operates on limited hours, mostly on days near Halloween and Christmas. The water areas are only open in the summer months and usually close two hours before the rest of the park. Hours at Hershey Chocolate World vary similarly, though it usually opens at 9 a.m. Visit their web site to check hours before you go.
Admission: $63.95 for adults 54 and under and children over 8, $40.95 for children ages 3 to 8, and free for children under 2. $40.95 for adults ages 55 to 69 and $26.95 for adults over 70. Reduced prices are available if you buy more than one day’s admission at the same time, or if you show up late in the day.
Parking: $15 per vehicle
Metrorail: No public transportation. To drive, take I-95 north to the Baltimore Beltway, then I-695 north to I-83. Follow I-83 north to Harrisburg and turn onto U.S. Route 322 East. Continue on Route 322 to the “Hersheypark Drive” exit.