I would add at least 2 days in DC for the museums. The Natural History, Air and Space and American History are all free and awesome. Also, the Air and Space Annex at Dulles airport has some amazing artifacts including the Enterprise Space Shuttle, the only one that is on permanent display anywhere. As to amusement parks, Six Flags America is a small park that is only 20 minutes from DC. Its cheap and worth a day trip during the week (M-F).
If ur going into Virgina, Williamsburg is 3 hours south from DC and the Colonial Williamsburg (recreation with actors of the 1770-1776 era of American History history they change the actual year often) and Busch Gardens are both there. Both parks are worth the trip.
Expertise: Born in NEPA, lived in Philly, countless trips to Hershey, Dorney, Knoebels, and (unfortunately) Six Flags America. Long time lurker on the board (I miss Pennies from Kevin). I need to register on here! :)
I'd second the vote for the Air & Space Museum and the Natural History Museum, as well as the National Zoo. All three attractions are absolutely top notch (and free).
I would also argue that the best place to eat (for a reasonable price) is in Union Station at America. Think of this restaurant as a fine dining version of a roadside diner. Their Trio of Classic Roadside Sliders with Velveeta Cheese puts most other mini-burgers to shame. They are delicious, gourmet, and quite reasonable at $8.95 a platter. Plus the restaurant is right in Union Station where you should stop for at least a quick look around.
I haven't been to Hershey since I was about six (a while ago), so I am no help there... sorry.
Anyway, good luck with your trip.
2 In D.C you can eaither take the Redline in and get off at vaness station and there is a cheap hotel down the street. or stay out side dc at a campground called cherryhill and there is a metro bus that takes you to the city. THe camp is beutiful 2 pools arcade resturant. beutiful house to rent beutiful cabins.
Our plan is to fly from Seattle to (I think) Harrisburg which is right near Hershey Park. When we visited DC a few years ago, we stayed at a Country Inn and Suites. I've researched and we plan to do that again. There are several in or near Hershey. What we liked about the last one is that there's a pool, hot tub and they serve a continental breakfast each morning. Saves us a little bit of money. Fridge and microwaves in room. That coupled with my husband being a government employee, we're looking at about $88 per night.
We plan to rent a car (in advance through our Costco membership) for the entire time. We'll drive to Gettysburg, Philadelphia and other places we want to go. We are considering staying one night in DC so that we can have two full days to visit some select attractions there. Paying the $1 per person fee to get tickets ahead of time to the National Archives and the Holocaust Museum. Beats the wait outside to hope you get inside. Plan to go to Arlington Cemetery and maybe two of the Smithsonian museums if time allows. Also working on a request to tour the White House.
Since Hershey is the focal point of our trip, and because it's much less expensive, we decided that we'd stay in Hershey and drive to the other places. Thinking about a red-eye Friday and arriving early Saturday. Generally we've always taken red-eyes and it's worked out well.
Taking everything into consideration and can't wait to tell you how it went once we came back. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.
Yes, SFA's rides are all clones but so are most of rides in all the Six Flags parks. Superman, Joker's Jinks, Wild One and Batwing are all great rides.
And yes kings dominion (2 hours from DC) and Hersheypark are better. But, if ur in DC. You are missing out if u skip SFA.
To the comment on National Zoo. I personally love it. One of the best in USA. And its free!!!
First thing is check the Hersheypark website while planning your trip. There is an extensive amount of information there, one of the best park websites I've seen.
Try not to go on a Friday or Saturday during the summer if it can be avoided. Sundays are not nearly as bad. In fact the lowest attendance I've seen at the new water parks in HP are on Sunday mornings. It picks up after 1pm.
Check the dates you are planning to attend to see if the Giant Center or Star Pavilion are hosting concerts. This can greatly affect attendance since you get discounted tickets when you purchase concert tickets to some shows. The good thing though is if someone is playing in the Star Pavilion (just outside the park) you can hang out in front of Chocolate World and hear the concert just as well as if you had bought a ticket. Some folks even bring lawn chairs.
I second the suggestions to hit the coasters early - or hit them late if the park is open late. They do sometimes run late with opening the coasters in the morning so you may run into that. Fahrenheit is the one you want to get out of the way early, lines for this are exceptionally long. Storm Runner would be next and then the Comet. The rest have shorter lines generally and can be ridden with a half hour wait at any time during the day. The Roller Soaker in most people's opinion is worth missing. It is a slow loader, breaks down frequently and is just not up to par.
Hersheypark food can be costly, but they offered meal plans with many options that save you a few bucks this year. You purchase them as you enter the park. They also offer an all you can eat deal on some days as well though these are mostly weekends. Buy the refillable cup, you will save a ton of money - plus water refills are FREE.
The Boardwalk sections of Hersheypark are only open from Memorial Day through Labor Day so that is something to remember as well. You will want to score chairs early in the day so if you have a non-coaster rider have them do this while you ride. HP also has cabanas that can be rented. Many hotels offer this as part of their package and it is great to have a shaded "home base" while touring the park.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes. The only park that I have spent more time walking in was Epcot at WDW. And there are hills - lots of hills.
Chocolate World, outside of Hersheypark, is a great place to get souvenirs, candy and they also offer the free factory tour. Visiting Chocolate World and the tour is best saved for the mid-afternoon when it is least crowded. The building is air conditioned which also offers a nice break during the summer.
And one last tip, if you want to buy chocolate, do not do it until the end of your trip otherwise it will melt. Seems obvious, but so many people do not do this.
And Deidre's post illustrates that there are so many different ways to order the same attractions, making for very different trips.
Of course, the vacation makeovers aren't simply intended to provide an itinerary for one family, but also to provide ideas for all Theme Park Insider readers. Keep 'em coming, folks!
And also, please submit a makeover request if you'd like to get some fresh ideas for your family vacation.
The best cheesesteaks are from Tony Lukes. Order a wiz wit (cheese whiz and fried onions) - trust me, that is the authentic way..none of that green pepper nonsense.
Its basically a giant science museum for kids and its really cool. I liked it a lot and Im 20. Haha
They have a good frequent-stay program you should sign up for, you can earn points pretty quickly, which can then get you discounts on stays.