Welcome to my 14-day series on our East Coast Road Trip where I share our adventures along the way, how we’re doing this on a budget, honest reviews of attractions & restaurants we visit, and money-saving tips and ideas. If you missed it, read Day 1 here, Day 2 here, Day 3 here, Day 4 here, Day 5 here, Day 6 here, Day 7 here, Day 8 here, Day 9 here, and Day 10 here.
Okay, I’m going to get real and tell you that Day 11 of our trip was a little rough. I just wasn’t feeling all adventuresome or like a fun mom.
Honestly, I was wishing we were home and I could plop the kids in front of a movie, shut my bedroom door, and read a book in quiet.
Yeah. I felt on edge. I felt people-d out. I felt tired of the close quarters and long car rides. And I was frustrated with two kids who were being extra whiny.
And of course, this was the day I was wearing my Love Your Life shirt. 😉 Well, I needed the reminder. Because vacations with kids aren’t always fun or amazing. Sometimes, they are just plain hard.
However, despite what I was feeling inside, despite the fact that I did snap at the kids a few times, it was a good day. I’m truly grateful for this trip and the memories we made together on it. Also, close quarters are a great way to recognize character issues we need to work on and are fantastic ways to realize where we need to work on communicating better.
We spent the morning at The Hershey Story where I was so inspired by Milton Hershey’s life and legacy. What an incredible man! I was especially inspired by his business principles and by how generous he was with his employees.
It was cool to see some of the original recipes for caramels (the candy that Milton Hershey initially started making in his business, before he switched to chocolate).
It was also fascinating to read about creative ideas they had implemented to make their factories run more smoothly — like transporting chocolates via bathtubs!
The kids especially loved the Chocolate Workers Wanted exhibit, getting to try chocolates from different countries at their Tastings bar, and then getting to learn more how chocolate is made (it’s a pretty incredible process!) and make our own chocolate bar in the Chocolate Lab.
A few things to note:
- The Museum Admission is $12.50 for adults and $9 for kids. The Tastings bar and the Chocolate Lab are an additional fee. Teachers, veterans and families of active duty military personnel receive $3 off admission to the Museum Experience. Valid school/military identification required. (They were so generous to give us free admission plus free tickets to the Tastings bar and to their Chocolate Lab since I am a blogger and was blogging/posting on social media about our trip.)
- There is currently a Groupon available that gives a combo package for the Museum Admission + the Tastings Bar that would save you quite a bit off the price if you were wanting to do both.
- The Tastings Bar experience was fun, but honestly, I would recommend the Chocolate Lab over it in a heartbeat. If you do decide to do the Tastings Bar, you only need to purchase one for every 3-4 people as that’s enough to go around and for everyone to get to taste the chocolate.
- We really enjoyed the Chocolate Lab. Not only did our kids have so much fun making their own chocolate bars, but we thought that the information shared about where chocolate comes from, how it’s made, how they use every single part of the cacao bean, and the history of chocolate was really insightful and we learned a LOT while there.
- You can’t purchase tickets for the Chocolate Lab ahead of time so if you are wanting to do that, just know that tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis the day of.
- I thought that the upstairs was geared a little more toward adults, but it was interactive enough for our kids to enjoy it. I think the price is on the high side for what the museum offers. If you’re just looking for a little fun adventure related to chocolate and how chocolate is made, I’d recommend just doing the free Hershey World tour (see below).
Next, we went to Hershey’s Chocolate World to do the free tour — which was a fun experience! Here are more details on this free tour:
Follow cocoa beans on a delicious journey in this immersive & FREE chocolate making tour. See, feel, hear and smell the transformation of cocoa beans to HERSHEY’S famous chocolate on this fun tour. Then, enjoy a FREE Hershey’s product sample on us!
A few things to note:
- There was almost no waiting time, but based upon the HUGE area they had set up for a line, I’m guessing that they sometimes do have a very long line.
- The tour is 30 minutes long and it’s a “ride” that you’re sitting in and just going through the tour.
- The admission is free, no tickets are required. The tours run continuously until closing.
- If you have a child who tends to get over-stimulated by a lot of noise and color and lights and sounds, this might not be an attraction for you because there is a lot of that going on during this tour.
(And yes, near the end of the day, being around all that sugar kind of made me feel like I should go eat a kale salad after I left! 😉)
We had planned to visit the Flight 93 Memorial, but there was a big thunderstorm on our way there, so we ended up having to skip it & hang out at a gas station until the storm had cleared.
We made it to Pittsburgh around 9 pm and I enjoyed some quiet (see my book stack photo) while the kids watched a show.
Tomorrow: exploring Pittsburgh and then driving to Cincinnati!
To be continued…
P.S. I hesitate to share so honestly because I know that we’re so blessed to get to go on this trip & many, many people would love to be in my shoes. But at the same time, I want to be honest that traveling is not always roses & rainbows.