Well, this is an awkwardly overdue post, but here we are. This is quite a long post, so brace yourselves!
On August 13th my family and journeyed to Hershey, Pennsylvania. We decided on Thursday that a mini vacation was in order. After a Friday spent wrestling with luggage, we set off early Saturday morning. The roads meandered through idyllic farmlands and verdure-covered hills. Around four hours later (an hour of which was spent battling New York’s tumultuous traffic), we arrived at our first destination – Hershey Gardens.The weather was unbearably muggy that day; in fact, my camera lens actually fogged up the moment I stepped outside. Nevertheless, I was determined to photograph the scenic gardens! We headed to the Welcome Pavilion, whereupon we were hit with a blast of deliciously chilled air. Let me preface this by saying: everything here – I mean everything – is meticulously and beautifully engineered. From the glass butterflies hanging from the ceiling, to the labels in front of each plant species, right down to the sparkling clean restrooms. Altogether, it creates a feast for the eyes.
The gift shop featured many butterfly-shaped trinkets, including butterfly Hershey Kisses! Behind the backdrop of glass doors was a glimpse of the Butterfly Atrium, one of the most spectacular exhibits in the gardens.
Before we entered the Butterfly Atrium, an attendant gave us a rundown of some guidelines to follow while inside. One of the most important rules was to never actually touch a butterfly, as they are extremely fragile creatures. We also learned that butterflies like to land on people; it was imperative to stand still until they fluttered away. This – I learned from experience, but more about that later! With those rules all covered, we were ushered into the Atrium.
Beautifully manicured, the Butterfly Atrium houses more than 300 butterflies, representing nearly 25 different varieties. Located throughout are small feeding areas for the dainty insects, complete with sliced mango, papaya, and sponges soaked with Gatorade. These guys are clearly living the good life!
Here is a Paper Kite (Idea Leuconoe) partaking in said Gatorade. Look at the patterns on those wings! I must admit that the whole time I was in the Atrium, I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded of Pouf from Hunter x Hunter haha.
A Common Birdwing (Troides Helena).
A Julia Heliconian (Dryas Iulia).
A Scarlet Mormon (Papilio Rumanzovia).
A Green Swallowtail (Papilio Palinurus).
The butterflies were definitely not shy about landing on people. In fact,they landed on me twice – once on the crown of my head, and then on my hand as I steadied my camera! The sensation was surreal. For being such large insects, butterflies are essentially weightless.
On the left side wall at the back of the atrium was a beautiful display of plants and small butterfly figurines on wires. To the right was a collection of incubated cocoons (unfortunately, I wasn’t able to snap a photograph of it).
Overall, the Butterfly Atrium was entirely enchanting and I didn’t want to leave whatsoever. Nevertheless, we needed to press on to see the rest of the gardens.
Stepping outside through the Welcome Pavilion’s back entrance, the first garden we saw was the Historic Hershey Rose Garden. Filled with every shade of rose imaginable (to be precise, 3,500 roses representing 275 varieties), the bushes perfumed the air with their heady aroma.
A Grecian-style statue stood amongst the thorny rose briars, one of many as we soon discovered while we walked through the many different gardens.
The gardens housed many of these picturesque rest stops, and good for us! We sorely needed shade and a place to rest our legs throughout this blistering day.
This particular rest area was my favorite; I love the juxtaposition of the metal bars with the greenery entwined through them.
Statues and potted flowers were nestled in verdure-covered archways.
The Perennial Garden.
Out of all the gardens, I loved the Japanese Garden the most. It’s probably because I have such a deep fascination with everything pertaining to Japanese culture! Here is a view of the pond from the wooden bridge. If I were to describe this garden in one word, it would be: tranquil. Call me crazy, but I could almost hear soothing flute melodies playing in the background!
Here, I felt as if I were walking through a forest in Okami.
A goldfish pond in The Children’s Garden, complete with lily pads.
A close-up shot of the fish. Look how brilliantly orange they are!
The Horticulture Center. I saw a wedding photoshoot being held here earlier in the day!
Following our adventures in Hershey Gardens, we checked into our hotel. There we freshened up and set out to have dinner and take full advantage of our Preview Plan for Hershey Park. We ate a quick, light meal at Panera Bread; I ordered a chicken salad and Thai soup.
Then it was off to Hershey Park! With the Preview Plan, we were admitted into the park after 7 PM, so we enjoyed the amusements the night before our official ticket date! Within two hours, my brother and I conquered 5 roller coasters – no small feat when you take into account how long lines typically are! Preview Plan: 110% worth it.
On Sunday morning, we checked out of our hotel and headed to Hershey Park once more to embark on all the rollercoasters we hadn’t ridden the night before (not very many, thankfully). Once we finished, the rest of the day remained for exploring the park. Next on our agenda: ZooAmerica. This zoo serves as a home to more than 200 animals from five regions of North America. One of my long-held dreams came true: I finally saw an ocelot in real life – incredibly cute! Since the zoo consists of only 11 acres of land, we viewed all the animals in record time and went to eat lunch.
From there, we temporarily left the park and drove to The Hershey Story – a museum dealing with all things Hershey chocolate. This museum is stunning, and incredibly interactive as well! I experienced the process of making chocolate – or, as the exhibit is known – Factory Life Working for Mr. Hershey. I even received a certificate haha! We also sampled shots of hot cocoas from around the world. In my opinion, Java chocolate tasted the best; it contains hints of caramel and vanilla… mmm! Buzzing with sugar and caffeine, we returned back to the park for the last event – the Chocolate Tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World. It happened to be a chocolate-scented (literally haha) tour/ride about the chocolate-making process. Educational and also relaxing! Finally being able to sit down in an air-conditioned space after walking approximately twelve miles in two days is quite a blessing.
With that, our brief vacation came to a close. We picked up some pizza for the drive back, and arrived home at almost midnight. After a quick shower, I passed out, satisfied and thoroughly exhausted. Overall, this was the most wonderful trip of 2016 – short but sweet (pun fully intended)!
I hope you enjoyed this incredibly late past. More adventures to come in the future!