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Union Canal House
www.weloveourlife.com. This is our page dedicated to our experiences while staying at
the Union Canal House in Hershey, PA.
This is simply an inn with a restaurant/bar. When it comes to amenities, its attraction is that it is extremely close to the attractions of Hershey – only one mile from the Giant Center, which was our main reason for the trip.
The restaurant is open six days a week (Monday through Saturday; closed Sundays) from 5-10 p.m. We had an early (5 p.m.) dinner on a Wednesday evening. We were asked if we had reservations; since it was early and not a weekend, we hadn’t made reservations. They happily seated us in a nice spot. If you plan to eat at the Canal House at a later time or on a weekend, it would probably be a good idea to make reservations. All manner of attire seemed accepted; we were wearing jeans, but there were some who were dressed fairly well, including a table of four men in suits obviously having a business dinner. Both smoking and non-smoking areas are available, and we noted a charming small, private room just beyond the entrance behind a window of bars with a large circular table (which likely would have to be reserved in advance).
The food was very good. Keith opted for Yuengling lager on tap and Lori went with chardonnay by the glass (although the restaurant offers a decent selection of wines by the bottle). We were given a warm loaf of sourdough bread and butter. Lori had a pound of steamed clams for an appetizer (it was a special that evening and she was served a heaping bowl of clams that were very sweet). Keith had the Italian wedding soup (also a special appetizer of the evening) with moist, small meatballs in a flavorful broth. Salads accompanied the meal. Some of the dressings are prepared on the premises. Keith had a gorgonzola vinaigrette with chunks of the flavorful cheese. Lori had a tangy, spicy creamy peppercorn dressing. The salads included wonderful homemade croutons. Keith had the breast of chicken rosemary – tender chicken breasts served with proscuitto and a wine cheese sauce, accompanied by rice and green beans. Lori had another evening special – two large broiled prawns stuffed with crab. The food was excellent and we enjoyed our meal. We would have lingered longer, but we had plans for the evening.
The restaurant has a bar which provides full service.
The people we encountered were extremely friendly. We had met our server when we were checking in. Apparently some work was being done on the rooms during our visit (they were being given a fresh coat of paint). When we checked in, there was concern that our room wasn’t “fixed up.” It looked fine to us, but they sent a nice guy up who quickly ran the vacuum and asked if we needed anything. Several minutes later the manager called us to make sure everything was in order and to see if we had any questions or needed anything; we were fine. At dinner, we asked our server Jane for some glasses to take upstairs to our room, and she smilingly provided them. She told us if we needed anything, to simply call down to the restaurant. A plus was that we could throw everything – room, meal, etc. – on a credit card and pay all at once.
Giant Center - There is plenty to do in Hershey. We were there to see Smuckers Stars on Ice at the Giant Center in the Hershey amusement complex. We were extremely impressed by how traffic was handled; it was easy for us to enter and exit after the ice skating show. The seats were comfortable and the facility is impressive, yet intimate enough so that we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
ZooAmerica - We spent an hour in ZooAmerica, a small zoo dedicated to animals native to North America. This means there aren’t lions and tigers and elephants, but a nice assortment of animals you don’t necessarily see every day. We were able to actually see all of the animals in every habitat but one (we’re sure the snowy owl was there; we just couldn’t seem to locate it). We particularly enjoyed the margay, bobcats, and lynx (all cats), the black bears, and especially the wolves. There are some otters there as well. This is a good zoo to take children to as there are opportunities for them to observe the animals at fairly close range. It only took us about an hour to go through the zoo.
Chocolate World - No trip to Hershey is complete without at least a short visit to Chocolate World. Guests can sit on a slow-moving ride that takes them on a tour (not to the actual factory) to see how Hershey chocolate is made. After the ride, each guest is given a complimentary chocolate bar. Unsuspecting tourists are dumped into a huge candy store (in effect, a chocolate mall!) of every sort of Hershey confection and memorabilia imaginable. Of course, that wonderful chocolate smell is all about you and it is difficult to resist picking up some chocolate. In Chocolate World, visitors can also see a 3-D show, take a ride on Hershey Trolley Works or participate in the interactive Factory Works Experience (new for 2004).
Hershey Museum - Milton S. Hershey, who started it all (chocolate, a school for boys, the amusement park, the very town itself) was an altruistic, interesting entrepreneur, as the exhibits in this museum show. There is much Hershey memorabilia that is interesting. There are some interactive exhibits for children. There are multiple opportunities for visitors to hit buttons and see chocolate-making apparatus still work. At 20 minutes to the hour (during museum hours), don’t miss the Apostolic clock, which is over 125 years old and does quite an interesting display each hour.
Both the museum and Chocolate World are great options for inclement weather. Since we visited in early April, the actual amusement park was not yet open. The amusement park and ZooAmerica are better options for days with good weather (although some of ZooAmerica is indoors).
We recommend the Union Canal House, where we both stayed and had a good dinner. We had breakfast at the Cocoa Grill, a diner only a couple miles from where we stayed down (and a straight shot down route 39 from the Giant Center). It was a clean place with good service and decent food. Keith had been craving eggs benedict, which he found here, and we loved the hash browns. It was just good, simple food.
This being Hershey, there are of course a myriad of dining options available within the Hershey complex as well.
This is south central Pennsylvania, traditionally a somewhat conservative area. Lancaster County with its Amish people is not far away. While there is certainly nightlife to be found, this area isn’t necessarily the place to go if you want to dance all night every night.
This is in the mid-Atlantic region, which means one gets all four seasons. High season for Hershey and its attractions is Memorial Day through Labor Day. The attractions are open daily and Hersheypark itself opens on weekends prior to Memorial Day and seven days a week in high season. Since we visited in early April, we were prepared for rainy weather and daytime highs in the 50s/60s. We were pleasantly surprised – on the day of our arrival, it was sunny, gorgeous, and the temperature topped out at 70. We hadn’t brought shorts along and ended up using the air conditioner in our accommodations.
Spring is a great time to visit Hershey because it is the off-season. But since we visited before May, we knew the amusement park would not be open. A May weekend may be a good option if you prefer to avoid the long lines of high-season.