what I learned at the Hershey Gardens

I love strolling through botanical gardens. It’s wonderful learning about the local flora and fauna of any destination I am visiting, and seeing some exotic plants as well! The Hershey Gardens in Hershey, Pennsylvania, are no exception–a perfect place for nature lovers to the Hershey/Harrisburg area to immerse themselves in a tranquil world of manicured natural beauty.


The Hershey Gardens were founded by Milton S. Hershey in 1937, and began with 3.5 acres of rose gardens as a tribute to Mrs. Hershey’s love of roses. Since then, the Hershey Gardens have expanded to a total of 23 acres with 11 theme gardens and 145 varieties of roses, 30,000 tulips that bloom each spring, as well as an incredible butterfly atrium and conservatory.


The Butterfly Atrium at Hershey Gardens gives you the chance to get up close and personal with a wide assortment of butterflies. Pictured here is a Giant Owl Butterfly. The gardens hold USDA permits to house up to 700 different species of butterflies!

hershey gardens have cacao (chocolate) trees in the conservatory, chocolate-scented herbs in the gardens, and Chocolate Pansy and Chocolate Malachite Butterflies in the Butterfly Atrium.

It was nice to see that the Hershey Gardens also have some cacao trees. They are still young and have not yet produced cocoa pods, but who knows? Maybe someday, the Hershey Chocolate Company will produce enough cocoa beans to make a special limited edition of chocolate bars from their very own US-grown cocoa beans.


It is super that Hershey Chocolate lovers who visit the Conservatory at Hershey Gardens can see real cacao trees growing.

The Hershey Gardens have a bright and welcoming visitor centre with 60 stained glass butterflies to greet you, and a gift shop featuring colourful stained glass art to admire and purchase. And with the addition of the Conservatory and Butterfly Atrium that opened in 2016, the indoor exhibits of the Hershey Gardens are open to the public 363 days of the year.


The conservatory at the Hershey Gardens is a welcoming place for people off all ages, with an active school program to give children a chance to enjoy, observe, and draw the various things that they see while at the gardens.


I loved the many sculptures and themed gardens throughout the Hershey Gardens.

The Hershey Gardens are located a short walk from The Hotel Hershey, and just across the highway (yet a world away) from the craziness of Hersheypark. If you’re seeking zen versus an adrenaline rush, the Hershey Gardens are a must-see attraction while in the area.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

43 Responses

  1. Hello Doreen, I love to wander in the garden. You have described such nice tips to enjoy the Hershey Gardens. I have learned many more things from this garden. Thanks for this appreciable post and keep sharing.

  2. Doreen — how beautiful! I sadly never visited Hershey even when I could have when I lived in NY. Made plans a couple of times, but it didn’t happen. Maybe one day….

  3. Tuhin says:

    Hello Doreen,
    Botanical gardens are always a good place to spend a good day. I have been to 2 such gardens here in India. Its amazing to feel how beautiful the world would have been if we had more such places instead of the concrete jungles.
    Nice pictures!
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  4. Renee Helene BORG says:

    Hello Doreen;

    I have been following your posts on the Hershey Chocolate Corporation with great interest, and really enjoying the insights into this iconic American chocolate producer. As a serendipitous coincidence, I recently read an article from a back issue of “The Walrus” magazine (Jan/Feb 2017 edition) entitled “Melts in your Mouth” regarding the chocolate wars between Hersey and Mars. Did you know that Hershey Chocolate was first invented in the 30’s for American soldiers so they could have an energy source snack that wouldn’t melt in their pockets, especially in hot climates? Also Hersey bars accompanied the Apollo astronauts to the moon in 1971. These posts have really been a fascinating read as a complement to the Walrus article, showing a different side to Hershey. And, though I am a bit of a choco snob, I do so love those Hershey’s kisses! Cheers, Renee Borg

  5. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    The Hershey Gardens look so enchanting. The sculpture of the little girl in the midst of flowers looks lovely. Being Hersheys Gardens, I was looking out for the mention of Cocoa and there I found it!

  6. Spectacular is the word to describe this.
    Gardens, especially designed ones, are so fascinating to me. I like seeing plants that I might never see in the wild, or ever again.
    Thanks for sharing.
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  7. What an attractive destination! I gave this post for my grandpa and he really love the amazing garden! Wish to visit the Hershey Gardens oneday!

  8. What a marvelous looking place! I’m trying to imagine the scents from the various plants and trees you mentioned, and the statues are charming. Thank you so much for sharing these lovely gardens with us Doreen. 🙂
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  9. Phoenicia says:

    The Hershey Gardens looks beautiful. I could spend hours there. There are several botanical gardens in the UK which I really do need to visit.

    The butterfly in one of your first photographs looks incredibly unique.
    Phoenicia recently posted…What are your quirks?My Profile

  10. Emily says:

    Especially with the addition of the Butterfly Atrium, it reminds me of the butterfly garden I visited in Malaysia. Really pretty and fun to be surrounded by all these butterflies.
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  11. Jeri says:

    Hershey Gardens looks like a lovely spot to visit. Pennsylvania is one of the handful of states I’ve yet to visit. It’s good to balanced more relaxed sightseeing with busy activities, so when I am in a city with a touted garden, I will always consider if I can fit a visit in.

  12. You know I’m a fan of Conservatories and botanical gardens, so how fun to read this about Hershey–and I love that there are cacao trees onsite!
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  13. These gardens look amazing and with a chocolate theme! Soooo cool. Now on my bucket list.

  14. Leniel says:

    Doreen, it’s rather difficult to tell you what I liked most about this post so I guess I’ll start at the top and work my way down.
    The gardens are gorgeous – the entrance is so inviting
    The story behind the rose gardens is lovely – what a way for a man to pay tribute to his wife
    The butterfly atrium is lovely – we need to do all we can to protect our butterflies
    Had no idea that it was possible to grow cacao trees in Pennsylvania – hope it works, it could establish a totally new industry
    The stained glass butterflies and the little girl in the garden are wonderful.
    Oh, how I would have enjoyed a walk around that garden – if I lived in Pennsylvania I’m sure I would be a regular visitor.
    Thanks for sharing this – something to dream about all day.
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  15. Linda says:

    Love that shot of the butterfly! Wow.
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  16. Sounds like a wonderful place to visit. Not sure if or when we will next get to Pennsylvania, but we will have to keep it in mind.

  17. I was a child when I was in Hershey with my parents. Other than getting sick on all the candy they got me after the factory tour, I don’t remember much.
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  18. Catarina says:

    Looks and sounds as a wonderful garden, Doreen. Would love to visit it.
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  19. I love visiting botanical gardens. The last two I visited were on Kauai in Hawaii (yes, one was growing cacao!). Somehow, I’ve never even heard of the botanical garden in Hershey, Pennsylvania which is less than 100 miles from where I live in Philadelphia. I’m adding this to my local list of places I want to visit. however, I think I’m likely to make it to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador (in January) before I get around to visiting Hershey.

    • Hi Suzanne! So nice to see you back on the blog. I’ve missed you! Yes, isn’t it funny how so very often, we don’t know of/ignore/don’t get around to visiting attractions in our own neck of the woods? I do hope you choose to visit Hershey soon. The Hotel Hershey is quite the hotel, and the gardens are absolutely lovely.
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  20. Oh wow, now I must make an effort to go there. I know I would love it.

  21. Hershey Gardens sound lovely. I love the sculpture of the girl amid the coneflowers. The number of chocolate related plants and butterflies reminded me of a plant I saw in the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. I don’t remember the exact name, but it had chocolate in the name. The flower was white. When I walked by, I got a whiff of a chocolate smell.
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