Hershey, Pennsylvania (about 160 miles west of New York City)
Families love Hershey, Pennsylvania, for two good reasons: There's an abundance of kid-friendly activities, and they're all within a mile of one another. You won't waste valuable vacation time consulting the GPS and schlepping from place to place, and you can easily hit several points of interest in a day. Although there is certainly a focus on chocolate in this town, alternative forms of entertainment abound. The main draw here is Hershey Park, a theme park with roller coasters and water rides. Hershey Park opens only sporadically for weekends in April, but come Memorial Day weekend, it's open seven days a week.
Meanwhile, stop by Hershey Gardens, where the Children's Garden features meandering pathways, a picnic area and interactive exhibits. If you like your entertainment a bit more animated, there are bears, wolves, bald eagles and porcupines in residence at Zoo America. The Hershey Story, a museum dedicated to the legacy of the Hershey empire, features "Museum Experience," with interactive activities such as quizzes and puzzles, while "Sweet Innovations" gives an inside look at the evolution of the company -- from the creation of the various confections to the packaging of them. If anyone in your group is burned out on all things chocolate, switch gears and head to the impressive Antique Automobile Club of America (AACA) Museum, where you can check out vintage race cars, alternative energy vehicles and more.
In the winter months, the folks at Hershey focus on what they do best: chocolate. In fact, Hershey doubles down on that creamy confection with Chocolate-Covered February -- a monthlong, townwide celebration. Hershey's Chocolate World Attraction -- a free, fun-filled Disneyesque ride through the chocolate-making process -- offers homemade dessert samples, interactive story time, hot cocoa and Hershey product characters every weekend in February.
WHERE TO STAY: If simplicity is integral to your getaway strategy, plan to stay at The Hotel Hershey, an all-inclusive luxury resort with a spa, golf, pool, shops, restaurants and kids programs. There's also Hershey Lodge, where the accommodations are more than adequate for a family and include Wi-Fi, flat screen TVs, and refrigerators. A pool, a Wii Room, tennis courts and restaurants also are on-site.
PLAN A VISIT: hersheypa.com