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The sweetest place on earth

Hershey Pa. kicks off “Chocolate-Covered February” tomorrow. This is a month-long festival and a town wide celebration of everything chocolate.

There are plenty of events and activities designed for all ages and tastes.

This February’s menu of options is even more decadent than past celebrations. A sweet new addition for 2010 is “The Great Hershey Quest,” on which guests grab their Hershey passports and take off for a spectacular journey around Chocolate Town, U.S.A. They’ll encounter sweet cupcakes, admission to area attractions, and chocolate-themed adventures during their tour. Passports can be purchased at The Hershey Story, The Museum on Chocolate Avenue.

Then, guests simply collect stamps at Hershey’s Chocolate World, ZooAmerica North American Wildlife Park, and The Hotel Hershey for a chance to win the “Ultimate Chocolate Getaway,” which includes VIP access in Hershey and a year’s supply of chocolate. Also new for 2010 is the introduction of Chocolate-Covered February packages that sweeten a stay at The Hotel Hershey or Hershey Lodge on any date during the month of February.

As has become the tradition, the Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire at The Hotel Hershey will kick off the month’s festivities. This five-course chocolate-infused dinner will take place in the Hotel’s Circular Dining Room on Feb. 5. The menu is available online at www.HersheyPA.com. Count me in and reserve a romantic table for two please.

Hershey is about 450 miles from the Tri-State with most of the drive via the Interstate. The route to Hershey takes you near the Civil battlefields of Antietam Md. and Gettysburg Pa. Plan to hop off the Interstate and visit these two historic sites. I would plan on spending at least half a day touring Sharpsburg Md. and a full day in Gettysburg. To really maximize the experience hire a local guide who will escort you through the park. It will be close to a Bob Leith experience real close but not the real deal.

For a historic Gettysburg dining experience enjoy lunch or dinner at the Dobbin House. This stone house built in 1776 and beautifully and authentically restored is open to the public as a colonial manner restaurant, bed & breakfast, and gift shop.

When you’re chocolated out and ready to explore some more head not too far down the road to Lancaster County Pa. The rolling countryside here is renowned for its Amish countryside, picturesque towns and villages. Lancaster County offers a world of wonderful experiences. Plenty of nature themed and outdoor adventures abound in the scenic rivers and hills or just sample delicious dining and unique shopping in downtown Lancaster city.

This region is also well known for a variety of theaters featuring musical, dramatic, spiritual & comedy productions, as well as dinner theater & interactive experiences.

Whether it’s Sight & Sound Millennium Theater, Fulton Theater, Dutch Apple Dinner Theater, the American Music Theater, Rainbow Dinner Theater, or our many other intimate venues, it’s always ShowTime in Lancaster County.

The Sight & Sound Millennium Theater located in Strasburg, Pa. is the largest Christian theatre in the United States.

Its shows bring the Bible to life with spectacular sets, a 300-foot wrap-around stage, live animals and outstanding performances.

Unfortunately it is dark until the spring so you’ll have to plan a return trip.

Another Lancaster event that may attract Tri-Staters is the American Quilters Society Show & Contest that is being held for the very first time at the brand new Lancaster County Convention Center.

Quilt enthusiasts will discover more than 400 beautiful quilts, special quilt exhibits, 300 vendor booths, classes, lectures, and special events with national quilt instructors. There will be special events each day, including “An Evening with Karen K. Stone,” “It’s the Eleanor Burns Show,” “A Love Affair with Fabric,” and “Brunch and Fun with Helen Squire & All-Star Review.”

Again the show’s timing of March 24-27, 2010 doesn’t coincide with ‘Chocolate Month” but you may want to package some of the regions attractions and head here in late March.

Actually any time of the year is the perfect time to visit the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country.

The Travel Professor won’t be able to make the quilt show or the chocolate fest but Hershey Park, an interesting throwback amusement park, is on the agenda for a summer baseball, history, culture and dining excursion to the Keystone State.

Happy travels!