As the capital of the Keystone State, Harrisburg is a magnet for groups and meetings. The nearby cities of Hershey, Lancaster and York provide their own unique allures for attendees, thanks to their variety of businesses, venues and activities. And together, these diverse cities offer an array of options for groups looking to inject outdoor excitement and natural beauty into their next gathering.
The Hershey and Harrisburg region is conveniently located to major population centers in the Mid-Atlantic region, and is surrounded by the great outdoors, according to Rick Dunlap, public relations director for Visit Hershey & Harrisburg, which as of August is the new name of the former Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau.
“This unique combination creates the perfect blend of convenience, abundant lodging options and affordability with a range of price points for venues and services that will make it easy for planners to find the sweet spot for their attendees or company outing,” he said.
Dunlap noted that when it comes to open-air ideas, planners are surprised by the expansive farmland, rolling hills and abundance of natural attractions that surround Harrisburg and the town of Hershey.
“Many of these planners, coming from the larger metro areas of the East Coast especially, will admit they first imagine Harrisburg as other typical capital cities, with sprawling urban landscape,” Dunlap said. “But Harrisburg, with naturally occurring boundaries such as the Susquehanna River and extensive mountain topography, has more defined, condensed boundaries. This creates a setting for meetings or corporate events that can have the amenities of a city while still having easy access to preserved areas just outside of the city limits.”
In Hershey, the story of the vast dairy farms enticing Milton Hershey to place his new milk chocolate factory in this area stands true today, as endless farmland givies way to rolling hillsides and serene country landscapes, according to Dunlap.
Indeed, the brand-recognition alone of the Hershey name could be enough to attract plenty of attendees. But the outside activities are just as irresistible as the city’s eponymous chocolate treats.
“There is truly something for everyone—from picturesque to high energy,” said Reilly E. Fies, communications manager for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, which operates Hersheypark, the theme park. “If you have attendees who would like to take a relaxing stroll, we have 23 acres of beautiful botanical gardens at Hershey Gardens that provide picturesque views of the town of Hershey. Pick up your golf clubs and play a round of golf on one of our two 18-hole or one nine-hole golf courses. If your participants want a high-energy teambuilding experience, they can select from archery tag, disc golf and more.”
Fies concurred that meeting planners are pleasantly surprised by the destination’s group options.
“From outdoor dinners to hands-on nature experiences to action-packed teambuilding, the outdoor offerings abound,” she said. “Working with the Hershey Resorts team, including Hershey Destination Services, the process of selecting, booking and bringing to life the selected outdoor activities is a seamless process.”