February 14, 2013
Where: On the Susquehanna River, south central Pennsylvania
From Toronto: 617 km
Ottawa: 710 km
Montreal: 825 km
Windsor: 780 km
Niagara Falls: 496 km
Article and photos by Paul Williams
The thing about road trips is that once you get started, it’s hard to stop. On a recent trip to Florida, for instance, my first night was spent in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but from there it’s a temptingly short drive east to Philadelphia, which of course is well worth a visit if you have the time. Or you could jog west towards Pittsburgh, stopping in to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater house en route.
Gettysburg is also nearby, site of the biggest battle – and the acknowledged turning point – in the American Civil War. Its National Military Park features 1,000 monuments and cannon and over 60 kilometres of scenic avenues, along with a museum and visitor centre, guided tours and a living history program. Gettysburg is visited by two million people each year.
So you see what I mean: one can get sidetracked.
But Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, is also the site of many interesting events and attractions, although it may be most familiar to auto enthusiasts for its proximity to the nearby town of Hershey (just 20 minutes away, via US 322 E). If you know anything about cars, especially vintages ones, you may know that Hershey is where you’ll find the Antique Automobile Club of America’s national headquarters and its celebrated Auto Museum.
Harrisburg/Hershey, Pennsylvania. Click image to enlarge
The museum is open all year, throughout which Hershey is the site of numerous car-related events, chief among them the annual AACA Eastern Regional Fall Meet, or “Fall Hershey.” The AACA describes this event as one of the largest antique automobile shows in the United States, hosting over 9,000 flea market spaces, 1,000 car corral spaces and approximately 1,500 show cars. It’s held during the first full week in October each year.
“The Elegance” at Hershey is a new event that aims to feature the highest quality concours vehicles in the eastern U.S. Focusing on pre-1960 cars, “The Elegance” is the place to see pristine vintage Aston Martins, Pininfarina concept vehicles, Allard J3s, Bentleys, Porsches and Delahayes, along with an array of classic racing cars. A two-day hill climb – The Grand Ascent – precedes the event, the third of which is scheduled for June 12–14, 2013.
Fall Hershey and The Elegance at Hershey are destinations in their own right, although for those with a sweet tooth, the word “Hershey” will also conjure up images of the famous chocolate bar, along with the company’s other tasty confections (Reese’s Pieces, anyone?). What you may not know is that the popular Hershey’s Chocolate World offers a range of free chocolate-related experiences including the Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour ride, Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure, Hershey’s Really Big 3D Show and the largest selection of Hershey’s products found anywhere, should you need to stock up. If you need more chocolatey experiences, nearby HersheyPark is a major theme park with 12 roller coasters, 9 water attractions and over 65 rides to entertain you. It’s “The sweetest place on earth,” according to the promotional material.