HERSHEY - Hershey Highmeadow Campground, just minutes from Hersheypark, celebrated its 50th anniversary in May.
It also changed its name to Hersheypark Camping Resort and added 10 deluxe cabins to the list of lodgings it offers on the 55-acre property.
The camping resort started with just 50 sites and one bathhouse. Over the years, it has grown to more than 300 sites that support tents, recreational vehicles and, of course, cabins.
Prior to being a campground, the site was a small working farm.
"I think it really was one of Milton Hershey's dreams to have the hotel, the lodge and have something that is more affordable, like the campground," said Mark Panassow, general manager of the Hersheypark Camping Resort.
The new deluxe cabins feature the most popular amenities of home: heat and air conditioning, dinner table seating, kitchenette, bathroom and living room area with TV and DVD player.
Outside is a deck overlooking the campground that comes complete with a picnic table and, just below the deck, a fire ring.
The 10 new cabins have two bedrooms and sleep seven; the log cabins can accommodate six; and the extended log cabins sleep eight.
"What is cool is that these are the first time we tried two bedrooms," Panassow said, talking about the new deluxe cabins, "and I think it's a real home run."
He said all the conveniences of home are inside the cabins. The room at the end, with the queen-sized bed, provides a place for mom and dad to sleep. The kids can sleep at the other end of the building.
"We think it's a real hit and we are looking forward to building some more in the future," he said.
There are 37 cabins on the resort's property, and 22 have showers and restrooms inside.
If travelers want to bring an RV, there are full hook-up sites with electric, water and sewer - and even cable TV. The tent sites are no hook-up.
Pull-through sites also are available.
The campground is open all year long.
"Summer is the busier time, but there is Halloween in Hershey (for) three weekends and once we get through that, we have the Christmas in Hershey," Panassow said.
Plenty of activities await those who stay at the resort. There are two swimming pools - one a children's pool - plus volleyball, horseshoes, shuffleboard, basketball, playgrounds and an arcade.
There are recreation schedules created each week for the resort. Programs include arts and crafts for families, as well as entertainment.
"We really have extensive programs that have really grown through the years. We have park entertainers that come out, like the Chocolate Covered Band and Hershey character visits," Panassow said.
On the side of Landis Barn, where the registration, general store and arcade are located, the resort shows outdoor movies. Guests can bring a chair or blanket and watch a film under the stars.
"Our entertainment and recreational opportunities make us unique," Panassow said.
Picnic areas are available for families, too.
The general store sells camping needs, including snacks, wood, ice, personal items and, of course, sweet treats from Hershey.
Laundry facilities are available for those who want to tend to their clothes and a dumping station for RVs. Most areas of the resort can access free wireless Internet.
Those who stay at the camping resort get discounted admission to the park and its attractions such as Hershey Gardens, The Hershey Story and The Museum on Chocolate Avenue.
ZooAmerica admission is free with paid Hersheypark entrance tickets.
"There is so much value. That is what sets us apart from other campgrounds," Panassow said.
A very convenient free shuttle service runs from the resort to the park and guests can make unlimited use of it.
"We are all about families and having fun, and that is why we want to make sure folks that come here - right away when they pull up to the campground resort, they feel that they are part of Hershey. This is where the Hershey experience starts," Panassow said.