The Hershey Bears

Giant Center

Giant Center

The Hershey Bears are the Washington Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate team. Most of the Bears have played at least one game up in Washington at some point. That being said, as a Caps fan, it’s also fun to go and watch a Bears game.

The Bears play at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa, on the same property as Hersheypark. The only way to get to a Bears game is to drive. There are no trains that will take you to the arena, like with Verizon Center. The drive is about two hours from DC, but it’s definitely worth it.

For Bears games, there isn’t a warm-up pre-skate like at Caps games in the sense that you can go down to the glass and watch them, so the only thing is to get there before puck drops. I’ll explain the game more explicitly in the next post.

Parking for the game is only $7 for the night and, if you come early enough, there are plenty of close spots. However, leaving can sometimes be a little bit of a problem. Especially when Hersheypark is open, it gets pretty crowded with everyone leaving at the same time. Not only is it crowded trying to get out of the general Hersheypark property, but getting out of Hershey in general gets pretty crowded.

If the game ends fairly early, to avoid traffic, it may be easier to grab a bite to eat and let some of the cars file out. There’s a Panera Bread right down the road from Giant Center. Coming into Hershey, you’ll pass it. There are also a couple other restaurants in that same shopping center and across the road.

There’s a Red Robin Gourmet Burgers only 1.4 miles down the road from Giant Center, an Applebee’s near Panera, a Fuddrucker’s, a Sheetz across the way from Panera, and a Bob Evans just down the road from Giant Center. These are just a few of the many restaurants nearby, so feel free to browse around while planning your trip up to Hershey, Pa, the Sweetest Place on Earth.

A Fan’s Pre-Game Meal

Caps games generally take a long time. With travel, they are roughly five hours long. That’s a long time to go without food, so the smart choice would be to eat something once downtown. There are plenty of places around Verizon Center and I’ll break down the top ones in both sit-down restaurants and faster eats.

Fast Eats:

On the same side of the street as the arena, almost completely connected to the building, are two of the busiest game-day fast food places: McDonald’s and Chipotle (on the 7th Street side). While these two are fast, because of their proximity to Verizon, they get very crowded very fast. From experience, it’s hard to move, cramped, lines wrap around the restaurant and it’s often hard to find a place to sit.

However, on the other side of the street, there’s a Potbelly (roughly a four minute walk on the 7th Street side), which specializes in sandwiches, and a California Tortilla (a few feet down from Potbelly), which is similar to a Chipotle but offers a wider range of Mexican food such as quesadillas. Both are roughly just as fast as McDonald’s and Chipotle, but the lines are usually shorter. However, be aware that seating in these two places is also a bit limited.

A little farther away (a six minute walk from the arena), there’s a Five Guys Burger and Fries. It’s roughly a six minute walk from the arena and is more likely to not be as busy. I haven’t been to that specific location myself, but be sure to leave plenty of time just in case it is busy.

Sit-Down:

There are a number of sit-down restaurants located near the Verizon Center. But be advised that, since they are sit-down restaurants, to leave plenty of time for a full meal before the puck drops. The Verizon Center website also has a suggested list of restaurants to try. Here are some of the better places:

Rosa Mexicano – Barely a minute walk away, it specializes in Mexican food. It’s a nicely decorated restaurant with a menu that contains a wide assortment of choices. Prices range from roughly $15-$27.

Legal Sea Foods – Three minutes away, this seafood restaurant is advertised as one of the best. Of course, with high quality food comes a high price. Adult entrees range anywhere from $12-$30, but you’re guaranteed a good meal.

Fuddruckers – A five minute walk away, Fuddruckers specializes in burgers, but also serves sandwiches and salads. Basically, it’s an American restaurant. Price ranges from as low as $11 to as high as $30, but not many entrees are that expensive. It’s a nice, casual dining experience before a game.

Matchbox – Six minutes away from Verizon Center, it specializes in pizza. Some of the seafood entrees run a bit higher at around $20-$30, but pizzas, depending on size range from $14-$20. It’s definitely something to check out.

McCormick and Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant – Four minutes away, it’s a much classier restaurant. However, since it is seafood, the prices are a bit higher, ranging from $15-$30. If you’re looking to splurge for a meal, this place is recommended, but you may want to wait until after dinner to put your Caps jersey on.

Eat First Restaurant – Just a six minute walk around the corner, let’s not forget that Verizon Center is located in Chinatown. If you’re looking for a good Chinese restaurant, this is the place to go. It’s incredibly cheap with almost all entrees under $10. It’s not gourmet, but it’ll get you fed and to the game.

 

Remember, wherever you choose to go, the most important thing is that you get to the game on time. With hockey, and especially the Caps, games are so exciting that you don’t want to miss a second of it.

 

San Jose Sharks forward Kyle Wellwood takes the faceoff against Washington's Mathieu Perreault during the game against the Sharks on Feb. 8.

San Jose Sharks forward Kyle Wellwood takes the faceoff against Washington's Mathieu Perreault during the game against the Sharks on Feb. 8.

 

 

Rosa Mexicano – Barely a minute walk away, it specializes in Mexican food. It’s a nicely decorated restaurant with a menu that contains a wide assortment of choices. Prices range from roughly $15-$27.

 

Legal Sea Foods – Three minutes away, this seafood restaurant is advertised as one of the best. Of course, with high quality food comes a high price. Adult entrees range anywhere from $12-$30, but you’re guaranteed a good meal.