While destinations like Belgium and Switzerland get a lot of hype for their delicious chocolate, the United States also has its fair share of tasty experiences. Here you’ll find a number of artisan purveyors, unique factory tours, indulgent spa treatments, and tasty excursions to enjoy. To add some sweetness to your next trip, opt for the following cacao-laced experiences.
For the most all-encompassing chocolate experience in the country, head to Hershey, Pennsylvania, home to the famous Hershey Chocolate. There are a number of decadent experiences to be had, from chocolate factory tours to chocolate-themed amusement rides (the Cocoa Cruiser roller coaster is a thrill!) to the sweet-themed Hotel Hershey and more. One of the most decadent experiences one can have is indulging in a cacao-laced treatment in the hotel’s Chocolate Spa, with offerings like the Chocolate Fondue Wrap, Whipped Cocoa Bath, and Chocolate Bean Polish.
Brooklyn is home to an interesting array of sustainable chocolate factory experiences. In Park Slope, Nunu Chocolates makes homemade chocolates using sustainably sourced cacao from a small Colombia farm, then pairs them with craft beer in a guided tasting. At Li-Lac Chocolates on Sunset Park’s waterfront, they feature an open factory so visitors can watch as they make old-fashioned chocolates Lucy-and-Ethel Style, with many recipes unchanged from the company’s original opening in 1923. At Mast Brothers in Williamsburg, savor sustainable chocolate bars laced with sea salt, vanilla beans, almonds, or maple syrup. And if you’re interested in raw chocolate, Fine & Raw has an open factory, free samples, and amazing coffee, all in the experimental arts neighborhood of Bushwick.
One of the country’s best chocolate class experiences is in San Francisco at Dandelion Chocolate, where their artisan treats are made using only cacao beans and cane sugar. Have a leisurely chat with a chocolate maker, take a factory tour, or sign up for one of their classes and learn about the entire process from bean to bar, making your own chocolate to take home. For families they offer a Children’s Chocolate Exploration, full of tasting and hands-on activities.
For a delicious island experience in Hawaii, a Steelgrass Chocolate Farm Tour allows visitors to truly see where their food comes from. Wander the fragrant chocolate tree orchard and gardens, and see how chocolate is made from branch to bar, even getting to taste homegrown tropical fruits and artisanal treats - not to mention an 11-course dark chocolate tasting featuring local and international varieties. Yum!
Taking place in Denver every Mother’s Day Weekend, the Colorado Chocolate Festival is a pilgrimage for any cacao lover. Along with a showroom packed with dessert booths, the event features baking demonstrations, a gift market, live music, wine tastings, chocolate-making competitions, and even the crowning of a chocolate king and queen. After savoring free treat samples, vote for your favorite booth and help them win a free spot for the following year.
What better way to get to know a city than through its chocolate? Around the US you’ll find a number of enticing chocolate walking tours. In Seattle, Savor Seattle offers a Chocolate Indulgence Tour with over 15 tastings and a full account of the city’s dessert history (not to mention the chance to taste “Seattle’s Best Cookie”). Chicago Chocolate Tours is another great option, where you sample everything from chocolate bars to cacao-laced teas, getting to know the local purveyors who make them. Boston Chocolate Tours offer a variety of experiences, like truffle-making workshops, tasting tours of South End, cupcake crawls, and chocolate and wine pairings.
What are some of your favorite chocolate experiences?
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Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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