It’s a great time to be a chocolate lover. Whereas Swiss and Belgian chocolate used to dominate the conversation about quality chocolate, there’s now more chocolate being made around the world than ever before. In today’s chocolate-obsessed world, you can go to massive chocolate museums with flowing chocolate waterfalls, pick your own cocoa in the rainforest, and taste drinking chocolate from the source.
These are the top destinations for chocolate lovers.
1. Hershey, Pennsylvania
A name synonymous with chocolate in the United States and around the world, Hershey, Pennsylvania, is also a very real place you can visit. It all started when Milton Hershey opened a chocolate factory in 1905. The milk chocolate the factory produced was a quick success, and Hershey made an entire town for his employees, compete with housing, public transportation, a school, and recreation. A park was one of the first additions in 1907, and today it’s the reason why Hershey (the town) is such a destination for candy lovers.
Here, it’s all things Hershey, all the time. There’s the amusement park, Hersheypark, the Hershey Story Museum where you can taste flights of rare chocolate, Hershey’s Chocolate World where you can make your own chocolate bar, and the interactive Hershey’s Unwrapped: A Chocolate Tasting Journey.
If you haven’t been before, there’s never been a better time to visit Hershey.
2. Brussels, Belgium
Belgian means quality when it comes to chocolate, and to see why all you have to do is take a trip to Brussels. The city has been dubbed the “World Capital of Chocolate” due to its history (the praline was invented here) and the density of chocolate makers (about one chocolatier per 2,000 people). Needless to say, there’s no shortage of chocolate shops to visit whether you’re looking for something artisanal and innovative or something classic like Godiva.
When quality and quantity aren’t enough, there’s the Musee du Cacao et du Chocolate, or the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate. The museum is located in a three-story house that has a history section, a demonstration kitchen where you can see makers in action, and the opportunity to taste some freshly made chocolate.
3. Oaxaca, Mexico
Central America is the birthplace of chocolate, and the plant’s place in Mexico’s history is on full display in Oaxaca. Beans are sold streetside, as are all types of drinking chocolate. Chocolate is also an important ingredient in one of Oaxaca’s most famous sauces, mole. The center of chocolate in Oaxaca is Mina Street, where you’ll find shop after shop selling their goods. There are plenty of small family shops to browse, and the larger names to keep an eye out for are Mayordomo Chocolate for a traditional hot chocolate drink made with spices and milk or water and La Soledad for the chocolate-honey drink chocomiel.
4. Cologne, Germany
Germany exports more chocolate around the world than any other country, and the home base for chocolate is Cologne. For a sense of scale and all things German chocolate, head to the chocolate museum Schokoladenmuseum located on a dock reaching out into the Rhine River. The three-floor building covers the history of chocolate through historic materials and recreations, like the tropical rainforest exhibit with live cacao trees and the bean-to-bar manufacturing exhibit. Also, there’s a chocolate-focused restaurant where you can eat more than your fill.
5. Melbourne, Australia
While Melbourne is famous as one of the best cities for coffee lovers, it also has a notable chocolate scene. There are upscale restaurant-sweet shop combos like Bibelot and chocolatiers like Koko Black. There are even bean-to-bar producers in the city like Monsieur Truffe, which makes its chocolate onsite at the cafe East Elevation.
If whimsy is what you’re after, head to the nearby Phillip Island Chocolate Factory’s chocolate playground, Panny’s Amazing World of Chocolate. Here, you’ll find a waterfall of chocolate that spills nearly 900 pounds of melted chocolate over the edge of an exhibit every three minutes as well as a one-ton block of solid chocolate. A miniature village of chocolate with working trains is also inside, as is a chocolate version of Michelangelo’s David statue. Also, obviously, there’s plenty of chocolate to try and buy.
6. St. Lucia
This Caribbean nation has a long history with cocoa, and not all that history is in the past. At Jade Mountain resort you’ll find the Emerald Farm and Chocolate Lab, where you can learn about production while surrounded by some 2,000 cacao trees. It’s one of a number of cocoa estates you can visit. Completely immerse yourself in all things chocolate at Hotel Chocolat, a boutique hotel located on an old chocolate estate. You can harvest your own cocoa or relax by the pool with a chocolate drink in hand after a cocoa-infused spa treatment. You can even plant your own tree.