By Katie Foote, Epicure & Culture Contributor
Love chocolate tours and sweet experiences?
In honor of World Chocolate Day — this year on July 7, 2018 — we’re sharing some of the best chocolate tastings, tours and experiences from around the world.
Interestingly, a number of sources indicate the date of the holiday refers to when chocolate was introduced to Europe by Christopher Columbus, who had discovered it in the “New World”.
Whatever the reason, there’s never a bad time to indulge in some chocolate travel, whether at home or on the road.
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Check out how you can celebrate the holiday — and keep its spirit alive year-round — with fun opportunities for chocolate lovers of all ages.
Below, we’ve rounded up 11 incredible chocolate tours and tastings just for you!
1) Coca To Cacao: A Colombian Chocolate Tour (Colombia)
Enthusiastic chocolatier Amelia Rope — founder of Amelia Rope Chocolate — wants to take you on a delicious history and culture tour of Colombia.
This Wild Frontiers Travel excursion takes you to the heart of Colombia’s cacao industry while showing you around one of South America’s most exciting countries.
The journey focuses on the influential role cacao has played in Colombia, both as a cultural tradition and as an important economic opportunity to recover from the once-rampant drug trade.
Your chocolate trip begins in bustling Bogota, then moves through the rich landscapes of Colombia’s central highlands and western hills.
Along the way, you also explore the colonial splendors of Popayan, Santa Marta and Cartagena, visit the underground cathedral at Zipaquirá and enjoy the majestic Tayrona National Park.
Rates for this 14-day trip start at $6,099.
2) The Art & Science Of Chocolate In A Laboratory (NYC)
Do you want to learn the science behind your love of chocolate?
You’re in the luck, especially if you’re in New York City where the Institute of Culinary Education has the nation’s first educational bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab.
In fact, the lab is overseen by James Beard Award-Winning Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis. This delightfully sinful space seeks to serve as a platform for cocoa experimentation and tasty research projects.
Currently, the lab offers an assortment of classes suited for any level, from a curious beginner to a culinary professional.
If you’re eager to jump fully into the delicious world of chocolate making, their Master Class in Techniques of Chocolate is an intensive four-day introduction to the art and science of creating gourmet chocolate.
You’ll move from roasting the beans all the way to the refining process, with instructors ensuring you leave with high-quality confectionary. And because they’re helping you to become a true chocolate artist, you’ll also learn how to temper and mold your bars!
You’ll be given an overview of chocolate history and current industry trends.
By the end of the course, you’ll have made your very own batches of dark, milk and white chocolate.
This course costs $1,195.
3) Savor Chocolate, Spice & Everything Nice (Belize)
Maya Beach Hotel & Bistro offers an amazing Chocolate & Spice Experience on Belize’s Placencia Peninsula.
These Caribbean shores are known as the “Cradle of Chocolate” — yes, you read that right — and the boutique hotel is perfectly situated to visit all the culinary gems in the area.
You’ll start by exploring a local organic Belize chocolate farm. Take in the cacao trees, learn (and taste) how chocolate is made, meet the family that works the land — and even work with them!
After the chocolate factory tour, visit a spice farm to see how black pepper and vanilla is grown and nibble your way through acres of locally-grown fruit trees.
Finish your day at the resort’s famous Maya Beach Bistro with cacao-inspired food and drinks.
The “Cacao-Spice Martini”, cacao-rubbed Pork and chocolate soufflé. Yum!
Rates for the property start at $98/night.
4) Immerse Yourself In Chocolate With A View (Las Vegas)
If you prefer to create your own chocolate excursion, consider visiting the Sugar Factory in the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Chocolate lovers of all ages can head to their second floor Chocolate Lounge, dripping with chocolate, gold and caramel-hued decor. Here, you’ll enjoy delicious treats, sip cocktails out of chocolate-dipped glassware and gaze through floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking The Las Vegas Strip.
For the kids, there’s the “Reese’s Pieces Sweet Dough Pizza,” featuring piles of peanut butter buckeye cream, Reese’s Pieces brownie bites, pretzels and and chocolate sauce atop chocolate dough.
Adults can drink the “Chocolate Mudslide Martini,” a mix of vodka, Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish cream garnished with chocolate shavings, chocolate drizzle and a milk chocolate rim.
For food, try the “Tartuffi White Chocolate Truffle” with a flavorful, slightly salty white chocolate gianduja with Piemonte hazelnut pieces and slivers of wafer biscuit.
5) Attend The Cross-country Ski Chocolate Festival (New Hampshire)
Known as the sweetest day on skis, North Conway, New Hampshire hosts an annual Cross-Country Ski “Chocolate Festival” on the last Sunday in February.
During the festival, you can cross-country ski or snowshoe inn-to-inn. You’ll replenish your energy through complimentary chocolate treats at each establishment.
If you stay two or more nights at 1785 Inn, you will receive a pair of complimentary tickets.
Tickets cost $30 in advance or $35 on the day of event. Your purchase benefits the MWV Ski Touring & Snowshoe Foundation, a non-profit maintaining over 25 miles of diverse winter trails connecting Intervale, Kearsarge and North Conway.
6) Explore The Land Of Cacao & Darwin (Ecuador)
If you love sweets and adventure, look no further than the Land of Cacao and Darwin land tour offered by Quasar Expeditions.
This eleven-night itinerary explores historic legacies of the ancient Mayo-Chinchipe-Marañon culture, through Ecuador, the Andes mountains and the Galapagos Islands.
One of the world’s most exciting educational chocolate tours, this excursion lets you travel the land where the cacao plant was first worshipped as the “food of the gods”.
You’ll follow chocolate’s progress through history, witnessing the artistic process required to turn the cacao bean into the sweet treat enjoyed today.
After exploring chocolate culture on the mainland, you’ll venture deep into the land of Darwin to explore the Galapagos Islands in style.
Aboard the iconic M/Y Grace — formerly Grace Kelly’s royal honeymoon yacht — learn about the origins of life on the islands as you meet the local species. Each day, savor culinary delights that use Ecuador’s award-winning cacao beans and its raw chocolate, specially prepared by a Quasar Expeditions chef.
Starting price begins at $2,250 per person.
7) Partake In Nostalgic Chocolate Tours (Pennsylvania)
You can’t talk about chocolate tours without mentioning “The Sweetest Place On Earth”, Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Your visit will take you on a free ride showcasing how Hershey’s chocolate is created. Here, you’ll experience the process by getting warmed up in the roast tunnel — just as the cacao beans do! — as well as smelling the chocolate being pressed on the rollers.
Free samples are included, too.
At Chocolate World, you can also create your own candy bar, learn how to engage all your senses at the Tasting Experience and assist your favorite chocolate characters in a 4-D Chocolate Mystery.
You can take a Trolley Tour around the property to learn about the man behind the brand — Milton Hershey — and see the iconic town he built.
8) Camp During A Chocolate Lover Weekends (Across The USA & Canada)
If you like camping mainly because it’s an excuse to eat s’mores, Jellystone Park has created an event for people like you.
Their campgrounds are famous for their “Death by Chocolate” and “Chocolate Lovers” weekends, which take place at different times throughout the summer months in Canada and the United States.
Activities typically include chocolate pie eating and chocolate milk drinking contests, chocolate finger painting, candy bar bingo, chocolate pudding wrestling, and even a chocolate Slip N’ Slide!
Browse the Jellystone theme weekend schedule to find a festival near you.
9) Pair Beer With Chocolate Beer (Belgium)
If you’re in Belgium and looking to savor their two most famous products simultaneously, try booking the Beer and Chocolate tour through Tasting Escapes.
Werner Callebaut — your chocolate tour guide — practically inherited his love of all things cacao at birth. In fact, this family has an international reputation for their famous Belgian chocolates.
Now, Werner wants to share his two biggest passions, chocolate and beer, with you through private chocolate and beer pairings around Belgium.
His experience as a chocolatier for Callebaut Belgian Fine Chocolate and as a cicerone (a beer sommelier) means he has extensive knowledge to share about both.
Werner has discovered how to pair artisan beers and fine chocolate pralines to provide a delicate flavor harmony. He also likes combining contrasting flavors in beer and chocolate to strengthen both their subtleties.
This exclusive experience with Werner costs less than 30 euros a person!
10. Tropical Rainforest and Chocolate Adventure (Costa Rica)
If you’re looking for a chocolate tour in San Jose, you won’t want to miss Urban Adventure’s Tropical Rainforest and Chocolate Adventure.
This sweet excursion combines two of life’s greatest pleasures:
Chocolate tasting and looking at wildlife in their natural habitats.
Along with taking a chocolate tour at Tirimbina Rainforest Center — where you’ll learn about chocolate history, the creation process and even savor some yourself — you’ll experience some of Costa Rica’s most biodiverse landscapes.
Go bird-watching in La Selva Reserve (home to over 400 bird species), have lunch in the private La Virgen del Socorro, drive through the Caribbean lowlands and Braulio Carrillo National Park, and more!
While this full-day tour costs $140 per person, you’ll snag 10% off with code UANYC8.
11. Explore The UK’s Sweet Side (London)
Another Urban Adventure’s excursion, an English Tea & Desserts Tour shows you the sweeter side of London, specifically the Soho and Mayfair neighborhoods.
This isn’t just any food tour, but a true London cultural encounter. High tea is an important part of life for locals, which you’ll experience for yourself.
Along with savoring chocolates, cakes and scones while sipping artisan-quality English tea, you’ll visit the very grocery store the Queen uses. Moreover, you’ll see for yourself exactly what royalty eat in Buckingham Palace!
While this full-day tour costs $89 per person, you’ll snag 10% off with code UANYC8.
What are your favorite chocolate tours and experiences around the world? Please share in the comments below!
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