Romance and chocolate are a match made in heaven, which means you should absolutely combine the two during your travels. From classic confectioners and historic sweets shops to trips to the actual growing source, there are so many ways to celebrate your love for the luscious treat. But the best part is that you and your special someone can make a stellar vacation out of a sampling spree.
One of the sweetest places to visit in the Bay Area is Ghirardelli Square, home to the country’s longest-running chocolate maker, churning out creative confections and hot cocoa since 1852. Be sure to stop by the Original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop for a hot fudge sundae and to see the equipment used to make those world-famous goodies.
Put the proverbial cherry on your chocolate-filled culinary adventure with an elegant dinner at Laurel Heights’ Four-Star Spruce restaurant. Nosh on chef Mark Sullivan’s elegant California-inspired cuisine before finishing the meal with beignets drizzled in cocoa goodness and a Jivara chocolate mousse cake topped with chicory ice cream and cocoa nibs.
Where to Stay
Just a 10-minute drive inland brings you to another famous San Francisco spot, Union Square, and one of its elegant Four-Star stays, Taj Campton Place. Stellar views, European-inspired décor and an elegant restaurant serving California-Indian fusion fare make for the perfect romantic escape from the bustling city.
With the elegance that surrounds the French capital, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that delicate chocolate nibbles can be found all over the city. From macarons and orangettes to ganache and mendiants (chocolate bark), Paris is a place for lovers of cacao.
For a whimsical wow factor, start your tasting tour at one of Jean-Paul Hévin’s boutique shops (there are five throughout the city), where you can sample a chocolate stiletto or miniature Eiffel Tower.
Continue your journey at Edwart Chocolatier, where owner Edwin Yansané will tailor a box of truffles just for you. Your bespoke mixture could include fascinating flavors such as double-pepper ganache, candied lemon or curry-spiked praline.
Finish off your adventure with a visit to Paris’ oldest chocolate shop, À la Mère de Famille. This quaint spot has been making superb goods since 1761.
Where to Stay
Check into Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Hotel Plaza Athénée Paris to try a few exclusive treats. Reserve a romantic table at Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée to enjoy a menu that comes complete with healthy, haute cuisine and a brilliant wine roster, all to be enjoyed in a breathtaking dining area.
An essential stop on your worldwide chocolate tour, Mexico has long had its hand in the global gourmet industry. From the Aztec and Mayan tradition of spiced cocoa sips to its use as currency in trading with the Spanish, chocolate is a way of life in the country’s historic capital city.
Get started on your tour by learning about cacao’s role in Mexican culture and sampling treats at the MUCHO Museo del Chocolate.
Then, indulge in creative confections by New Art Xocolatl, check out Que Bo!, which features sweets made exclusively from the yield of top Mexican cacao growing areas, Tabasco and Chiapas, or stop by Dicioccolato, a place that provides the perfect backdrop for nibbling and sipping.
Where to Stay
For a delicious detour in the heart of the city, book a romantic room with a view at Four-Star The St. Regis Mexico City. Be sure to partake in the elegant hotel’s over-the-top Sunday brunch where offerings include ceviche, sushi, prime rib and, of course, sumptuous desserts.
A slightly more secluded city-center respite can be found at Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City. Explore the savory side of your favorite treat at the property’s “rod to fork” restaurant Zanaya, where Mexican Pacific cuisine reigns supreme. Dive into red snapper with macadamia mole — a twist on a classic savory sauce traditionally made with cacao — in a lush garden setting. Finish off your feast with a little sweet heat in the form of a chocolate tart topped with spiced pineapple marmalade.
Of course, chocolate has a tasty place in Swiss history. To sample some of the past, plan a visit to Confiserie Sprüngli, a confection shop opened by David Sprüngli in 1836. You can now find outposts from this leading Swiss chocolate maker sprinkled all about Zurich, making it convenient for picking up a box of pralines, truffles, chocolate-dipped oranges as well as a few scrumptious bars of milk chocolate peppered with whole hazelnuts.
And if you’re open to a day trip, follow your nose a few hours southwest of Zurich to the home of Cailler, the brainchild of Francois-Louis Cailler, who opened the country’s first mechanized chocolate factory in 1819. Today, you can explore the original facility and learn the rich history behind the indulgent candy. (Fun fact: this is also the place where milk chocolate was invented.)
Where to Stay
For an equally stylish and scenic stay, head for Four-Star Widder Hotel, a boutique property located in Zurich’s Old Town. Each charming room proves as unique as the chocolate you’ve been indulging in. And, if you need a break from the cocoa, try the creme brulee or früchtekuchenin (fruit pie) the hotel’s cozy Wirtschaft Zur Schtund tavern.