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Chocolate Travel in the U.S. (Some images courtesy of Hershey Spa)
Culinary Travel - Chocolate Decadent Discoveries in the U.S.

Since the average American eats 10-12 pounds of chocolate a year, studies that support the health benefits of this delectable creation are welcomed almost as eagerly as those creamy truffles often encased in glass counters or ribbon-tied boxes.

For your annual vacation, instead of bordering on the ho-hum, why not be a little adventurous and try something with a different twist? Perhaps even indulgent.

Culinary travel tempts and delights, and is on the rise in the United States at an alarming speed. Treat your sweet tooth with a chocolate-focused trip where you can literally surround yourself with cocoa as you sample it in every imaginable form, explore the history and production of chocolate, and even soak your feet in it.

To travel in chocolate-covered style, check out some of these sweet vacation ideas:

The Chocolate Museum
St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada
Bar-shaped benches, interactive exhibits and yummy treats reflect the chocolate theme running rampant throughout the museum. Learn about the fine art of hand dipping, or try your skill at packing a box of goodies. Educational videos touch on such topics as antique candy making. (506) 466-7848

Hotel Hershey Peppermint Pattie Spa Treatment (Image courtesy of Hershey Spa)

Hotel Hershey
Hershey, PA

Have your cake and eat it, too, at this AAA Four Diamond hotel’s spa, where chocolaty indulgences don’t necessarily translate to added calories. How about a fondue body wrap or a Swedish massage scented with cocoa? Or, perhaps an invigorating chocolate sugar scrub that leaves your skin silky smooth? Visit nearby Hershey's Chocolate World for the famed Chocolate Making Tour Ride — a must-do for fans of the brand. (717) 520-5888

New York's Luxury Chocolate Tour
New York City, NY
Enjoy NYC's posh Upper East Side when you spend three hours strolling among the Manhattan elite exploring the greatest chocolate retailers in the city. You'll have the opportunity to sample the finest chocolates crafted from the best cacao available — whether it's a Grand Marnier truffle, a violet-infused chocolate square or a raspberry bonbon. (917) 292-0680

Chocolate at the Pen (Image courtesy of Peninsula Hotel)

Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory
Frankfort, KY
For Valentine bonbons with some extra oomph, swing by Rebecca Ruth for chocolates enhanced with tasty liquors. These folks are the official creators of Kentucky bourbon balls, but you also can choose from confections flavored with Irish coffee, cognac, mint julep, and rum. Take the tour to view the antique candy furnace and production line — after this brief educational journey, complimentary samples await. (502) 223-7475

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
Berkeley, CA
San Francisco Bay area chocolate aficionados in the know can’t live without their Scharffen Berger. To find out why, take a free tour to learn about the history of cacao and see it processed into a creamy concoction. The chocolate maker uses high quality, chemical-free cacao beans, and fans say this contributes to a rich flavor and velvety texture — taste for yourself, as tidbits are distributed to tour participants. (510) 981-4050

Sutton Place Hotel
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Vancouverites in need of a chocolate fix make a beeline to Sutton Place, but you don’t need to be a local to realize that the all-you-can-eat confectionary buffet is unsurpassed in its sugary excellence. The hotel’s master chocolatier lovingly prepares a gamut of devilishly delicious delights, including cakes, ice creams, pastries and the signature Brittany crêpes. (604) 682-5511

W New York
New York City, NY
At the W’s Bliss spa, guests can spoil themselves with an array of pampering treatments good for the body and soul. However, it’s the double chocolate pedicure at this lodging that has them talking. Soak your tired feet in creamy cocoa while savoring a hot cup of the aromatic brew. Then, brace yourself for a smoothing sugar scrub before the attendant sculpts your toenails and paints them a pretty color — chocolate brown, perhaps? (212) 755-1200

(Sources: AAA)