It’s a rare child (or adult) who is immune to the seductive powers of chocolate. Whether your fix is a Roald Dahl style daily lunchtime dessert of a bar of chocolate and some Smarties or a discreet square or two of Montezuma’s organic Very Dark Chocolate with Chilli, we’ve rounded up the yummiest chocolate-related venues for an Easter outing or to enjoy all year round.
York Chocolate Story, Yorkshire
A guided tour through the history of the city’s famous chocolate-making families, this attraction comprises three areas: Story Zone, Factory Zone and Indulgence Zone, plus the Chocolate Bar Café.
This market town is a great day-out destination for sweet-toothed families, especially if you come in late March/April for the two-day Chocolate Festival, when all the family can enjoy themed activities and parents can sample chocolate cocktails, wines or beer. Year-round venues include the Chocolate Café, Cultured Bean coffee bar and chocolate shop, and Ramsbottom Sweet Shop.
Oban Chocolate Factory, Scotland
This handmade chocolate producer on Oban Bay has a café with a viewing window so you can watch truffles and chocolates being made as you scoff (interpretation panels give the low-down on what’s going on). Goodies in the café include hot chocolate, ice-cream floats and towering sundaes, and there’s a toybox. School holidays see workshops for ages 4–10, when kids make Belgian truffles.
This is the place to learn about the history of the classic brand in a variety of themed zones.
Walker’s Chocolate Emporium, Devon
Seaside Ilfracombe is the setting for this award-winning shop and small museum with its chocolate memorabilia and other items, including a 1m-tall Easter egg and a life-size chocolate man (coated in varnish to prevent him melting in hot weather).
REST OF EUROPE
The Netherlands’ capital Amsterdam has a big new chocolate museum, De Chocoladefabriek, in the pipleine. Context Travel runs chocolate walks in Paris, Tuscany, Barcelona and New York City; all can be tailored for kids as part of a private family walk.
Choco-Story, Brussels, Belgium
A 17th-century house close to the Belgian capital’s central Grand Place is home to this museum tracing the history of chocolate from its cultivation by the Mayans and Aztecs to its arrival in Europe and beyond. Tours culminate in a demonstration of traditional praline-making by a master chocolatier. Staff can also organise chocolate-themed walking tours, available in English and suitable for families. See also our feature on a family city break in Bruges with its Choco-Story.
Malmö Chokladfabrik, Sweden
This ‘mini-museum’ in the Swedish capital allows you to taste famous Mazetti products, sniff different cocoa beans, and watch the resident chocolatier at work in the 120-year-old factory, which has its own café.
Musée Art du Chocolat, Midi Pyrenées, France
France is full of little chocolate museums (including the Chocolatrium in Damville in Normandy, Planete Musée du Chocolat in Biarritz in Aquitaine, and Musée Le Paradis du Chocolat in La Côte-Saint-André in the French Alps). This museum in Lisle sur Tarn stands out from the crowd in that it specializes in sculptures made of chocolate, which include animals and life-size human figures.
Musée Les Secrets du Chocolat, Alsace, France
The museum of chocolate-maker Marquise de Sévigné near Strasbourg includes animated figures and a maze of themed areas to bring the history and manufacture of chocolate to life. It’s part of the Alsace Route du Chocolat, which brings together about 50 gourmet sites welcoming visitors, so you can make a chocolate pilgrimage of it.
Valrhona Cité du Chocolat, Drôme, French Alps
This relative newcomer to the scene has a family trail for ages 5–12 together with lots of interactive elements and tasting opportunities.
Cailler-Nestlé’s ‘museum of food’ has lots of displays on chocolate, but it’s best to time your visit to coincide with one of the special family activities (in French only).
Halloren Schokoladenmuseum, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Germany’s oldest chocolate producer company, located in Halle, has its origins in a gingerbread bakery set up in 1804. The highlight of its museum includes a 27-metre-square room made entirely of chocolate.
Schokoladenmuseum, Cologne, Germany
One of Germany’s top 10 most popular museums, this ship-like glass and metal building on the harbour near Cologne cathedral extends over three levels and includes a tropical hothouse where cocoa trees can be seen up close.
Schokomuseum, Vienna, Austria
The Austrian capital’s chocolate museum is at Heindl confectioners, known for its Sisi-Taler pralines. Videos and a tour of the historical machinery and modern production halls teach you about the history of cacao, manufacture of sweets and chocolate, and packaging design. While you’re in the city, don’t miss a tasting of the world-renowned, chocolate-laden Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher.
Casa del Cioccolate, Umbria, Italy
This little museum and chocolate-cookery school in the Umbrian capital Perugia is best visited in October, when the city hosts the nine-day Eurochocolate festival, including chocolate sculptures, tastings, chocolate spa treatments and record attempts.
REST OF WORLD
Hershey’s Chocolate World, Pennsylvania, USA
A three-hour trip from New York City and two-and-a-half hours from Washington DC, this major attraction by the world-famous firm includes the Chocolate Factory Mystery in 4D. There are the inevitable shops and eateries, including the main candy store selling new Hershey products, some not yet on general sale. Just 42km away, in Lititz, the Candy Americana Museum is far more low key (and free to visit), displaying chocolate memorabilia and offering the chance to watch chocolates being handmade, including almond bark, peanut butter meltaways, and mint drizzle. A second free chocolate site lies 60km south of Hershey, at York: Wolfgang Candy with its museum.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen™, Universal Orlando Resort, Florida, USA
This 19th-century-themed and Steampunk-inspired restaurant, bar and sweet shop serves up and sells a whole host of choco-tastic dishes including coffee and chocolate stout chicken wings and chocolate gnocchi – perfect for refuelling during a day on the themepark.
Ganong Chocolate Museum, New Brunswick, Canada
St Stephen in the maritime province of New Brunswick was designated ‘Canada’s Chocolate Town’ in 2000 by virtue of being home to the country’s oldest confectionery company, established in 1873 and still a major employer. As well as being home to the non-for-profit museum, the town plays host to a week-long Chocolate Fest each August.
Read our guide to enjoying city breaks with kids and our recommendations for the best family city breaks.