Chocolate to Ice Cream: Top 10 Sweet Spots

Travelers with a soft-spot for candy and hard-centered cynics alike will melt as they take in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of these sweet spots, which include chocolate fountains, ice cream empires and jelly bean feasts. TripAdvisor, a leading travel site, has announced its list of the top ten sweetest attractions in the U.S., as identified by TripAdvisor editors.

It says summer vacations offer the perfect excuse to indulge in these sweet spots, with TripAdvisor site data from June 2010 compared to the previous month revealing a 32 percent increase in traveler posts referencing ‘ice cream,’ a 19 percent increase in posts mentioning ‘candy,’ and a 14 percent increase in ones referencing ‘chocolate.’

Here’s the list, according to TripAdvisor:

1. Tantalizing Treats: Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hershey, Pennsylvania

For the true chocoholic, a dazzling menu of sights and flavors awaits at Hershey’s Chocolate World. Travelers can hop on a free tour ride for a simulated journey through Hershey’s chocolate making process, package their own Hershey’s Kisses, or be immortalized on their very own chocolate bar at the Hershey’s Photo Bar Wrapper. And while schools may be out for summer, visitors can further their education nonetheless; all participants who indulge in Hershey’s Chocolate Tasting Adventure receive an “Official Masters Degree in Chocolate Tasting” from Hershey’s University. General admission is free of charge, with varying fees for individual attractions.

2. Colorful Confectionary: Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield, California

Travelers seeking a mouth-watering experience should look no further than number one, Jelly Belly Lane, home to the Jelly Belly factory. Free 40-minute walking tours offer visitors a taste of the candy-making process and reveal why it takes more than a week to make a single Jelly Belly jelly bean. Confectionary-enthusiasts can also enroll in Jelly Belly University and earn a degree in Beanology during the exclusive tour, which takes groups of just six participants to the very heart of the factory. Round off the experience with a pizza or hamburger — Jelly Belly-shaped, naturally — at the Jelly Belly cafe. Regular tours are free of charge, while tickets for Jelly Belly University are $47.

3. Goodies Galore: Food on Foot Tours, New York City, New York

“The World Famous Sweet Tooth Tour” may have the Big Apple as its backdrop, but it’s a distinctly fruit-free experience. This three-hour guided expedition takes in some of the city’s greatest spots for cookies, cupcakes, candy and more — and part of the fun lies in not knowing where the magical mystery tour of munching will move on to next. Those seeking a truly cool experience can also sign up for the two-hour “Ice Cream, You Scream” tour and satiate their appetites for the cold and creamy stuff. Advance booking is required; tickets for “The World Famous Sweet Tooth Tour” are $49 (or $35 in the current summer special), and $20 for the ice cream tour (currently available for $10).

4. Magical Munchies: M&M’s World, Las Vegas, Nevada

Situated next to Las Vegas’ MGM Hotel and Casino, this 28,000 square-foot, four-story retail-entertainment emporium could be just the ticket for travelers who have had their fill of showgirls and slot machines. Candy fanatics can take in a free 3-D movie, “I Lost My ‘M’ in Vegas,” starring Red and Yellow, before they shop ’til they drop and snack ’til they pop. One of a kind branded-souvenirs available for purchase include poker sets and snow globes, while candy dispensers containing every color of M&M’s imaginable, from fuchsia to aqua, are an irresistible sight for sore eyes and hungry tums. Admission is free of charge.

5. Icy Indulgence: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, Waterbury, Vermont

Ice cream lovers will melt at the prospect of scooping a spot on a tour of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. The 30-minute experience begins with a movie recounting the company’s history, before progressing to a mezzanine with a bird’s eye view across the production room, where a guide will share details of the ice cream manufacturing process. From late-May through October, travelers can also visit the Flavor Graveyard in the factory grounds, and pay their respects to dearly de-pinted flavors such as Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Purple Passion Fruit. Tour tickets, available on a first come first served basis daily, are $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and free for kids aged 12 and under.

6. Decadent Delights: Gourmet Walks, San Francisco, California

For a guilt-free treat, work off the calories while walking the streets as part of “The San Francisco Gourmet Chocolate Tour.” The city may be best known for its fog and steep hills, but it’s also at the center of a new wave of artisan chocolatiers – and this three-hour guided tour will tantalize travelers’ taste-buds as they sample local flavors and receive tips on tasting. Stops are subject to change, but can include a Swiss chocolatier loved by Oprah Winfrey for its champagne truffles, a deluxe boutique featuring treats made by “the Dali of Chocolate Art” and even a newsstand that carries 225 chocolate bars from over 15 different countries. Advance booking is required; tickets are $49.

7. Fizzy Fun: New World of Coca-Cola, Atlanta, Georgia

This fizzy delight is situated in downtown Atlanta’s Pemberton Place, which takes its name from John S. Pemberton — the local pharmacist who invented Coca-Cola in 1886. Visits last 90-minutes on average, during which time travelers can explore the history of the world’s best-known brand, sample over 60 different products from around the globe, see the bottling line in action, and check out the world’s largest collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia. Advance booking is recommended; admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors and $10 for youths (aged 3-12).

8. Fantasy Fountain: Bellagio Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

While Bellagio’s world-famous dancing fountains are a sight to behold, an altogether different type of drool-inducing fountain lies within the hotel. Jutting out from Jean-Philippe Patisserie is the world’s tallest chocolate fountain, as certified by Guinness World Records. The mesmerizing fountain of cascading chocolate stands at 27-feet tall and uses more than 2,100 pounds of dark, white and milk chocolate, to spellbinding effect. While a sturdy glass case prevents travelers from tucking in to the luscious liquid, the patisserie boasts plenty of other tempting delights to tickle travelers’ palettes.

9. Scrumptious Sweets: Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, Daytona Beach, Florida

Travelers who have had their fill of Daytona Beach’s sand and surf can get a taste of traditional candy-making on a free tour of Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory. The local company, which has been operating since 1925, offers visitors the opportunity to see candy-makers doing things the old-fashioned way — and the sights, sounds, smells and tastes will overwhelm the senses. Following the short but sweet tour, which runs Monday through Friday and lasts around 20 minutes, tuck in to free samples of freshly-made chocolates while perusing the selection of goodies available for purchase.

10. Divine Desserts: Eli’s Cheesecake World, Chicago, Illinois

For travelers with a penchant for wickedly decadent desserts, Eli’s Cheesecake World will serve up a sensory-stimulating experience. The company’s Chicago-style baked cheesecake has been making its mark across the U.S. and beyond for 30 years, and during the course of a short guided tour of the bakery, visitors can learn about the history of Eli’s and its dessert-making process, in addition to seeing the decorating department at work. Tickets are $3 (production cannot be guaranteed for all tours), says TripAdvisor.

“With schools out for summer, there’s no doubt that children will love the opportunity to sink their teeth into some of America’s sweetest attractions,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor. “But these tantalizing treats offer plenty of entertainment for the young at heart, too — and are sure to inject some sugary fun into summer getaways.”

TripAdvisor released the information today, July 21.

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