MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

The chocolate cure

When winter drags on, drown your sorrows with sweets.

Candinas chocolates in Madison.

© Beth Gauper

Candinas chocolates, made in the Madison suburb of Verona, are among the nation's best.

In February and March, most of us are getting tired of winter . . . time to eat some chocolate.

As everyone knows, chocolate has unique restorative qualities. It's effective draped on strawberries, whipped into mousse, covering cakes . . . you get the idea.

Just thumb your nose at winter (and your diet). Choose from tastings, tours and road trips.

Here's where to go  to take the chocolate cure in 2020.


Burlington, Wis., holds its Hot Chocolatefest Jan. 18-19, with hot chocolate and chili contests, snowman-decorating and an artisan fair.

In Lake Geneva, Wis., there's a Cocoa Crawl Jan. 31, with businesses offering free samples. Participants vote on their favorites. The event is part of Winterfest.

In Kohler, Wis., Destination Kohler offers In Celebration of Chocolate Feb. 7-9, with high-end chefs leading demonstrations, tastings, pairings and classes, including one on making chocolate sculptures.

On Feb. 8-9, vintners on Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula offer Taste the Passion, A Celebration of Wine, Chocolate & Love.'' Twenty-four wineries offer sweet and savory pairings with their wines.

In Appleton, Wis., Feb. 15 is Death by Chocolate, a progressive tasting at restaurants, bars and coffeehouses along College Avenue. Two routes each have 15 stops.

In the southeast Wisconsin town of Burlington, the Chocolate Extravaganza is part of the Home Expo on March 14. After Bake-Off judging, attendees get to sample the entries.

It's for people who just can't wait until the town's huge Chocolate Fest Memorial Day weekend, May 22-25. Burlington is the home of a Nestlé chocolate plant and calls itself Chocolate City USA.

Chocolate cake.

© Beth Gauper

During Restaurant Weeks, you always get dessert.

On Lake Michigan, Traverse City's Chocolate Festival is April 19, with sampling, a chocolate-sculpting workshop and music.

In Madison, the shops along Monroe Street hold a Chocolate Walk in April, with treats at more than 16 shops and restaurants. It benefits the free Vilas Zoo.

In the northern Chicago suburb of Long Grove, near Long Grove Confectionary Co., Chocolate Fest is May 15-17, with a chocolate scavenger hunt, sampling and music.

Restaurant weeks . . . with dessert

The multi-course dinner deals offered during Restaurant Weeks always include dessert. 

Try them in Madison, Jan. 19-24; Geneva, Ill., Jan. 20-26; Chicago, Jan. 24-Feb. 9; Kenosha, Wis., Feb. 1-9; Minneapolis, Feb. 23-28; and Traverse City, Mich., Feb. 23-29. 

A chocolate getaway

If you'd like to go on a chocolate getaway any time, head for Chicago's Gold Coast. Stay at the Peninsula Hotel, which offers an all-you-can-eat chocolate buffet in its lobby from 8 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.

For everyday chocolate, head for the historic Water Tower area. The Ghirardelli store is at 830 N. Michigan.

In the West Loop, the Blommer Chocolate Company has a small Chocolate Store at its factory, famous for the chocolate aroma that wafts over the neighborhood. It's across the river from the Merchandise Mart, at 600 W. Kinzie St.

A chocolate road trip

Wisconsin has a lot of chocolate as well as cheese and beer.

You can spend a very fun day visiting the many artisan chocolate shops of its capital city, as we did in A chocolate tour of Madison.

Beerntsen's in Manitowoc.

© Beth Gauper

In Manitowoc, Wis., Beerntsen's Confectionary still is run by the family that founded it in 1932.

And the New York Times has mapped out a tour of chocolate shops in what it calls the Wisconsin Candy Delta between Appleton, Oshkosh, Green Bay/De Pere and Manitowoc.

The shops are Wilmar Chocolates and Vande Walle's Candies in Appleton, Oaks Candy Corner and Hughes Homaid Chocolate Shop in Oskhkosh, Beerntsen's and Kaap's Old World Chocolates in Green Bay and Seroogy's in De Pere and Beerntsen's in Manitowoc.

If you can do that in one day, you deserve an award.

Chocolate-factory tours

Long Grove Confectionery Co. in Buffalo Grove, Ill. Tours of this family-owned chocolate company, which produces many fun novelty items, are given Monday through Saturday, $2. Reservations are required, 847-459-3875.

Buffalo Grove is a northern suburb of Chicago, west of the intersection of I-94 and 294. It's just east of the village of Long Grove, which celebrates Chocolate Fest in May.

Last updated on February 26, 2020