If your travel tastes lean more toward Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory than to Eat, Pray, Love, we’ve got your golden ticket to confectionary bliss right here … Want to see where Ben and Jerry got their start, or view the biggest collection of PEZ dispensers? Plan a getaway to one of our sweetest destinations for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your favorite treats in the making.
Ever wonder which eight Jelly Belly flavors started it all? Or when the tiny logo first began appearing on the equally tiny beans? You might just find out on the free factory tour at Jelly Belly headquarters. The tour includes interactive exhibits–and the all-important samples. You could stay here all day, thanks to the art gallery, candy store, and café where they serve up jelly-bean-shaped burgers. If you can tear yourself away, there’s plenty to do in the area, from hiking and wineries to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, but in New England it’s the two men synonymous with this frozen treat who get the cheers: Ben and Jerry. Sign up for a factory tour to learn how the duo got their start and see how their ice cream gets made. At the end of the tour, you’ll be rewarded with a sample of the flavor of the day. Need more? At the on-site Scoop Shop, brave souls can order the 20-scoop Vermonster sundae, which comes in a souvenir bucket. Pay your respects to “dearly de-pinted” flavors at the Flavor Graveyard near the playground (remember Rainforest Crunch?). Nearby Stowe is a crazy cute Vermont town that’s packed with family-friendly activities from skiing to horse-drawn sleigh rides.
Atlanta offers all the ingredients for a family-friendly getaway—mild weather, Southern charm, and plenty to keep parents and kids entertained. Pay your respects to the most famous of fizzy drinks at World of Coca-Cola, where visitors can sample Cokes from around the world. While kids ponder the merits of Mexican Coke, parents can eyeball the Andy Warhols in the Pop Culture Gallery. Load up on fried chicken and barbecue, then burn it off walking around the Georgia Aquarium, one of the biggest in the world. Look out for the whale sharks and belugas. Fans of The Walking Dead can go on a tour of filming sites.
When life is full of sweet choices, like chocolate vs. hard candy, Hammond’s Candies, a 90-year-old Denver institution, tempts with hand-crafted lollipops, ribbon candy, candy canes, and a whole lot more. Head to Hammond’s for a factory tour that combines science with tidbits of Colorado history, and keep the fun going at the Children’s Museum of Denver or the Downtown Aquarium. And in case the visitors in your group would choose chocolate over candy, don’t worry—Hammond’s makes that too.
While the East Coast is all about Hershey, on the West Coast chocophiles bow down to Ghirardelli. This premium chocolate brand was founded by the Italian-born Domingo Ghirardelli. The location of his former factory is now the gorgeously restored Ghirardelli Square, which includes a Ghirardelli chocolate shop. Load up on sea salt caramel squares before heading off to explore the city. Older kids will love the winning combo of jail and shark tales at Alcatraz while younger ones can tinker at the Exploratorium. Riding a cable car and indulging in dim sum are also musts in the city by the bay.
Can you say “pfefferminz” five times fast? No? Neither can we, which is why we’re grateful that this candy’s name was changed from pfefferminz to PEZ. Come see how this iconic candy with the collectible dispenser is made at its Connecticut factory. The space also houses the largest collection of PEZ memorabilia on display in the world and the world’s largest PEZ dispenser. Before you head out to gobble some PEZ, make a stop in New Haven to sample some of its famous pizzas—known locally as “apizzas.” A New Haven–style pizza is a hotter and crispier descendant of a Neapolitan-style pie.
Hershey bills itself as the “sweetest place on earth” and it’s easy to see why. Founded by Milton S. Hershey in 1903, the town is all about chocolate (even the street lamps are shaped like Hershey Kisses). Chocoholics will crave a visit to Hersheypark, a sweet theme park that will appeal to both kids and the young at heart. Ever wish that your Hershey bar came with sprinkles? You can make it so by whipping up your own candy bar at Hershey’s Chocolate World. After sating your chocolate cravings, enjoy some of the town’s other family-friendly delights. The Antique Automobile Club of America is packed with vintage cars along with a kids’ area, and even the local family-owned Troegs Brewing Company offers a kids’ menu.
There’s no need to book a beach trip to sample some delicious saltwater taffy. If you’re a fan of this soft and gooey treat, make a beeline to Taffy Town to stock up at its factory store. This family-owned company has been in business for more than 100 years, stretching and pulling sugar into bite-sized treats. Flavors include the classics (banana and cherry), but there’s also a sour Sassy Taffy collection if you want to tease your taste buds. Kids can burn off their sugar high by running around the dinosaur exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah or The Leonardo museum, an ode to da Vinci’s famous curiosity packed with hands-on exhibits for little ones.