The Windy City, long a candy capital, is packed with chocolate goodness—shops, cafes, even cocoa-scented spa treatments.

With apologies to Forrest Gump, Chicago is like a box of chocolates, because you do know what you’re going to get: a rich assortment of cacao bean concoctions. The city carries a big chocolate chip on its broad shoulders, thanks to a rich history of sparking and producing famous chocolate treats. Snickers debuted in Chicago, Milton Hershey learned about chocolate making on a visit and Marshall Field’s (now owned by Macy’s) popularized chocolatey Frango mints. One story says that brownies were invented in Chicago’s Palmer House Hilton kitchen.

Today, dozens of retail chocolatiers in the Chicago area tempt you with their creations. One downtown hotel lets you indulge in a different kind of happy hour: a weekend chocolate bar. Get a chocolate massage, tour a suburban chocolate factory and see life-size chocolate sculptures. Whatever you crave, you’ll find chocolate coating the Chicago area.

Chicago-area chocolates
Chocolates from Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Ethereal Confections and Katherine Anne Confections
| Credit: Jason Donnelly

Downtown Deliciousness

The Magnificent Mile (a stretch of North Michigan Avenue) is a virtual chocolate corridor, offering several options in or near the famed shopping district.

Candyality This take on the old corner candy store pairs candies and personality types. Food Network Magazine named it the best candy store in Illinois.

Dylan’s Candy Bar Candy-theme decor (like dripping chocolate shelves), music and aromas stimulate your senses as you shop, with 7,000 confection choices, such as a build-your-own chocolate tackle box or a tube of colorfully wrapped chocolate-covered Oreos.

Nutella Cafe Savor the popular chocolate-hazelnut spread in crepes, gelato, French toast, waffles, pancakes and more. It’s the first restaurant from Ferrero, the creamy treat’s Italian maker.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat This exotic truffles-maker blends chocolate with flavors like ginger, horseradish, lemon and wasabi. The Lincoln Park location holds tastings and cocktail events, including ones that pair gourmet chocolates with premium distilled spirits.

Neighborhood Nummies

Just minutes from downtown, neighborhood chocolatiers appeal to multiple senses.

Chocolate for Your Body Enjoy chocolate calorie-free at a spa in Pilsen. The cacao bean’s natural antioxidant and stimulant qualities power the spa’s skin treatments, including massages with chocolate oil and chocolate cream, chocoholic mani/pedis, and chocolate facials.

The Fudge Pot Sink your teeth into the famous English butter toffee at this spot, which has been turning out treats at the same Old Town location for more than 50 years.

The Fudge Pot
The Fudge Pot
| Credit: Choose Chicago Photo Courtesy of Andrew Miller

Katherine Anne Confections Visit the Logan Square shop to sip its celebrated hot chocolate—a rich, thick nectar made with real ground chocolate (not cocoa powder).

Suburban Sweetness

Head farther out to learn about the art of chocolate making and see art made from chocolate.

Long Grove Confectionery Company Tour the factory in Buffalo Grove, where you can inhale the aroma of buttery caramel and boost your chocolate IQ—see how the company makes its signature pecan myrtles.

Ethereal Confections Sample a flight of wine/whiskey and chocolate at the Woodstock cafe, where craft chocolatiers take a strict bean-to-bar approach. It’s one of under 200 spots in the country making chocolate from the cacao bean instead of buying it in bulk.

Ethereal Confections
Ethereal Confections
| Credit: Courtesy of Ethereal Confections

All Chocolate Kitchen In Geneva, chef Alain Roby’s dessert-first den of decadence features life-size chocolate sculptures (including a Chicago Blackhawks hockey player). The Grand Cru chocolate truffles win raves.

Indulge in the heart of the state

Truffles in exotic flavors, such as Champagne and French Caramel, reflect lawyer-turned-chocolatier Joshua Becker’s creative approach at Cocoa Blue Chocolates in Rochester, just outside of Springfield.

Cocoa Blue Chocolates
Cocoa Blue Chocolates
| Credit: Jason Donnelly