Skip dinner — order dessert first with a chocolate tour. It starts out as a tiny, dark bean and transforms into one of the most popular desserts on the planet: chocolate. Whether it is in the form of bars, cakes, ice cream or fudge, chocolate is a favorite across the globe. While nothing compares with the taste of chocolate, seeing how it is made comes close. Across the nation, there are a variety of chocolate tours that groups can indulge in to learn more about this well-loved confection.

[dropcap]1.[/dropcap]HersheyChocolate World
Hershey, Pennsylvania

The Amazing Candy Machine, Hershey's Chocolate World. Hershey, Pa.
[/media-credit] The Amazing Candy Machine, Hershey’s Chocolate World. Hershey, Pa.

Love for chocolate is also the theme at Hershey’s Chocolate World, in Hershey, Pennsylvania., where the Hershey’s Great American Chocolate Tour shows the demonstration from bean to mouth-watering candy bar.

Hershey’s Chocolate World is even sweeter than ever before. After the chocolate tour was reimagined for 2016, guests can now fully immerse themselves in the chocolate-making experience from cocoa beans to Hershey’s famous chocolate using all five senses.

Groups can create their own chocolate bars using factory equipment, taste samples, tour the town and enjoy cupcakes made with Hershey’s chocolate.

Options for groups include a simulated factory tour, 3-D show, the chance to create a chocolate bar with factory equipment and a chocolate tasting. A motorcoach VIP packet for the driver and escort is available.

[dropcap]2.[/dropcap]Ghirardelli Square
San Francisco, California

As the country’s longest continuously operating chocolate manufacturer, Ghirardelli’s is a must stop for chocophiles. At the original Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop in Ghirardelli Square, groups can view chocolate manufacturing equipment, sample famous chocolate SQUARES®, perhaps indulge in sundaes at the ice cream fountain.

Groups find a variety of premium flavors ranging from dark chocolate cherry tango to milk chocolate sea salt brownie.

Shoppers in the group will delight with the range of products, including chocolate squares, hot cocoa, chocolate bars, baking products, brownie mixes and gift baskets.

Ghiradelli Square received National Historic Register status in 1982. Motorcoach parking is available nearby.

[dropcap]3.[/dropcap]M&Ms World
Las Vegas, Nevada

M&M's World. Las Vegas, Nev.
[/media-credit] M&M’s World. Las Vegas, Nev.

After a tour of M&M’s World, groups may be humming “I left my M in Las Vegas.” It is the theme music to a 10-minute, 3-D short film that is shown throughout the day at the over-the-top chocolate shop just off the strip in Las Vegas.

On the first floor, 22 different M&M’s colors make up a rainbow wall. Using dispensers, groups can use their imagination when packaging their M&M choices.

There are shopping opportunities for M&M’s logo products throughout the store, including T-shirts, key chains, mugs and bags.

The fun continues as groups take the escalator to the third floor. The first-ever “My M&M’s” allows visitors to personalize candies with a custom message.

On the top floor, groups have the opportunity for an up-close look at an M&M’s-sponsored Toyota Camry race car and for shopping a variety of NASCAR-themed products.

[dropcap]4.[/dropcap]Murdicks Fudge
Mackinac Island, Michigan 

For over 128 years, Murdick’s Fudge has been producing handmade, all-natural and scrumptious fudge on Mackinac Island in Michigan. The original fudge shop handcrafts 20 flavors of fresh fudge, brittle and toffee treats during their “Sweet Summer” season. Murdick’s also features seasonal flavors such as holiday cranberry and pumpkin spice during the Thanksgiving and holiday seasons.

For groups, Murdick’s offers private fudge making demonstrations before the store opens. Arrangements must be made in advance.

Groups enjoy samples during the tour and watch as the old-fashioned 1887 recipe come to life from boiling in the copper kettle to being shaped on marble countertops.

Murdick’s has three locations on Mackinac Island, one in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace and four stores in Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island is accessible by ferry; motorcoach parking is available on the mainland.

[dropcap]5.[/dropcap]Theo Chocolate
Seattle, Washington

Factory tour presentation, Theo Chocolate, Seattle, Wash.
[/media-credit] Factory tour presentation, Theo Chocolate, Seattle, Wash.

Welcoming over 50,000 visitors a year, Theo Chocolate in Seattle entertains groups with the transformation of the cocoa fruit to what everyone knows and loves — chocolate. However, chocolate isn’t just a product at Theo Chocolate. It’s the journey from bean to bar.

Theo Chocolate was the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America. Theo’s is dedicated to changing the world and making it a better place through their passion of working with cocoa beans.

The one-hour guided chocolate tour leads through the facilities where guests can see the chocolate being made. The tour touches on the story of cocoa and the social and environmental issues related to cocoa and cocoa farmers.

Motorcoach parking is available. Groups of 15 or more must book a private tour in advance.