I really enjoy the month of February because it speaks both to the heart and the taste buds. February is the month of chocolate, and while the experts say that dark chocolate has health benefits, it is the taste I am after.

Everywhere you look this month, you will find seemingly unlimited choices, ranging from chocolate-covered pretzels to chocolate Amish fry pies and many, many more. I’d like to share with you some outside-the-box chocolate destinations that I have been to or are on my bucket list.

One branch of the Vosges Haut-Chocolat shop is located at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. This store thinks outside the box, not only in name but in location.

Vosges Haut-Chocolat has a couple other boutique locations but what fascinates me is that it is set up in an airport. This company uses the very best chocolate, natural ingredients and no preservatives, which sets it apart from other businesses.

The Blackhawk Chocolate Trail of Northwest Illinois will delight every chocolate lover with several delicious shops located along the trail. You can’t go wrong here.

Tours are offered along with an itinerary. You can indulge in turtle chocolate-flavored popcorn and you can visit President Ronald Regan’s birthplace and childhood home along the route.

The historic Lincoln Highway is on the trail as well. There is every kind of chocolate product available on the Blackhawk Chocolate Trail, including chocolate-flavored coffees; popcorn; and, for something quite unique, calorie-free chocolate. Bushel Basket Candle Company also offers chocolate brownie cheesecake tarts and air fresheners. The Blackhawk Chocolate Trail is on my list of places to visit.

The Nut House, located on Route 66 in Claremont, Oklahoma, has some of the best chocolate amaretto fudge there is. It is thick, creamy and will have your taste buds screaming in joy! If you haven’t traveled Route 66 yet, don’t delay and on your way be sure to stop by The Nut House for a sweet treat.

Speaking of fudge, Heini’s Cheese Chalet, located in the heart of Amish country in Millersburg, Ohio, offers an assortment of cheese fudge. The fact that this store uses real butter and milk from local farms to create its cheese sets it apart from any other cheesemaker out there.

The folks at Heini’s have been making cheese since 1935. I have personally toured Heini’s, sampled their cheese and bought cookie cutters and candy sprinkles. My favorite part about Heini’s, though, is all the free samples.

I suggest the chocolate peanut butter cheese fudge. Heini’s makes the cheese on-site, offers tours and is about two hours from Columbus, Ohio.

If you’re looking for chocolate with a twist, then get yourself down to Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville, Ohio. In case you haven’t read my previous article on Tom’s, click here to read it.

Tom’s offers a variety of homemade, old-fashioned chocolates as well as chocolate sundaes and shakes. Located right off State Route 70 at in Zanesville, Ohio, Tom’s is easily accessible from the highway.

What goes great with chocolate? Pretty much everything, right? Well, how about wine? Just after February ends, the Chocolate Decadence and the Pechanga Wine Festival in Temecula, California is being held on March 1 and 2.

I enjoy a variety of chocolate creations, and not just in February. While I look forward to traveling to the destinations listed above that I haven’t visited I most certainly will revisit the ones I have been to as well.

These types of destinations impact communities in a positive way. As travelers, we don’t belong to just one community, we belong to many; and I feel we can positively impact those around us while finding joy on our journeys.