There’s nothing like the mention of a chocolate factory to bring the kid out of you. (Maybe it’s that Willy Wonka Effect). And lucky for D.C. natives and their broods, you don’t have to travel far to feel like Charlie…or Veruca Salt or an Oompa Loompa. Every weekend, Spagnvola Chocolatier in Gaithersburg, Md doles out free factory tours to visitors, highlighting the entire manufacturing process—from start to finish—in kid-friendly lingo. There may not be a goose laying golden eggs, but there are plenty of free tastings along the way.

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Get Up Close and Personal with Your Cacao
The tour takes place right on the 1,000 square foot factory floor (p.s. online reservations are recommended). That’s where a guide breaks down everything from  the origin of cacao and the importance of proper farming techniques to the development of fine flavor luxury chocolate and the roasting process. Kids love to see the custom machines in action and trying to figure out how they work. Don’t worry about kiddo getting cacao-ed out—the tour is a quick 25 minutes long (and that’s if there are questions at the end. Hint: the tour guides love questions.

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Time to Shop!
After the tour, visitors are lead back to the boutique where there is a full café of offerings, including all chocolate assortments, along with coffee, lattes and gelato. There’s plenty of seating available if you come with a large group, and if kiddo wants to learn more about chocolate making, there’s often a looped documentary playing on the shops TV. Word to the wise: You’ll regret not buying something sweet before hitting the road. Spagnvola’s Bon Bon’s have unique shapes and colors to the outside, which makes them a fave for the little ones. And coming in at a close second for the under-10 set are the chocolate-dipped marshmallows.

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Burn Off the Sugar Rush
Spagnvola is located within the kid-complementing Kentlands community of Gaithersburg. There are no less than four parks within walking distance of the chocolate factory, and you’re just a quick car ride away from the Rio, a fam-friendly lakefront destination with walking paths, a large playground, a carousel, train and paddle boats. If kiddo had one too many tour samples, let them run wild at one of these spots before heading home.

Spagnvola Chocolatier
360 Main St. (Gaithersburg, Md)
240-654-6972
Online: spagnvola.com

Have you and your kids been on this chocolate factory tour yet? Tell us about your experience in the Comments section below. 

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—Ayren Jackson-Cannady