Chilly weather makes an inviting cup of cocoa even sweeter––so bundle up your little buddies and toast the season at one of our favorite spots for the best hot chocolate. From colorful unicorn hot chocolate and towering s’mores hot cocoa served with a skewer of toasted marshmallows on the side, we’ve sipped our way through cafes citywide to find the 16 best mugfuls of decadent, freshly-whipped cocoa. Read on for all the sweet deets.

Creme & Sugar

Little ones will delight in this Instagram-ready s'mores hot chocolate at the relatively new Creme & Sugar. Decked out in whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, graham crackers and Hershey's chocolate chunks this drink is a crowd-pleaser. Even more, there are 10 different hot chocolates to choose from. Our faves are the famous unicorn hot chocolate (think pink and colorful!) and the Cookie Monster. Also, there are fancy lattes and teas too!

Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 9 a.m-9 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $6.75

2646 Del Mar Heights Rd.
San Diego, CA 92014
858-925-7868
Online: cremeandsugar.com

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Pappalecco

Warm-up at this Little Italy favorite with a cup of Italian hot chocolate and a quick bite to eat like the croissant egg sandwich. Even more, a grown-up fave is the espresso with added Nutella. Further, little ones will delight in picking a pastry or dessert from the well-stocked display case. You can even take a few home to share later!

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Fri., 7 a.m.-10:30 p.m.; Sat., 7:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m.; Sun., 7:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3.75 to $5.50

Little Italy Neighborhood
1602 State St.
San Diego, CA 92101
Online: pappalecco.com

Snooze Eatery

Expect this hot chocolate wonder to go fast at this local breakfast joint. After all, who can resist the whipped cream tower topped with chocolate drizzle? Besides winter drinks little foodies can down a half-order of fluffy pancakes while you gobble up the strawberry-topped OMG French toast. Perfect pairings indeed.

Sweet note: It's busy, so download the No Wait app and join the wait list via smartphone.

Hours: Daily, 6:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $4.25

Del Mar Highlands Town Center
3435 Del Mar Heights Rd.
San Diego, CA 92130
858-703-5300
Online: snoozedelmar.com

The Shops at La Jolla Village
8861 Villa La Jolla Dr., #506
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-483-5556

Hillcrest Neighborhood
3940 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
619-500-3344

Swell Coffee

Feel good about the hot chocolate you're drinking up. This little coffee house features fair trade drinks sourced from farm to roaster to cup. Moreover, for grown-ups there are plenty of coffee drinks to choose from. While there, you and your half-pint can order up a scrumptious breakfast or lunch too! Further, make it a family affair, dogs are welcome too!

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3 to $4

Flower Hill Promenade
Del Mar, CA 92014
858-925-7297

Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop

Here you'll find melt in your mouth hot chocolate for the littles. It's topped with luscious whipped cream and a Ghiradelli chocolate square on top. Or try the sea salt caramel hot cocoa with caramel drizzle, a local favorite. Add in a warmed chocolate brownie and your sweet tooth will be more than satisfied.

Sweet note: Savor free pieces of decadent Ghiradelli chocolate while you wait in line.

Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 11 a.m.-Midnight
Cost: Hot chocolate, $4.25 to $5.95

Downtown, Gaslamp District
643 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
619-234-2449
Online: ghirardelli.com

The Forum Coffee House

With a hip and friendly vibe this is a sweet hot chocolate pit stop for the kiddos (and you too!). You'll also find good-tasting pastries like the croissants and the blueberry cream danish (yum!). It gets crowded on weekends, so go early!

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 6 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 7 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3 to $4

4340 Genesee Ave, Ste. 110
San Diego, CA 92117
858-384-6020

Por Vida

Stop by and warm up at this cute spot with a Mexican hot chocolate. Your half-pint will be delighted that it comes with a dollop of whipped cream on top. Further, the casual, artsy vibe and friendly staff make this a go-to spot anytime. Even more, there are many Mexican pastries to choose from to go with your drink.

Hours: Mon.-Weds., 7 a.m.-7 p.m.; Thurs.-Sun., 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: Mexican hot chocolate, $3 to $3.50

Barrio Lagoon Neighborhood
146 Logan Ave.
San Diego, CA 92113
Online: porvida.com

photo: Brew Coffee Facebook Page

Brew Coffee Spot

Your crew can order up their chocolate drink hot, cold or blended at this rustic La Mesa cafe. Not to mention, grown-ups rave about the lavender hot chocolate that's decadent but not too sweet. If undecided, a plethora of coffee drinks with a drink diagram helps you choose. Make it a meal and stay to eat at this cool cafe.

Sweet note: Friday night is game night and a whole lot of fun.

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $2.95 to $3.50

La Mesa Neighborhood
6101 Lake Murray Blvd.
La Mesa, CA 91942
619-713-6698
Online: brewcoffeespot.com

Chi Chocolate

Cozy up to this dark chocolate cafe for a cup of cocoa. Crafted from freshly made chocolate ladled into a cup, add-in steamed milk and top it with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Also, adventurous drinkers can spice it up with cinnamon, cardamom or vanilla. Psst: we recommend the hazelnut mocha for the grown-ups.

Sweet note: Schedule a chocolate tasting by a chocolatier. A fun party idea.

Hours: Mon.-Weds., 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Thurs. & Fri., 7:30 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., closed
Cost: Hot chocolate, $4 to $5.15

Liberty Station
2690 Historic Decatur Rd.
Point Loma, CA 92106
619-546-0650
Online: chichocolat.net

Baba Coffee

Stir up your morning routine and head to the newish Baba Coffee in Carlsbad Village. Indeed, they whip up a good hot chocolate (plus lattes, espressos and mochas). With an open-air feel and pastries from The Pannikin and VG donuts, this outing will delight your whole crew. Good to know: we've heard their avocado toast is fresh and yummy.

Sweet note: They even have a little dog treat jar for your furry best friend.

Hours: Daily, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3.25

Carlsbad Village
2727 State St.
Carlsbad, CA 92009
760-994-0666
Online: babacoffee.com

Nibble Chocolate

Nibble is an organic vegan chocolate shop that fits perfectly into walkable Old Town. After that savory chicken enchilada with margs, mosey the fam over for a hot chocolate dessert. Their cocoa, which is sourced from Peru or Brazil, satisfies when served with almond, coconut or soy milk. Drink up and feel good.

Sweet note: You'll find a chocolate tasting area to try it out. Yummy!

Hours: Daily, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3.95

Old Town Neighborhood
2754 Calhoun St.
San Diego, CA 92110
858-200-7689
Online: nibblechocolate.com

Breakfast Republic

If you like your hot chocolate with a large dollop of whip cream, then head to one of the many Breakfast Republics in San Diego to fill up. The Oreo cookie hot chocolate, bacon hash browns or pancake flight will seal the decadent deal. Talk about a sweet way to start the day.

Sweet note: The s'mores french toast is a local favorite.

Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $4.75

Multiple San Diego locations
Online: breakfastrepublic.com

Carlsbad Chocolate Bar

This is a sweet spot to stop when cruisin' Carlsbad Village with the fam. Kiddos can chomp down pizza (and salad) at the Pizza Port, then head for a delicious hot chocolate and other handmade treats at this open door cafe. In fact, many families walk the adorable State Street and beyond.

Sweet note: The full coffee bar and layers of old-fashioned candy trays (behind glass) make this a super fun chocolate stop.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.;  Sun., 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3.50 to $4

Carlsbad Village
2998 State St.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
760-434-4479
Online: carlsbadchocolatebar.com

Eclipse Chocolate

Touted by Travel and Leisure as one of America’s best hot chocolates, Eclipse Chocolate Bar and Bistro knows a thing or two about satisfying a sweet tooth. Above all, little sippers will toast the drinking chocolate that comes with two large square marshmallows. They’re known for infusing chocolate with herbs and spices, so don’t be afraid to get daring.

Sweet note: If the kids are hungry they also have a full brunch and dinner menu. Eclipse Chocolate is a place you may never want to leave.

Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri. & Sat., 9 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: Drinking chocolate, $5

South Park Neighborhood
2145 Fern St.
San Diego, CA 92104
619-578-2984
Online: eclipsechocolat.com

Chocolat Cremerie

If you're in the downtown area, Chocolat Cremerie should be on your list of places to grab a cup of hot dark chocolate with whipped cream. This little shop was voted one of the best bistros in San Diego!

Sweet note: You'll want to save room for more than hot cocoa since the cafe is also famous for their gelato selection.

Hours: Sun.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-Midnight; Fri. & Sat., 9-1 a.m.
Cost: Dark hot chocolate, $5.95

509 5th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
619-238-9400
Online: chocolatsandiego.com

Sugar & Scribe

Come for the hot chocolate with a caramelized marshmallow on top and stay for the unicorn pancakes! With a spectacular looking hot chocolate presentation, it's sure to get slurped up fast. Even more, the casual ambience and excellent breakfast items make this local La Jolla spot a win!

Hours: Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun., 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Cost: Hot chocolate, $3.25 to $4

7660 Fay Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037
858-274-1733
Online: sugarandscribe.com

––Nikki Walsh

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