by Sandy McLeod If you’re a chocaholic, Asheville is heaven waiting to happen. The city is home to by Sandy McLeod If you’re a chocaholic, Asheville is heaven waiting to happen. The city is home to some of Western North Carolina’s most sophisticated and knowledgeable chocolatiers. Each shop has its own unique features, from factory tasting rooms to chocolate “lounges” and wine tastings. Experiencing the chocolate community in Asheville is an experience akin to touring Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory—so get ready for a treat you and your taste buds will never forget. [caption id="attachment_788" align="alignright" width="300"] The Chocolate Lounge is located on French Broad Avenue in Downtown Asheville.[/caption] The French Broad Chocolate Lounge A beloved fixture of downtown Asheville, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge offers a mouth-watering, diverse array of artisan chocolate, brownies, caramels and truffles—from the “Maple” (Wisconsin maple syrup, Virginia butter, dark chocolate and smoked salt).  The Lounge also has many flavors of “sipping chocolate” like Indian Kulfi. French Broad Chocolate Lounge has been featured in Food & Wine magazine, and won a silver SOFI award for Best New Product in 2010. Owners are currently developing a tasting room. In the meantime, the Chocolate Lounge is lively and popular.  Here, visitors can sit on the leather couch and alternate between sipping Pinot Noir and nibbling the world’s most delicious chocolate. Local craft beer is also available at the Lounge.  Musical entertainment is provided on some evenings so a visit to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the perfect place for a nightcap in a romantic environment. [caption id="attachment_789" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Chocolate Fetish of Asehville has been making their own chocolate since 1986.[/caption] The Chocolate Fetish The Chocolate Fetish has been the place to go for Asheville goodies since 1986. Since the shop’s inception, their chocolate delights have won a variety of prestigious awards, the most recent being Best Chocolatiers and Confectioners in America in 2013. The Fetish has everything your sweet tooth could want, from French Velvet and Key Lime Truffles to chocolate high-heeled shoes and candy boxes in an array of whimsical designs. Their products, which are free from preservatives, are all homemade in small batches to ensure freshness. Be sure to try the Ultimate Crunch Bar, which won 2012’s Chocolate Bar Gold Award. [caption id="attachment_790" align="alignright" width="300"] Kilwin's serves all kinds of sweets and some amazing chocolate, too.[/caption] Kilwin’s of Asheville Ever wonder where you can find eleven flavors of Mackinac Island Fudge, six kinds of caramel apples, brittles, and all the chocolate variations you can eat?  That would be Kilwin’s in downtown Asheville. The shop is designed to replicate the experience of “an old fashioned confectionary” and the best of old-fashioned and innovative candy is exactly what you’ll get.  Kilwin’s is a local favorite, renowned for its mouth-watering presentations. Visitors and passersby watch Kilwin’s cooks in action as they prepare a variety of sweets.  With the lure of candies, Kilwin’s is also a favorite spot for birthday parties - and kids can decorate their own goodies. They also offer a line of elite chocolates, which are 100% vegan. Centrally located in Downtown Asheville on Battery Park Avenue, Kilwin’s is also the perfect place to do some people watching and take part in the lively Downtown atmosphere. [caption id="attachment_794" align="alignleft" width="300"] Chocolate Gems moved from Black Mountain to Downtown Asheville.[/caption] Chocolate Gems Chocolate Gems is as known for their outstanding gelato, which folks often line up for, as they are for their tantalizing selection of homemade candies.  They’re also known for their own whimsical creations, like “3-D Chocolate Animals”, and for their Ecuadorian, Black Mountain, and Single Origin Truffles, which “feature unique chocolate flavors from exotic locations around the world.”  The shop offers custom-designed chocolate sculptures for weddings and other events. Their boxes of chocolate are, notably, made out of chocolate—making any gift purchase delectable to unwrap. Chocolate Gems has been a Western North Carolina favorite. Its former location was in Black Mountain for six years. This chocolatier has recently relocated to downtown Asheville, making it ultra-convenient for chocolate shop hopping. Chocolatiers in Asheville produce unique handcrafted products that are shipped around the world. Their craft is the perfect complement to local breweries, restaurants, art, and spectacular outdoor attractions that have made the city a premiere destination in Western North Carolina. Whether you’re sweetening up a summer afternoon or planning a romantic interlude of wine-and-chocolate tasting, visiting Asheville’s confectionery shops will prove to be a vacation both for you and your sweet tooth. Book a vacation rental in Asheville and explore the chocolate shops around town.