I’m sure we’ve all hiked a wooded trail before and we’ve all eaten trail mix along the way.  But have you ever followed a chocolate trail?  How about a wine or beer trail?  If you haven’t tried following one of these trails before, it’s time to try something new and follow a decadent trail of tasty treats!  (And, my Decadent Trail Mix which I considered to be the best recipe is included at the end of the post.)

In terms of trying new things, following a wine or chocolate trail should be a fairly easy thing to try.  You will need a car, although in some areas, like Brooklyn, NY you can probably follow the trail using a combination of public transportation and walking.  On the other hand, in Connecticut (although one of the smallest states) you’ll need a car to crisscross the state in search of these decadent delights.  You will also need money.  While most places give out free samples, you’ll want to buy some items to savor at home!

When my husband owned a chocolate shop, we were part of the Connecticut Chocolate Trail and it was amazing to see how many people would come to our shop because they were following the trail.  One group even hired a bus in Massachusetts to take a friend on a 50th birthday bucket list trip by touring the chocolate trail and including some stops on the wine trail.  They were such a fun group who were polite enough to call and let us know that 30 people would be coming into the shop on a Saturday.  Something to keep in mind if you plan on doing something similar with a large group.  Many of these shops are small and might need to stock up or even figure out space requirements.  Our shop normally fits 10 to 15 comfortably, but we made some adjustments in the setup that day to accommodate the larger crowd. Below are some tips to make your trail visit a success.

  • Decide which trail you’ll follow or which combination.  In Connecticut alone, there are six different trails to follow including chocolate, wine, beer, pizza, antiques, and signature cocktails.  (Hmm, three trails dedicated to booze?)
  • Then map out your plans.  You’ll need to figure out how much time you plan to be out and then how much time you’ll stay at each stop and how much travel time there is between locations.  Figure out your travels so that you’re ending closer, rather than farther from home.
  • You can also decide whether you want to do the trail in one day, one weekend, or plan special trips to different areas over the course of a summer.
  • If you’re following one of the booze trails, either pick a designated driver, hire a driver, or plan to fit in some of the food trails into your stops as well.
  • Only go to the shops that interest you or if you’ve already been to some of the places on the list then pick other places. This is about getting out and trying something new with the added benefit of also supporting local businesses.

Not all states have chocolate trails, but some states have multiple chocolate trails.  You’ll need to look for some of that information yourself.  In Connecticut, you can visit the Connecticut Tourism site for information.   If you’re looking for a wine trail, check out Wine Trails which lists some different wine trails, and visit Vine Pair to find 11 different Craft Beer trails across the US.  Once you go, you can mark following a trail as completed on your bucket list (hey, no one said a trail was something you had to hike!)

And now for a short, but delicious trail mix:

Jennifer’s Trail Mix

1 Bag of Reece’s Pieces
1 Container of Deluxe Nuts or Nuts of your choices (I’m not a huge peanut fan, so I get the Deluxe mixture.)
1 Container of Dried Fruits (again, your choice.  I prefer cranberries and raisins)
1 Package of chopped soft Turkey Jerky
Mix it all together and divide into baggies or plastic containers

My husband doesn’t like my trail mix because I add the Turkey Jerky, but I love it that way.  You can choose to leave it out and add in any ingredients that you’d rather have.  If you find me hiking or backpacking, this is the trail mix that I carry, sometimes with the added ingredient of gummy bears—-I know, sounds disgusting, but I think it’s great. (Fun Fact:  One of the most popular chocolate bars my husband sold at his shop was a milk chocolate bar with gummy bears!)

Have fun traveling the trails and I’d love to hear about the unique trails you find in your area.