The best hot chocolate can be found along winter walks. Even kids who can spend hours sledding on a frigid day often balk at the idea of a winter walk. Walking? On a path? In the cold?
Thankfully, moms and dads have an ace up their sleeve. A steaming cup of hot chocolate can act as a powerful incentive to get kids to bundle up and head out for a walk. And there are plenty of spots to walk and stop for a mug of hot cocoa in the Baltimore, Annapolis, Washington, D.C. area.
Nancy and Walter Giera, owners of the Annapolis Ice Cream Company, offer an amazing cup of hot chocolate perfect after a walk through historic downtown Annapolis.
“It’s rich and smooth and chocolaty, the way hot chocolate should be,” Nancy Giera says of the recipe that uses Belgian-processed cocoa.
Of course, fancy cocoa isn’t a necessity. Popping into a chain coffee place after marching the kids around a local city center or park can be pretty great too. But finding a local restaurant tied into the community can make your post-walk treat especially sweet.
Here are some great spots for a winter walk with the necessary incentive stop to warm up after.
Annapolis’s historic downtown offers pleasant walks at any time of year, with charming cobblestone streets, water views and the impressive grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy. After the walk, stop into the Annapolis Ice Cream Company for its creamy hot chocolate. And now there is a second location in Edgewater.
Annapolis Ice Cream Company, 196 Main St., Annapolis. annapolisicecream.com
129 Mitchell’s Chance Road, Suite 129A, Edgewater. https://www.alwaysicecreamcompany.com/edgewater-md-ice-cream-shop
Cross the Spa Creek Bridge on your walk and head to Bread and Butter Kitchen. Try the Peppermint Hot Cocoa with crushed candy cane, whipped cream, peppermint chocolate, rice crispy treat, and peppermint marshmallow. Unicorn cocoa features cotton candy marshmallows.
Bread and Butter Kitchen, 303 Second Street, Suite A, Annapolis. https://breadandbutterkitchen.com/
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Park in Federal Hill and stroll along the Inner Harbor, passing ships, Harbor Place with its shops, the National Aquarium and Pierce’s Park play area. Cross a couple of foot bridges and find yourself in Little Italy, home of Vacarro’s where locally beloved gelato, pastries and Italian cookies might just be the perfect accompaniment to a cup of steaming hot chocolate.
Inner Harbor, Baltimore, baltimore.org/article/baltimore-inner-harbor or baltimorewaterfront.com
Vacarro’s, 222 Albemarle St.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Washington, D.C.
Many think of visiting the zoo in the summer, but the National Zoo is open all year long and a great spot to take kids for a walk in the winter. Check out which animals are braving the cold, too. Soothe your own wild animals with a treat from Firehook Bakery & Coffeehouse. To get there, head out of the zoo exit on Connecticut Avenue and north for a half-mile. You can get hot chocolate as well as a wide variety of pastries, cookies and breads.
National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave., NW, nationalzoo.si.edu
Firehook Bakery & Coffeehouse, 3411 Connecticut Ave. NW, firehook.com
The National Mall, Washington, D.C.
Walk the mile-long stretch along the National Mall from the Washington Monument to the Capitol building. Stop in the National Museum of the American Indian near the Capitol and visit the Mitsitam Native Foods Café where you can sample a Mexican hot chocolate.
National Mall section, between Constitution Ave. NW and Independence Ave. SW from 15th Street to 1st Street, nps.gov/nama/index.htm
Mitsitam Native Foods Café, National Museum of the American Indian, 4th St. and Independence Ave. SW, nmai.si.edu/visit/washington/mitsitam-cafe
Urban Roast in DC has boozy and non boozy hot chocolate flights on their menu and really great holiday decor, located across from Capital One Arena. Sit outside next to their firepits while you enjoy one of their hot chocolate treats.
Urban Roast, 916 G Street Northwest, Suite C-2, Washington, DC. https://www.urbanroastdc.com
Idlewild Park, Easton
Let your kids run rampant at the playground at Idlewild Park, and maybe they will indulge your request for a walk as well. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from Idlewild Park to Rise Up Coffee, mostly along the Easton Rails-to-Trails path. At Rise Up, you can get hot chocolate made with organic milk as well as pastries, coffee and — if you are lucky — a glimpse at the coffee being roasted.
Idlewild Park, 115 Idlewild Ave., eastonmd.gov/ParksAndRec/Idlewild.html
Rise Up Coffee Roasters, 618 Dover Rd., riseupcoffee.com
National Harbor, Oxen Hill
Walk along the waterfront of the Potomac River in National Harbor and catch sight of a gigantic metal hand sticking up out of sand. A path heads north and south of National Harbor center where there’s a Ferris wheel that takes riders 180 feet above the river, a carousel, shops and the opulent Gaylord National hotel. Wrap up your walk with hot chocolate at the family-owned Harbor Café and Coffee.
National Harbor, 165 Waterfront St.
Harbor Café and Coffee, 150 American Way, nationalharbor.com/stores/harbor-cafe
Story by Karen Stysley
Photos by Dunks Photos
Updated December 2021