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9 Places to See Life-Size Gingerbread Houses, Chocolate Village

by Susan Barnes

Dec 17, 2017

© Ekaterina Pokrovsky | Dreamstime


When it comes to the holidays, one of the festive ways to decorate is with gingerbread houses. Plenty of families’ traditions include baking and decorating small houses at home, but it’s fun to go and see what the pros can do. Here, we take a look at eight places to see life-sized gingerbread houses for inspiration when you go home to create your own.


Newport, R.I.

The oversized gingerbread house in the shape of the Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina itself provides terrific inspiration for kids who participate in the resort’s gingerbread house decorating programs during the holiday season.


Washington, D.C.

The Washington Monument made out of gingerbread? That’s just what you’ll find at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C. ! At 30 feet tall, the Gingerbread Monument rises through the grand staircase in all its 251 layers of 900 pounds of icing and 600 pounds of gingerbread sugar dough.


Greensboro, Ga.

It may be tempting, but don’t lick the 480 pounds of icing that cover the life-sized gingerbread house in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee. Pastry Chef David Campbell and his culinary team make it hard to resist, especially when you catch a glimpse of the 180 pounds of candy used to decorate that icing.


Amelia Island, Fla.

Beware of pirates when you check into The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island this holiday season. More than 600 pieces of gingerbread are decorated with sculpted pirates and chocolate cannons and cannonballs to create the S.S. Amelia Gingerbread Pirate Ship, the world’s largest gingerbread pirate ship.


Naples, Fla.

More than 6,000 gingerbread bricks and 60,000 pieces of candy are used to build and decorate the life-sized house found in the lobby The Ritz-Carlton, Naples on Florida’s west coast. What a welcome to Southwest Florida.



Another ship not to miss in Florida is the life-sized gingerbread ship featuring sea turtles at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. The sea turtles that adorn the ship are a tribute to the marine animals that nest each year on the area’s beaches. More than 300 hours are devoted to taking hundreds of pounds of sugar, chocolate and candy to make the gingerbread ship set sail.


New Orleans

The Wedding Cake House on St. Charles Avenue served as the inspiration for this year’s life-sized gingerbread house found in the lobby of The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans. What’s really fun about this house is you can actually walk through its 750 square feet of gingerbread goodness.



In the Windy City, the Hilton Chicago  adorned its lobby with a life-sized gingerbread hotel with city skyline. It took three pastry chefs more than 270 hours and 380 pounds of flour, 280 pounds of powdered sugar, 40 pounds of egg whites, 16 pounds of ginger and cinnamon each and 16,000 gingerbread bricks to build the more-than-six-foot hotel. And in the Chicago skyline you’ll easily spot gingerbread replicas of the John Hancock building, Willis Tower, The Bean, CNA Building, Aon Building and Prudential Plaza.


San Diego

Pastry chef Margaret Carvallo builds the life-sized gingerbread house that fills the lobby each holiday season at Rancho Bernardo Inn. More than 4,000 pounds of ingredients — including sugars, flours, spices and eggs — come together to create the delectable domicile.


Keystone Lodge & Spa

If you’re more a fan of chocolate than gingerbread, head to Keystone Lodge & Spa and marvel at the Chocolate Village created by executive pastry chef Ned Archibald and his team. Imagine, 2.5 tons of chocolate melted and molded and chiseled into mountains, trees, buildings, trains, gondolas and a waterfall. It’s no wonder it takes two months to create.


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