Work is not a subject most people want to consider during a vacation. Paradoxically, however, touring factories and other workplaces to see how everyday things are made has become a popular leisure activity. The cost is low, and many tours are free (or at least give free samples). Moreover, there are tours for every taste and interest: food, agriculture, toys, cars, motorcycles, mining, aircraft, NASA sites, glassware, ceramics, arts, entertainment, news media, television—even butterflies.

That is a diverse list. Indeed, though it has become a standard expression, the phrase factory tour is sometimes a misnomer, as many tours do not actually involve factories. Workshops, studios, farms, mines and museums are all regular stops on the “factory tour” trail. Popular tours include those offered by well-known companies such as Harley-Davidson, Ben & Jerry’s, KitchenAid and Boeing, but there are many lesser-known businesses that open their doors to give visitors fascinating insights into their operations.