Get a behind-the-scenes look at these fascinating factory tours that include favorite food stuffs, a beloved car brand and an iconic beer company
Work is not a subject most people want to consider during a vacation. Paradoxically, touring factories and other workplaces to see how everyday items are made has become a popular leisure activity. The cost is low, many factory tours are free (or at least give free samples), and there are tours for every taste and interest. While 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 — think Ben & Jerry’s and Anheuser-Busch — but there are many lesser-known businesses that open their doors to give visitors fascinating insights into their operations.
Here, we offer 6 of our favorite U.S. factory tours
1. Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour, Burlington, Vermont
Dubbed the “Factory Experience,” this guided 30-minute tour digs into all things Ben & Jerry’s, including the story of the company’s humble beginnings in 1985, displays, retail area visit, photo ops and, of course, tastings. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour begins with a short movie of the company’s history and explanation of how they make their pints, all enjoyed while overlooking the production room with a sample in hand. The tour ends in B&J’s Flavor Room with yet another flavor tasting, accompanied by a cow joke or three. Advance bookings highly recommended; large groups can be accommodated with advance notice.
2. Ford Rouge Factory Tour, Dearborn, Michigan
Like the legacy of Henry Ford’s vision of an ideal automotive “ore to assembly” complex where every aspect of production could be processed, manufactured and assembled in one place, the self-guided Ford Rouge Factory Tour goes above and beyond. From walking through a real-life truck plant to viewing the “Living Roof” and two theater experiences, this tour offers an in-depth look into the iconic car company’s past, present and future. Additionally, get an inside look at the making of the all-new aluminum body Ford F-150 truck, as well as go back time in the Legacy Gallery and see Ford’s most famous vehicles from the past. Special pricing for groups of 15 or more with advanced reservations.
3. Hershey’s Chocolate World, Hershey Pennsylvania
Fans of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” and chocolate itself (that’s everyone, right?) will enjoy a visit to Hershey’s Chocolate World. The multiple experiences available include Hershey’s Chocolate Tour, a free 30-minute journey where visitors can watch thousands of candies twist and turn on the conveyor belts as the aromas of warm chocolate fill the air. You can also opt for the Create Your Own Candy Bar experience, take a ride through the town of Hershey on a trolley tour and take part in an interactive, family-oriented theater show. Groups can customize their food factory tour visit with special ticket bundles, meal deals and more exclusives.
4. Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour, St. Louis, Missouri
Get a taste (literally!) of one of the largest and most well-known breweries in the world with this Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour. Choose from a variety of experiences, customized to fit your specific interests. The Day Fresh Tour includes a closer look at the brewery’s campus and brewing methods. You’ll learn about the life of an Anheuser-Busch beer from seed to sip. Afterwards, visit the Clydesdale Paddock and Stables, the Beechwood Aging Cellars, the historic Brewhouse and the Bevo packaging facility. Visitors 21 and over will receive a Day Fresh beer.
5. Jelly Belly Self-Guided Factory Tour, Fairfield, California
Halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento is this iconic jellybean company with its unique flavors. The Jelly Belly Self-Guided Factory Tour allows visitors to explore the ¼-mile area above the factory at their own pace and enjoy an insider’s view to the candy-making process. Along the way are interactive exhibits and games. Included in the factory tour is access to the Jelly Belly Museum and the Jelly Belly Express Train Ride. Afterwards explore the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Art Gallery and shop the Jelly Belly Candy Store.
6. PEZ Visitor Center, Orange, Connecticut
Equal parts nostalgia and modern technology, the PEZ Visitor Center includes over 4,000 square feet dedicated to all things PEZ. On display is the largest, most comprehensive collection of PEZ memorabilia, a PEZ motorcycle, the world’s largest PEZ dispenser and an interactive timeline. There’s a viewing area into the company’s production area, which has been in operation since 1927. Afterwards, treat yourself to some PEZ-centric goodies at the shop.
7. The Utz Potato Chip Trip, Hanover, Pennsylvania
Ever wonder how potatoes get turned into chips? The free Utz Potato Chip Trip food factory tour will answer all your questions with the added benefit of breathing in the delicious aroma of these iconic snacks. At their 6,000-square-foot facility, guests can watch the production process from beginniactng to end in a glass-enclosed observation gallery. You will be guided step-by-by with the aid of a push-to-talk audio program and closed-circuit TV monitors. A display of the company’s history aids in the learning process as does the free sample of chips at the end of the tour.
From the ins and outs of Jelly Belly to an insider’s look of an automaker icon, factory tours offer none of the work and all of the play.
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