Factory Fun on Family Vacations

 

Planning a family vacation? Factory tours can make for great vacation fun especially when the company manufactures something kids like. Free samples can’t hurt.

Currently, more than 550 factories across the USA offer tours to show people what they do and how they do it. Most tours are free, however some require a small admission.

Photo via MrsGrossmans.com

MRS. GROSSMAN’S—Petaluma, California. This is the sticker company kids and scrapbookers know and love. Mrs. Grossman’s prints 15,000 miles of stickers every year! Your family can see what’s behind the fuss on a factory tour of the bright and colorful printing plant. The tour begins with a video narrated by the owner’s dog Angus and concludes with a sticker art class and a gift bag stuffed with stickers. A gift shop sells all of the company’s 700 sticker designs. Reservations are required. Admission: Adults $7; Youth under 12 $5; Children under 3 Free. Call 800 429-4549 or go to MrsGrossmans.com for more details.

TILLAMOOK CHEESE—Tillamook, Oregon. Visitors are treated to a free tour, showcasing the entire cheese making process from cow to mouth. There are interactive kiosks providing nutritional information that kids of all ages can enjoy. As visitors reach the end of the tour, they are treated to samples of Tillamook’s famous cheese. For more information and tour times, go to Tillamookcheese.com.

JELLY BELLY—Fairfield, California. Step into the Jelly Belly factory and smell the aroma of chocolate, peach, cinnamon, pineapple, or whatever is being cooked up that day. Located about an hour’s drive north of San Francisco and 45 minutes west of Sacramento, this 40-minute walking tour is led by Jelly Belly tour guides who show a real working factory cooking up more than 150 different sweet treats. You’ll discover why it takes more than a week to make a single bean. Open daily from 9 to 4 local time, except on holidays, Jelly Belly factory tours are free with no reservations required. For more information go to JellyBelly.com.

BUREAU OF ENGRAVING AND PRINTING—Fort Worth, Texas. At the Western Currency Facility, adults and kids will love learning all about U.S. paper currency. Best of all, you can actually see billions of dollars being printed as you walk along an enclosed walkway suspended over the production floor. Before or after your tour, enjoy two floors of interactive exhibits showcasing the history of currency and the intricacies of the printing process. Other features of the Visitor Center include a theatre film, a gift shop, and a vending and rest area. The Tour and fabulous Visitor Center are free to the public. To schedule a tour, call (817) 231-4000 or toll free (866) 865-1194; Moneyfactory.com.

BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM—Waterbury, Vermont. Last year 275,000 ice cream fans toured this facility. Not bad for a company launched in 1978 in a renovated gas station. As visitors soon learn, it’s not just about ice cream—there’s a social mission behind Ben and Jerry’s. Thirty-minute tours are offered daily, beginning with a seven-minute video, continuing on to the tour mezzanine, where you watch ice cream production. If production is down, a narrated video will fill in the details. The tour ends at the Scoop Shop, where guests try old favorites like Cherry Garcia, and perhaps test-drive a new flavor. More information: Benjerry.com

To find a list of Factory Tours all across the U.S. and arranged by state, go to FactorytoursUSA.com.

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6 replies
  1. dholcomb1
    dholcomb1 says:

    http://www.yorkpa.org/index.asp?act=page&sct_id=4
    York co, pa has tons of factory tours, as do nearby counties like Lancaster, chester, etc… in fact, York Co has been labeled the factory tour capital

    Reply
  2. Tiana
    Tiana says:

    Houston Texas area has Blue Bell Ice Cream in Brenham which is fun and beer makers might enjoy the Lone Star in San Antonio or even St. Arnold’s in Houston … kids get root beer at the end!

    Reply
  3. kaetra
    kaetra says:

    We’ve done the Jelly Belly tour in Wisconsin. It’s just a distribution center, so you won’t see any beans actually being made, but there is a train ride, an interesting set of videos describing the company’s history and the bean making process and FREE SAMPLES! You can also go into the shop there and buy a huge bag of “Belly Flops”, perfectly tasty beans that have a less than perfect shape, for a huge discount.
    Another tour I enjoyed very much was the Jack Daniels factory in Kentucky. The factory is in a “dry county” that’s not allowed to sell alcohol so I don’t think you can buy any JD there but they did have free samples at the end, including alcohol free lemonade. At the risk of sounding crazy because it’s booze, I think kids would enjoy this tour as well. The manufacturing process is really neat to see and there were a couple families there when we had our tour.

    Reply
  4. MS in PA
    MS in PA says:

    Hi Mary, Like California, Pennsylvania has so many great opportunities for families to have fun and learn as well. Any readers visiting or stay-cationing in eastern PA might want to tour the Crayola Factory, Martin Guitar, Yuengling Beer, the QVC facility, Buyer’s Choice (who hand makes the mostly Christmas themed caroler figurines) or the Harley Davidson plant among others here. Mack Trucks may offer tours as well.

    Reply
  5. ReadTheBible
    ReadTheBible says:

    Ben & Jerry’s? There’s no way I would support a company that promotes homosexuality as an acceptable “lifestyle.” What’s next? Polygamy?

    Reply

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