Monday, December 17, 2018

7 Kid-Friendly Factory Tours

I admit to being a sucker for factory tours. I know they're tourist traps, but there's just something about seeing the place where a familiar product gets made that really appeals to me. And the fact that most food-related factory tours involve products that my kids crave because they only get them as treats makes it easy for me to convince the whole family to come along. Here are six factory tours that we've experienced across the country.

Cape Cod Potato Chips, Hyannis, Massachusetts
This is a straight-up view of the factory, with no real bells or whistles. The cool part is that you get to see the whole operation, from the salting of the potato chips to when they get bagged by a machine, and you get a free bag of potato chips at the end. But there are no interactive elements, and the whole thing is self-guided. Still, it’s pretty neat to be able to eat fresh Cape Cod potato chips while in Cape Cod!

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, Waterbury, Vermont
What you get here is a half-hour guided tour, plus a scoop of ice cream at the end. Not bad for just $4 per adult (kids under 12 are free). This is a popular stop for tourists in the area, so it may get crowded during high season. A private ice cream making session can be scheduled in advance on certain days (we didn't try it).

Hershey's Chocolate, Hershey, Pennsylvania
The good news is that this tour is free and features a fun, sit-down ride that takes you through the history of Hershey's chocolate making. The bad news is that you'll need to stand on line to get on the ride, since Hershey is always overrun by tourists. Add on the "create your own chocolate bar" experience, which is pricey but well worth the money.

Turkey Hill Ice Cream, Columbia, Pennsylvania
The Turkey Hill Experience is well worth a visit if you’re in the Lancaster area. Milk a mechanical cow, drive a milk truck, taste unlimited ice cream and iced tea samples, and make your own ice cream flavor, which you then get to take home. Bring a cooler to keep your pints cold during the ride back!

Pez Candy, Orange, New York
Visit the place that dispenses Pez dispensers. Admission for adults is $5, but you get a $2 credit toward anything from the gift shop, so that seems pretty fair. Candy demos are offered on weekdays, and free samples are available all the time. Naturally, the collection of Pez memorabilia that's housed here is off the hook! Be prepared to feel nostalgic.

Jelly Belly Candy, Fairfield, California
This is a fantastic (and free!) guided factory tour, one of the better ones that we’ve been on. Of course, that just meant we ended up spending way more than we should've on candy after the tour. It shows you the whole operation floor and features cute, informative games along the way. On the way out, you get a free bag of jelly beans. And if that weren't enough, you can try unlimited flavors at the jelly bean bar.

Vermont Teddy Bear, Shelburne, Vermont
I highly recommend this tour for your kids  if you can stomach the steep price ($40+) of a Vermont Teddy Bear from the gift shop afterwards (because your kids will definitely be begging for one). A "bear ambassador" walks you around the workstations of the factory, where you'll get to see craftspeople hand-making the bears on weekdays (or their unmanned sewing machines on the weekends). The tour is hands on, with opportunities to touch the fur and stuffing, and you leave with a souvenir bear button. Adults are $4 and kids under 12 are free.

Any great factory tours that I missed? Let me know in the comments section!

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