25 Best Factory Tours in America

After a prolonged period of being stuck at home, some families are looking to travel again. And while the COVID-19 pandemic means that precautions still have to be taken, and not every destination is up and running at 100% capacity, there’s still plenty of unique experiences out there that are once again open to the public.

When you get to your family vacation destination, what do you do? If you’re traveling with kids, in addition to the usual sightseeing attractions, depending on your destination, you might want to look and see if there is a factory tour near you. These behind-the-scene looks show kids how their favorite objects are made; they may even get a lesson in industrial design, engineering and manufacturing. Plus, if you tour a creamery, ice-cream factory or sweet shop, you might get a tasty sample at the end!

The following factory tours and appropriate for kids, are well-reviewed by families and are currently open to visitors (or will be opening soon). But you might want to book ahead — some require timed tickets or reservations before you visit. But when you’re done, you’ll all know a little bit more about how the world around you is made.

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Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (Louisville, Kentucky)

Swing by to see how baseball bats are made — this company has been churning them out since 1884. Your family can walk through the factory production line and watch the wood chips fly! Everyone can try out bats from iconic players, like Babe Ruth and Derek Jeter. With plenty of photo ops (including your crew inside a giant baseball mitt) and a free mini bat souvenir for every guest, this tour will be a home run. opendaily; $18 for adults, $11 for ages 6 – 12, free for ages 5 and under

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Jelly Belly Visitor Center & Factory (Fairfield, California)

From your perch above the production line, you’ll witness all the steps — slurry, steam bath, glossy application — it takes to create the gourmet jellybeans that have been a thing since the late 1800s. Video screens provide close-ups and fun facts (like it takes 1 – 2 weeks to make a jellybean). Feeling hungry? Stop at the café for a jellybean-shaped pizza. Open daily (but factory workers are typically there only on weekdays), $5 for adults, $2 for ages 2 and up, free for younger kids

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The Kazoo Factory Tour Experience (Beaufort, South Carolina)

After learning the ins and outs of kazoo-making during a factory walk-through, everyone gets to create their own instrument to take home. A built-in souvenir is music to our ears! Open Monday to Friday, $9 for adults, $7 for ages 4 – 11, free for younger kids

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PEZ Visitor Center (Orange, Conn.)

The colorful facility dispenses equal parts nostalgia (it maintains well-organized vintage PEZ displays) and tech wizardry (you can see how the famous candy is packed). Be sure to snap your kid’s pic in front of the world’s largest PEZ dispenser, which looks like a person wearing a PEZ-themed baseball cap. opendaily; $5 for adults, $4 for ages 3 – 12, free for younger kids

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Polaris Experience Center (Roseau, Minn.)

School-age kids who love to build things will have their mind blown going behind-the-scenes at this maker of snowmobiles and ATVs. On the guided tour, they’ll see laser cutters, high-speed saws and other cool equipment making parts for the vehicles. They can also watch motors being installed and ATVs being tested. Whoa! Open Monday to Friday; children under age 6 prohibited; free

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Hammond’s Candy Factory Tour (Denver, Colorado)

This centuries-old confectioner invites you to see how it makes its lollipops, candy canes and other treats. Looking through large viewing windows, your crew will be gobsmacked at how the colorful candies are shaped and packaged. Open Monday-Saturday; free

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Kohler Design Center Factory Tour (Kohler, Wisconsin)

Got a teen whose interested in manufacturing? They’ll be fascinated by this detailed two-hour, 3 ½-mile foray behind the scenes of how the brand’s famous plumbing products are created. Open Monday – Friday, children under 14 not permitted, free

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Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop (Jacksonville, Florida)

Willy Wonka vibes are strong at this mansion that takes guests from room to room of candy-making demos. You’ll get to design your own chocolate bar, choosing from more than 16 toppings. Check availability online; $6.45 per person

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Henry Ford Rouge Factory Tour (Dearborn, Michigan)

One truck per minute rolls off the assembly line at this famous automotive factory — and your crew gets a birds-eye view of the goings-on from a 1/3-mile observation deck. There’s also a gallery of cool cars, like a 1965 Ford Mustang, to check out. Check dates online; $22 for adults, $16.50 for ages 5 – 11, free for younger kids

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Turkey Hill Experience (Columbia, Pennsylvania)

While the dairy producer’s actual factory is closed to the public, this children’s museum-like attraction gives families the inside scoop on ice cream-making, plus unlimited free samples. Your kids can create their own virtual flavor, and then star in a commercial promoting it. opendaily; starts at $10.50 per person

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World of Coca-Cola (Atlanta, Georgia)

Since you can’t tour an actual Coke bottling plant, this attraction is the next best thing. Its Bottle Works exhibit, showcasing real equipment, explains the packaging process. And you’ll get a chance to taste different kinds of sodas from around the world. opendaily; $19 for adults, $15 for ages 3 – 12, free for younger kids

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Tillamook Creamery Tour (Tillamook, Oregon)

From a viewing gallery above the factory floor, you’ll see how milk becomes cheese. Then hit the dining hall for gooey faves, likes grilled cheese and mac ‘n cheese. Your family can even share a “flight” of ice cream. opendaily; tour is free, you can add tasting experiences for a charge

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Warner Bros. Studio Tour (Los Angeles, California)

Your crew will be star-struck hanging out at a working movie studio. During the hour-long guided portion, you’ll see backlots, movie sets and maybe even spy on someone famous. Then you’ll have two more hours to explore on your own — plenty of time to snap a pic of your family in front of the fountain from friends. Open daily: $69 for adults, $59 for ages 5 – 10

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The Great Utz Chip Trip Tour (Hanover, Pennsylvania)

Kids will discover how potatoes get turned into chips at this famous maker’s plant near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. They can watch factory workers from an observation gallery; closed-circuit TV monitors provide close-ups. Everyone receives a free sample of chips at the end. Open Monday – Thursday, free

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Ben & Jerry’s Factory Experience (Waterbury, Vermont)

With a tentative re-opening planned for the end of June 2022, this beloved attraction wets appetites with a short movie about how Ben & Jerry got their start. From there, it’s off to the mezzanine where you’ll watch how the ice cream is made. Samples of ice cream (sometimes a flavor that’s exclusive to the factory) is the proverbial cherry on top. On your way out, visit the “ice cream graveyard” of flavors that are no longer made. Check back for ticket info

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The Crayola Experience (Easton, Pennsylvania)

There are many activities to take part in at The Crayola experience, including a live show where a “crayonologist” demonstrates how crayons are made. The 65,000-square-foot attraction also includes a toddler and a big-kid playground, interactive games and a studio for art projects, among manny other stations — they recommend blocking out three or four hours for a visit. Opendaily. Admission is $25 if you buy tickets in advance; a timed ticket is required for all visitors ages 3 and up. There are also Crayola Experience locations in Chandler, Arizona; Mall of America, Minnesota; Orlando, Florida and Plano, Texas, but offerings may vary

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Mug Chocolate Factory Tour (Somerville, Massachusetts)

Specializing in stone-ground chocolate, this candy maker explains the production process and hosts a sampling. On weekends, there’s a scavenger hunt-themed tour for kids under age 10. Open Wednesday-Sunday; $8-$12 per person

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The White House (Washington, DC)

Though not a factory in the traditional sense, White House tours are back, and you can meander around the famous Blue Room, Red Room, State dining room and — best of all — the Rose Garden. But you can’t wait until the last minute to book. Twenty-one to 90 days before you’d like to visit, you need to request one of the free tours by contacting your congress member’s office. Tours are only available on Fridays and Saturdays

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Blue Bell Creamery Factory Tour (Brenham, Texas)

Look high above the factory floor to see ice cream being packaged in different types of containers. An employee is on-hand to answer all the kids’ questions about the process, so encourage them to ask away. Open Monday-Friday; free

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American Whistle Company (Columbus, Ohio)

A kitschy stop on a Midwest road trip, this factory does out loads of engaging info about a topic you probably never considered — how whistles are made. Everyone receives a whistle to take home. Open MondayFriday; $6 per person

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Fannie May Chocolate Factory (North Canton, Ohio)

While kids will learn how cacao pods gets processed into chocolate, they’ll more likely to remember the delicious samples at the end. Open Monday – Thursday, free

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Boeing Future of Flight (Mukilteo, Wash.)

While the actual factory tours of this renowned plane manufacturer are still on pause, a “backstage pass” gets you a lot of insider info. Your crew can watch an hour-long movie that explains the manufacturing process. Then you take a guided walk of the gallery that’s packed with cool exhibits like a full-scale mockup of the research lab for the International Space Station. You can also head to the Sky Deck to watch daily flight operations on Paine Field, set against the backdrop of the North Cascades mountains. Open Thursday-Monday; $20 for adults, $10 for kids 6 – 15, free for younger kids

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The Roasterie Factory Tour (Kansas City, Missouri)

Start your day with a tour of this coffee factory (there’s hot chocolate and chocolate milk for the kids). A brewing demo and samples are included. Open daily, $5 for ages 11 and up, free for younger kids

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Annie Oakley Natural Perfumery (Ligonier, Indiana)

For any kid who likes potions, this fragrance factory will fascinate you. Your family will learn how perfumes are created and bottled plus smell unique essences. Open weekdays; $5 per person

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Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery (Lititz, Pennsylvania)

The first commercial soft pretzel bakery in America gives customers a behind-the-scenes look. After watching bakers twist dough in the classic shape, kids can try their hands at it using a pretend dough mixture. By appointment only; $4 for adults, $3 for ages 4 – 12, free for younger kids

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