Factory Tours That are SO Worth Planning a Vacation Around
These eight factories are way more than warehouses and assembly lines. But don't take our word for it. Each of these factories--which make anything from musical instruments to jelly beans to airplanes--offer tours where visitors can experience the shops' processes for themselves. Some you might have heard of, others you probably haven't, but either way there's a factory tour for every person.
Fender InstrumentsPhoto courtesy of Fender Musical Instruments
Since 1946, Fender has been improving its musical instruments. Now, visitors can watch the perfected process for themselves at the Fender Factory and Custom Shop in Corona, California. The tour walks through each step of guitar production (basses and amps are included, too), then ends in the Fender Custom Shop.
Cost: $10 for Adults; $0-6 for Children
Velvet Ice Cream
Velvet Ice Cream in Utica, Ohio, has been making frozen dessert for over 100 years. On a 30-minute walk tour, visitors can learn about the history of the Historic Ye Olde Mill and watch the seven-step ice cream-making process.
Gillinder Glass Store
The part demonstrations/part tours at Gillinder Glass Store in Port Jervis, New York, do not disappoint. Glass artists show off their glass-blowing talents that create beautiful bowls, sculptures, and other works of art. Visitors will watch the gathering, pouring, and pressing that goes into production.
Cost: $5 for Adults; $4 for Children
San Antonio ShoemakersPhoto courtesy of San Antonio Shoemakers
There's a reason San Antonio Shoemakers shoes are so comfortable. Each pair of shoes is molded by up to 80 different people in what can be a 100-step process. Watch the work that goes into the handmade shoes at the factory in San Antonio, Texas.
The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery
There's no shortage of fabulous brewery tours in the United States, and The Olde Meck tour in Charlotte, North Carolina, is no exception. Visitors learn how the beer is brewed (including a taste-test of the barley malt), lagered, and packaged. Afterward, stop by OMB's Biergarten--eight acres packed with food, fun, and of course, beer.
The Boeing facility in Everett, Washington, is the world's largest building by volume. Learn about airplane design and manufacturing as you watch international airplanes being made. Then design your own jet.
Cost: $16-$20 for Adults; $9-$14 for Children
Jelly BellyPhoto courtesy of Jelly Belly
Jelly Belly might have one of the most well-known factory tours, and for good reason. Each jelly bean takes a week to perfect, and visitors learn why at the factory in Fairfield, California--plus they get to sample the tiny treats for themselves. There's also a Jelly Belly warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, that offers 30-minute train ride tours.
Another family-friendly factory tour, the Crayola Experience is way more than a quick walking tour. The 60,000-square-foot attraction in Easton, Pennsylvania, is chock-full of activities that will have kids splashing, coloring, melting, and molding.