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6 iconic American factory tours

I have friends who travel to eat, shop and visiting historical landmarks. But have you considered factory tours as a fun way to interact with a new city. Plus, isn’t it so interesting to see how things are made?

Here are a few iconic American factory tours you should check off your bucket list.

 

Crayola Crayons Factory  – Easton, Pennsylvania

 

The factory tour that started it all… at least in my mind! I remember Mr Rogers walking us through the creation of a yellow Crayon, and I was mesmerized by the process. Plan on spending 3-4 at this downtown Easton beacon– it’s bigger than an NFL football field!

The Crayola Experience feels less like of a “factory” and more of a Crayola showcase and history museum. There is a lot of history to soak up; after all, the company has called Easton home since 1903. This tour is super kid friendly, with four floors of interactive exhibits, indoor playgrounds and, of course, coloring projects. You can even make and name your own crayon.

 

Harley Davidson Motorcycle Factory

York, PA |  Kansas City, MO  |  Menomonee Falls, WI

Harley may be based out of Milwaukee, but you can see them on the assembly line in three places. Their York facility produces touring motorcycles. In Kansas City, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the street family of motorcycles.

However, for the mack daddy of them all, make a reservation for the Steel Toe tour at Harley-Davidson’s 849,000 square-foot facility in Wisconsin. This two-hour experience lets you get up-close and personal with the assembly line, powder coat process, cold testing, and steel and aluminum machining. This tour comes with a bona fide costume: a safety vest, safety glasses, and steel toe protection, all of which are provided. Afterward, grab a bite at the museum restaurant, Motor, which actually has delicious grub. Think cheese curds, brats and beer. This is Wisconsin, after all.

 

Jelly Belly  – Fairfield, CA

A quarter-mile of jelly beans? Count me in! This free, self-guided tour allows you to stroll through this iconic factory at your own place. In addition to gaining a bird’s eye look at candy making, you’ll get plenty of free samples. Check out the interactive exhibits and games along the tour lane.

If you like vino, be sure to check out the Jelly Belly Chocolate and Wine Experience. Sample five local vintner wines paired with decadent chocolate. If you’re traveling with kids, fret not—they do have non-alcoholic pairings as well.

 

Ben & Jerry’s  –  Waterbury, VT

6 iconic american factory tours

Whether you’re a Cherry Garcia fan, a Phish Food lover or more of an Americone Dream-er, Ben and Jerry’s probably holds a place in your heart. Tour their Vermont facility 7 days a week, 362 days a year. All tours are guided, last 30 minutes and are offered (including the sample!) whether or not ice cream is in production. If you haven’t gotten your fill of the frozen stuff by tour’s end, you can get a scoop or three at their onsite scoop shop.

Be sure to walk through the Flavor Graveyard and pay your respects to the “dearly de-pinted” flavors of years past. Tour Tickets are available on a first-come first-serve basis, and they do occasionally sell out in the summer, fall and over the holidays. Go early!

 

FILSON  –  Seattle, WA

Outdoorsmen and women: This one’s for you. For over a century, Filson’s attention to detail and quality makes them unparalleled in the business. Take the free 30-minute tour to see craftspeople take the world’s best raw materials and turn them into garments, bags and gear that last for generations. You may even catch a glimpse of an item in-production—maybe something you’ll need to add to your camping repertoire.

 

Gibson Guitars  –  Memphis, TN

Do you every take a look at a product and say, “I could make that myself.” Well, that’s probably not going to happen at the Gibson Beale Street Showcase in Memphis. Tour this legendary guitar factory, complete with an intimate viewing of the facility as Gibson’s skilled luthiers (aka someone who build instruments) craft some of the finest guitars in the world. The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes. Reservations aren’t required, but are recommended. Be sure to check out the onsite store. Who knows, you may leave so inspired that you bring a piece of Gibson history home with you.

Have another not-to-be-missed factory tour? Share in the comments!

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Getting a behind the scenes look at how an iconic brand is built can be a really fun way to interact with a new city. Plus, isn’t it so interesting to see how things are made? Here are a few iconic American factory tours you should check off your bucket list.

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. We own a Winnebago motor home, which are made in Forest City, Iowa. You can take an informative, free tour of how Winnebago RV’s are made (no prior reservations needed). A few interesting communities are near by too, like Clear lake…has the Surf ballroom ( which is still a music venue) remembered as the last concert for the”Big Bopper ” and Ritchie Vallens and one other 1950’s entertainer.
    Thank you for all your travel experiences, hints and recommendations.

  2. Jelly Belly, Celestial Tea, Jack Daniels, Tillamook, and Tabasco. And probably Hershey (did it as a kid, so I don’t remember much).

  3. Martin Guitar Factory tour, Nazareth, Pa.
    .
    It is 11 miles from the Crayola Crayons Experience in Easton, Pa.

  4. The Tabasco Factory tour in Avery Island, Louisiana was GREAT as a kid. For the adults, distillery and brewery tours are where it’s at.

  5. In my opinion 2 iconic ones that missed the missed are the The Hershey Factory in Hershey, PA and The Coca-Cola Factory in Atlanta, GA.

  6. Sam Adams in Boston!!!! Short, but informative. Admission is whatever donation you wish to make to the charity of the day. When we went, it was for the families of local firefighters who had been killed in the line of duty days prior. We sampled special beers like the “Black and Gold” that was delicious and dark, and only served at the Garden during Bruins playoff games, and the “26.2”, that was only being served in towns that the Boston Marathon passed through. Samples were served by the pitcher full, and you are encouraged to keep your tasting glass as a souvenir. We have been on other brewery tours, but this one stands out for it’s generosity to the community and the customers.

  7. The Boeing plant tour in Everett, WA (north of Seattle) is a must see if you’re in the area. The size and scale of the place is mind boggling.

  8. Definitely Hershey Park! The town smells of chocolate, has those cute Hershey kisses street lights. You will be singing….its the milk in it… form the tour ride. Alos CapeCod potato chips. Takes about five minutes but

    1. This was going to be my suggestion as well! They are so close to each other and Cabot is a don’t miss. Fabulous cheese.

  9. How about the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory in Hyannis?
    A visit to the Cape is wonderful, this is a fun thing to do with kids ( or adults ) on a rainy day. Or on a good day for that matter.

  10. D.G. Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Pa America’s oldest brewery. Admission is free. No open toe shoes are allowed. Very informative and entertaining. Free samples at the end of the tour. We even got to meet and talk to Dick Yuengling, who we were told is there often.

  11. Airstream Factory Tour in Jackson Center, OH is very informative and you can see lots of old models. You even get to tour the cooperate offices, some. It was great to see these products still made in America.

    Heini’s Cheese Chalet in Millersburg, OH is also fun.

    1. My family has gone to the Utz potato chip factory in Pennsylvania and enjoyed the tour. It was the first time we had freshly made chips; they were still warm. Would definitely recommend this.

  12. Koloa Rum Store and Tasting on Kauai, HI. Not really a brewery tour. But a good talk about the history of the rum industry on the island and a fun tasting of multiple rums.

  13. We were visiting the Airstream factory in Jackson Center, Ohio when a big storm with blew in a d tornado warning siren were going off. We gathered with all the workers in the center of the building and waited it out. It was nice to be able to talk to the workers during that time. Other memorable factory tours – KitchenAid tour in Greenville, Ohio and Doscher Candy in Cincinnati, Ohio

  14. Zildjian in Norwell, MA reservations far in advance are suggested and well worth it,

    Golden Paints in New Berlin, NY reservations needed in advance and they are out in the middle of nowhere but because my husband is a painter we did this tour on a road trip we took and I thought is was wonderful.

    Tillamook in Tilamook, OR no reservation and fun for the whole family.

  15. Hershey’s Chocolate hasn’t had a “real” factory tour since some time in the 1970s but Hershey’s Chocolate World is a fun place to spend an hour or several. The last time I was there most of the attractions had an additional charge but the basic “Chocolate Tour” (again, not a factory tour, but explains the process) is free and there’s a pretty big gift shop and snack bar. And of course the adjacent Hershey Park is a major amusement park in its own right.

  16. Hammonds Candy in Denver Co. I loved it. Also the Bureau of Printing and Engraving outside of Ft Worth. Also I haven’t personally been there but this is available. Although they did close during the pandemic.

  17. There are some great GM manufacturing plants that still give tours. Go for the assembly plants like Fort Wayne truck assembly, call for info because they aren’t always available. Cummins motors in Columbus Indiana is impressive too.
    Celestial Seasons is fun, but small in comparison to automotive or airline assembly.
    I have not been on, but I hear that there are tours of the Detroit plants that were re-tooled in the 1940s for the war effort. They are enjoyed by young and old alike.

  18. The Herrs Potato Chip factory tour in Nottingham, Pennsylvania is great. They even take hot chips off the line to sample.

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6 iconic American factory tours
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