29 Free Factory Tours Worth Checking Out
Looking for something fun (and affordable) to do on vacation? Give free factory tours a try. You'll get to go behind the scenes of some really cool places, and you may even score a few freebies along the way. Here are some free factory tours that you won't want to miss.
Location: Jackson Center, OK
Hours: Monday-Friday at 2 p.m.
Details: Take a 3/4-mile walk through the Airstream factory, and see how they're made start to finish. Schedule a tour, or just show up. No sandals or open-toed shoes allowed.
Anheuser-Bush Brewer Tours
Locations: St. Louis, MO; Fairfield, CA; Ft. Collins, CO; Houston, TX; Jacksonville, FL; Merrimack, New Hampshire
Hours: Varies by location and time of year. Check their website for the current schedule.
Details: See the brewing process up close, and get to sample beers. Guests 21 and older, get a free sample at the start of the tour and can sample more beers in the Tap Room after the tour concludes.
Bob's Red Mill
Location: Milwaukie, OR
Hours: Monday-Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (a second tour is offered in the summer at 11:30 a.m. Closed on major holidays
Details: Take a guided one-and-a-half hour tour of the Bob's Red Mill factory, and see how their products are made. You'll receive a free product sample at the end of the tour.
Location: Boulder, CO
Hours: Monday- Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Tours start at the beginning of the hour.
Details: Take a 45-minute tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory, and see tea being made. Includes a 10-minute video and a 30-minute walking tour of the factory, plus free tea samples at the end. Children under 5 can't go on the factory tour, but there are other activities for them. Closed most major holidays.
Dogfish Head Brewery
Location: Miltion, DE
Hours: See website for daily tour times.
Details: Tour the craft brewery, and enjoy four free samples. Open to all ages. No open-toed shoes.
Location: Denver, CO
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. and Saturday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.Closed on major holidays. Tours start every half hour.
Details: Take a 30-minute tour, and see how candy canes, ribbon candy, and other Hammond's favorites have been made since 1920.
Locations: York, PA; Menomonee Falls, WI; Kansas City, MO
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m., Monday - Friday and occasional Saturdays. (Tours at the Kansas City factory end at 1:30 p.m.)
Details: Get a behind-the-scenes tour of one of the Harley Davidson factories. Free tour tickets are offered on a first come, first served basis, until they run out, so it's best to arrive early.Children under 12 aren't allowed on the tour, but there is a Kids' Corner in the tour center just for them. Holidays and changes to the production schedule can affect the tour schedule, so check the website for current tour info before you go. Also know is that bikes aren't made on Fridays, so if you want to see the factory in all its glory, go earlier in the week.
Herr's Snack Factory Tour
Location: Nottingham, PA
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 9:00 a.m.-3 p.m. and Friday, 9:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. Extended hours in the summer and around Christmas
Details: Schedule a one-hour tour to see how chips and pretzels are made. Thursday and Friday are not typically production days, so if you want to see the machines churning out snacks, plan your trip for the first part of the week.
Hershey's Chocolate Factory Tour
Location: Hershey, PA
Details: Take a ride through a mock Hershey's chocolate factory to learn how chocolate is made. This 30-minute tour ends with free chocolate. Note: Other attractions at Hershey's Chocolate Factory require you to purchase a ticket, but this tour is free.
Huy Fong Sriracha Factory
Location: Irwindale, CA
Hours: Monday-Friday. Reservations are required.
Details: Spend 30-minutes touring Huy Fong's factory, and learn how Sriracha is made. Open to all ages.
Location: Montgomery, Alabama
Hours: Tours run Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m, and Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m. (evening tours not offered December-February). Reservations required.
Details: Jump on a tram, and spend an hour and a half exploring the Hyundai plant where the Sonata and Elantra are currently made. Ages 6 and up.
Location: Fairfield, CA
Hours: Tours run daily from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (except on major holidays), and start every 10-15 minutes.
Details: See how jelly beans are made on a 40-minute guided tour of the Jelly Belly factory. Candy isn't made on the weekend, so if you want to see the machines and workers in action, go on a weekday. Production schedules can change, so check the Jell Belly event calendar before you go.
Location: Chelsea, MI
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Closed on major holidays. Reservations required.
Details: Spend an hour at the Jiffy Mix factory. Learn how their products are made, and enjoy a free product sample. Tour is available to first graders and up.
John Deere Factory Tour
Locations: East Moline, IL; Waterloo, IA; Ankeny, IA
Hours: See their website for times.
Details: Tour one of John Deere's four factories to see how their products are made. Each tour lasts 1.5 hours. Ages 13 and up. No open-toed shoes.
Location: Kohler, WI
Hours: Tour start at 8:30 a.m., Monday-Friday. Advanced registration required.
Details: See how Kohler products are made, everything from bathtubs to faucets. Tour lasts three hours. No opened-toed shoes.
Location: Nazareth, PA
Hours: Monday-Friday at 11:00 am and 2:30 pm
Details: Spend an hour learning how guitars are made from start to finish.
Locations: Milwaukee, WI and Golden, CO
Hours: Check their website for daily tour times.
Details: Take a guided tour at the Milwaukee brewery or a self-guided tour at the Golden brewery to learn how Miller beer is brewed and bottled. Tour ends with beer samples (if you're 21 or older).
Pendelton Woolen Mills
Locations: Washougal, WA and Pendelton, OR
Hours: Monday-Friday. Tours start at 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Details: Tour one of Pendelton's mills, and see how their famous woolens are woven.
Location: Orlando, FL
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. Need to sign up ahead of time.
Details: Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Regal factory, and watch boats being built.
Samuel Adams Brewery
Location: Boston, MA
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (last tour starts at 3:00 p.m.). Friday 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (last tour starts at 5:30 p.m.). Saturday 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. (last tour starts at 3:00 p.m.) Closed major holidays.
Details: See how Sam Adams beer is brewed, and sample a few of their award-winners. Tours start every 45 minutes, and last an hour.
Snyder's of Hanover
Location: Hanover, PA
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 10:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Reservations required.
Details: Take a 30-minute tour, and see how pretzels are made. Includes a free bag of pretzels at the end of the tour. Suitable for ages 5 and up. Must be able to climb stairs.
Location: Avery, Island, LA
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Details: Go on a tour of the Tabasco factory, and see how the spicy sauce is made and bottled. Tours are available daily, but the sauce is only bottled Monday-Thursday, so plan your trip accordingly. Also, note that there's a $1 toll to enter the island.
Location: Tillamook, OR
Hours: Open daily (excluding Thanksgiving and Christmas) Mid-June to Labor Day: 8 a.m.- 8 p.m. Labor Day to mid-June: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Details: Go on a self-guided tour of the cheese factory, and learn how Tillamook cheese is made. Includes cheese samples at the end.
Location: Georgetown, KY
Hours: Tours are available Monday- Friday, at 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and on Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.
Details: Board an electric tram to tour the 7.5 million square foot plant where the Camry, Avalon, and Venza models are currently manufactured. Reservations are recommended. Open to children in first grade and up (with accompanying parent).
U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Locations: Washington, D.C. and Fort Worth, TX
Hours: View their website for current hours.
Details: Watch paper money being printed from an observation deck suspended over the production floor. Security is tight (no surprise there), so it'll take a while to get in, and you won't be able to bring anything in with you (not even a purse or cell phone). Children have to clear security, too.
Location: Hanover, PA
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Details: Take a self-guided tour of the 600,000 square foot UTZ potato chip factory.You'll be on a glass-enclosed observation deck, where you can see the whole process.
Location: Forest City, IA
Hours: Motorized tour offered Monday-Friday at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (April-October), and at 1:00 p.m. (November 1-22). Towables tour offered Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. (April through October). View website for latest schedule.
Details: Tour the largest motor home manufacturing facility in the world. No opened-toed shoes allowed.
Locations: Philadelphia, PA and Denver, CO
Hours: Visit their website for current hours of operation.
Details: See how coins are made, starting with the design process and ending with a newly minted coin.
Before You Go ...
Verify tour times and details by calling ahead or visiting each companies website. Production schedules can change suddenly. Many factory tours have age and/or safety requirements. Go over them carefully, so nothing spoils your fun.
If you know of other free factory tours that are worth checking out. I'd love to here about them.