Watch how chocolate is made, taffy is pulled and cheese is churned at these family-friendly food factory tours across the country, many of which are free — and feature free samples, the best part!
Hershey’s Chocolate World – Hershey, Pa.
This food factory tour for kids became so popular, the company created a special theme park attraction for families to get the authentic factory experience without interrupting the chocolate-making process! The free, robotronic-filled tour at Hershey’s Chocolate World takes visitors through the process, beginning with the cocoa bean harvesting, all the way to the end product: delicious candy! In the same building, families can join a Chocolate Tasting Adventure, the Great Chocolate Factory Mystery in 4D and a Create Your Own Candy Bar station.
Cabot Visitors Center & Tour – Cabot, Vt.
This is your opportunity to sample fresh, free cheese — what could be better? The Cabot Visitors Center offers guided food factory tours ($2 for adults; free for kids under age 12) in which families learn about the cheese-making process, which also includes a lesson in agriculture. Afterward, visit the onsite store to purchase cheese and yogurt to take home.
Jelly Belly Factory – Fairfield, Calif.
Founded in 1869, the “original gourmet jelly bean” maker offers free factory tours and a chance to sample a selection of more than 150 jelly bean flavors. Worth the 40-minute drive from San Francisco, the 40-minute walking tour at the Jelly Belly Factory divulges the secrets of the candy, which takes more than a week to create! After the tour, visit the store and stock up on sweets.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory – Waterbury, Vt.
Vermont’s Green Mountains are a beautiful backdrop to our favorite ice cream brand’s headquarters: Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory. Visitors get to see how the ice cream is made, and at the end of the 30-minute food factory tour, they can sample the Flavor of the Day in the Flavoroom (the best part of the visit)! Stop by the Flavor Graveyard to reminisce about old favorites, and visit cows in the pasture during the summer months. Be sure to check out the gift shop and full-service ice cream parlor, Scoop Shop, too.
Hammond’s Candy Factory – Denver
When in the mile-high city of Denver, visit Hammond’s Candy Factory, which has been dishing out sweets since 1920. Free factory tours are offered and allow visitors a chance to see how hard candy is made — right down to the stripes on peppermints — as well as an opportunity to sample some of the treats. Candy canes, ribbon candy, lollipops and chocolate are available for purchase at the tour’s end.
The Candy Factory – Columbia, Mo.
With a name like the The Candy Factory, how can this chocolatier’s factory not make the list? Walk through Candy Lane to watch traditional handmade candy-making processes before devouring samples. Afterward, try the Ultimate Chocolate Pizza or Chocolate Potato Chips.
Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory – Hyannis, Mass.
When vacationing in Cape Cod, a rainy day becomes a perfect excuse to hide indoors at the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory — the same chips your family is probably consuming on the area’s sandy beaches. The self-guided food factory tours are free and include samples.
Blue Bell Creameries – Brenham, Texas
Somewhere between Houston and Austin rests a little town that churns out butter-soft ice cream. Tours of Blue Bell Creameries include a short video about the company and ice cream samples, guaranteed to cool off the Texas day. Food factory tours for kids are also available at Blue Bell’s Oklahoma and Alabama facilities.
Wolfgang Candy Company – York, Pa.
The Wolfgang Candy Company invites families to visit its Visitor Center and Museum for samplings of the chocolate it’s been producing since 1921. Begin with a look at its antique candy-making molds, jars and factory items before an official food factory tour. After the tour, stop in Das Sweeten Haus for gifts like chocolate-dipped blueberries.
Morley Candy Makers and Sanders Candy – Clinton Township, Mich.
Free, self-guided “Stop & Shop” tours are available at Morley Candy Makers and Sanders Candy. Follow a 100-foot observation walkway to watch confectioners hand-make chocolate treats, then sample the goods before stocking up in the candy and gift shop.
PEZ Visitor Center – Orange, Ct.
Although you cannot tour the manufacturing area, the PEZ Visitor Center features the world’s largest PEZ dispenser, a 40-foot-high working replica. Interactive video areas feature a PEZ timeline, trivia and a Factory Tour. The Personalize Your PEZ section gives you a chance to do just that!
Theo Chocolate – Seattle
Theo Chocolate is the first organic and fair trade chocolate factory in North America, and you and the kids can learn about it on a trip to Seattle. Food factory tours for kids last about an hour, and include a sit-down portion in which you learn about the company and sample chocolates. During the second part of the tour, visitors get to see the chocolate-making facilities and sample more treats before receiving a free bar of chocolate to take home.