The best part of a vacation is often the food, and sometimes the best part of your vacation can be checking out where your food comes from. Plenty of America’s most beloved food companies offer tours of their factories, and considering many of these tours are free or low-priced, it’s a creative way to keep the family busy when you’re trying to vacation on a budget.
Not only can you get free samples on a food factory tour, but it’s also a fun way to learn more about a company’s history and interesting facts about your favorite foods. Learn how cheese is made, how long it takes to make a jelly bean, or just what exactly is inside your tea bag. Many tours also include interactive exhibits and are usually the perfect spot to take the kids, although adults tend to have plenty of fun getting a behind-the-scenes look as well. For an affordable trip that’s fun for everyone and delicious to boot, check out the best food factory tours in America.
Home to iconic ice cream flavors such as Phish Food, Cherry Garcia, and Chunky Monkey, the Ben & Jerry’s Factory has a half-hour guided tour that’s fun for the entire family. Learn the history of the company and how a Penn State correspondence course on ice cream-making turned into one of America’s most beloved companies. You’ll also learn the ice cream-making process and taste a sample of the flavor of the day as well as receive a swag bag. Don’t forget to visit their Flavor Graveyard where discontinued flavors have been “put to rest” and check out the awesome gift shop and Scoop Shop on your way out.
Find out exactly what’s in your tea bag with a free 45-minute guided tour, offered daily at the Celestial Seasonings tea plant. The tour goes through the entire process of how their tea is made from the raw ingredients to the final product. Get free samples of different types of teas and visit their art gallery, which contains artwork made from Celestial Seasonings tea boxes. Only guests age five and up can go on the factory portion of the tour, but all can enjoy the Tour Center and tea shop.
For an affordable, family-friendly vacation, visit Hershey, Pennsylvania, “The Sweetest Place on Earth,” where Milton S. Hershey built a chocolate plant for his growing business. In addition to riding the amazing rides at Hersheypark, you can also visit Hershey’s Chocolate World which has all sorts of chocolate-related activities, the most notable being its free factory tour. Observe the chocolate-making process in the form of a slow, kid-friendly ride that lasts for 30 minutes and ends with a free Hershey’s sample.
Located about an hour north of San Francisco, the Jelly Belly Factory has free, self-guided walking tours available to the public. Walk the quarter-mile long tour lane at your own pace, enjoying games and interactive exhibits along the way as you learn more about Jelly Belly jelly beans, such as how they are made and how long it takes (the answer is more than a week!). You’ll get free samples and a look at the Jelly Belly Jelly Bean Art Gallery, as well as the chance to shop their candy store and their chocolate shop, as well as eat at the Jelly Belly Café. There’s even a chocolate and wine experience for adults to enjoy!
Lake Champlain Chocolates - Factory/Yelp
Lake Champlain Chocolates began by producing only chocolate truffles, but their product line now includes hot chocolate, caramels, and other delicious items that you can enjoy at their factory in Vermont. Limited to just 35 people, their through-the-window tour is seated, which means you don’t even have to walk. Available on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the tour is about 30 minutes long and suited to guests aged 7 and up, whereas after 3 p.m. guests can take a self-guided tour in which they can use a map to follow along how treats are made in the factory and enjoy a video detailing the history of Lake Champlain Chocolates along with some delicious free samples.
The most scenic spot in Louisiana also happens to be home to one of the most beloved condiments in America: Tabasco sauce. Avery Island is actually a salt dome — as was discovered by Tabasco sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny, who also discovered the Tabasco peppers growing on the island – and to this day, Tobasco sauce sources its salt from the island’s salt mine. Visit the island and its factory to witness the production process and learn more about the company’s history and practices from tour guides and videos. Visiting here will also mean a chance to see the beautiful wildlife and marshes, eat at the Tabasco restaurant, and explore Cajun cuisine with a cooking class or culinary tour.
Known for producing snack foods from potato chips to pretzels, Utz has a factory facility measuring over 600,000 square feet. Come watch how your favorite snacks are made from beginning to end from a glass-enclosed observation gallery where you will be guided through the process with a push-to-talk audio system and TV monitors. All at your own pace, you can also learn the history of the company from the wall display, as well as visit the nearby Utz Factory Outlet to stock up for all your snacking needs — just ignore the fact that Utz doesn’t rank very highly when it comes to healthy potato chips.
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