Factory tours are a great way to combine family fun and education.
In fact, my own daughters loved learning how some of their favorite things were made.
This included seeing crayons being made as well as their favorite chocolate candies.
These two examples happen to be Pennsylvania factory tours, which were easy for us to take.
That’s because we lived outside Philadelphia at the time we went on these trips.
Factory tours for families
There’s no better way to satisfy your child’s curiosity than by taking them on a factory tour.
Thankfully, many companies offer child-friendly tours that show you how toys, foods and other kid faves are produced.
Here are four factory tours that families (including my own) agree are well worth planning a vacation around.
Note: not all of these tours are free.
Chocolate factory tours: Hershey
Hershey, Pennsylvania calls itself the sweetest place on earth.
With its Hershey Kiss-shaped street lights along Chocolate Avenue, that’s not a stretch.
While you won’t go inside the actual factory making famous Hershey chocolate products, you will get the experience of a factory tour at the Hershey’s Chocolate World Visitors Center.
As you approach the tour ride at Hershey’s Chocolate World, you feel like you’re in a jungle.
Tall, arching green plants and the sounds of monkeys and birds surround you.
Turn the corner and suddenly you’re on a ship “dock” with sacks of cacao beans (the primary ingredient in chocolate) on either side of you.
You’ll soon learn that these beans are about to cross the ocean to the Hershey’s factories.
Next, head down a set of stairs into what looks like a roller-coaster car, and you’re off on Hershey’s simulated chocolate-making factory tour.
This eight-minute excursion explains how cacao beans grown in a jungle eventually become chocolate.
My daughters loved the part of the ride, I mean tour, that takes them underneath a giant mooing cow.
What most kids (and their parents) love even more are the free mini chocolate bars you get at the tour’s end.
Another bonus at Chocolate World: the costumed Hershey’s characters that walk around and greet you.
We had breakfast with them at the Chocolate World cafe.
My then-toddler was smitten with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup character and even invited her over for a playdate.
However, because the characters are sworn to silence and must pantomime their expressions, we’re not quite sure if she accepted our invitation.
Note: in 2023, Hershey is changing up the Chocolate World tour to celebrate its 50th anniversary.
So, your experience on the ride or factory tour may be very different from what we experienced a few years ago.
Hotels near Hershey’s chocolate factory tour
Because we lived in Eastern Pennsylvania at the time we took the Hershey’s tour, we could make it a day trip.
However, perhaps you’re coming from a bit farther away and want to make the factory tour part of a bigger vacation.
Therefore, I’ve included some recommended hotels in the area.
This includes Pennsylvania hotels with Peloton bikes.
- Courtyard Hershey Chocolate Avenue
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Hershey Chocolate Avenue
- SpringHill Suites Hershey Near the Park
Ben and Jerry’s Waterbury factory tours
The Ben and Jerry’s factory tour is held in Waterbury, Vermont, the company’s headquarters.
This yummy tour comes complete with assorted delectable aromas and a cool spoonful of the flavor of the day.
One mom on our tour said her son loved watching the machines running, and that he couldn’t get over the fact that the mixing bowls were the size of a compact car.
Another boy on the tour squealed on cue each time ice cream squirted out into an empty container.
They couldn’t wait for their free scoop of ice cream.
The fun doesn’t stop when the tour ends.
During warm weather months, children can romp around a playground outside the factory.
What’s more, Ben & Jerry’s employees roam the grounds, ready to paint your child’s face like a clown’s or challenge her to a bubble-making contest.
Even though we spent about 30 minutes watching ice cream being made—and enjoying our free sample—our tummies were still grumbling when the tour was over.
So, we could have waited in a long line to buy a cup of ice cream at the concession stands outside.
Instead, we raided the freezer in the gift shop (it was tucked in a back corner; perhaps no one noticed it?).
There, we bought four pops that we enjoyed at a picnic table overlooking the nearby Vermont mountains.
Reservations are suggested and a good idea for this factory tour.
The first time we tried to get on on of these Ben and Jerry’s factory tours, we were turned away because all the day’s tickets were sold.
Hotels near Ben & Jerry’s Waterbury factory tour
Waterbury, Vermont, doesn’t have as many hotel options as other places mentioned in this article.
Therefore, I would recommend booking the Fairfield Inn & Suites Waterbury Stowe, which is right in the historic part of Waterbury Village.
Crayon factory tour
When you think about crayons, you probably think of Crayola crayons.
And you would be right, because that’s the crayon factory tour we took in Easton, Pennsylvania.
It’s called the Crayola Experience.
The mock Crayola crayon tour occurs in a converted loft that is more playspace and art studio than manufacturing plant.
In fact, actual crayons are made elsewhere in Easton.
Nonetheless, kids can see exactly how crayons are made, albeit in small batches.
And when the real-life crayon maker guy here starts cranking out robust red or blueberry blue crayons here, no one needs to stand on their tippy toes.
That’s because the glass-enclosed manufacturing area is low to the ground and designed for the youngest visitors.
First, the man stirred huge pots of melted wax.
Then he poured them into sunken molds that, from the top, look like polka dotted sheets of metal.
Once the crayons cooled, he tipped the molds over, and out poured the crayons.
After that, they are covered in the familiar Crayola wrappers.
At the end of the 10-minute demo—just long enough to learn something but short enough to keep everyone’s attention—each kid gets a hot-off-the-assembly-line crayon to take home.
After the demo, move into the hands-on area of The Crayola Experience, where kids can roll up their sleeves and dive into art projects—using Crayola products, of course.
The last time we visited, the theme was “the mail.”
We stopped at a table where my daughters used assorted markers to turn ordinary mailing labels into colorful pretend postage stamps.
Next we visited a large room where kids tried their hand at printmaking.
It smelled just like my elementary-school art classroom and brought back so many positive olfactory memories.
Here, my daughters used circle-, square-, and star-shaped sponges, dipped in purple, yellow, red, and orange paint, to decorate stationery and envelopes.
Hotels near Easton, Pennsylvania
Here are two of the closer hotels to the Crayola Experience in Easton.
Other Crayola Experience locations
Since we took our crayon tour, Crayola has expanded the experience to four other locations across the country.
So, in addition to visiting Easton, Pennsylvania, you can also have the Crayola Experience here:
- Chandler, Arizona
- Mall of America, MN
- Orlando, Florida
- Plano, TX
Hotels for Crayola Experience Chandler, Arizona
- Element Chandler Fashion Center
- Residence Inn Phoenix Chandler/South
- TownePlace Suites Phoenix Chandler/Fashion Center
Mall of America hotels in Bloomington, Minnesota
- AC Hotel Bloomington Mall of America
- Element Bloomington Mall of America
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Minneapolis Bloomington/Mall of America
- TownePlace Suites Minneapolis Mall of America
Orlando, Florida hotels
- Four Points by Sheraton Orlando International Drive
- Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, Autograph Collection
- Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Villas, I-Drive/Orlando
- TownePlace Suites Orlando Airport
Plano, Texas hotels near Crayola Experience
Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory Tour
More than likely, those will be the first words out of your child’s mouth as you arrive at the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory for a tour in Louisville, Kentucky.
That’s because the first thing you’ll see is a 120-foot-tall 68,000-pound Louisville Slugger baseball bat leaning against the building.
Once inside, sight gives way to smell as you inhale the sweet odor of the wood—northern white ash—that is used to make the Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball.
Before you hit the factory floor, though, go to the museum and take your family out to the ball game.
The museum includes a room designed as a scaled-down version of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, one of the prettiest baseball parks in America.
Your kids can run the bases and imagine playing ball with the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Babe Ruth, as recordings of announcers recount great moments of these great stars.
The sounds of chanting fans and organ music make you feel as if you’re part of a real game.
Also at the museum is a mock batter’s box that kids can stand behind.
Inside is a mannequin of a catcher that is on the receiving end of a real 90-mile-an-hour pitch.
Dust shoots out of its glove as the ball burns into his mitt. Your kids will be talking about those fastballs for days.
Adjacent to the Louisville Slugger museum is the actual Louisville Slugger factory.
Here you can watch as bats are made the old-fashioned way: individually and by hand.
Kids will marvel at how craftsmen at a lathe can turn a shapeless block of wood into a perfectly formed bat.
Every person who goes on the tour gets their own miniature bat.
Hotels near Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory tour
Here are hotels to stay in while visiting Louisville, Kentucky.
Many of them have charging stations for your electric vehicle.
- Hotel Distil, Autograph Collection
- Courtyard Louisville Downtown
- Moxy Louisville Downtown
- TownePlace Suites Louisville Downtown
Jelly Belly Factory Tour
Jelly Belly jelly beans are made in Northern California, in a town called Fairfield. It’s between San Francisco and Sacramento. There, you can take a self-guided tour of the jelly bean factory.
It’s a real working factory, churning out jelly beans Monday through Friday. So, if you want to see how they’re made, live in front of you, make sure you visit on a weekday.
On the other hand, if you can only get there on a weekend, you’ll still see how jelly beans are made, albeit on a record video. However, you will still get to tour the jelly bean museum and try samples of jelly beans like visitors during the week do.
Hotel near Jelly Belly Factory
Fairfield is actually in the heart of the Napa Valley, so lots of hotels to choose from. However, the one I’ve selected here seems to be closest to the factory.
2 thoughts on “Factory Tours for the Whole Family”
another nice day trip for me ,as I live in Pa,is The Turkey Hill Experience,in Columbia,Pa. took my grandkids,ages 4,6,+8,they all had a good time! Not too expensive,very cool gift shop;only ‘negative’ is the could use a slightly bigger parking lot
And free ice cream, I’m guessing?