Factory tours are becoming increasingly popular and are often a cheap or free way to have an interesting day out.
Nowadays there are lots of factory tours, many dealing with mainstream consumables such as beer, wine, food, or chocolate (some of the more unusual ones we have included on this list).
For everyone involved, they are a win/win situation; the factory owners get a chance to showcase their product and highlight its quality and other virtues. The visitor has the opportunity to get educated and entertained while learning about something new or something they have a strong loyalty to (like Coca-cola or Harley-Davidson).
So, we have compiled a list of U.S. factory tours that you’ll find a little bit unique. Here is a list of 25 Quirkiest Factory Tours You Can Visit in the U.S.
And always remember to visit their website ahead of time if you going to take one of these tours; many have limited hours and some have entrance fees.
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The Great Alaskan Bowl Company (Fairbanks, Alaska)
Trek to the remotest state of the United States and see how traditional wooden bowls are made from Alaskan Birch trees.
You’ll marvel at the range of sizes they come in and find yourself captivated as you learn about the versatility of these handcrafted wonders. Not only can they be used for serving food, but the larger ones can be used to create bread mixtures.
Be sure to stop off at the gift shop on the way out. There, you’ll be able to pick up conversation starters like the $179 five-piece applesauce set.
Official Website: https://www.woodbowl.com/
Alaskan Brewing Company (Juneau, Alaska)
If you are going to visit this brewery from out of state, you can only get there by plane or boat! This facility was founded over 30 years ago. It now produces 20 varieties of beers, one of which is based on an authentic beer recipe that dates back over a century to the time of the gold rush (the Alaskan Amber).
The tour itself includes a visit to the tasting room for some free samples, as well as a look around the brewing and bottling operation in action. You will also see their innovative boiler, which is powered by spent grain, a byproduct of the brewing process. Talk about sustainability!
Official Website: https://alaskanbeer.com/visit/
Deering Banjo Company (Spring Valley, California)
Have you ever wondered about the how’s, why’s and when’s of the banjo? Do you even know what one is? It’s a stringed musical instrument with a long neck and a round base.
This fascinating tour guides you through the making of this captivating instrument. You’ll learn interesting facts like these: the neck of the banjo can be made of woods such as the maple, mahogany, or Brazilian rosewood; and, interestingly, the banjo’s inlay can consist of mother of pearl or even gold.
This company made the world’s first electric banjo back in the 1980s. On the tour, they’ll offer tips on how best to care for a banjo, as some of the finer models cost over $5,000.
Official Website: https://www.deeringbanjos.com/pages/contact-us
Heath Ceramics Tile Factory (San Francisco, California)
Heath Ceramics has been in business for over 70 years. Their tiles are often featured in the top and most prestigious design magazines.
On one of their factory tours, you will get a glimpse of how their high-quality ceramic titles are shaped, glazed, trimmed, and fired as well as learn about their ethical approach to producing the tiles in a sustainable way with an aim to become a zero-waste manufacturer in the next few years.
You will also get to see the many and varied tile collections that have helped to make Heath Ceramic tiles famous.
Official Website: https://www.heathceramics.com/pages/factory-tours
Al's Family Farms Citrus (Indian River, Florida)
At this citrus farm and processing plant, you can take a guided tour that will truly be an experience to cherish. The highlight of the tour is a chance to see the automated wash-line where you can view the fruit as it is cleaned, sanitized, and graded at high speed.
You’ll also receive free access to the vegetable patch where the owners provide you with a glass of the farm’s freshly-squeezed orange juice. The farm actively encourages you to take as many pictures as you like during the tour.
Official Website: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Di2ThVZeGV4
Sechler's Fine Pickles (St. Joe, Indiana)
Find out about the nine fascinating stages of pickling, which starts with the cucumber being grown on a farm and ends with the final, triumphant stage of the pickle getting canned and labeled!
All their pickles are double sweetened and made in the traditional way, in oak vats. They are left to ferment for at least three months before they are used. The pickles come in a wide variety of delicious flavors such as zesty bread and butter, pickles with crispy raisins, and super hot cauliflower pickles.
Official Website: https://www.sechlerspickles.com/pages/how_we.html
Strataca Underground Salt Museum (Hutchinson, Kansas)
Located 650 feet below the surface is a museum dedicated to salt mining, situated in a fully-functioning salt mine. There are daily tours of the mine complete with lighted hard hats.
Each year, you can also take part in a 5 or 10-kilometer fun run through the mine’s maze of passages. Because much of the run is through utter darkness, a flashlight is mandatory.
Also, discover why companies that store nuclear waste here, such as the Atomic Energy Commission, choose to do so safely and with confidence. At the end of each tour, you will get the opportunity to collect a piece of salt for your very own keepsake.
Website Official: https://www.underkansas.org/contact-1
Bourbon Barrel Foods (Louisville, Kentucky)
Can you guess how many microbrewers of soy sauce there are in the United States? Well, there’s just one and that is Bourbon Barrel Foods.
On their factory tour, you get to look through windows to see how the company cooks, roasts, and mashes the soybean before blending it into the final product that gets aged in genuine bourbon wooden barrels.
The well-stocked gift shop sells varieties of soy sauce as well as coffee and cheese products, and company-themed t-shirts, baseball caps, and socks.
Official Website: https://bourbonbarrelfoods.com/
Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory (Louisville, Kentucky)
Discover the mystery and craftsmanship that goes into making a traditional “Slugger” (baseball bat). This company has been making baseball bats since 1884 and is a local landmark with its giant baseball bat propped up against the facilities. At 68,000 pounds and measuring 120 feet tall, it is the largest baseball bat in the world!
This family-friendly tour not only includes a look around the Louisville factory but also of the adjoining museum, which has amazing baseball-related artifacts and interactive exhibits. There are daily demonstrations of how they brand the name into their iconic sluggers.
Official Website: https://www.sluggermuseum.com/about-us/our-history
McIlhenny Family Tabasco Sauce Museum and Factory Tour (Avery Island, Louisiana)
Where else could you take a factory tour that ends in tasting Tabasco sauce-flavored ice cream? Here on Avery Island, you can take a tour that allows you to see this world-famous red pepper sauce made, which now comes in eight different flavors.
You’ll also view the greenhouses where the peppers are grown and the white oak barrels where they are aged for three years at a time. Also on site is a Tabasco-themed museum and restaurant, along with an old salt mine that is no longer in use.
Official Website: https://www.tabasco.com/visit-avery-island/
Hoegh Caskets (Gladstone, Michigan)
This company is the largest pet casket maker in the world. Touring this factory, you will see where they make caskets for your dearly departed pets. You’ll have the chance to take note of the care and craftsmanship that go into producing these thoughtful products that range in size from a casket for your beloved hamster to one built for a large dog.
Appreciate their attention to detail in providing a full service if required, including floral arrangements, candles, and velvet paintings of your beloved pet to honor their tragic passing. Please bear in mind that there is no gift shop at this facility.
Official Website: https://www.hoeghcaskets.com/contact/gladstone-mi
AGCO Corporation/Intivity Center (Jackson, Minnesota)
This tour is two hours long and takes you on a 1.5-mile tour that incorporates the tractor assembly line and the visitor’s center. The company employs nearly 1,000 workers in a state-of-the-art manufacturing workshop.
The facility proudly showcases its latest innovation in the agricultural tractor technology and was the first to produce a self-propelled crop sprayer in the U.S. Learn about such important issues as the debate on tillage methods for seedbed preparation in terms of plant reliability and growth, spacing, surface residue, root development, soil compaction, and per-acre yield.
Safety glasses are provided and must be worn at all times during this tour.
Official Website http://www.intivitycenter.com/
Spam Museum and Factory Tour (Austin, Minnesota)
Hey, who doesn’t want to tour a Spam factory, right? The added bonus is that it’s an iconic and world-renowned brand. You’ll be truly captivated as you are shown around the Spam museum and production line by specially dedicated “Spam-bassadors”.
Learn about the history and the many varieties of Spam such as Smoked Hickory, Bacon, Classic, Turkey, Garlic, Black Pepper, Jalapeno, Cheese, Teriyaki, Chorizo, Portuguese Sausage, and Hot & Spice.
Once in the gift shop, see if you can resist buying the Spam tin can party costume or the $250 Spam-themed corn-tossing game (corn-filled tossing bags included).
Official Website: https://www.spam.com/museum
Tacony Vacuum Museum and Factory (St. James, Missouri)
Sadly, this attraction has just closed its doors for good and will be sorely missed in the factory touring community. We often take for granted the incredible convenience and cleverness of the legendary vacuum cleaner.
No doubt, you have many unanswered questions about this useful invention. Well, a tour of this museum and factory would have satisfied your curiosity and forged in you a deeper appreciation of this functional home appliance.
Unfortunately, the history and evolution of the vacuum cleaner – from its humble beginnings of the horse-drawn pneumatic carpet renovator cleaning machines of the late 1890s – must remain a mystery to you (unless, of course, you search for information on Wikipedia or YouTube).
Official Website: Closed
Brewery Ommegang (Cooperstown, New York)
Set in a former farm that has now been made to look like an old Belgium Farmhouse, this is the shortest tour on the list. It only lasts 20 to 30 minutes long, but it packs a lot into that time.
You will get to see the brewing house, lager cellar, and packaging hall. Afterward, in the tasting room, you have the opportunity to sample up to six different beers for a small extra fee.
The brewery is currently doing a limited edition range of ales, stouts, and wines based around the Game of Thrones franchise. So, a glass of Queen of the Seven Kingdoms or The King of the North, anyone?
Official Website: https://www.ommegang.com/visit-us/tours-tastings/
The Original American Kazoo Company (Eden, New York)
Catch this slice of history before it is gone forever, as this is the last traditional kazoo factory left in the world. Sadly, the factory is now down to a three-day work-week due to declining orders.
The kazoo originated in Africa. It is a simple musical instrument consisting of a metal or plastic tube with a single covered hole that produces a buzzing sound when the player hums or sings into the mouthpiece.
On this tour, you can watch as kazoos are being made. You are encouraged to ask the staff about any stages of the manufacturing process. On site, there is also a gift shop and museum.
Official Website: www.edenkazoo.com/index.php
American Whistle Corporation (Columbus, Ohio)
Visit the only manufacturer of metal whistles left in the United States. In fact, this factory is the official supplier of whistles to the Boy Scouts of America. You’ll undoubtedly be impressed by the 30-ton press that helps the factory make over one million high-quality brass whistles every year.
As you tour the factory (which is one very large room), you will come to really understand the science behind what makes a whistle work as it does, as well as learn the important role whistles play as a safety device even in today’s high-tech society.
Official Website: https://www.americanwhistle.com/
Emerald Farm (Greenwood, South Carolina)
Here’s a factory tour where the workers are both cute and cuddly! You get to meet and pet the Saanen goats that help to produce Emerald Farm’s Goat Milk Soap.
These goats originated in Switzerland and you learn not just how the soaps are made, but all about the history and habits of these lovable creatures. If soap (or goats) are your thing, this is the tour for you.
As an added treat, you can ride the Emerald Farm Express, which is a passenger-carrying miniature train that runs around the site every Saturday, weather permitting.
Official Website: http://www.emeraldfarm.com/group-tours.html
Olive & Sinclair (Nashville, Tennessee)
Enjoy a visit here to see chocolate made in the traditional way, in a building rich in history dating back to 1890. What makes this a little different from your average chocolate factory tour is that you get to enjoy unusual concoctions made from fresh, organic ingredients such as chocolate caramels made with duck fat and super hot chili, cinnamon chocolate bars, and dark chocolate spheres called “muzzle loaders” that are filled with liquid salted bourbon caramel.
Be prepared to look a little silly, as you will have to wear the hairnet that is provided, but this is a small price to pay to sample such intriguing delights.
Official Website: https://www.oliveandsinclair.com/factory-tours/
James Leddy Boots (Abilene, Texas)
Have you ever wanted the opportunity to visit a cowboy boot factory? Well, here’s your chance to see these custom-made boots lovingly created from not just leather but also such exquisite materials such as crocodile, cayman, elephant, and ostrich.
The tour will take you through each intricate step of making the perfect cowboy boot, from molding the boot material, right through to stacking the heel as it goes on to the main body of the boot.
Only then will you start to understand the skill behind these handcrafted boots and fully appreciate why each pair of boots take over 14 hours to make.
Official Website: http://jamesleddyabilene.com/about/
Pape Pecan House (Seguin, Texas)
Visit this intriguing facility and learn all about the pecan. The pecan tree is native to the area, and such is Texas’ passion for the nut that pecan pie is the state’s official pie of choice.
An added bonus is that this tour includes a rare chance to see a collection of over 8,000 traditional and modern nutcrackers from all across the world. At the gift shop, you can buy pecan nuts in various sizes, shelled or unshelled. Also on display is the world’s largest model of a pecan!
Official Website: http://papepecan.com/website1004.htm
Rock of Ages Quarry (Graniteville, Vermont)
If you are the kind of person who likes looking down big holes, this is the place for you! This working quarry has the largest operating deep-hole granite mining operation in the world. It is also the largest producer of cemetery memorials in the USA and Canada.
Their 40-minute tour will surely impress you. It incorporates a visit to the gift shop and visitor center, along with the spectacular highlight of being able to look over the 160,000-square-foot granite carving factory from an observation platform.
Official Website: https://rockofages.com/tourism/
Route 11 Potato Chips (Mount Jackson, Virginia)
This factory produces award-winning potato chips that are hand cooked the old-fashioned kettle way, using the finest expeller-pressed high-oleic sunflower oil.
On this tour, you will be able to see the entire process that goes into the making of chips (except for the peeling). No photographs are allowed on the tour, however. (Maybe the potatoes are shy?)
Spud Masters are on hand to answer any questions you might have. You’re encouraged to sample some of their bestselling flavors like Chesapeake Crab and Yukon Gold.
Official Website: https://www.rt11.com/viewing
Pentagon (Arlington County, Washington)
It is hard to believe, but you can take a tour of the U.S. State Department’s famous Pentagon building. Though not quite a factory, it is a fully functional military administration and command center with 6.6 million square feet of floor space.
On the tour, you will see the inner workings of this important establishment, as well as the Hall of Heroes that is dedicated to the over 3,000 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military award.
Please be aware that at times of heightened security, your tour could be canceled at short notice.
Official Website: https://pentagontours.osd.mil/Tours/contact.jsp
Arena Cheese (Arena River Valley, Wisconsin)
And what factory tour list would be complete without one on cheese making? You cannot miss their factory off Highway 14, as it’s the one with the happy, six-foot mouse outside. This is one of the oldest cheese-makers in Wisconsin.
They specialize in Colby-Jack cheese, which is a washed curd variety that has a distinct mild buttery flavor. And as you tour the factory, you will find out that some of their cheeses take from 1 to 10 years to mature.
A cheese and sausage gift basket can be purchased in the gift shop, along with a variety of cheeses in an assortment of flavors
Official Website: https://www.arenacheese.com/about.php