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Carving out a unique tourism niche, food and drink factory tours in the U.S. are both an entertaining and educational way to see the country. Partly because I love free samples and partly because I’m curious, these sorts of tours have always been the highlight of my travels. If you want an interesting way to understand American products and culture while traveling, try giving one of these factory tours a visit.
Ben And Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory: Burlington, VT
Ben and Jerry’s is notorious for oddball flavors and even stranger ice cream names. And while every carton provides at least a little entertainment through a story or logo, this ice cream making duo brings even more fun with the factory tour.
Year-round, a 30-minute tour is provided for visitors. Guests will follow a guide around the colorful factory to watch the manufacturing process and hear about the company’s history and values. After sampling some free ice cream, visitors can wander around the back to the “Flavor Graveyard” to see the tombstones of retired flavors of the past.
After the tour is complete, the obvious next step is to order some exclusive flavors from the scoop shop and purchase some sweet Ben & Jerry’s swag.
Factory Hours: Vary depending on the month.
Cost: Adults-$4, Senior-$3 Child 12 and under-Free
The Turkey Hill Experience: Lancaster, PA
This well-known Pennsylvania brand has iced teas and ice cream in nearly every grocery and convenience store in the region. With Turkey Hill’s factory tour, people of all ages can learn, play and explore. Through a maze of interactive exhibits you can stop off at different stations to milk mechanical cows, star in your own Turkey Hill commercial and create your own flavors.
Besides learning about the products and manufacturing process, you will also be in for a sweet treat when you stumble upon the iced tea tasting station and the counter for free ice cream samples. If you’re really craving some creativity, opt to visit the lab, where you can create and try out your own ice cream flavors.
Tour Times: Vary depending on the season.
Cost: Adults-$9.95, Seniors-$9.50, Juniors 5 to 17-$8.95, Children 4 and under-Free
The Yuengling Brewery Tour: Pottsville, PA
Dubbed America’s oldest brewery, the Yuengling brewery is definitely worth a visit if you love beer, history or both. This brew is famous on Pennsylvania’s East coast, so much so that bar patrons simply have to order a “lager” and the bartenders will always know to pop a Yuengling up on the counter.
During the tour, you will wander through the brewing facilities, see the packaging process and learn all about the manufacturing. Probably the tour’s best feature, guests will be taken down into the caves where the beer was once stored during Prohibition. Plus, when you finish, you can dive right into a free beer sample in the tasting room.
Tour Times: Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Celestial Seasonings Tea Factory: Boulder, CO
With flavors like Candy Cane Lane, Caramel Apple Dream, Coconut Thai Chai and Gingerbread Spice, Celestial Seasonings tea certainly stands out on grocery store shelves. The tea makers here are passionate, creative and ready to share the entire process with visitors. A tour at this factory will bring guests close to the tea making process as they learn about manufacturing, how the company was built and the locations from which ingredients are imported. Guests will get to sample exclusive flavors for free and have a chance to stop into the cafe and gift shop for even more tea drinking.
Tour Times: Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Hershey’s Chocolate World: Hershey, PA
It’s kind of a real life candy land where the street lamps depict large Hershey Kisses and the air itself smells like chocolate. Located right next to Hershey Theme Park, this chocolate world gives visitors a chance to peek behind the curtain at America’s most well known confectioner.
It starts off with a free tour of the recreated factory. Similar to an amusement ride, guests will get into a cart and ride along through video screens and interactive exhibits to learn about how chocolate is made. The tour ends with a free sample and a welcoming for guests to join in other activities. For a fee, visitors can visit the 4D Chocolate Mystery tour exhibit or make their own candy bar and wrapper.
Tour Times: Vary depending on season.
Cost: The 30-minute factory tour is free. However, there are fees for the other activities.
Greenwell Kona Coffee Farms, Kealakekua, HI
Kona is famous for its coffee and the entire area is full of working farms. Coffee aficionados can tour one of Kona’s most well known farms to learn about the coffee making process from soil to cup. During a visit to Greenwell Kona Farm you can get an educational tour of the coffee making process starting from the farm to the processing facilities. Taste free samples of coffee and coffee products and visit the gift shop to buy some to take home too.
Tour Times: Monday-Sunday from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Source: Features & Advice | Shannon Ullman |, www,travelpulse.com