You’ve probably been longing for that summer vacation or extended weekend where you can get away, putting work in the rear-view mirror and
setting your sights on fun and relaxation. And if you’re
not the one running the machine or stressing over takt
times, checking out a new factory can be a worthy diversion. We came up with our list of the best plant tours
from each state—which you can check out in full at
NewEquipment.com—and whittled them down to 10 must-see facilities worth the detour during your summer travel.
By Laura Davis and John Hitch
For continuing industrial education that’s still
fun for the family, include one of these factory
tours in your travel plans this summer. FACTORY TOURS
ARIZONA: Good Enough Mine Tour
5th & Toughnut Street, Tombstone, AZ
Tombstone was made famous for the Gunfight at the
O.K. Corral, though it was silver mines like this one that
brought prospectors and cattle rustlers alike to the Wild
West boomtown. It’s a brief mosey from the touristy epicenter and a way to get out of the dessert heat for a spell
while you descend into America’s industrial past. $5-15;
Under 7 free. Tours start on the hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
FLORIDA: Kennedy Space Center
Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL
Fifty years ago, humanity’s most ambitious expedition
launched from this hallowed, marshy land. If you need an
explanation on why to visit, just go to see the Millennium
Falcon at Disney. $19-25 (can add-on to tour Space Shuttle
Atlantis and dine with an astronaut). Wed-Sun only; must register Cape Canaveral Air Force Station from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.)
CALIFORNIA: Jelly Belly
1 Jelly Belly Lane, Fairfield, CA
This factory makes 37 million lb. of the distinctive miniature jelly beans a year, and you can see how they are made
and taste test dozens of different flavors. Personal guided
tours and a manufacturing experience are also available.
Free. 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
MISSOURI: Anheuser-Busch St. Louis Brewery
12th and Lynch St, St. Louis, MO
Anheuser-Busch’s oldest and largest brewery includes a
stroll past the massive mash tanks and some time with
the ginormous Clydesdales. Pro tip: Tour guides and other
visitors will love it if you say “Dilly, Dilly” at every stop.
Free. (Special tasting tours are also available: $10-35).
LOUISIANA: McIlhenny Co. | Tabasco
32 Wisteria Rd., Avery Island, LA 70513
Spice up your Cajun vacation with a stop to the Tabasco
Brand Pepper Sauce Factory, located on Avery Island
(in between New Orleans and Houston). The compound,
started five generations ago by the McIlhenny family, is
built on a salt dome smack dab in the bayou. You can
enjoy the wildlife outside before hitting the 10-stop self-guided tour, which includes the Tabasco Museum, Pepper
Greenhouse, Barrel Warehouse, and Blending and Bottling.
$5.50; 4 and under are free. Mon - Sun, 9 a.m. - 4p.m.
ILLINOIS: Stern Pinball
2001 Lunt Ave., Elk Grove Village, IL
Minutes from Chicago O’Hare Airport, Stern Pinball is
the oldest and largest designer of pinball machines.
Get a look inside at arcade games and get insight into
their mechanics, design, and assembly. Free. Contact
company to schedule.
WEST VIRGINIA: Entsorga
870 Grapevine Road, Martinsburg, WV
Opened in March 2019, this innovative treatment plant
deep in coal country is the perfect place to give you a
sliver of optimism about the future. It turns garbage,
which we have too much of, into an alternate source of
fuel, which we have too little of. Technically, the high-effi-ciency biological treatment “recover[s] bio-mass, plastics
and other carbon-based materials from the mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) stream and convert them into
a safe alternative fuel source,” the company explains. It
has already helped replace coal at a nearby cement plant.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Black Hills Gold Factory
2707 Mt. Rushmore Rd. Rapid City, SD
Contrary to National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Mt.
Rushmore is in fact not full of gold, though the granite
monument was carved by 360 goldminers. That golden
pedigree is carried on by artisans at this fine jewelry
maker, who cut diamonds, create investment casts and
concoct new alloys from gold and other precious metals.
OHIO: Wilson Football Factory Tour
217 N. Liberty St., Ada, OH
Professional football kicked off 99 years ago in Canton,
Ohio, and the NFL’s pigskins are still handmade a few
hours away in Ada, which has made 700,000 a year since
the 1950s. The treated leather comes from a Chicago factory, which Ada workers cut, sew, steam and mold before
inflating the balls to 13 PSI. $5. Book tours in advance.
MICHIGAN: Ford Rouge Factory Tour
20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI
Get a behind-the-scenes look at how the F-150 is made
and take note of the latest in advanced manufacturing tech
and sustainable materials. Might inspire some ideas for
your own plant. $13.50-18. Mon - Sat, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.