Updated: As of 7/31/19, the Mrs. Grossman Sticker Factory is stopping tours.
I love to visit factories and peek behind the scenes to see how stuff is made. Especially fantastic are the hands-on tours where kids are so engrossed they forget to be bored. Many Bay Area production lines are surprisingly kid-friendly.
My favorite Bay Area factory tours with kids:
Fentons Creamery Arctic Tour, Oakland
Short, sweet, by appointment: Ice Cream
Peek behind the scenes at Fentons Creamery where you can book a tour of the facility, for kids 6 and up for $7 each (minimum 8 people per tour).
Jelly Belly Factory Tour, Fairfield
Long, involved, sugary: Jellybeans
Spend all day in the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield to see how candy is made for free. Fun and informative wait in line. No reservations. Self-guided and self-paced tours daily from 9am to 4pm. Freebies offered along the way with a gift shop to take your money at the end.
Dandelion Chocolate Factory, San Francisco
One hour of education followed by hot chocolate
With small-batch, high end, dark chocolate, I admit that this visit is for me more than the children. For kids eight and up, book a one-hour tour of Dandelion’s facilities for $15 per person. Guests can redeem their tickets for a hot chocolate afterward. Learn more and reserve your spot > They also offer classes for parents and children.
Krispy Kreme in Concord or Fremont
Quick, easy, sugary: Donuts
When is a donut shop really a miniature factory? When you can peek behind the glass and see dough turn into donuts and plain ones shower in sugar glaze. Get a sugar high at the Krispy Kreme mini factory in Concord and Fremont then run, play, and paddle in Central Park. The most challenging part is finding when the HOT light is on so you can watch all the action. No RSVP or purchase needed.
Yummy factories that need to start tours:
Before compiling our list, I visited a bunch of places and I tried to visit many more. Will you join me in wishing that this sweet place will open its doors to us to?
- IT’S-IT factory in Burlingame has NO TOUR but a company store where you can watch a video and pick up special merchandise and ice cream treats. Open Monday – Friday from 10am-5:30pm at 865 Burlway Road.
- TCHO Chocolate in Berkeley has on-again-off-again tours and they are wonderful. I vote for ON.
Where do you like to find out how stuff is made with your kids? I’d love to know if there are some I missed!
[Photos by Heather Flett]