If you have ever watched "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory," you have probably dreamed of setting foot inside a candy factory one day. Well, there are many working candy factories today in the U.S. that offer free or low-cost tours. They might not include Willy Wonka’s chocolate rivers or edible vegetation, but these factory tours can be a lot of fun.
Candy factory tours offer an exciting look at how beloved sweets are made behind the scenes, and in addition to seeing the assembly methods, visitors often learn about candy making and the history of the specific candy and candy company.
Touring a candy factory can be a great family activity since it appeals to all ages and is affordable—almost all of the tours listed below are free. (If you are a large group, it is always a good idea to call ahead to schedule a tour that can accommodate you). Best of all, candy tours often end with free samples of the merchandise, fresh off the assembly line.
Note that most of these candy factories use nuts in the process, so a tour would require special precautions for anyone with a nut allergy. Browse this listing of candy factory tours, see if there is one near you, and enjoy.
The main Jelly Belly factory is located (appropriately enough) at One Jelly Belly Lane in Fairfield, California. The company was founded by Gustav Goelitz in 1869. As you may have guessed, jelly beans, in more than 50 flavors (including pomegranate and chili-mango) rank as its primary product. The self-guided tour is free, and it takes about 45 minutes to cover the quarter-mile area that includes interactive exhibits, films depicting the intricacies of candy making, and examples of Jelly Belly art. You can skip the line with a personal guided tour for one to six people included for a single fee, but you must make a reservation.
In Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, you can visit the Jelly Belly warehouse and distribution center. Learn how these jelly beans are made on a free, 30-minute train ride through the facility complete with whimsical decorations and jelly bean characters fun for children and all kids at heart.
Theo Chocolate is considered one of the first organic, fair-trade certified chocolate makers in North America. Around since 2006, the factory is located in a former brewery building and trolley car depot in the Fremont neighborhood of North Seattle, Washington. About 60,000 visitors tour the factory per year. Tours have an admission fee except for free tours on Fremont Third Thursday. The guided tour is about one hour long, includes chocolate samples, but children under age 5 are not permitted on the tour. For those under age 5, a weekly children's storytime tour is offered. You can also book a private tour for groups of up to 24 people, which can include young children and babies.
Boehm's Candies has been around since 1942 when Austrian Olympian runner Julius Boehms opened his first candy shop in the Ravenna area of Seattle, Washington. He later designed, built, and relocated his shop to an authentic Swiss-style Alpine chalet in the Issaquah foothills, which reminded him of home. Tours of the Issaquah production facility and shop are available during the summer months only for a small fee per person (under age 1, free). On a 40-minute tour, you can see how their famous truffles, caramels, and nut candies are made. Outside of the summer months, if you have a group of 10 or more, you can inquire about scheduling a tour.
Hammond’s Candy Company
Carl T. Hammond, Sr., founded Hammond's Candy Company in Denver, Colorado, in 1920. You can visit the factory and watch as treats like lollipops, candy canes, and other popular Hammond's treats are pulled, twisted, shaped, and packaged by hand. The 30-minute tour is free. No reservations are required, but you can call ahead. The tour is offered every 30 minutes on the hour and on the half. Children are welcome. Wheelchairs and strollers can access the facility.
Sweet’s Candy Company
The Sweet Candy Company first opened its doors in 1892 in Portland, Oregon. In the 1900s, the company moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where it has been ever since. Sweet Candy Company remains family-owned and operated by the third, fourth, and fifth generations of the family. Their specialty is taffy, gummies, chocolate sticks, and the company produces 250 other candies. The tour is free, by appointment only, Monday through Friday. The guided tour includes fresh factory samples and educational and interactive stations.
Cerreta Candy Company
The Cerreta Candy Company is a family-owned business founded in 1968 by Jim Cerreta, Sr., in Glendale, Arizona. He had learned the art of candy production in his father-in-law’s factory in Canton, Ohio. He then passed the skill on to his children and grandchildren. Four generations later, the business is going strong. Their signature candy is French mint chocolates followed closely by chocolate caramels and creams. The free, 30-minute guided tour is offered Monday through Friday at 10 a.m. and at 1 p.m. A VIP tour package is available for a small fee.
The Candy Factory
Visit The Candy Factory in Columbia, Missouri, and observe some of the traditional candy-making processes in use since they opened their doors in 1974. The Candy Factory creates chocolate assortments of truffles and, for free, you can take a sneak peek at the process through their viewing room.
Rebecca Ruth Chocolates
When you think Kentucky, there are likely two things that come to mind: the Kentucky Derby and bourbon whiskey. It stands without question that Rebecca Ruth Chocolates in Frankfort, Kentucky, has tipped a nod to both in its lines of chocolate samplers and liquor-filled chocolates. From its famous bourbon balls to its Triple Crown Assortment, the selections are something you can only find in Kentucky. A 20-minute tour is available for a small fee. Children under 5 are free.
Walk the glass-enclosed, suspended "catwalk" and observe nine assembly lines producing 30,000 pounds of chocolates at the Anthony-Thomas factory in Columbus, Ohio. A tour guide explains each process step-by-step from the kitchens to the final packaging on a one-hour tour. View huge copper kettles where the gooey centers of some of the candies are created and take a look at the network of silver-wrapped pipes that carry liquid chocolate throughout the factory. The tour is available for a very small fee and is free for children under age 3. The admission fee can be applied to a candy purchase. No reservations are required.
Sanders and Morley Candy Makers
Since 1875, Sanders fine chocolates has been woven into the fabric of Michigan culture. With chains throughout the Great Lakes region, it was the regional chocolate. With its own rich history since 1919, Morley Candy Makers bought Sanders in 2002. The Sanders and Morely Candy Makers chocolate factory tour in Clinton Township, Michigan, is great for all ages and it is free. Guided tours are available by appointment only. But you can stop by any day for a free self-guided kitchen tour.
Webb’s Candy Shop
Somebody at the helm was paying attention to marketing when developing the product lines at Webb's Candy in Davenport, Florida—each product is unique. From goat's milk fudge bars to citrus jelly candies made with real citrus juices, Webb's is the real deal. To learn more about them, take a free, self-guided tour