It’s getting colder, which means the search for indoor activities will soon be upon us. Instead of playspaces and museums, why not try a good old-fashioned factory tour? Learn something yourself, teach your kids about how things are made, and have some fun. We recently went on the Taza chocolate tour right here in Somerville, and it was fantastic!
There are many companies offering “factory tours” that have really become marketing tools towards kids, and I was looking for something more authentic. That’s not to say that the LEGO tour here in the Boston area or the Crayola tour in PA aren’t fun and worthwhile, but the geek in me wants my kids to see how products are made without rainbow colors and automated singing.
The Taza chocolate tour cost $6 per person (I belive kids under 2 are free) and lasted about an hour. You got to see the whole process of chocolate-making, including watching the machinery operating and going into the room where newly formed chocolate was stored. It was geared more towards adults (the site says 10+ for most tours but designates some tours as family-friendly tours), but I think any kid 5 or up would love it. The guide was great and it played to a lot of different learning styles – you could look at artwork depicting the stages of the cacao, hold a cacao bean, smell the chocolate, etc.
The factory is not huge but it is clean and efficient, and the people were incredibly nice. It’s also hidden away in what looks like a residential area, so it’s neat that it’s not so far from Boston and seems like a secret find – you go into the door of a non-descript building and there it is. I liked that they got to see a real local product made from start to finish – the only thing to watch out for is the plethora of free samples so your kids don’t get too hyped up!
Another fun Boston-area tour to do with kids that I sadly don’t have photos of is the Finagle-A-Bagel tour in Newton/Auburndale. It is a self-guided tour, but for large groups (like a class trip) you can email and set up an appointment for a guided tour. Our kids thought it was so much fun to watch the dough being stretched and see what went into making a bagel! It’s been a few years though so I would call (617-213-8400) to confirm the times (one site said 8-2, one said 10-3, and the FAB site is mysteriously mum on this) before heading out!
Other picks in the New England area have to include the Ben & Jerry’s tour in Vermont (super long lines in summer but it’s open year round), and I’ve heard that the Cape Cod potato chip tour in Hyannis is pretty good but haven’t been (and beware that it is closed on weekends and holidays. For fun factory tours outside of New England, friends have recommended the Celestial Seasonings tour (Boudler, CO)) and the Mack Truck tour (Macungie, PA). To find more factory tours near you, check out www.factorytoursusa.com – you can select your state and see information on various factory tours available (I have no affiliation with it, just thought it had a lot of options). You can also just google your state or local area and factory tours, too.
I’m not affiliated with Taza or other tours mentioned in any way – these are just ones that I thought were neat!