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Road trips and snacking go together like peas and carrots (though neither of those are great road trip snacks), but we’ve got an idea that’s even better than stocking up at a roadside gas station. Next time you hit the road, tailor your route to include one (or more!) of these candy, chocolate, or ice cream factory tours. Even if it’s just a little bit out of the way, it’ll be the sweetest detour of your life.
At Hershey’s Chocolate World, you can create your own custom candy bar, go on a ride through the factory to learn how Hershey’s chocolate goes from bean to bar, watch a fun 4-D movie starring your favorite Hershey’s candies come to life, and so much more.
Parking entry, and the chocolate factory tour are free, but some activities, like creating your own candy bar, require a ticket. If you want the full Hershey’s Chocolate World experience, ticket bundles are available that can save you a little money.
You can buy Jelly Belly jelly beans anywhere, but there’s only one place where you can see exactly how they are made, order a jelly bean-shaped pizza, and partake in wine and hand-made chocolate pairings. The Jelly Belly Factory offers all this and more, including self-guided factory tours with interactive exhibits and photo opportunities for a small fee ($5 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 and up).
There’s also a jelly bean art gallery with portraits of notable historical figures like Abrham Lincoln and Amelia Earhart made entirely of jelly beans. In the large Jelly Belly candy store, you can stock up on more than 100 Jelly Belly flavors, or you can try your luck with the mystery BeanBoozled flavors or Belly Flops, “irregular” jelly beans whose shapes, sizes, and colors weren’t quite up to Jelly Belly standards.
Santa Claus, Indiana is often referred to as “America’s Christmas Hometown.” Everywhere you look, you’ll find Christmas-themed tourist attractions, including Santa’s Candy Castle, the town’s first tourist attraction and the oldest themed attraction in the country. Inside, you’ll find hundreds of varieties of favorite, rare, and unique candies. Santa’s Candy Castle also has an entire wall of Pez dispensers, housemade taffy, fudge, popcorn, and other confections, and 35 flavors of hot chocolate. If you’re feeling brave (and thirsty), you can order the famous half-gallon frozen hot chocolate and get your photo on the Wall of Fame if you can finish it off. Don’t worry, it comes in more manageable sizes, too.
Kids have been popping tiny fruit-flavored Pez candies out of tiny dispensers since 1927. Such a storied past means the Pez Visitor Center is much more than just a gigantic Pez store (though they have that, too). You can tour the interactive exhibits that walk you through the company’s history, go on a Pez scavenger hunt, and see fascinating memorabilia like the world’s largest Pez dispenser and a Pez-themed motorcycle designed by Orange County Choppers. The modest admission fee grants access to the visitor center, a souvenir lanyard, and a $2 credit to use in the store.
Ben & Jerry’s is a must-visit destination for ice cream lovers, known for its ice cream flavors that are jam packed with chocolate, candy, cookie dough, and other mix-ins. At the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, you can see how they produce their wacky and wild flavors. You can purchase a ticket for the factory tour to see the production facility and the flavor lab where new flavors are created. If you want a hands-on look at how Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is made, you can book a VIP Experience that gets you a private tour and a session in the flavor lab with a “Flavor Guru.” There’s an onsite Scoop Shop serving up favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors and a Flavor Graveyard with actual tombstones where you can pay your respects to defunct flavors.
*indoor tour and gift shop currently closed due to COVID
One of San Francisco’s hidden gems, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory has been baking fortune cookies since 1962. Today, the family-owned business makes hand-folded fortune cookies in a variety of flavors and styles (including a flat fortune cookie you can top with ice cream). When you stop in to purchase cookies, you can get a look at how they bake the cookies, slip a fortune inside, and fold them up before they cool off. Cookies are available by the bag or you can pay to create a custom fortune and have it placed inside a fresh fortune cookie.
Tillamook Creamery has been producing dairy products since 1909 and they continue to pride themselves on using high-quality ingredients in their cheese, butter, ice cream, and other dairy goods. Rebuilt in 2018, visitors to the Tillamook Creamery enjoy a modern, multisensory experience that includes a free self-guided tour, café, and gift shop. If you visit during the week, you can watch Tillamook products being made and on the weekends you can book a VIP ice cream-making tour and, yes, samples are included. Don’t miss the interactive cow-milking exhibit (don’t worry, both the cow and the milk are not real).
Schimpff’s Confectionery is a family-owned shop that has been creating sweets and treats for more than 100 years. They are most well known for their cinnamon Red Hots, hard candy fish, and marshmallow caramel Modjeskas, which they make using traditional equipment and techniques to this day. In addition to these, you can buy chocolates, lemon drops, and a wide variety of other candies.
Because they’ve been in operation since 1891, they have a treasure trove of candy packaging, advertisements, and other memorabilia that you can view during a self-guided tour (guided tours are also available, but must be scheduled in advance). Schimpff’s also holds live candy-making demonstrations throughout the day. You’ll never taste a fresher piece of candy than the still-warm Red Hot samples they hand out after the demonstration.