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9 Fun Factory Tours You Didn't Know You Could Take

The image of a factory that spews gray smoke and churns out industrial products is severely antiquated. Sure, there are still factories that produce the seemingly "boring" items and food we use and eat every day. But not all factories are depressing and boring. Some are downright fun and interesting and open for tours.

Throughout the U.S., there are factories that invite visitors in to learn how things are made. Visiting one as a family is a great way to combine education and entertainment. Plus, you'll never look at a baseball bat, whistle or potato chip the same way again.

Here are some of the best around:

1. Jelly Belly (Fairfield, Calif.)

Jelly Belly makes more than 150 different flavors of jelly beans, and this popular 40-minute tour through the working factory explains how it all happens. One secret you'll pick up during the experience: It takes more than one week to make a single bean!

RELATED: 10 Coolest Children's Museums in America

2. Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour (Everett, Wash.)

As the home of the 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliners, the Boeing Company's tour highlights both the massive jetliners it builds and the technological and aviation records it has set. This 90-minute tour offers insight about Boeing, while visitors watch jets being assembled on the Everett production line.

Children must be at least 4 feet tall to take the tour.

3. Ben & Jerry's (Waterbury, Vt.)

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream on this 30-minute, guided tour. Learn about how ice cream is made and finish off with a taste of your favorite flavor (or a unique new one) at the scoop shop. If you or the little ones are unsure what flavor to try, professional scoopers offer suggestions.

4. Stuffington Bear Factory (Phoenix, Ariz.)

Every teddy bear that finds its place in a child's arms had to be made somewhere. For many of these bears, Stuffington Bear Factory is that place. Though private groups of 10 or more people are treated to in-depth tours, anyone is welcome to take a mini-tour lasting about 20 minutes, which offers an up-close view of the manufacturing floor.

5. American Whistle Corporation (Columbus, Ohio)

Part musical instrument, part machine, the whistle is both exceedingly simple and complex—and your family can learn how they are made and how they work. The American Whistle Corporation is the only company that makes metal whistles, and this 45-minute tour demystifies everything you never knew you wanted to know about them.

6. Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory (Louisville, Kentucky)

You'll hit a homerun with the kids when you stop for this guided tour. The 30-minute experience provides visitors with a sneak peek at how baseball bats are made, while the adjoining museum offers additional historical context—visit both to get the most out of your time. If full production isn't scheduled during your tour time, there will be bat-making demonstrations instead.

7. Hershey's Chocolate World (Hershey, Penn.)

Hershey's Chocolate World is teeming with attractions, one of which is a free tour of the chocolate factory. On the tour, follow the process of how cocoa beans go from a tropical rainforest to a chocolate bar. At the end of the tour, everyone is treated to a free sample.

8. Cape Cod Potato Chips (Cape Cod, Mass.)

Your mouth will be watering by the time you finish taking the free, self-guided Cape Cod Potato Chip factory tour. Learn how a simple potato finds its way to your grocery store aisle in the form of a potato chip—and walk away with a new appreciation for your favorite snack food.

RELATED: 7 Ways to Make a Snooze-y Museum Visit Great for Kids

9. U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas)

We all love money when we're holding it in our hands, but why does it look like that, and how is it made? Those are just a couple of the questions answered on this popular tour offered in both Washington, D.C., and Fort Worth, Texas. The free tour includes an introductory film, displays showcasing currency from throughout history and the opportunity to watch millions of dollars being printed on the production floor.

Unfortunately, this is one tour where no free samples are given out at the end.

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Photograph by: Flickr/Kaitlin

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