Food Factory Tours
Ben & Jerry’s, Utz, Hershey's … these are just a few of the foods still made here in the US. All these companies offer factory tours so the public can catch a glimpse of their inner workings and participate in yummy tastings. Pennsylvania, Vermont and New Hampshire each have a large number of food and drink factories, and therefore, make excellent road trip destinations when it comes to pleasing the stomach.
The trip starts in Nottingham, PA, the location of Herr Foods Inc. Herr’s makes potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, salsa, pork rinds, tortilla chips and corn chips; all come in different varieties. The 1-hour tour includes a welcome movie and a look at the factory production, with fun facts such as how a pretzel gets its color. The factory also does birthday parties.
From Nottingham drive 38.4 miles north (1 hour and 5 minutes) to the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz, PA. The tour of the bakery includes the history of pretzel baking in America and a look at the original ovens used by Julius Sturgis. Visitors get their own piece of dough and learn how to make a pretzel of their own.
Both Nottingham and Lititz include other interesting attractions, so it is recommended that you take time to do other things. You can spend the night in Lititz. Two great accommodation options are The General Sutter Inn, which is on East Main Street along with the pretzel bakery, and the Holiday Inn Express in Lititz.
From Lititz, drive 27.3 miles west (41 minutes) to Hershey, PA. In Hershey you’ll find lots to do including Hershey Park, the Hershey Gardens, The Hershey Story and Hershey Trolley Works. For a food adventure, head to Hershey’s Chocolate World for a look into the magic behind the candy. The tour starts with a look at the cocoa bean in the rainforest and follows its journey to become one of the many Hershey candies. The tour ends with a yummy sample of one of their products. In addition to the tour, Chocolate World has a 3-D movie, an opportunity to make your own chocolate bar or dessert, a chocolate tasting adventure, as well as lots of shopping and eating venues.
Hershey offers so much to do you could easily spend a day or 2 in town. If you do decide to spend the night, check out the Hershey Lodge or The Hotel Hershey (including The Chocolate Spa).
Once your Hershey experience is over, get back in the car and head 50.2 miles south (1 hour and 5 minutes) to the Utz Factory in Hanover, PA. Utz makes potato chips, pretzels, tortilla, cheese curls and more. In their 600,000-square-foot facility, special glass-enclosed observation galleries let you witness the production process. You can go at your own pace with push-to-talk audio and closed-circuit TVs to guide you and provide additional information.
This road trip is just a sample of the food factory tours available in Pennsylvania but should give you a good taste of what the state has to offer.
We start the trip in Merrimack, NH, home to 1 of 5 Anheuser-Busch breweries that are open for tours. There is a free tour that takes you through the basics of beer making beer and ends with in the hospitality room where anyone over 21 can sample some of their products. There are non-alcoholic drinks for the younger set. If you are looking for a more in-depth experience, sign up for the Beermaster Tour. On this tour you’ll visit the Brew House, Hop Room, Primary Fermentation Cellar, Lager Cellar, Packaging Facility, Quality Assurance, and Finishing Cellar. The tour also includes the chance to sample directly from a finishing tank. The Budweiser Clydesdale Hamlet is also available to visit. This tour must be set up in advance and there is a fee.
From Anheuser-Bush drive 14.9 miles north (24 minutes) to the Stonyfield Farm in Londonderry, NH. The company makes organic yogurt, yogurts for babies, toddlers and kids and Oikos, a Greek organic yogurt. At the Yogurt Works and Visitors Center sample the yogurt, learn about the company history and its earth-friendly policies and shop for Stonyfield goodies. The company no longer offers tours of the Yogurt Works facility, but will provide small-group educational experiences that talk about yogurt making, organic daily farming, nutrition and a healthy planet. These group sessions are for up to 20 people and must be arranged ahead of time.
After touring both factories, we suggest you spend the night in Merrimack, NH, before making the 2 1/2 hour drive into Vermont. A Residence Inn in town offers a convenient place to unwind. If you have extra time you can also check out the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, American’s Stonehenge and the Water Country water park.
When you are ready to continue your food adventure, you’ll want to head 128 miles northwest (2 1/2 hours) to Mount Holly, VT. This is home to Crowley Cheese. You can tour the factory and learn how to make cheese by hand. Crowley makes 10 varieties of cheese that you can sample and purchase.
From Mount Holly, head north 82.4 miles (1 hour 48 minutes) to Burlington, VT. Dakin Farm produces a variety of items such as maple syrup, ham and cheddar cheese. At the farm you’ll see a movie about Vermont maple syrup and tour its maple syrup cannery and smokehouse. There are plenty of free samples so you can get a taste of what the farm has to offer.
Then it’s onto something sweet at the Ben & Jerry’s Factory. Hop in the car and drive the 40.1 miles (51 minutes) from Burlington to Waterbury, VT. The Ben & Jerry’s Factory sits on a pasture overlooking the Worcester Range. The tour starts at the Cow Over the Moon theater where you’ll see a movie about founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield. From there you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the production from the glassed-in mezzanine. The tour ends in the Flavoroom to sample the flavor of the day. The factory also has scoop and gift shops.
Wash down the ice cream with cider from just down the road at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill. Just 2.2 miles from the Ben & Jerry's Factory, this mill sells everything from apple cider to cider donuts. They also produce baked goods, honey, fudge, cheese and syrup. The tours are self-guided; you can see and taste cider being pressed, jelly being made in the evaporator, honey being harvested in the Bee Observation Room and a batch of fudge being made.
This completes our suggested New Hampshire/Vermont food factory road trip. Just like Pennsylvania, these states include plenty of additional places to stop by, but this is a great way to get started.