Here in the metro Detroit region, “the line” goes way back. This is the Motor City, after all. And, from amazing autos to tasty treats, we know a thing or two about kicking out quality products from respected, long-standing companies.
Why not take your kids behind-the-scenes and see how the magic happens with a factory tour? Watch the gears turn and crank out some hometown goods in person, and get a taste of history (and, in one case, chocolate!).
- Address: departs from The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn
- Phone: 313-982-6001
- Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday (last tour leaves at 3 p.m.; check here for closure dates and plant non-production dates)
- Cost: $18/adults, $$13.50/kids, $16.25/seniors, free/2 and under (note: prices are slightly less for members of The Henry Ford); $6/parking
Check out America’s greatest manufacturing experience at the Ford Rouge Factory tour. This tour allows visitors to blast into the past, check out iconic Ford vehicles and take an assembly plant walking tour. Step foot into a real-life truck plant where you get the opportunity to witness vehicles being produced right in front of you. Watch a short documentary about the history of the factory, or check out a multi-sensory film where you get a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Ford F-150 pickup truck at the Manufacturing Innovation Theater.
- Address: Chelsea Milling Company, 201 W. North St., Chelsea
- Phone: 734-372-0223 (reservations), 734-475-1361 (inquiries)
- Hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday (by reservation only, same-day requests accommodated as space allows); closed holidays
- Cost: free
This one-hour tour consists of an educational film about the history of the family-run brand, as well as a product sample (including refreshments) and a walk through the packaging plant led by an informational guide. This tour is wheelchair accessible, and perfect for anyone (first grade or older). After the tour, pay a visit to the tour reception area for “JIFFY” Mix products, T-shirts, hats and more.
- Address: Sanders Chocolate Factory, 23770 Hall Road (M-59), Clinton Township
- Phone: 586-464-5411
- Hours: Tour times vary with production schedules Mondays-Fridays (excluding holidays); call ahead for reservations
- Cost: free
Get the inside scoop about how the Sanders’ chocolates and confections are made at Morley Candy Makers. Begin this free tour with a quick video regarding the history of these tasty treats, and then head over to the 180-foot Observation Hallway where you can witness expert candy makers produce the most delicious desserts around! During the tour, make sure to get your hands on a free chocolatey treat in order to taste the magic for yourself. End your tour with the Morley gift shop, and make sure to grab some sweet treats for the road.
- Address: Shinola Factory Headquarters, 485 W. Milwaukee St., Suite 501, Detroit
- Phone: 844-744-6652
- Hours: 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. (email email@example.com to reserve your spot)
- Cost: free
Shinola’s classic timepieces, leather goods and bicycles are a Detroit favorite, and have expanded nationally getting recognition for their amazing quality and style. At Shinola’s College for Create Studies factory, families get the opportunity to witness the watchmakers at work, creating meaningful and beautiful timepieces that are made to last. Ensure to schedule ahead of time because tour space is limited to eight. No children under 12 are permitted and all guests between 12-18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Address: The Parade Company Studio, 9500 Mt. Elliott St., Studio A, Detroit
- Phone: 313-923-7400
- Hours: Open year round; Sept.-Nov. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and Saturday (until Nov. 18) 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Nov.-Aug. Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturdays by request; tours are by reservation only
- Cost: $12/adults, $10/seniors 62-plus, $8/ages 2-17; special prices for groups available
Go behind-the-scenes and check out the intricate designs behind the Thanksgiving Parade. Peek at the costume department and the largest collection of antique papier-mâché heads on this factory tour.
- Address: 1990 E. Avon Road, Rochester Hills
- Phone: 248-651-0135
- Hours: 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. (by appointment only) Tuesday-Thursday
- Cost: $5/pressing tour, $4/non-pressing tour
Tours of the mill are available in September and October and include a short movie about the behind-the-scenes of cider-making. A question-and-answer session takes place afterwards. Visitors will be able to watch the cider press and get a doughnut and small jug of cider at the end!
This post was originally published in 2014 and is updated regularly.