Best Factory Tours and War Museums in USA

One of the main focuses of our 3 month road trip was to do as many tours and museum visits as we could. Because Seth is a war nut, we mostly hit war memorials and aircraft museums. Here I’ve put together a list of the museums we visited and the tours we took, and all the information you need to add them to your list of must-dos!

Alabama

Battleship USS Alabama Museum Mobile, Alabama

Cost:
Adult(12+)- $15; Child(6-11)- $6; Senior(55+)& Retired Military- $13; Active Military- FREE

Hours:
April to September, 8am-6pm; October to March, 8am-5pm

Things to Know: 
>Parking is $2/vehicle;
>Bring your CAA/AAA card to get $2 off the adult ticket price;
>Food is available onsite, though we found it quite expensive

The USS Alabama with several tanks

The USS Alabama with several tanks

 

California

Anheuser-Busch Brewery Fairfield, CA
In the barrel room of the brewery

In the barrel room of the brewery

Cost:
Adult(21+)- $5; Child(6-20)- $2; Children under 6 are not permitted

Hours:
September to May, 10am-4pm (Closed Wednesdays);
June to August, 10am-5pm.
Gift shop closes 1 hour after last tour ends; Tours run hourly

Things to Know:
>Each adult receives 2x10oz beers during the tour. Several brew to choose from- I recommend >Johnny Appleseed and the Blueberry!
>Tour is about an hour, depending on questions and size of group
>Children are offered soda and pretzels
>Try the Flights of Fairfield tour- we didn’t have time and I was disappointed
>Plan a visit for your 21 birthday!
>their BBQ sauce makes a great souvenir (Here’s a Coupon for the giftshop!)
**They also have breweries in Missouri, Colorado, Texas, Florida and New Hampshire. Check HERE for details

 

Sierra Nevada Brewery Chico, CA
A copper barrel in the brewery

A copper barrel in the brewery

Cost:
FREE! (12+)

Hours:
Sunday to Thursday- Hourly from 11am to 4pm; no 1pm tour
Friday & Saturday- Hourly from 11am to 5pm, with additional tours at 4:30 & 5:30; no 1pm tour

Things to Know:
>Reservation required- call 1 (530) 899-4776 or visit the website to book
>Tour is 90 min, including a 30 min tasting
>Each adult will taste 8x2oz beer samples, plus a 6 oz glass at the beginning
>Pick up many of your favourites in the gift shop (some are available on-site only)
>Make a reservation at their on-site restaurant for a true experience
>Daytime tour would be ideal- we went at night and couldn’t see the solar panels or the view of the property from the bridge to the canning facility

 

Jelly Belly Factory Fairfield, CA

Cost:  
FREE!

The giant Jelly Bean at the entrance of the building

The giant Jelly Bean at the entrance of the building

Hours:
Daily 9am-5pm; Tours begin every 10-20 min and last 40 min

Things to Know:
>The factory is not operational on weekends so the tour will not show active production, though video monitors and large viewing windows mean you’ll still see the full factory;
>Strollers and wheelchairs are welcome
>No photos are permitted on the tour
>Check out the FREE sample bar!!
>Be sure to pic up a $10(2lb) bag of ‘Belly Flop’ reject beans! They are 1/2 the price, but just as delicious!

 

Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Factory Petaluma, CA
A scrapbookers dream! Shelf after shelf of sticker rolls in their warehouse

A scrapbookers dream! Shelf after shelf of sticker rolls in their warehouse

Cost:
Adult(12+)- $7; Child(4-11)$5

Hours:
Tours- Monday to Thursday, 10am/11am/1pm/2pm Store- Monday to Friday, 9am-530pm

Things to Know:
>Reservation required- call 707-765-8554 to book;
>Get the value of one ticket back for every $30 you spend in the store;
>Lots of FREE stickers!;
>Pick up a surprise back for $3.99! (We got several for gifts!)

 

DC

National Air and Space Museum Washington, DC

Cost:
FREE!

Hours:
Daily, 10am-530pm

Things to Know:
>There is a food court there, with common fast food options, but they are priced higher then normal, so if you’re on a budget bring snacks
>You will go through a metal detector to enter
>Tripods and selfie sticks are prohibited
>Elevators and Escalators are available
>IMAX movies are available for a fee- book ahead to ensure seats
>Allow for time in the gift shop- it is HUGE, well-priced and has a lot of neat stuff!

One of several bay of planes on display

One of several bay of planes on display

 

Florida

Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory Tour Daytona Beach, FL

Cost:
FREE!

Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 10am/11am/1pm/2pm/3pm/4pm

Things to Know:
Neat little tour just off the beach; Short and sweet, with samples!

 

National Armament Museum Destin, FL

Cost:

20151119_152450

One of the many aircraft on display at the museum

FREE!

Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 9:30am-4:30pm

Things to Know:
Wear good shoes, and bring sunscreen/bugspray/umbrella if weather dictates- most of the aircraft are outside of the building

 

National Naval Aviation Museum Pensacola, FL
The fighter jet is on display at the entrance of the museum

The fighter jet is on display at the entrance of the museum

Cost:
FREE!

Hours:
Daily, 9am-5pm

Things to Know:
>Parking is free
>No backpacks allowed
>Visitors over 16 need proper ID
>The museum is located on the Naval Base
>Free tours are available throughout the day, check the website for times and pick up tickets at the front desk. Be sure to get on the Trolley Tour!
>Food is available in a themed restaurant on site- prices are quite good
**If you have time check out the Pensacola Lighthouse, also on base**

 

Louisiana

Cajun Pride Swamp Tour New Orleans, LA

Cost:
Adult- $24 or $19 online; Child (4-12)- $18 or $13 online
I found a 2for1 Groupon, and it may still be active. Use this link and search ‘swamp tour’ to see if it’s still available!

Hours:
Daily- 9:30am, noon, 2:15pm, 4:15pm. Last tour is seasonal and runs March 1- October 1

Things to know:
> Bug spray is not necessary
> Call ahead to ensure availability, if not buying tickets ahead
> Transportation from a number of New Orleans hotels can be provided for a fee. Check their website to see prices and availability
> Beer is available on site while you wait for your tour

One of my favourite shots from the swamp tour

One of my favourite shots from the swamp tour

 

Evergreen Plantation Edgard, LA

Cost:

Evergreen Plantation at sunset

Evergreen Plantation at sunset

Adults (18+)- $20, Children (5-18)- $6, Under 5- FREE

Hours:
Monday to Saturday- 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:00pm

Things to know:
> Gate is open 8:55 t0 2:15
> No reservation required
> Cash or check only- no cards
> Fair amount of walking, wear comfortable shoes
> Bring bugspray- Slave quarters were VERY mosquito-y

Living Oak trees lining the driveway to the back of the house

Living Oak trees lining the driveway to the back of the house

 

New York

American Museum of Natural History New York City, NY

Cost:
General Admission is suggested at $22**; admission to special exhibits and IMAX movies will be extra

Hours: 
Daily, 10am-545pm

Things to know: 
>**The American Museum of Natural History operates on a donation admission, so if you’d like to pay less just let the admission desk know how much you’d like to pay! Note, the special exhibits and IMAX will cost more
>Allow for at minimum 3 hours, though you can easily make a full day out of it and still not see everything
>Bring snacks- the cafeteria is PRICEY! (though there is great selection, and food tastes great if cost is no concern)

 

North Carolina

Battleship USS North Carolina Museum Wilmington, NC

Cost:

USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial entrance

USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial entrance

Adults(12+)- $14; Children(6-11)- $6; Seniors(65+)& Military(ID required)- $10

Hours: Summer (Friday before Labor Day to Memorial Day), Daily, 8am-8pm; Winter (Tuesday after Labor Day to Thursday before Memorial Day), Daily, 8am-5pm

Things to Know:
>Ticket sales end one hour before closing
>Allow for minimum 2 hours, though we spent 5.5 hours and still could have done another hour if we had time
>Wear comfortable shoes- there is A LOT of stairs and walking
>For fans of the show One Tree Hill, the gazebo in the field by the river is the former home of The Rivercourt! Check out the picnic tables and leave your mark!

 

Pennsylvania

Herr’s Chip Factory Nottingham, PA
Chips fresh off the line

Chips fresh off the line

Cost:
FREE!

Hours:
Monday-Thursday: 9am-3pm, Friday: 9am-11am

Things to know:
>Cannot guarantee production is running on Thursday or Friday
>Reservations required, Call 1-800-637-6225 to book
>Tour lasts 1 hour, ending in the gift shop

 

QVC Studio Tour West Chester, PA
No photos were allowed inside the tour, so this was the best we could do!

No photos were allowed inside the tour, so this was the best we could do!

Cost:
Adults- $10, Children (7-12)- $8 (Basic Tour)

Hours:
Monday to Saturday- 10:30, noon & 2:30

Things to Know:
>Must bring ID
>All children under 18 must be accompanied by an adult
>Must go through a metal detector and bag search before beginning tour.

 

American Helicopter Museum West Chester, PA

Cost:
Adults- $10; Seniors, Students with ID, Children- $8

Hours:
Wednesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm, Sunday: noon-5pm

Things to Know:
>The tour is self guided
>Expect to spend at least an hour, maybe 2 if you watch the movies
>Don’t hesitate to ask the volunteers questions- many are retired air force and have many stories to share

 

South Carolina

Charleston Tea Plantation Wadmalaw Island, SC

Cost:  20151031_124922
Factory Tour- FREE!; Trolley Tour- Adult(12+)-$10, Child (under 12)- $5

Hours:
Monday to Saturday, 10am-4pm; Sunday, noon-4pm

Things to Know:
>Factory tours are every 15 min, no registration necessary. It is only 15 min long
>The trolley tour is recommended, as you’ll see much more of the process and property
>Bring bug spray
>Several tasters available!
** Be sure to stop and see the Angel Oak Tree on the way here!**

 

Patriot’s Point War Museum Charleston, SC
The USS Yorkton Aircraft Carrier and the USS Laffey Destroyer

The USS Yorkton Aircraft Carrier and the USS Laffey Destroyer

Cost:
Adult(12+)- $20; Child(6-11)- $12; Senior(62+)- $17; Military(with ID)- $17; Military(in uniform)- FREE

Hours:
Daily 9am-630pm *Ticket sales end at 5pm

Things to Know:
>Parking is $5/vehicle
>Allow for time in the gift store, it is impressive and well priced!
>Easily can spend a whole day here between the Vietnam Experience, Destroyer Ship, Submarine and Aircraft Carrier. We had 6 hours and didn’t see everything
>Wear comfortable shoes, there’s A LOT of walking and stairs!
>Chat with the guide in the Vietnam Experience- he was likely in the war!

The Vietnam War Memorial at the Museum

The Vietnam War Memorial at the Museum


Texas

The Alamo San Antonio, TX

Cost:   

Outside the Alamo

Outside the Alamo

FREE!

Hours:
Daily 9am-530pm

Things to Know:
>The tour is self guided
>No cameras, hats, drinks or cell phone use is allowed inside the buildings
>No pets allowed
>Ask for a fudge sample in the gift shop!
**Be sure to walk the San Antonio Riverwalk as well, it’s very neat!**

A piece of the San Antonio Riverwalk

A piece of the San Antonio Riverwalk


Washington

Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Factory Tour Everett, WA

Cost:
April 2 to Sept 30 AND Dec 20 to Jan 2- Adult(16+) $20, Child $14;
Oct 1-Dec 19 AND Jan 3 to April 1- Adult(16+) $18, Child $10
**These prices are walk-up, book online to save $2/ticket and guarantee availability

Hours:
Open Daily, Tour begins hourly 9am-3pm; Flight Center is open 8:30am-5:30pm

Things to Know:
>Phones, cameras, purses, backpacks and personal items are not permitted on the tour- lockers >are available for purchase, or leave them in your vehicle
>Restrooms are NOT available on the tour, visit them in the Center before departing
>Children must be at least 4ft tall to go on the tour- babies are not permitted to be carried
>Wear comfortable shoes, there are many stairs and a fair amount of walking
>Tour is 90 min- Be on time as the bus to the hangar leaves the Center promptly!

About the author

A. Blizzard

I’m a former teen mom, a career chef and an entrepreneur with a life-long wanderlust. My son and I recently became unschoolers and world-schoolers! This means we travel full-time and use our real-life experiences as a basis for his education. It’s a blast, and we’re both learning so much as we go!
Follow us to keep up with our nomadic adventure!

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