8 Best TV & Movie Tours
Sure, Los Angeles and New York City get most of the credit and the glory. But many movies and TV shows are actually shot in incredible locations around the country. Lights! Camera! Action! Here are our eight favorite location tours.
Boston Movie Mile Walking Tour; 1.5 hours; adults, $27, kids $19, private tours available; 866-982-2114; onlocationtours.com/tour/boston-movie-mile
Bahstan is a filmmaker’s town. It’s home to Ben and Matt, after all, and also to more than 400 movies and TV shows. Find out why it’s so popular on this walking tour. Drinks at the Bull and Finch Pub, for Cheers, are an absolute must. Then sit on the park benches where Robin Williams and Matt Damon chatted in Good Will Hunting, check out the historic homes in The Thomas Crown Affair and get “made” at one of Jack Nicholson’s mob hangouts from The Departed. (Sorry, make that the Depahted.) Wicked cool: getting to read scripts exactly where they were shot.
Big Zombie Tour Part 1; 3 hours; $69 adults, $55 kids; 855-255-3456; atlantamovietours.com/tours/big-zombie-tour
The. Walking. Dead. Need we say more? Watch clips from the show on a comfy bus as you visit exact locations. The hospital where Rick first woke up from his coma. The Goat Farm Arts Center abandoned building from “the Vatos.” The Jackson Street Bridge (selfies encouraged!). Every tour is led by a zombie extra who offers insider-only deets and runs a killer trivia game session. (Did you know that HBO passed on the series because it felt it was too violent?) Huge fans should sign up for Parts 2 and 3, plus there’s a walking tour!
3. NEW ORLEANS
Original New Orleans Movie and TV Tours; 2 hours; adults $43, children $29; 225-240-8648; nolamovies.com
If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the director yell “cut!” during this NOLA excursion, which offers a fun mix of live filmmaking (as of press time, NCIS: New Orleans was shooting), celebrity homes (Sandra Bullock! Brad Pitt!) and location tours including NOLA standbys Interview with the Vampire, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, American Horror Story, and Twilight. Don’t worry, the classics are represented too, including A Streetcar Named Desire and Easy Rider. All neighborhoods are covered, including the French Quarter, the Warehouse District and the Garden District.
4. WILMINGTON, NC
Hollywood Location Walk; 1.5 hours; $13 adults, kids free; 910-794-1866; hauntedwilmington.com/hollywood-location-walk.html
Wilmington, NC, otherwise known as “Wilmywood” or “Hollywood East,” has been a moviemaking mecca since director Mark L. Lester shot Firestarter here in 1983. Customize your tour and see the locations for teen faves Dawson’s Creek (the famous dock where Dawson pined away for Joey) and One Tree Hill (Blue Post Billiards, where Lucas and Sophia went on their first “tattoo” date), Cape Fear (the Memorial Bridge), Dream a Little Dream (the Coreys’ high school) and Weekend at Bernies (the lighthouse where Parker gets temporarily blinded). Or check out movie props, set pieces, and interiors, hear about your favorite actors, or find out how a winter wonderland is created in the heat of summer.
Hollywood Movie Site Tour, Kualoa Ranch; 90 minutes; adults $49.50, children $39.95; 808-237-7321; kualoa.com/toursactivities
A vintage bus takes you 45 minutes from Honolulu to Kualoa Ranch, a 4,000 acre nature reserve billed as “the backlot of Hawaii” thanks to its role in dozens of movies and TV shows since the 1950s, including Jurassic Park, Lost, Magnum P.I., The Hunger Games, Jumanji, Hawaii Five- O, and Pearl Harbor. Examine Godzilla’s footprints, stand at the Jurassic Park gate, and check out the bunkers on Lost. An amazing World War II army bunker houses lots of props, movie posters, and memorabilia.
Chicago Film Tour; 2 hours; call for rates; 312-593-4455; chicagofilmtour.com
Chi-town neighborhoods absolutely make this tour - Wrigleyville Uptown, the Gold Coast, Old Town – all home to more than 80 films over the past 100 years. Check out locations from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (where surely you’ll want to “Twist and Shout” through Federal Plaza), The Dark Knight (the Chicago Post Office), Transformers 3 (The Uptown Theatre), My Best Friend’s Wedding (the White Sox ballpark), and The Untouchables (South La Salle St.). A tour guide offers up fun film facts and trivia. (Did you know: “Twist and Shout” is the only original version of a Beatles song to appear twice in the top 40, thanks to FBDO and Matthew Broderick’s famous parade scene.)
Philadelphia Movie Stars Tour, 2.5 hours, private tours from $33 per person; 215-625-7980; moviesitestour.com
Lace up your running shoes to take on the 68 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky-style. This tour takes you there, plus past City Hall, the Italian Market and Ninth Street where Rocky did his training runs. Check out scenes from Tom Hanks’ Philadelphia including the law firm building where Andrew Beckett worked (The Mellon Bank Building) and the library where he studied case law (The University of Pennsylvania Fine Arts Library). The Sixth Sense (St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church), Trading Places (Rittenhouse Square), and Twelve Monkeys (the Met Theatre) are also big stars on this tour.
8. WASHINGTON, DC
Washington DC TV and Movie Sites Tour; 2.5 hours; from $40; taketours.com/washington-dc
Where else you gonna shoot movies like Air Force One, Independence Day, A Few Good Men, and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington? Our nation’s capital is a Hollywood dream with some of the most recognizable buildings and monuments in the world (the Lincoln Memorial is host to drunken nights in Wedding Crashers; Constitutional Hall serves as the White House in the West Wing; the reflecting pool is seen in Forrest Gump, The Firm, and Deep Impact, to name just a few). This tour explores them all, starting in Union Station seen in Hannibal, Minority Report, and the Sentinel, takes you to the steps of the house in The Exorcist, past the bar in St. Elmo’s Fire and to the mall in True Lies. Bonus: Tours are led by local actors.
10 Totally Adorable Trailer Hotels
For lovers of the open road and Americana culture, few accommodations are dreamier than a vintage Airstream. And as temperatures drop, trailers also provide a good alternative to camping outside. With retro options running the gamut from eco-friendly to stylishly bohemian to high-end glamping, trailer park life has never looked so good—and all while reducing the environmental footprint, too. 1. El Cosmico: Marfa, Texas (Nick Simonite) Situated on 21 acres of high plains desert by Texas hotelier Liz Lambert, El Cosmico (elcosmico.com) is more of a way of life than a campground. Choose to wake up in a yurt, a Sioux-style teepee, or a safari tent, if not in one of the property’s 13 refurbished 1950s-era trailers, painted in colors like robin’s-egg blue and daffodil yellow. Each trailer comes equipped with creature comforts like cozy serape robes, Geneva bluetooth speakers, Chemex coffeemakers, and minibars stocked with essentials like Topo Chico and rolling papers. Outdoor showers and a communal outdoor kitchen continually invite you to connect to your surroundings, while hammock groves and wood-fired Dutch hot tubs—not to mention a purposeful lack of WiFi—encourage you to truly unplug and enjoy the peaceful pace of desert life. Pro tip: Check El Cosmico’s calendar and plan a visit around its diverse programming, from the annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love to film screenings, yoga classes, and outdoor cooking intensives. 2. Kate’s Lazy Desert: Landers, California (Kate's Lazy Desert) Kate Pierson, a founding member of the B-52s, and her wife, Monica Coleman, opened Kate’s Lazy Meadow (lazymeadow.com) to create a truly campy (wink!) travel experience. It all started in Woodstock, New York, where they added Airstream trailers to a cabin-studded campground, but when flooding from severe rainstorms damaged the newly renovated vehicles, they moved them somewhere safe and dry, and Kate’s Lazy Desert was born. Just 20 minutes outside of Joshua Tree National Park in California's Mojave Desert, the six trailers, which have names like Hot Lava and Tinkerbell, are colorful and kitschy, thanks to artist team Maberry Walker. After exploring the surrounding region’s near-intergalactic landscape by day, take in the star-glittered sky at night, or head to the iconic Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace for live music and burgers. 3. Hotel Luna Mystica: Taos, New Mexico (Amanda Powell) Hotel Luna Mystica (hotellunamystica.com) is located eight miles from the heart of Taos, just across the street from Taos Mesa Brewery. Described on its website as “12-plus acres of mesa, 10 vintage trailers, 60 campsites, one planet, one moon, a gazillion stars,” the property features a collection of refurbished trailers from the 1950s through the 1970s, including Spartans, Airstreams, and Aristocrats. Each has a private bathroom, a kitchen, and a patio, plus amenities like high-quality linens, locally made soap, and French-press coffee makers. All the trailers maintain vintage vibes while incorporating eclectic design elements like potted succulents, Turkish lanterns, and colorful pillows. Some also have WiFi access, but living off the grid is really the best choice here. How better to enjoy the breathtaking mountain views before gathering around the fire pit to share stories with fellow travelers at night? 4. The Shady Dell: Bisbee, Arizona Unlike most renovated trailers that rely on modern amenities, the dwellings at The Shady Dell Vintage Trailer Court (theshadydell.com) include period-specific books, magazines, décor, and even appliances like percolators, phonographs, and black-and-white televisions. These 10 trailers range in style, from a 1947 Airporter converted into a tropical tiki oasis to a 1955 Airstream exuding Southwestern chic. Cooking is not permitted inside the trailers, but there are outdoor grills available at this adults-only, seasonal park (it closed every summer and winter). Located 30 minutes south of Tombstone, once the center of the Wild West, and just a few minutes south of quirky Bisbee, it’s a perfect home base for exploring the historic mining town. 5. Caravan Outpost: Ojai, California Located just a stone's throw from downtown Ojai, Caravan Outpost (caravanoutpostojai.com) features 11 refurbished Airstreams shaded by lush tropical foliage. Each trailer comes with a stocked kitchen and peaceful outdoor shower and sleeps between one and five people. Most are pet-friendly. Record players add to the vintage feel, and vinyl can be swapped out at the on-site General Store. The hotel also offers tailor-made experiences like wine tastings and vineyard tours, visits to hot springs, meditation packages, and outdoor adventures from surfing to rock climbing to mountain biking. And even when they’re not hosting farm-to-table dinners or speaker series, there’s plenty of opportunity to connect with fellow travelers, particularly over s’mores and conversation around the nightly bonfire. 6. The Vintage Trailer Resort: Willamette Valley, Oregon Perfect for those who want to sample trailer living before committing to owning one, The Vintages Trailer Resort (the-vintages.com) is one section of the 14-acre Willamette Wine Country RV Park between Dundee and McMinnville, Oregon. With 33 vintage trailers of varying sizes and styles, each stocked with upscale amenities like L’Occitane bath products, plush bedding, pour-over coffee, and luxurious robes, the Vintages really does live up to its “trailer resort” designation. All accommodations are equipped with private bathrooms, and some also have private showers or even plunge tubs. There are also propane grills, so you can cook up a flame-kissed steak to enjoy alongside a glass of the Willamette Valley's famed pinot noir. The park also features a pool, outdoor yard games, and a dog park. A free cruiser bike rental for two is also included with each reservation, making day trips into Oregon’s wine country a breeze. 7. Hicksville Trailer Palace: Joshua Tree, California Many travelers go to Joshua Tree National Park to disconnect in the desert and get away from it all. But Hicksville Trailer Palace (hicksville.com/joshuatree/motel.html), located in the heart of the small bohemian town, offers so much to do, you may never make it off the grounds. Choose from mini golf, darts, ping-pong, bocce, cornhole, archery, and a BB-gun shooting range, or just soak in the sunset from the roof-deck hot tub. Each of the 10 refurbished vintage trailers is uniquely decorated, from the alien-focused Integratrailor, which comes equipped with a star machine, to the big top–striped Sideshow. From March through November, enjoy a solar-heated saltwater swimming pool; in fact, this entire hippie kingdom runs off the power of the sun. And though the 420-friendly complex certainly encourages fun, note there is a list of rules (i.e., no geotagging on the property) that all guests are required to read and abide by. 8. Shooting Star RV Restort: Escalante, Utah The last thing one would expect to find in the middle of Utah is a collection of Airstream trailers designed to look like old Hollywood stars’ dressing trailers, but that’s just the kind magic created by Shooting Star RV Resort (shootingstar-rvresort.com). Choose from Marilyn Monroe’s Some Like It Hot hideaway, Elvis’s Blue Hawaiian paradise, Ann-Margret’s Viva Las Vegas cabana, and more. Each of the nine trailers captures the feel of the film’s era and the actor’s character, but with comfortable amenities like queen-sized beds, flatscreen HDTVs, and fully outfitted kitchens. During the day, go explore the stunning state and national parks nearby, and be sure to reserve one of the hotel’s vintage Cadillacs, where you can enjoy a movie at the on-site drive-in theater once the sun sets. 9. AutoCamp: Guerneville, California AutoCamp (autocamp.com/guides/location/russian-river/) opened its first trailer park in downtown Santa Barbara in 2013, and another will launch in Yosemite this winter. But the Russian River location in Guerneville is the only one surrounded by breathtaking redwoods. Each of its vintage Airstreams features sleek midcentury-modern interiors and the amenities of an upscale hotel—think luxurious bedding, memory-foam mattresses, plush towels, and walk-in spa showers. And it's in the heart of Sonoma, an hour-and-a-half north of San Francisco and minutes from the California coastline, so there are endless opportunities for exploration. Hike through the redwoods, canoe the Russian River, cycle to wineries, and recount it all with new friends later at night around the fire pit. 10. Flamingo Springs Trailer Resort: Arkansas Tucked away in the woods of Arkansas, this Palm Springs-inspired resort features eight renovated trailers from the '50s to the '70s. The website’s descriptions of each are as quirky as the themed spaces themselves: The Pour Some Shasta On Me allows you to “experience all the glitz and glamour of a '90s hair band without the drug problem and the narcissism,” and Candy Cane Lane is decorated in vintage Christmas decor, including “a nice selection of terrible Christmas albums.” In addition to 50 acres of woods to roam, Flamingo Springs also offers a variety of yard games (horseshoes, bocce, ladder ball, and baggo), plus a circular pool, a BB-gun range, ping-pong, vintage video games, and a jukebox that plays 45s.
10 Books Every Traveler Should Read
Traveling is a wonderful way to explore the world, especially when it challenges you to step outside your comfort zone. Whether your trip is a spiritual quest or a physical adventure or a simple rest-and-refocus getaway, being somewhere totally new can inspire introspection and imagination, as well as open you up to meeting new people. Most have heard of Eat Pray Love and Wild, but there are so many other wonderful books that may not be on your radar. With that in mind, we have selected ten must-read books for travelers. From a classic about a female explorer who charted unknown territory to collections of travel writing by renowned writers, we guarantee that these books will spark your wanderlust. 1. Alone Time: Four Seasons, Four Cities, and the Pleasures of Solitude, by Stephanie Rosenbloom Rosenbloom, a travel columnist for the New York Times, revels in the possibilities of traveling solo by spending time in four cities: Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York. She recounts her experiences in vivid detail, which are cleverly interwoven with interesting facts that reveal each city’s culture and history. She emphasizes the importance of solitude and what can be learned from it, including the value of slowing down and an appreciation of things that often go unnoticed. 2. To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life With No Regrets, by Jedediah Jenkins On the eve of turning 30, Jenkins decides to quit his day job and cycle south, from the coast of Oregon to Patagonia. What follows is an adventure that challenges his notions of both faith and identity. It is written in soul-stirring prose that that makes you feel like you are pedaling right alongside him, experiencing the vast and varied terrain of Central and South America. Like a modern-day On the Road, this is for anyone who wonders about the path not taken. 3. Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman, by Alice Steinbach Penned by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Without Reservations is the literary equivalent of sitting down to a cup of tea with a good friend and hearing all about her travels through England, France, and Italy. Steinbach has a unique ability to self-examine and mindfully observe the behavior of others, as well as an attitude that is ideal for traveling solo—she’s unhurried, open to new experiences, yet also calmly cautious. She writes of her love for sending postcards to herself from each destination, in order to capture the moment and savor the memories later. 4. The Way of Wanderlust, by Don George Don George is a remarkable travel writer, and this collection begins with the 1977 essay he published in the since-shuttered magazine Mademoiselle about climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Considering the different types of travel that one may seek, George divides the book into three sections: pilgrimages, encounters, and illuminations. In these essays he crisscrosses the globe from the Galapagos Islands to Japan to Greece, forging deep emotional connections with the people he meets. 5. The Valleys of the Assassins: and Other Persian Travels, by Freya Stark Published in 1934, Stark’s memoir recounts the experiences of a single woman traveling the unknown, unmapped lands of the Middle East with local tribesmen as guides. Like a real-life Indiana Jones, Stark was both courageous and unflappable, often using her wits to help her out of potentially dangerous situations in an area that was largely inhabited by bandits. A true pioneer of her time, she explored places that intimidated even the bravest of men. 6. Far Flung and Well Fed, by R.W. Apple After reporting from the battlefields in Vietnam for the New York Times, R.W. Apple became a food writer for the paper, and in his quest to delve into the “gastronomic trenches” (as he put it), he traveled to some of the most exotic locales in the world. With more than 50 food-centric travel essays, Apple takes the reader to Europe, South America, Asia, and the U.S. Whether it is trawling through the waters of the Chesapeake Bay in search of the perfect soft-shelled crab or devouring dim sum in Hong Kong, Apple was always ready for a culinary adventure. 7. The World: Life and Travel 1950-2000, by Jan Morris This collection of travel writing by renowned Welsh writer Jan (formerly James) Morris spans the second half of the twentieth century. From accompanying Sir Edmund Hillary on the first successful summiting of Mt. Everest in 1953 to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Morris was an eyewitness to history’s milestones. She puts these world events in context with her travels and is able to eloquently capture the essence of the places she visits. 8. Sun After Dark: Flights Into the Foreign, by Pico Iyer In search of the road far less traveled, Iyer visits places such as Cambodia, Oman, Tibet, and Bolivia. With his trademark philosophical approach and poetic observations, he meditates on the nature of travel itself and on the inner journeys one takes during their external wanderings. It's a collection of travel stories, essays, and profiles of such figures as the Dalai Lama and the Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. 9. Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, by Noo Saro-Wiwa Noo Saro-Wiwa was born in Nigeria and raised in England, and every summer she reluctantly travels back to her homeland. But after her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she doesn’t return until ten years later, at which point she attempts to reconcile her feelings about Nigeria. More than just a travelogue, Saro-Wiwa combines history with current affairs and observations of daily life during her travels through the country. 10. The Solo Travel Handbook, by Lonely Planet For any type of solo traveler—newbies and veterans alike—this guide by Budget Travel's parent company handles it all, from planning your itinerary to dealing with issues that come up on the road to trip ideas for inspiration. It incorporates suggestions on managing your money, ways to meet people and stay connected, and encouragement for those who may be hesitant to travel solo. An invaluable guide that will help you to stay safe and enjoy your trip.
9 Places to Learn a Cool New Skill on Vacation
You may have noticed, the older you get, the quicker time seems to pass. The reason behind this mystery is a scientific one that boils down to this: when you’re young, new skills and activities are a constant in your life; as you age, routine settles in and your brain doesn’t need to be as active because, essentially, it already knows the drill, so-to-speak. Want to slow down time? Learn something new. Since travel already has you in an unknown place, take the experience to the next level by trying out a fun class that will provide you with a new skill to take home. After all, physical souvenirs were so yesterday. 1. Coffee culture: Portland, Oregon (Georgy Iliin/Dreamstime) Once upon a time, you’d order your coffee, the worker would ask if you want milk or sugar, and you’d be on your way. But in today’s era of single origin coffee, there’s much more to know. The artistry of a barista, some would say, is as involved as baking these days, and at Nossa Coffee (nosacoffee.com/classes/) in Portland, Oregon, you can develop your understanding of the art. Take your pour-over coffee skills to the next level with a free tour and session in cupping, the professional technique for tasting coffee. Or get more involved at one of the various 90-minute classes revolving around barista life. Reservations are recommended. 2. Cake decorating: Hoboken, NJ Wouldn’t it be nice to attend a birthday party or other celebration with a beautifully decorated cake, frosted and detailed with your own two hands? Bartolo Jr. “Buddy,” who oversees a small but well known empire of Carlo’s Bake Shop bakeries (classes/carlosbakery.com) in New Jersey, can help you do just that. Considering he made an appearance on TLC’s “Cake Boss,” he certainly has a lot to teach. He offers two-hour classes at Carlo’s Bake Shop’s Hoboken location. From instructions on autumn leaves, comic-themed cakes, and everything in between, check out the shop’s calendar to find what best suits your taste. 3. Sushi rolling: North Andover, Massachusetts Often times, when you crave a particular food, you can throw together the ingredients to satisfy your taste buds. Sushi, on the other hand, is one of those dishes that require some skill. Situated 20 miles north from Boston and close to tax-free shopping in New Hampshire, Taste Buds Kitchen in North Andover (tastebudskitchen.com) is home to a variety of cooking classes that focus on a variety of cuisines. There’s the aforementioned sushi class as well as lessons in handmade pasta, Thai cuisine, and how to cook with beer and with wine. Speaking of, if cooking with a glass of cabernet in hand is your thing, feel free to BYOB. 4. Floral Arrangements: Portland, Maine Picking up a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store and placing them just so in your home instantly gives the room a pick-me-up. Imagine how much more meaningful that could be if you thoughtfully arranged the flowers. There’s certainly an art to the perfect bouquet and a Wednesday evening class at Sawyer and Company (sawyercompany.com) in Portland, Maine, can help you find your florist fingers. When you’re done, hop over to Nosh Kitchen for a delicious grass-fed burger or check out one of the many local breweries for a tour and tasting. 5. Woodworking: Orlando, Florida (Kyryl Gorlov/Dreamstime) Maybe you are planning an all-things-Mickey trip, but in the event you find yourself in the city of theme parks with a spare day, Woodcraft of Orlando (woodcraft.com) can teach you the basics of woodworking (or something more advanced, like the art of creating specific joints, should you choose). In the all-women beginner class, for example, participants will make and take home a cutting board as they learn how to use a table saw, jointer, miter saw, and router. Classes run five to six hours. 6. Essay writing: New York, New York (Peter L Gould/Dreamstime) New York City is the publishing capital of the world, so there’s no better place to get inspired and tap your inner author. Susan Shapiro’s essay class (susanshapiro.net) can help you do just that. Her well-known “Instant Gratification Takes Too Long” is a five-week course at The New School, but she also offers an abridged version as a one-time evening course just about every month. The majority of her students get published in big-time publications. Everyone has a story, so after you’ve worn out your feet taking in the city’s myriad sites and sounds, take a load off and head over to Greenwich Village where you’ll learn the elements of a personal essay as well as tips for pitching editors. 7. Improv Comedy: San Francisco San Francisco is a global capital of creativity and invention. Little wonder you’ll feel inspired to conquer something new when you’re there. While you may not have aspirations of stepping up to the mike and captivating a crowd of 30,000 with your jokes, improv is a skill that almost anyone can use. It’s more than just delivering funny one-liners. It’s about laughing, learning how to navigate a crowd, and coming out of your shell. Improv San Francisco (improv.org/school/3-hour-intro-workshop) has a three-hour intro workshop ($45) to help you with just that, with one class specifically dedicated to those who consider themselves shy. 8. Fly Fishing: Laramie, Wyoming (Glenda Powers/Dreamstime) Perhaps it’s the calming effect of sitting out on a boat on a quiet lake, or the whooshing sound of the line as it goes to and fro, but any fly fisher will tell you that once you try it a few times, you’ll be hooked. Chances are, if you’re planning a trip to the Laramie area, you’re already a fan of being immersed in the great outdoors. Certainly, Wyoming is home to guided fishing excursions, but if you’re only first getting your feet wet, a fly-tying class is an excellent introduction to the sport. Four Seasons Anglers (fourseasonaanglers.com) provides classes to the public as well as private sessions on request. To take it a step further, try their free casting lesson. 9. Archery: Colorado Springs, Colorado You can’t hear someone mention Colorado and not think about the Rockies. Or mountains in general, for that matter. But situated a bit lower to the ground you’ll find many opportunities to practice patience and precision with an introduction to archery. The family-owned Archery Hut (thearcheryhut.com) offers a beginner class Wednesday evenings for $25. Beyond the class, there is a 4,000 square foot range that is open at a drop-in rate for all ability levels.
10 Delicious Food Factory Tours
You probably spotted Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Snyder's Pretzels, and Tabasco Sauce on your last stroll through a supermarket. They're universally available products, but did you know that in most cases, each is made in one single production facility? From Connecticut to California, iconic food companies offer tours of their factories to give you an up-close look at how they're made. 1. Ben & Jerry's: Waterbury, Vermont For ice-cream fiends and casual consumers alike, a visit to the Ben & Jerry’s production facility in Vermont is a veritable pilgrimage. The factory typically cranks out its dairy delights on a daily basis, but guided tours run regardless of whether or not ice cream is being made—and yes, you’ll get to sample the wares either way. Afterwards, stop by the gift shop for some swag, order a full-size cone at the scoop shop, and pay your respects to pints of yesteryear at the Flavor Graveyard. If that’s not enough, go for the VIP Flavor Fanatic Experience, a hands-on affair that includes a tour, time in the lab where you’ll help create a flavor, and a tie-dyed lab coat of your very own. 30-minute guided factory tours run seven days a week, with varied hours depending on the season and tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis. Adults ages 13-59, $4; seniors 60 and up, $3; kids under 12, free. Flavor Fanatic Experience, $175 per person. benjerry.com 2: Snyder Pretzels: Hanover, Pennsylvania German and Swiss German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania in the 18th century, and their culinary traditions still remain. There’s the Yuengling brewery, for one, the oldest brewery in the country. And then there are pretzels. Pennsylvania produces about 80% of pretzels sold in America and perhaps no company is better known than Snyder’s of Hanover, which opened in 1909 and still uses some of the original recipes. In addition to a crash course in the early commerce of Pennsylvania, a visit to the factory provides a peek at how the pretzels are made, with at look at the raw materials, the historic ovens where they bake massive amounts of the twists each day, and the elaborate packing system. Head off with a free bag of the snack and you’ll never look at a vending machine the same way again. Free 30 minutes tours offered at 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:00p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; reservations required. snydersofhanover.com. 3. Jelly Belly: Fairfield, California From birthday cake to dirty dishwater, toasted marshmallow to stinkbug, Jelly Belly is known for its out-there flavors, and if you’ve ever wondered how those mind-boggling combinations came to be, a visit to Fairfield is in order. Self-guided tours overlooking the factory are available every day, but to see it in full swing, visit on a weekday, when the quarter-mile floor is in operation. High-def videos, interactive games and exhibits, and free samples round out the experience; there’s even a jelly-bean art gallery on the premises, and a café serving bean-shaped pizzas and burgers. For a more in-depth look at the candy-making experience, enroll in Jelly Belly University, which will get you down on the factory floor for a guided tour. The factory runs Monday through Friday, but free self-guided tours are available every day from 9:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. JBU tour, $59 per person; reservations required. jellybelly.com 4. PEZ: Orange, Connecticut This iconic sweet started in 1927 as a small peppermint-candy operation in Austria (“PEZ” is actually an abbreviation of “pffefferminz,” the German word for peppermint), and it's become a global phenomenon that continues to intrigue. Fun fact: In 1993, the first pop-culture auction at Christie’s featured old dispensers. Trivia like that abounds at the PEZ factory’s visitor center in Orange, Connecticut. There are interactive exhibits and, of course, the largest collection of Pez dispensers on Earth, including many vintage items. The museum-like display overlooks the packaging production area, and “in-depth candy demonstrations” wrap up with samples of freshly made sweets. Visitors Center open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Adults $4; $3 kids 3-6; free under 3. Demos are offered daily at 1:15 PM, 2:15PM, 2:45PM, and 3:15PM and cost $3. us.pez.com 5. Tabasco Sauce: Avery Island, Louisiana On bucolic Avery Island, about 140 miles west of New Orleans, there are vast expanses of sustainable hot-pepper fields, an oak-tree jungle, and the fifth-generation family-run factory that annually turns out enough "Cajun ketchup" to reap $200 million in worldwide sales. A visit here offers more than a look at the production facility. The 10-stop self-guided tour gets you access to the museum, which tells the story of the iconic condiment, beginning in 1868 when Edmund McIlhenny created a pepper sauce to jazz up the lackluster fare of the Reconstruction South, as well as the greenhouse, the mash house (where you’re offered a face mask because of the stinging pepper heat in the air), the blending and production facility, the barrel warehouse, a conservatory, and more. Wrap up the day with dinner at Tabasco Restaurant 1868 and a shopping spree at the country store. Self-guided tours offered daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tickets $5.50. tabasco.com/visit-avery-island/ 6. Celestial Seasonings: Boulder, Colorado The Celestial Seasonings production plant in Boulder is situated on Sleepytime Drive, but a visit here is nothing less than invigorating. Free, daily 45-minute tours give you a close-up look at the process of tea making—cleaning, cutting, sifting, blending, and packaging the herbs, spices, and tea leaves that are shipped all over the world to make 1.6 billion (yes, billion) cups of tea each year. You’ll also visit the sampling bar, where the list includes 100 kinds of tea. Should you need fortification before you get on your way, check out the Celestial Café, which offers an extensive salad bar and lots of grilled items. It’s adorned with original paintings of the images you'll recognize from the packaging, some of which you’ll also find on the memorabilia in the adorable shop. Free tours run every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. celestialseasonings.com/visit-us 7. Taza Chocolate: Somerville, Massachusetts The hand-carved granite millstone takes center stage at the tour of the Taza Chocolate factory, a small but mighty facility just outside Boston. You'll learn that the primitive-looking contraption grounds the cacao beans to make the brand's signature chocolate discs, a uniquely gritty, tasty treat that pays tribute to the way chocolate was originally made. Expert guides will explain the fair-trade philosophies that dictate how ingredients are sourced, and needless to say, the tour includes a tasting. The chocolate-grinding room is on view from the shop. As to be expected from a chocolate factory, a visit here is particularly kid-friendly, with activities like Cacoa Scouts Bingo and Chocolate Story Time offered on the weekends. All that's missing is Charlie, Grandpa Joe, and Willie Wonka. Intro to Stone Ground Chocolate tour runs Tuesday through Sunday at 2:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. $8 per person; reservations required. Cacao Scouts Bingo is $6; Story Time is free. tazachocolate.com 8. Holualoa Kona Coffee Company: Holualoa, Hawaii What's not to love about fresh roasted coffee and beautiful island environs? At the heart of the Big Island’s Kona coffee belt is the Holualoa Kona Coffee Company, perched on a hilltop overlooking the coast and producing organically farmed java, milled and roasted on site. Tours are self-guided, so caffeine connoisseurs can wander through the orchards at their own pace (no herbicides or pesticides are used on the grounds, and only organic fertilizers, so you can linger without any chemical concerns). Be sure to check out the mill, then visit the packing room and gift shop to sip a free cup of joe and pick up a bag or two of beans to take home as a souvenir. Free self-guided tours run Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. konalea.com 9. Tillamook Creamery: Tillamook, Oregon Tillamook, Oregon's largest tourist attraction, makes cheese, ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, and butter for a daily audience of 10,000-some visitors annually. Now, after a major architectural upgrade, the main production facility boasts sleek wood-and-steel digs sprawling across 42,800 square feet, a dining area with outdoor seating, a new menu created by Portland chef Sarah Schafer, an augmented ice cream counter serving up Tillamook flavors, a new coffee and yogurt bar, a shop, and most importantly, an upgraded perspective on the production and packaging operations. Take a look at how the cheese gets made, spend a little time with the farm exhibit and learn about the cows (and technology) behind the dairy-making magic, and taste as many samples as you can handle. Try the cheese curds before you leave—this is the only place you’ll find ‘em. The creamery is open daily for free self-guided from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., early November to mid-June, and 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. the rest of the year. tillamook.com 10. The Great American Popcorn Company, Galena, Illinois The family-owned Great American Popcorn company produces over 150 flavors of popcorn, from sweet options like caramel pecan and cinnamon toast, to savory flavors like jalapeno pepper and zesty ranch, all made with non-GMO corn. As you’d imagine, the facility, a simple storefront located downtown Galena, a quaint small town about 160 miles west of Chicago, is a far cry from the movie theater concession counter. Sensory overload awaits as you at the compact shop, where you can watch the makers at work at the cooking and coating machines then fill wood barrel after wood barrel of the stuff. And yes, they'll give you fresh, warm samples of whatever flavor they're making. A visit here also provides a history lesson in the snack food and a scientific tutorial in how it pops. Don’t leave before you gather some treats to bring home. About 30 flavors are sold at the gift shop on any given day. The popcorn is made in the store, which is open 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. greatpopcorn.com