7 Free Pit Stops for Your Next Family Road Trip

RelayRides blogger Amanda Grossman is an expert at finding affordable travel options, so we asked her to share some of her favorite free destinations.

Take it from someone who used to tour chemical plants and food factories in their past job: touring factories is not only fun, but it’s highly educational. Not only do you get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how some of America’s favorite brands and products are made, but sometimes you even get a free sample!

Below are 7 free factory tours throughout the US. Schedule one or two of these into your next road trip and enjoy a fun, free pit stop that you and your family will remember for years to come (and especially each time you use or see the product).

  1. Harley Davidson Factory (PA, WI, MO): Harley Davidson (I can hear their trademarked roar of muffler in my head as I write this) offers free factory tours in three different states. Tours include exhibits that detail the manufacturing and assembly processes of the factory, being guided through the manufacturing of certain parts, and you’ll even have the chance to sit on current production motorcycles. Depending on the factory you choose, you may see welding, laser-cutting, frame-bending, polishing and assembly. (Note: there is also a much more comprehensive Steel Toe Tour that costs money).
  2. Fenton Art Glass Factory (WV): How neat to watch traditional glassmaking! Fenton Art Glass is the largest manufacturer of handmade colored glass in the United States. They offer limited free factory tours (not on the weekends) of beadmaking and decorating.
  3. Old Candle Barn Candle Making Factory (PA): If you’re going near the heart of Amish country, PA, then be sure to check out the Old Candle Barn. Call ahead of time to see when you can watch people make their candles using the old-fashioned method of hand-dipping. It’s a small facility, but the observation and surrounding area makes up for it!
  4. Basin Electric Power Plant Tour (ND, SD, WY): Power plants are pretty fascinating places to visit. This is a great learning opportunity for adults and kids alike to find out how their electricity is made and delivered to their home. Each of these facilities uses its own fuel source, such as oil, natural gas, or coal-fired. (Note: kids under 6 are not allowed in the power plant area, and you must wear closed-toe shoes).
  5. Jelly Belly Factory Tour (CA): Have you ever wondered how Jelly Belly candies are made? Tours are approximately 40 minutes long, and include the history of the jelly bean, as well as a walk through the actual production process. At the end of the tour, stop by the sampler bar where you can try out different flavor combinations for free.
  6. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (CA): This laboratory is NASA’s lead center for robotic exploration of the solar system. Tours start with a multi-media presentation, and then visitors can visit the von Karman Visitor Center, the Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Spacecraft Assembly Facility.
  7. Los Angeles Times Building and Printing Tour (CA): Take a free tour of the historic Los Angeles Times building, which won a gold medal at the 1937 Paris Exposition for its Modern architectural style. Then you get to check out the printing facilities! (Note: kids under 8 are not admitted).

Want to make your road trip even more cost-effective? RelayRides offers vehicle rentals that are 40% cheaper across the board than traditional car rental facilities. This means that you can afford to rent a fuel-efficient hybrid or electric vehicle and drive the extra miles to take some of these great factory tours.