Curious kids love to go behind the scenes at these Oregon factories to see gigantic and hard-working machines mixing vats of dough and moving food along via speedy conveyor belts. From fresh baked bread to sweet ice cream, these quick, free and cheap factory tours, from Portland to the coast, will help the little ones connect the dots on how some of their favorite foods are made and give them fresh samples to nibble on the way home.
If you first don’t notice the delicious aroma of fresh-baked bread wafting over the northeast Portland industrial area, then surely you’ll see the giant, rotating loaf of bread atop the Franz Family Bakeries factory, a Portland institution that hasn’t changed much in 100 years, except for some of the equipment.
The tour starts with a 15-minute presentation on the Franz Family Bakeries history and some educational factoids like how yeast makes bread rise. Then everyone dons hair nets—and beard nets for some dads—for the half-hour walking portion of the tour. The kid-favorite highlights include watching gigantic batches of dough being mixed in a giant mixer; bread baking in an equally giant oven; and a “bun highway” where buns cool on a track that travels around the building before heading into the packaging room for super-fast, automated bun wrapping.
Depending on time, you may be able to stay and explore the tour room while snacking on bread and butter. Everyone gets a gift bag to take home.
The free, 30-minute tour accommodates groups of 10 to 60 people, ages 7 and up. The tour schedule follows a typical school year, from Labor Day to June. Tours fill up quickly and must be scheduled in advance. Families can piggy back on a group tour, but still must schedule in advance. This is a working bakery, so everyone must wear closed-toe, rubber-soled shoes; no heels. Also, no jewelry except plain wedding bands without diamonds. Cameras and cell phones are not permitted during the walking tour. Everyone receives a snack of bread, butter and apple juice.
To Book: Call 503-232-2191 or visit
firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour.
340 NE 11th St.
photo: Franz Bakery circa 1949
Have you been to any of these food factory tours? Let us know in the comment section below.