The Bay Area is a mecca for all things savory and sweet, but did you know that there are tons of opportunities for the little ones to get up close and in on the action? From a famous bakery to decadent small batch chocolate, check out our list for the best tours for all foodies, big and small, to get behind the scenes and sample some of the Bay Area’s most popular bites.
Enjoy a taste of a San Francisco’s institution, Boudin Bakery—the city’s oldest continued operating business since 1849—and tour their flagship location at Fisherman’s Wharf. Boudin’s Museum and Bakery Tour not only offer interactive exhibits about the history of Boudin and San Francisco, but a 30-foot observation window into the ground floor demonstration bakery, where you and your little chef can see a team of bakers up to their elbows in sourdough. For those who really want the full Boudin experience, Boudin offers an exclusive 20 minute group session, where for $20 per person, participants will not only learn how the signature sourdough is made, but will knead and shape the dough with one of Boudin’s highly skilled bakers. Strollers permitted on both tours.
Good to Know: Tours are free for Boudin diners only, otherwise docent-guided museum tours are $5/person, and self-guided tours run $3/person. They recommend calling ahead to secure tour times as Boudin hosts many private events that may conflict.
160 Jefferson St.
San Francisco, CA
From Sour Apple to Berry Blue to the popular Buttered Popcorn, see how all your favorite Jelly Belly flavors are made at the Jelly Belly Factory. Located in Fairfield, you and your little one will enjoy the factory’s free forty minute guided walking tour showcasing their 150 different sweet treats. The good news is that even the wee ones can come, as strollers are permitted on the tour. Since this is a fully functioning manufacturing facility, production schedules may change so be sure to plan your trip and check for dates on their events calendar.
Good to Know: Tours are offered Monday–Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m., departing every 10–15 minutes with typical wait times of 15 mins. Holidays may have as long as an hour-long wait, so plan accordingly.
1 Jelly Belly Lane
What's better than an ice cream-cookie sandwich? One dipped in chocolate! The It's-It craze started nearly 90 years ago, when founder George Whitley placed a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two fresh oatmeal cookies, then upped the ante by dipping it into dark chocolate. The decadent desserts are now created in Burlingame. While this is the factory, your visit will be relegated to the factory store—however, they do offer a video showing you the process. Bonus: you can buy all of the flavors there, plus unique memorabilia and other frozen treats.
Good to know: The shop isn't open on weekends. Just Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
865 Burlway Rd
For the eight and older set, Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco’s Mission district is a true foodchild’s eyes will light up as they taste cacao as it goes through the process of bean to chocolate bar. Dandelion Chocolate offers tours Wednesday-Saturday, 6:15-6:50 p.m., but be sure to book your tour ahead of time online as they can fill up quickly. Tours cost $5/person, and includes a hot chocolate gift card. Dandelion Chocolate also offers children’s classes—interactive, behind-the-scenes workshops catered towards children ages 7-12.
Good to Know: Closed-toe shoes are required as the tour consists of walking around Dandelion’s production areas.
740 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA
Cowgirl Creamery is the destination for all the cheese lovers out there. They offer 60-minute guided tours at their original Pt. Reyes creamery on Fridays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. You and your little one will not only see their curd-making techniques, but you can indulge in samples of all of Cowgirl Creamery’s fine cheeses.
Good to Know: Tour cost $5 per person, and maximum tour group is 15 spots. Reserve your spot online as they can sell out quickly.
80 4th St.
Point Reyes Station, CA
Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory
Ever wonder how a fortune gets inside a fortune cookie? See for yourself and go on a culinary adventure to San Francisco’s Chinatown, where tucked away in a nondescript alley is the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. This small factory has been churning out fortune cookies since 1962. Enjoy the sweet smell of freshly-baked goodies as you and your kiddo watch cookies pressed and molded right before your eyes. Free samples of “mistakes,” or flat fortune cookies, are abundant!
Good to Know: While the visit is free, if you want to take a snapshot of the fortune cookies being made it’ll cost a whopping 50¢ per click!
56 Ross Alley
San Francisco, CA
Anchor Brewing Company
A family outing to Anchor Brewing, America’s first and oldest craft brewery, is a must. Your kiddos obviously won’t be able to partake in the tastings, but they’ll still appreciate the history of this brewery and the history of San Francisco, as the brewery dates back to the days of the Gold Rush. Seeing the huge vats and fermentation tanks is pretty cool, too.
Good to Know: Anchor Brewing guided tours are offered Monday-Friday, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Online reservations are required. It costs $15 per person, but 21 and under are free.
1705 Mariposa St.
San Francisco, CA
Tours are back at this award-winning chocolate factory in Berkeley. Since 2007, TCHO has been making craft chocolate and has won over 20 International Chocolate Awards. Kids eight and up can get a behind-the-scenes, 90-minute look at how raw ingredients transform into deliciously decadent chocolate and learn about the famous flavor laboratory. For $10 a ticket, you'll get to nibble on dark, milk and Flavor of the Day samples. Be sure to check out their retail store at the end of the tour and use the included $10 off coupon to take some home!
Good to Know: Photography is not permitted at certain areas, but they have designated photo opportunities and selfie locations throughout the tour.
3100 San Pablo Avenue
—Sandra Lee, Melissa Bouse & Yannina Pacis