Kids are super curious by nature and ask a lot of questions. A lot of questions. Especially when it comes to discovering how various things are made. “How do you make pasghetti?” “How do you make sugar, sugar, SUGARRRR?!” “How do you make babies?” (You’re on your own on that last one.) Factory tours of local businesses are a fun, educational & tasty way to pull back the Wizard’s curtain, so to speak. We’ve rounded up six of the grooviest food and beverage tours around the LA area, and the best part is they’re all totally free!
Golden Road Brewing
Parched parents looking for some of the best craft brews in town are in luck. Golden Road Brewing welcomes the entire brood (small pints included) to stop by and learn all about the beer making process. This uber-friendly, full-service brewery gives tour guests a behind-the-scenes look at the pub, cold box where they store packaged beer, tank farm where delish suds are fermented and stored, and brew deck where brewers actually brew the beer. Visitors also learn about the filtration process and how the can line works. Littles even have a chance to taste the malted barley grains that make beer, while the grown-ups get to sample a cold one. Cheers to that!
Tour 411: Free tours are given Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.. To book one, just sign up with the pub bartender.
5410 W. San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles
Graber Olive House
For generations, the Graber Olive House has been growing some of the finest olives in the country. Full of rich texture and a unique nutlike flavor, they’re truly one of the most succulent delicacies on the market. The Graber Family warmly invites famlies to tour the historic grounds and learn more about the olive growing, curing and canning process. In fact, the tour serves as California history lesson of sorts as they’ve been curing olives in Ontario since 1894, and their plant was last modernized in 1934. Most of the plant’s equipment is about chest high to an adult, so littles may need an occasional boost from mom and dad to take in all the sights. Also, be sure to save room for an olive or two as samples are given to visitors in the gift shop.
Tour 411: Free walk-in tours are available upon request Monday – Sunday, 9:45 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. For groups of 10 or more, advanced reservations are required.
315 E. Fourth St., Ontario
If you’re looking for a tour where your kiddos not only learn about the food industry, but more importantly, get a life lesson in heart, then Homeboy Industries is just the ticket. Homeboy works with high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women by operating several social enterprises that serve as job-training sites. Among these are the Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe and Catering and Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise which are featured on the tour. During a visit, families follow a trainee and learn more about how they came to Homeboy, what life was like before they got there and how Homeboy has helped them turn things around. Samples are usually available at the bakery counter and if not, tikes are definitely encouraged to ask if they spot something yummy they’d like to try.
Tour 411: Free tours are available Monday – Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. by reservation through the Homeboy Industries site.
130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles
E. Waldo Ward & Son
Welcome to sugar rush central. Since the early 1900’s, E. Waldo Ward & Son has been crafting some of the tastiest jams, jellies and marmalades on the West Coast. Located on a picturesque plot of land in Sierra Madre, E. Waldo Ward offers families a tour that’s chock full of sweet sights to behold. Guests learn the history of the company, how their products are made, manufactured and packaged (with a little food science thrown in for good measure) and can also browse the on-site farming museum afterwards. Samples are available as well – kids dig the sweet stuff, but you’ve got to try the Raspberry Jalapeno Jam. It’s divine.
Tour 411: Free tours are available on Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. by calling ahead.
273 E. Highland Ave., Sierra Madre
San Antonio Winery
A tour where tots can learn something while mom and dad enjoy a little vino? Yahtzee! Founded in 1917, the breathtaking San Antonio Winery still stands strong as the last producing winery in LA and remains an important historical part of California’s wine community. During a tour of the winery, guests have a chance to see the fermentation warehouses, private event rooms, barrel towers and bottling machines. A complimentary wine tasting of three samples off a selected list is available as well (for the parental units only, of course).
Tour 411: Free tours are available Monday – Friday, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. on the hour and Saturday – Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on the hour. Reservations are required for groups of 8 or more. You may want to call ahead during the holidays in case there are any private events taking place during tour times.
737 Lamar St., Los Angeles
Boudin Bakery at Disney California Adventure Park
Tons of So Cal families head to Disneyland during the holidays (you brave souls you), so why not squeeze in a free tour of the Boudin Bakery while you’re there? Located inside Disney California Adventure Park, this quick and easy tour guided by Rosie O’Donnell and Colin Mochrie (on video of course) gives guests an insider’s look at the history of San Francisco’s oldest running bakery, shows how bread is made and even provides expert tips for baking the perfect loaf. If all this fresh baked goodness suddenly leaves you feeling like you’re at the hungriest place on earth rather than the happiest, don’t fret – samples are handed out at the conclusion of the tour.
Tour 411: Free tours are given daily on a walk-in basis during Disney California Adventure’s operating hours.
1313 Disneyland Dr., Anaheim
Dont have time for a factory tour, but wanna show the kiddos how sweets are made?
See some scientific ice cream making taking place, or watch in wonder as chocolate gets ground and mixed before your very eyes.