This is a big day for those who, like us, love factory tours and company museums. Not just one but two major attractions are opening today.
In Atlanta, behold the vast new World of Coca-Cola. Built at a cost of $96 million, the facility covers 20 acres and holds a vast collection of artifacts and exhibits. An article in The Wall Street Journal has further information.
In addition to existing tours of three other factories, Harley-Davidson has begun giving tours of its Tomahawk Operations in Tomahawk, Wisconsin. This facility makes, finishes, and ships a variety of parts for Harley-Davidson motorcycles: windshields, sidecars, composite, and plastic parts. Tours of the factory run through Friday, August 31, 2007. The Tour Center highlights the manufacturing operations at the plant, and will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Call 877-883-1450 for more info. You can also read more about the Tomahawk tour at TotalMotorcycle.com.
Posted By Karen Axelrod May 24, 2007
For children (and their parents), boredom is the enemy on summer vacations. If you are planning a trip with young children, Watch It Made in the U.S.A. can help. Many factory tours and company museums offer fun activities for kids. We give a few examples below.
Perhaps no American toy is more universal and recognizable than the classic teddy bear, named after President Theodore Roosevelt when it came into fashion in 1906. Remarkably, only a few manufacturers of teddy bears remain in the United States. In Shelburne, Vermont, Vermont Teddy Bear offers splendid tours for children: from the initial cutting and sewing to the insertion of polyester stuffing and the final "bath" of blown air that whisks excess fuzz from the fabric.
Make your mark
Crayons have long enlivened summer car journeys for young back-seat travelers. Children love these artistic utensils, and they can see how crayons are made in Easton, Pennsylvania. Binney & Smith, the maker of Crayola products, opened The Crayola FACTORY in 1996. This facility combines a factory tour with a hands-on children's discovery center. You can watch molten paraffin wax as it is poured into molds that form crayons—1,200 at a time!—and view the process that assembles markers. Then you can visit the Creative Studio, where the attractions include opportunities to draw on clear glass walls with special glass-writer markers—a kind of artistic fun that most kids probably wouldn't dare to try at home!
All children love animals, and some places specialize in raising these living "products." Though the minimum age is five, Guide Dogs for the Blind offers a wonderful tour that shows visitors the process of training the guide dogs that help visually impaired people have normal lives in our communities. Located in San Rafael, California (near San Francisco), the organization is also a school that trains blind people in how to use their dogs.
In Deerfield, Massachusetts, Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens runs a tropical greenhouse where it raises thousands of butterflies from various parts of the world. As you stroll through the ranks of lush greenery, the vivid butterflies flutter around you and may even land on your clothing. A special area shows you how the staff raise the butterflies from caterpillars—which are, like little ones everywhere, "eating machines" that gobble up food to grow and develop into adults.
Posted By Karen Axelrod May 7, 2007