Manufacturing Tours in Michigan: Factory Visits for Kids

Updated on January 11, 2017
World's largest "real" teddy bear makes his home at the Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory.
World's largest "real" teddy bear makes his home at the Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory. | Source

Manufacturing in Michigan and Kid Friendly Field Trips

Michigan is well known for being the automobile capital of the world. However, it also hosts a great number of manufacturing companies. Some of the ones that may be more familiar to you are Lays Potato Chips, Wonder Bread, Jiffy (Baking) Mixes, formerly Strohs Brewing Company, Faygo (Soda) Pop, and Vernors (Soda) Pop. Some of these wonderful companies allow the public to come in and tour their factories. There are also some lesser known manufacturing companies that welcome guests. Here are some kid friendly factories that are great for field trips or just for a family outing.

Photos of the Teddy Bear Factory Tour and Toy Museum

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Alex and Grace next to a HUGE bear!Examples of original teddy bears.The first bear toys were not plush but were hard toys and were often on wheels.Presidential bears.American Flag made of teddy bears.  It set a world record.The making of a teddy bear begins with a sketch.Sample of a sketch.Once the design is made and parts cut out, they are sewn together inside out.Tati explains to Grace and Alex how the die cut machine works.This is the "fluffing" machine that fluffs the polyester fill before it is stuffed into the animals.Animal stuffing station.Grace and Alex stuff their animals with Tati's help.The finished product!  A pink poodle and a black and white cat.
Alex and Grace next to a HUGE bear!
Alex and Grace next to a HUGE bear! | Source
Examples of original teddy bears.
Examples of original teddy bears. | Source
The first bear toys were not plush but were hard toys and were often on wheels.
The first bear toys were not plush but were hard toys and were often on wheels. | Source
Presidential bears.
Presidential bears. | Source
American Flag made of teddy bears.  It set a world record.
American Flag made of teddy bears. It set a world record. | Source
The making of a teddy bear begins with a sketch.
The making of a teddy bear begins with a sketch. | Source
Sample of a sketch.
Sample of a sketch. | Source
Once the design is made and parts cut out, they are sewn together inside out.
Once the design is made and parts cut out, they are sewn together inside out. | Source
Tati explains to Grace and Alex how the die cut machine works.
Tati explains to Grace and Alex how the die cut machine works. | Source
This is the "fluffing" machine that fluffs the polyester fill before it is stuffed into the animals.
This is the "fluffing" machine that fluffs the polyester fill before it is stuffed into the animals. | Source
Animal stuffing station.
Animal stuffing station. | Source
Grace and Alex stuff their animals with Tati's help.
Grace and Alex stuff their animals with Tati's help. | Source
The finished product!  A pink poodle and a black and white cat.
The finished product! A pink poodle and a black and white cat. | Source

Chelsea Teddy Bear Company

As we searched for a one day adventure (we like to go on mini adventures), my husband and I decided that a trip out to the Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory would be fun. Chelsea, Michigan is a very small town that is known for four things. Jiffy Mix, Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory, The Common Grill Restaurant, and The Purple Rose Theater founded by native Michigander and Chelsea resident, Jeff Daniels.

The Chelsea Teddy Bear Company is located on Main Street in downtown Chelsea. Tours are available on Saturdays. We had great fun as the tour began learning about the history of toys and how the first teddy bear evolved. From there we moved into the plant area. The company creates three types of bears on the site, while the rest are sent out for manufacturing. We learned about how they begin with a sketch and move to the die cutting of the parts, followed by sewing and stuffing the bears. The tour is free and you can purchase various bears and stuffed toys in the gift shop. If you wish, you can choose an "unstuffed" animal to stuff yourself. It even comes with a 'birth certificate.'

Grace and Alex each chose an animal to stuff. They did need some additional help in getting the stuffing into the legs and arms of the animals. In the end they were quite pleased with their animals. Alex dressed his black and white cat in a pirate outfit and Grace chose a ballet outfit for her pink poodle.

Chelsea Teddy Bear Company Factory Tour Video

Jiffy Mix factory in Chelsea, MI.
Jiffy Mix factory in Chelsea, MI. | Source

Jiffy Factory Tour of Chelsea Milling Company

If you've ever seen the little blue and white box of baking mixes (from corn bread muffins to apple cinnamon muffins) with the name Jiffy across the top, they are a native Michigan Company. Located directly across from the Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory, it is the perfect addition after a stop at the Teddy Bear Factory.

The Chelsea Milling Company has been milling flour in the area for over 120 years. In the 1930s, the first baking mix was introduced and is now what you see on store shelves. They are a complete operation, meaning they store and mill the wheat, create the mixes and make their boxes all at the facility. During the tour, guests will view a video and tour the packaging plant. Afterwards, a light refreshment will be served and visitors will receive a gift bag with some baking mixes and other surprises. **Note: All factory visitors must be in first grade or older to participate.

Morley Candy Factory Tour

Morley Candy Company is also home to the delicious Sanders chocolate (especially their hot fudge!) The tour is appropriate for all ages and starts with a video of the story of chocolate. Then visitors view the production line where the delicious candies are made. At the end of the tour a sample is given to guests and then visitors are able to browse the candy and gift shop. The is a prefect stop for those who are chocolate lovers. It is a short, but sweet tour!

Ford River Rouge Factory Tour

The Ford River Rouge Factory Tour begins at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. From there, visitors are bused to the plant where the tour begins. The tour is self-guided and is comprised of five parts: the legacy theater which gives a history of the plant, the art of manufacturing theater which explores how automobiles are made, the observation deck which houses the largest living roof garden in the world, the plant walking tour where guests view an actual assembly line in progress, and the legacy gallery where one can view historic vehicles.

Since this tour includes an observation of the actual assembly of the Ford 150 truck, there is not always production taking place. Be sure that you check with the museum when purchasing tickets to be sure that the production line is operating.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
An example of wooden shoes that would be made in the factory.
Source
An example of wooden shoes that would be made in the factory.
An example of wooden shoes that would be made in the factory. | Source

DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory

The DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory is located in Holland, Michigan on the west side of the state. As you enter the building, you will be surrounded by beautiful works of art. Not only will a very knowledgeable staff member be available to share the information with you about how the wooden shoes and Delft earthenware are created, but you will be able to view the works of art in the making. There are hundreds of unique products available for you to view and purchase. The factory tour is free, however if you wish to visit the Veldheer Gardens that are adjacent to the facility, there is a fee. The beauty of the gardens will overwhelm you, especially in the spring when the tulips are in bloom. It is a wonderful experience for both adults and children alike.

General Factory Tour Information

Tour
Hours
Cost
Length of Tour/Additional Information
Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory
Tours are held on Saturdays at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm, and
Free
About 30 minutes
Jiffy Factory Tour
Monday-Friday 9:00 am -3:00 pm
Free
About 1 hour for the tour, additional time needed for gift shop. **Reservations required (734)475-1361 Visitors must be in first grade or older
Morley Candy Tour
Guided Tours Monday-Friday at 10:00 am, 11:30 am, and 1:00 pm, Self-guided tours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-3:00 pm weekdays
Free
About 1 hour
Ford River Rouge Tour
Monday-Saturday, 9:30-5:00 Buses leave from the museum for the plant every 20 minutes
Adults: $!5.00 Children: $11.00 Seniors: $14.00 (Museum member prices are slightly less.)
Approximately 2 hours
DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory
Monday-Saturday 9:00 am-6:00 pm
Factory Tour is Free, Touring the Gardens and Bison is $10.00 for adults, $5.00 3-13
Approximately 2 hours (Allow for longer time in the spring if touring the gardens.)

Locations of Michigan Factory Tours

A
Chelsea Teddy Bear Factory:
400 N Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118, USA

get directions

This company is located directly across the street from the Jiffy Mix Plant. To see the exact location, zoom in.

B
Jiffy Mix Factory:
201 North St, Chelsea, MI 48118, USA

get directions

C
Morley Candy Factory:
23770 Hall Rd, Charter Township of Clinton, MI 48036, USA

get directions

D
Henry Ford Museum/Ford River Rouge Factory:
20900 Oakwood Blvd, Dearborn, MI 48124, USA

get directions

E
DeKlomp Wooden Shoe and Delft Factory:
12755 Quincy St, Holland, MI 49424, USA

get directions

Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Linda 

        3 years ago

        Are there tours of Vernors ?

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        As always, you are very welcome randomcreative. Thanks for your visit!

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Glad that you like the chart, they can be handy references! So glad that you took the time to visit and comment twinstimes2!

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks Sally's Trove, I love discovering things about my state! We actually visited Hershey's Chocolate Factory last summer and I wrote a hub about our experience. I'm sure that many states have great tours such as these. Thanks so much for your visit and comments!

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        I learned a lot about the history of toys on this tour K9. Thanks for the positive feedback. :)

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Haha, it's still just a really small town but it does have a lot to offer.

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks Amelia, I appreciate the visit.

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        It was fun. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon together. Grace and Alex made muffins at school one day with those mixes so they recognized the picture right away.

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Or you could pack up those cutie boys of yours and take a road trip! We'd meet you along the way and your boys could teach my kids how to say "bye" Southern Style! :)

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Thanks HawaiiHeart, I'm glad that you enjoyed it!

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Hmmm...I think that chocolate out weighs the bears for me! So glad to see you here teaches12345. I appreciate your comments!

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        Awesome Kelley! :)

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        You're welcome Daisy. I love educational tours as well. So many things in life can be both fun and educational, all you need is a little creativity! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      • randomcreative profile image

        Rose Clearfield 

        6 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

        What a great resource for parents and teachers! Thanks Cara.

      • twinstimes2 profile image

        Karen Lackey 

        6 years ago from Ohio

        Awesome Hub. We are in OH so these really aren't that far away. I like the detail, but most I like the chart. It makes it more than a hub. It is a reference tool and summarized the details for me. Thanks and great job! Voted up!

      • Sally's Trove profile image

        Sherri 

        6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

        These tours are great finds. I've been to Michigan once in my life for a quick two-day wedding event. If I'd known about these tours, I'd have stayed longer.

        Super hub about Michigan tours, and also to alert folks that these manufacturing tours are all over the country if you want to seek them out. Hershey chocolate in Hershey, PA, and the famous Tabasco sauce tour on Avery Island in Louisiana come to mind.

      • K9keystrokes profile image

        India Arnold 

        6 years ago from Northern, California

        What a handy chart, and the Chelsea Teddy Bear Tour information is amazing! I found it very interesting that early bears were hard (not plush) and often on wheels. Gotta say, I like the fluffy ones much better! I couldn't take my eyes off of the Delft earthenware image; that cobalt blue is simply beautiful!

        Great pictures, great story, great table information. This one is "another" real winner! ;)

        Thanks for always doing such spectacular work, Cara.

        HubHugs~

      • Denise Handlon profile image

        Denise Handlon 

        6 years ago from North Carolina

        Cara-great photos and information. I didn't realize that this was actually IN Chelsea, haha. Last time (ages ago) I was in Chelsea it was just a little hiccup north of Ann Arbor, and barely on the map.

        Nice job. Enjoyed. Up and across. Loved the 'BIG BEAR' photo of the munchkins.

      • Amelia Aitken profile image

        Amelia Aitken 

        6 years ago from London, United Kingdom

        Beautiful Hubs !

      • Danette Watt profile image

        Danette Watt 

        6 years ago from Illinois

        I didn't know Jiffy was a MI product. We just made their corn muffins last week. The teddy bear factory tour looks like it was fun, something I would do with the boys when they were younger if we had something like that around. Voted up and interesting.

      • alissaroberts profile image

        Alissa Roberts 

        6 years ago from Normandy, TN

        Oh how fun! Now you got me wondering if we have any cool factory tours around Tennessee. My dad travels down to Michigan at least 3 to 4 times a month for business. Maybe I should just sneak on the plane with him and take some of these tours when he is working! Great hub with fun pictures - voted up!

      • HawaiiHeart profile image

        HawaiiHeart 

        6 years ago from Hawaii

        Sounds like so much fun! What a great variety of tours!

      • teaches12345 profile image

        Dianna Mendez 

        6 years ago

        Chocolate and Teddy bears are my favorite choices, and the fact that they are free is wonderful. I would love to see all the different types of teddy bears made. The huge toy in the photo is adorable. Great topic and voted up.

      • profile image

        kelleyward 

        6 years ago

        I will cardelean! That would be great! Kelley

      • Daisy Mariposa profile image

        Daisy Mariposa 

        6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

        Cara,

        These look like fun tours! Thanks so much for linking to my article that discusses the history of the teddy bear.

        I like educational tours for children, ones in which they can learn something and have fun at the same time. Great job!

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        My kids loved it a lot! It was a little short and we were hoping to see the actual production but they loved stuffing their own animals. I hate being surprised by restrictions as well. Especially if you have already gotten the kids excited about something. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      • cardelean profile imageAUTHOR

        cardelean 

        6 years ago from Michigan

        What kind words Kelley, thank you! Let me know if you ever make it out this way, we'd be happy to show you around. :)

      • leahlefler profile image

        Leah Lefler 

        6 years ago from Western New York

        What a great (and educational) review of factories in Michigan - my kids would love the teddy bear tour! Actually, they may love the candy factory tour more - I love the fact that you included the age restrictions (first grade and up for the Jiffy tour). I hate being surprised by a restriction at the door, especially since we have one elementary schooler and one preschooler!

      • profile image

        kelleyward 

        6 years ago

        You have done it again! What a great hub full of useful information for families who are touring in the Michigan area! Voted up and useful and shared!. Hope I can get there someday this looks great! Take care, Kelley

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