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Manufacturing Tours in Michigan: Factory Visits for Kids

Cara is a mother of two children who also worked as an elementary school teacher.

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.

Kid-Friendly Factory Tours in Michigan

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.

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 were 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.

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Jiffy Mix factory in Chelsea, MI.

Jiffy Mix factory in Chelsea, MI.

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. Afterward, light refreshments 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 F-150 pickup 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.

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

TourHoursCostLength 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: $15.00 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 for children aged 3-13

Approximately 2 hours (Allow for longer time in the spring if touring the gardens.)

Locations of Michigan Factory Tours

© 2012 cardelean

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