At some point or another, we’ve all pondered the creative and industrial processes used to create some of our favorite products. Satisfy your curiosity by touring the point of origination. Factory tours offer consumers greater insight into how things — chocolate, hot sauce, moonshine and even baseball bats — are made. Today, we share with you a few of our favorite factory tours across the South. Great for a vacation destination or perhaps just a fun Saturday outing, these tours are sure to keep the whole family entertained!

Release Your Inner Geek

SPIRITS TOURS

Jack Daniel’s Distillery • Lynchburg, TN

Whiskey, scotch, rye, bourbon … they’re all a little different and yet oddly the same. We’ve heard that Tennessee whiskey will vehemently defend its uniqueness, and a trip to Jack Daniel in Lynchburg, TN, will show you why. A tour of the distillery includes the story of the whiskey itself and how it came to be made, with a few tidbits about Mr. Jack himself. Five different tour options are available daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Click HERE to find out which is the best option for you.

The visitors’ center at the Jack Daniel’s Distillery is a welcoming introduction to the brand and product. Image: Jack Daniel’s

Maker’s Mark Distillery • Louisville, KY

Maker’s Mark differs from its Southern neighbor. To learn the difference between bourbon and whiskey, Maker’s Mark is the place to go as guests can learn the distilling process of corn or grain and see just how the famous spirit is made. The General Distillery Tour costs $14 and runs Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sundays, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Samples are included for those of drinking age, though those younger than 21 are still welcome on the tour. You can also choose from four other tour options HERE.

The hand-dipped wax seal on the Maker’s Mark bottle is iconic. Image: Maker’s Mark

Sugarlands Distillery • Gatlinburg, TN

Thanks to TV shows like “Duck Dynasty” and “Moonshiners,” the formerly elicit high-proof spirit has become quite trendy. Sugarlands Distillery in Gatlinburg, TN, a three-hour drive from Nashville, distills white corn whiskey, but has more than just alcohol to share with its guests. The Back Porch serves as a stage for local bluegrass acts, as well as a home to the Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association. The distillery also partners with an outdoor company to provide visitors with beautiful trips into the surrounding area. The free distillery tour walks through the entire moonshine making process. They take place Sunday through Thursday, noon to 7 p.m. Find additional tour and workshop options HERE.

Sugarland Distillery gives a great inside scoop on how moonshine is made.

Copper vats like these heat and distill the fermented corn and rye mixture. Visit Sugarlands in Gatlinburg, TN, to learn more. Image: Sugarlands

SWEETS

Olive & Sinclair Chocolates • Nashville, TN

Duck fat what? Caramel?! In my first week in Nashville, I’d seen the chocolate treats numerous times and heard about them again and again. Either everyone was crazy or a visit to Olive & Sinclair, the makers of such sweets and other delicious chocolates, was in order. I settled on the latter, much to my sweet tooth’s content. The tour includes LOTS of samples (obviously important), as well as information about the entire “bean-to-bar” process and history of the artisan chocolate company. Olive & Sinclair offers tours for $5 on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

With so many different varieties to try, a trip to Olive & Sinclair for a factory tour is a great way to determine your favorite!

With so many different varieties of chocolate to try, a trip to Olive & Sinclair for a factory tour is a great way to determine your favorite!

Mayfield Dairy Farms • Athens, TN

Nestled between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Athens, TN, is a small town with a big secret: the Mayfield Dairy Farms dairy. Instead of peering at an ice cream carton through the freezer section glass at the grocery store, scoop your own frozen dessert at the dairy’s classic ice cream parlor. In addition, peek behind the scenes at how the sweet treat is manufactured. Tours are $4.50 for adults, and run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Visit the Mayfield Dairy Farms dairy for a behind-the-scenes peek at the production of their ice cream. Image: Mayfield Dairy Farms

NOVELTIES

Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory • Louisville, KY

Horses and the Derby may typically be the first thing to come to mind when Louisville, KY, is mentioned. However, the home to Churchill Downs is also home to the most iconic baseball bats in history. Louisville Sluggers have been swung by legends like Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and so many more. The factory tour shows how each bat is carefully crafted to suit professional and beginning players alike. Other highlights include the Signature Wall and the Bat Vault, which show the history of famous bats and the players who hit with them. Louisville’s tours cost $16 for adults and run Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Step into the batting cage and hit with the replica bats of baseball legends. Image: Louisville Slugger Museum

Hatch Show Print • Nashville, TN

Whether you live in Nashville or are just visiting, you’ve likely heard live music pouring through the downtown streets. It isn’t called Music City for nothing! The history of Nashville’s greatest music hits can be seen at the Country Music Hall of Fame, which is also home to Hatch Show Print, the legendary letterpress print shop that has created posters for musicians and bands — big and small — for ages. Take a walk through entertainment history and admire vintage and contemporary posters side-by-side. Tours are $18 for adults and run every day of the week at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m., plus an additional 11 a.m. tour on Saturdays and Sundays.

Visit Hatch Show Print for a glimpse of music history. Image: Hatch Show Print

FOOD

Bush’s Baked Beans • Dandridge, TN

Many may remember the TV commercials with Jay Bush and his dog, Duke, as the two strive to respectively protect and sell the family recipe. To see the home of the dynamic duo and learn more about how the delicious side dish is made, stop in Dandridge, TN. Located right along Highway 411 between Knoxville and Johnson City, it is the perfect family pit stop. The visitors center is free and open Monday through Saturday, though hours vary by season.

Consider taking a detour along Highway 411 to learn more about Bush’s Baked Beans at their visitors center and plant tour. Image: Bush’s Beans

Golden Flake • Birmingham, AL

We love the crunch of fresh vegetables, but the salty, carb-y goodness that is a potato chip is hard to beat. A Birmingham favorite, Golden Flake Snacks offers one of the more comprehensive tours we’ve seen. Golden Flake welcomes patrons onto the floor of the factory to see the entire production process, from fresh vegetable to crunchy chip. Tours are available by appointment Monday through Thursday at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.

Learn how potatoes become chips at the Golden Flake factory in Birmingham.

Visit the Golden Flake factory in Birmingham to see how ‘The South’s Original Chip” is made. Image: Golden Flake

Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce • Avery Island, LA

Next time you visit New Orleans, make plans to venture outside the city for a tour of the Tabasco factory. Avery Island, roughly two-and-a-half hours west of NOLA, is home to the only Tabasco factory in the world. Learn how peppers are mashed and aged before being strained and mixed with vinegar to create this flavorful hot sauce. The 10-stop factory tour is $5.50, and it runs Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. [SB TIP: Visit the Tabasco Country Store for loads of good gear, pepper sauce products and free samples. And be sure to try the Tabasco ice cream!]

The Tabasco factory tour on Avery Island reveals the entire fresh pepper to bottled sauce process.

The Tabasco factory on Avery Island, LA, teaches visitors all about how the famous pepper sauce is made. Image: McIlhenny Company

Coca-Cola • Atlanta, GA

The snap of the tab through the aluminum can, the hiss of the carbonation bubbling up to the surface, that refreshing first sip that quenches your thirst and truly tastes like the nectar of the gods. Be it a Diet Coke, a Coke Zero or just the trusty red original, Coca-Cola does its soft drinks very well. A trip to the Coke plant in Atlanta reveals the story of the brand and its products. Various samples, a trip down the bottling line and the giant Coca-Cola Polar Bear are all a part of this multimedia experience. Coke tours cost $17 for adults, and times vary depending upon the day.

The Coke factory tour includes a close up view of the bottling line.

Trips to the Coca-Cola plant in Atlanta include a close-up view of the bottling line. Image: World of Coca-Cola

CAR TOURS

The Nissan Plant • Smyrna, TN

We use them every day, take them for granted on a very regular basis and likely have little working knowledge of how they are built. Our cars take us from A to B, but how did they go from metal parts to motorized machine? A tour of the Nissan plant in Smyrna, TN, will reveal all that and more. Tours are available at no charge on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but must be reserved in advance.

Nissan Altima has a great factory tour in Smryna, TN.

Visit Nissan Smryna to see how Altimas like this one are built to perfection. Image: Nissan

The BMW Zentrum Museum • Spartanburg, SC

If you find yourself hopping between the small towns of South Carolina, add Spartanburg to your list. Here, the BMW Zentrum Museum offers an in-depth look at the motor vehicle company’s past and present. See how BMW evolved from airplanes and race cars to the cars we use today on our morning commutes. The Zentrum offers one-hour tours for $10 and two-hour tours for $15. Call to reserve a tour at The Zentrum between Monday and Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m.

The Zentrum offers a look at BMW’s past and present with their vehicle collections. Image: BMW Group

With so many great factories across the South, there are plenty of opportunities to get the family together and engaged! And if you pass through one of our markets along the way, be sure to download the SB App for the best of where to shop and eat!