Next time you decide to hit the road and explore Wisconsin, take some time to visit these five factories. They offer everything from botched jelly beans to handcrafted wooden wagons.
Not heading out of town? Then check out: All the Tours You Can Take in and Around Milwaukee
In Pleasant Prairie, a quick hour drive from Milwaukee, you’ll find a candy lover’s paradise just off highway 31. The Jelly Belly visitor center (not technically a factory) offers tours of their facility, during which you get to wear a funny little Jelly Belly hat, ride on a small yellow Jelly Belly train, watch Jelly Belly production videos, and see full-size portraits of famous figures made entirely of jelly beans. If you’re not convinced, you should know that this tour is completely free. That’s because the real money comes out at the gift shop, which is full of every possible variety of jelly beans a human could imagine — from Harry Potter-themed Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans to Belly Flops, which are botched jelly beans that factory errors cut, mashed, twisted and maimed into weird and unconventional shapes.
Address: 10100 Jelly Belly Ln., Pleasant Prairie
Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The conventional Wisconsin factory tour-taker has probably been to all of Milwaukee’s storied breweries, and they are pretty great, but we’re here to defy convention, send you out into the far reaches of this beautiful state — Steven’s Point — where you can find a beer-lovers treasure. The Steven’s Point Brewery is the third oldest continually operating brewery in the nation. With a reservation and $5 (only $3 if you happen to be a factory tour-lover ages 5-11), you can get an hour-long tour of the factory, samples of Point’s newest craft beers and a free gift at the end of the tour.
Address: 2617 Water St., Stevens Point
Hours: Call 715-344-9310 to reserve a tour time.
The year is 1975, and a couple of cool fellas want to start a bike company in Wisconsin. In Waterloo, Wisconsin, their plans come to fruition in a barn, where they start up a small company known as Trek Bikes. Though they’ve left the bell bottoms and disco of that miraculous decade behind, Trek Bikes has expanded into a major national bicycle chain, and they offer a unique factory tour experience at their Waterloo headquarters. You can experience a firsthand look at the history and production of these fine bicycles. They also boast some of the most environmentally-friendly facilities in the state.
Address: 801 W Madison St., Waterloo
Hours: Wednesday at 9 a.m., but call ahead to make sure.
It may be a stereotype, but no list of Wisconsin factory tours would be complete without cheese. There are so many great cheese factories in this state: Cedar Grove, Carr Valley, Old Country Wisconsin and Widmer’s, just to name a few. But for this list, we’re going with Arena Cheese in Arena, Wisconsin. A short drive from Madison, it’s a perfect stop during your next weekend getaway to the state capital. You can watch the artisan cheese makers peddle their trade, as they curd their way to greatness, creating fine cheeses for us dairy-loving Wisconsinites. Their specialty is Colby-Jack, which we all know is one of the greatest cheeses to ever grace the earth.
Address: 300 US Highway 14, Arena
Hours: Viewing offered from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Janesville, Wisconsin, is home to some of the best woodworking in the state, as the Wisconsin Wagon Company creates wooden designs steeped in history and craftsmanship. The Janesville Coaster Wagon, their primary product, has a design dating back to 1915. Factory tours last roughly an hour and are $3 per person — a small price to pay for a quality day trip experience replete with the wonders of woodworking.
Address: 507 Laurel Ave., Janesville
Hours: Call ahead (608-754-0026) to reserve a time.