This year has been quite a different experience for us than the previous 5 (yes – can you believe we are working on our SIXTH year of traveling!?!). We realized that we were skipping some great stops just because we had been there before – but that was years ago, and the littles were tiny (or not here!), and they haven’t had some of those experiences. So, this winter, we have REvisited some of our favorite stops!Of course, being on the west coast, THE JELLY BELLY FACTORY was right there at the top of the revisit list! Because, even if we didn’t have littles who couldn’t remember doing the tour before, one can never take too many factory tours when they involve candy!
The Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield, CA (an hour north of San Francisco) offers free tours 7 days a week! We went on a tour there in 2009, and returned this year to take another one since on our first visit, Caleb was not born, Molly was 2 months old, and Savanna was only 2!
The factory offers a full cafe, for both staff and visitors…
A couple of different areas for purchasing their items, a pressed penny machine, and even this fun ride. The race car takes $.50 to run, but Caleb climbed in and pressed the button, and it gave him a ride. He was a happy camper. lol.
The Jelly Belly Factory has all sorts of interesting displays, spread throughout the lobby, that are fun to look at and take pictures with while you are waiting for the next tour!
The line for the factory tour begins under this guy…
Tours run every 10 to 15 minutes from 9 am to 4 pm, 7 days a week, and the gift shop and public areas close at 5pm. The tours during the week are the ones that you want to try to hit, as the factory is running and you can see the factory in actual production. The 40 minute tours are mainly conducted on a large enclosed catwalk above the factory floor. Tours consist of a staff member narrating your tour, as well as watching videos that show close ups of the production of the jelly beans, and along the way you are given a few samples of jelly beans in varying stages of production.
Before the tour begins, everyone must don one of these stylish hats, and you get your picture taken for those cheesy destination photos that they try to sell you on at the end (for the record, we’ve only ever purchased those once).
No photographs are allowed while on the tour, so we can’t show you the production floor. Pics wouldn’t do it justice anyway, so you will just have to trust me that it’s exceptionally interesting! And actually, the photo that I want the most is not of the production floor, it is of one of the pictures that hangs in the factory, along the tour. It is a jelly bean portrait that is a tribute to Doolittle’s Raiders.
Throughout the factory, there are dozens of pictures on the wall…
Only they aren’t just ANY picture – these jelly bean portraits are made entirely of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans! 10 to 14 THOUSAND jelly beans in EACH picture.
Did you know that Ronald Reagan gave Jelly Belly jelly beans quite a boost in popularity? They were President Reagan’s favorite candy (he began snacking on them when he quit smoking his pipe), and Jelly Belly actually created the blueberry jelly bean after President Reagan was elected, so that he could serve red, white, and blue jelly beans in the White House!
After the tour, which includes everything from pouring sugar into the mixers, to bagging the candies, and a few fun samples to take home at the end, it’s time to head back downstairs and step up to the sample counter!
At the sample counter, you can request up to 3 flavors to try! That’s 3 flavors each time you step up to the counter, which could be quite a few times if the gift shop isn’t busy! They encourage multiple visits! Since we were the only ones at the sample counter, we could have gone through to our heart’s content, but we capped the littles at 3 visits. The bigs tried a few of the more ‘unusual’ flavors, like grass clippings, and skunk spray (I’m serious), and then went to check out the rest of the gift shop.
Back home, the kids have played Jelly Belly’s Bean Boozled Game at friends of ours. The gift shop had refills for Bean Boozled, so we picked some up for them…
spin the spinner, get a color, find out if you are eating a canned dog food tasting jelly bean, or a chocolate pudding chocolate pudding flavored jelly bean when you pop it into your mouth??? …and no, you can’t spit it out. (ewww!)
All sorts of fun things to be had in the gift shop – we picked up some ‘Belly Flops’ to send home (Belly Flops are beans that are flawed in some way and don’t get the official ‘Jelly Belly’ stamp).
The Jelly Belly Factory Tour is very child friendly, and the tour is stroller and wheelchair accessible.
We suggest giving the factory a good 2 hours; take the tour, check out the gift shop, and try some samples (it’s not just jelly beans here – be sure to try the fudge and the chocolate covered bacon too!). There is also a Jelly Belly Factory in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and they offer tours too!
If you collect pressed pennies, there is a machine in the cafe’. While you cannot take photos during the tour, there are multiple photo ops throughout the rest of the building, and outside. Because everyone needs a photo of a Jelly Belly wrapped rv…
(and the little girls are now convinced that our RV should be wrapped in jelly beans too!)
The Jelly Belly Factory tour is one of our fav tours ever! It’s fun for all ages, and the take home treats can’t be beat! You can find their tour web page here, and you can even shop for their products on the site.
We loved our visit, and brought home way too much sugary goodness!
Thank you for yet another great visit Jelly Belly, and yes, we will be back!