Places Tagged free tours

Hershey’s Chicago

Chi-town gets down with the undisputed king of American chocolate. Hershey’s Chicago is an interactive experience that chocolate lovers of every age will love. You and your kids will earn about founder Milton S. Hershey and how the equipment he purchased at the 1893 World’s Fair helped him revolutionize the chocolate-making industry. Smile for the camera and design a personalized Hershey bar wrapper with your family picture and a custom phrase. And stop by the Bake Shoppe where the Hershey-izer, a singing baker, will entertain you while he whips up fresh chocolate cupcakes, cookies, brownies and cakes topped with Hershey’s products. This is one time that it’s perfectly okay to indulge your kid’s sweet-tooth cravings. Oh, who are we kidding? It’s a great excuse for you to ditch the diet and indulge a little yourself.

Independence Hall

Nestled in the California Marketplace adjacent to Knott's Theme Park, this exact replica of Independence Hall will take you on a journey back in time. Free admission gives you and your brood access to historic artifacts, an audio presentation of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and an up close view of a replica of the enormous Liberty Bell. While a gift shop filled with history-related souvenirs can be found inside, you and your family may have just as much fun copping a seat on the benches alongside a pond just outside watching ducks, roosters and chickens roam freely. And, you can find free parking next to the marketplace new TGI Friday's for up to three hours.

The Bunny Museum

Whether you love bunny paraphernalia or just want to give your kids the opportunity to pet a live rabbit, this in-home exhibition run by a married couple who loves the long-eared pets is a fun alternative to the usual museum. From bunny lunch pails to carousel rabbits, the Pasadena home features bunny memorabilia of all kinds, currently holding the record for the largest collection of rabbits. Be sure to scope out the room in the back stacked from the floor all the way up to the ceiling with stuffed rabbits and ask about the freeze-dried bunnies. Along the way, you can also pet the rabbits hopping freely around their home or housed in the backyard. Admission is free and by appointment only, but the suggested donation is $5 per person or a potted plant or herb to feed the bunnies.

Morley Candy Makers

Who doesn’t have the dream of visiting a real chocolate factory? At Morley Candy Makers, dreams, covered in chocolate, come true. The free factory tour is perfect for all ages and is available Monday through Friday. The journey begins with a video highlighting the story of chocolate; how chocolate is made and how Sanders and Morley got their start in Detroit. After watching the expert chocolatiers create luscious treats in the 100-foot observation walkway and a free sample, stop into the unique candy and gift shop put the finishing touch on your visit. Group and self-guided tours available. Advanced reservations required. Call to schedule your tour experience. Just beware: It’s nearly impossible to leave without buying a delicious treat!

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is about 30 miles outside of Palm Springs, and well worth the drive. The 800,000 acres hold a rich history; they’ve been inhabited for at least 5,000 years. The park maintains 501 archeological sites and 88 historic structures. Its museum showcases more than 120,000 artifacts. The park is most known for its tree, a prickly oddity with outstretched limbs and tough leaves. It’s also home to “jumping” cholla cactus, desert bighorn, six species of rattlesnakes and many migratory birds. The park also has the most fascination desert formations, including granite monoliths and rugged canyons. And it offers special programs for kids, including becoming a WebRanger to solve mysteries, play games and gather secret words and downloading a story about the park’s iconic tree, Lily.


The City of Fountains

Here’s a Midwestern fun fact: Kansas City has more fountains than any other city in the world, except for Rome, Italy. It’s home to hundreds of fountains and statues, some as old as 300 years, creating dazzling visual displays of fire, water and light. It all started in the nineteenth century, when the first fountains were built over natural springs to supply drinking water. Now, the City of Fountains Foundation works to preserve them not only physically, but to also preserve the role fountains play in our culture as a source of beauty and art. Be sure to take the time to fully explore Kansas City’s flowing treasures. 

TCHO Chocolate Factory Tours

When you think chocolate, Ghirardelli Chocolate may be first to come to mind in San Francisco. But it's the hidden gem TCHO Chocolate that will have you changing your tune. The Embarcadero-based Factory boasts all natural ingredients, free tours and free samples. Although you can make reservations online for one of the two daily tours, you can show up and snag a spot if there's room without the need to call ahead. From the hour-long video presentation to the tour of the machine floor, leave about two hours for the entire experience. At the end of the tour, your guide will walk you through chocolate tasting, making you and your family feel like chocolate connoisseurs.  And, the fact that TCHO chocolate is organic and fair trade make this a free activity that is good for the whole family.

USS Constitution

The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat -- and it’s open to visitors in the Charlestown Navy Yard. At the vessel itself, and the separately run USS Constitution Museum, you’ll learn about early American naval history, what it was like to server on the ship in the early years of it’s commissioning, the War of 1812, and the role of the navy in both war and peace. Exhibits are designed with kids in mind -- and the kid at heart. The USS Constitution is a great place to get in touch with early American history, and it’s just short distance (and within sight of) downtown Boston.

Jelly Belly Warehouse Tours

Wanna give the family a sweet treat with a visit to a candy factory? You can! Okay, so Wisconsin may not be the home of Willy Wonka’s famed chocolate factory, but it is the locale of a Jelly Belly Warehouse. Located just 40 miles south of downtown Milwaukee, the warehouse offers free 30-minute rides on the Jelly Belly Express Train that makes numerous stops that teach little lessons all about the gourmet jelly bean. As the tour ends, you’ll find yourself in the Jelly Belly Candy Store where you can taste every single flavor available at the warehouse’s sample Bar. Take your favorite beans home with you -- every flavor is available for sale in bulk -- or gamble on a bag of Belly Flops, an assorted flavor grab-bag of misshapen beans.

Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center

When you see the stunning red rock formations, you’ll know why they call it Garden of the Gods. Sandstone rocks create balanced boulder formations, jagged 300-foot vertical rises and windows that open to the snow-capped Pikes Peak. The free park offers 15 miles of hiking trails, as well as a roadway that winds through the main sites. Stop by the Visitor & Nature Center and learn about the rock formations from the 14-minute, high-definition show. With names like three graces, kissing camels, rocking chair, weeping rock and steamboat rock, the formations will captivate your imagination. In fact, they look as though they’re the playthings of giants. The park provides endless photographic opportunities and three hundred million years of geology to explore.

Dinosaur Ridge

Cars whizz past dinosaur tracks every second without knowing it — don’t be one of them. Just off I-70, check out the 1 ½-mile trail along Alameda Parkway, between Rooney Road North and County Road 93. There, you’ll discover about 300 fossilized dinosaur tracks and the place where the world’s first Stegosaurus bones were found (the bones are now at the Morrison Natural History Museum, but you’ll see fossilized bones at the Dinosaur Ridge Bone Quarry). Allow an hour or two to explore this National Natural Landmark. Fifteen signs point out fossils, rock formations, the Golden Fault and overlooks. Volunteers color the tracks with charcoal to make them stand out in the sandstone. Guided tours are $3 a person but should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. You can walk the trail for free or buy field guides (printed or CDS) for nominal fees.

Route 66 Self-Guided Historic Walking Tour

Discover the romance of the bygone era of automobile travel. No true family vacation is complete without a taste of the famed Route 66.

Your first stop on the Route 66 walking tour is the Flagstaff Visitor Center located in the historic train depot. There you may pick up the map and brochure for the self-guided, free tour. On this family-friendly tour, you’ll trace the original alignment of Route 66. Free activities? Share photos of the family in front of an antique railroad steam engine, see the neon of Flagstaff’s very first motel that catered to automobile traffic along Route 66 and discover remnants of bridges from the original stretch of road.

The twelve-block walking tour guides you past restaurants and family-friendly breweries. Don’t want to wait to get your map and guide from the Flagstaff Visitor Center? Download the free brochure from their website now.


Elden Pueblo Archaeological Interpretive Site

Your family can explore excavations of an ancient Sinagua village inhabited for over 200 years starting around A.D. 1070. Learn about the Sinagua people by taking self-guided walking tours – find free brochures in the sign-in box. Observe trenches where archaeologists dig for more clues. Learn about jewelry, parrot skeletons and pottery excavated in the 1920s by a famous archaeologist. In this open-air museum, you will walk amongst a large community room where ancient people came together, a kiva ceremonial room, pit houses and grinding basins. Since the archaeological site is used for research and education, you may be able to participate in actual excavation, artifact washing and analysis. Check the website for a schedule of Public Archaeology Days. This is one of Flagstaff’s best free tours of historical sites. 

Print the coloring book A Kids’s Guide to Archaeology on the Coconino National Forest from the website before you go.

Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla

Do you love art? Check out one of San Diego's gems -- The Museum of Contemporary Art. With locations in both San Diego and La Jolla, the museums showcase extensive art -- over 4,000 pieces -- across all media created since the 1950's. The museums' collections are internationally recognized and present work from both well-known and under-recognized artists. On the third Thursday of every month, gain free admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art at both the La Jolla and San Diego locations. You can also enjoy a free public tour with Gallery Guides on the third Thursday at 6:00 p.m.

U.S. Olympic Training Center

The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista is located on a 150 acre complex in the east county area of San Diego. It is the place where 4,000 athletes receive training each year for nine Olympic sports.  It opened in 1995 and is the first master planned U.S. Olympic Committee training center. Thousands of visitors enjoy a free self-guided tour of the facility each day, and those interested in a guided tour may attend one on Saturdays. While at the center, there are a variety of things to do and see, including watching athletes in training. Dress in layers! Chula Vista is generally warm, but when the sun hides behind the clouds, it can get a little chilly.

Brewery Tours

Did you know that Portland has the most breweries per capita in the entire nation? Portland is so serious about its beer that they have an entire district downtown dedicated to brewing. Great for a rainy Portland weekend afternoon, brewery tours are free at many locations and a fun way to learn more about beer with a group of friends. Breweries that give free tours include Rogue, Widmer Brothers and Hair of the Dog. You can also take the drive out to Hood River to tour Full Sail Brewing or visit their location in Portland. Although most brewery tours accept walk-ins, it's courtesy to let them know you're coming in advance.

Live Theatre Week

Every October, one of Seattle's best supporters of local artists, Theatre Puget Sound, puts on a huge month long festival, Arts Crush. A big part of that festival is Live Theatre Week -- an entire week exploring the amazing live theatres in Seattle including free tickets to many of their shows! There are free behind the scenes tours at the big theatres around town including Seattle's famed 5th Avenue Theatre, sneak peek performances of shows that are currently being worked on, events at the very popular Seattle Children's Theatre and much more. Whether you're a theatre buff or just love a good show, you won't want to miss this exciting (and free!) week this October!