Ask AOA: local factory tours

Thumbnail image for bilinskis_sausage_packing.jpgEmails Terry:

Thanks to the Science Channel's "How It's Made" TV show, my 4 year old son is completely obsessed with manufacturing assembly lines, conveyors belts, robotic tools, etc.
When I was a kid, the bottle processing lines and fermentation tanks (and free draft root beer) at the F.X. Matt Brewery tours in Utica always filled the bill, but I'm at a loss of similar places to watch manufacturinig lines in action in the Capital District. My wife took him to the Town of Colonie landfill to watch the large pickers grab and crush household and construction debris, but my boy is particular in his tastes and wasn't impressed.

Anyone have ideas about where Terry and his son might be able to check out some cool manufacturing or construction action?

Off the top of our heads, we can think of the tours at Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. and Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown.

This stuff is fun even if you're not a four year old. AOA got a tour of the Bilinski's sausage factory in Cohoes (which, alas, is not open to the public) last year and it was really interesting.


Don't know if they still offer tours, but Ben & Jerry's tour used to be pretty good if you were willing to go to Burlington.

Same goes for the Vermont Teddy Bear factory.

I'm pretty sure Indian Ladder Farms does tours of their cider press. It's not quite the same as a factory, but it's sort of cool.

Freihoffer's used to do tours when I was a kid too...

You might be able to get a tour of the Stewart's plant in Saratoga Springs... they have a neat operation. A lot of local farms will give you a tour also if you call ahead.

What about the Serotta bicycle plant in Milton/Saratoga?

Hands down the most spectacular by far plant tour I've taken is Quad Graphics in Saratoga. This will fascinate your tyke AND you! If you're not familiar with Quad, they print, package and mail, among other things, major magazines like People and Sports Illustrated for the northeast. The system is fascinating for an adult because of its computerization, but it still has all the bang, clatter and whirrrr of which your little man is dreaming, not to mention all that colorful print whizzing by!

Olde Saratoga and Ommegang tours are both great fun for adults, but they're small brewers and probably not the sort of "manufacturing" that this little guy is looking for.

The Times Union probably gives tours of its production line.

Contact Tough Traveler in Schenectady. They gave a manufacturing class I took a tour a few years back.

what a great idea! how about cappiello dairy products in schenectady? not sure if they do tours. if so, i want in!

Thank you for posting my husbands question, and thanks to everyone who made suggestions. I think he would love the Serotta bicycle plant, Quad graphics, Times union and Tough traveler. I will definitely look into these.

I will send you photographs if we visit and the tour is good.

Me and my son also want to thank AOA and all the excellent suggestions (I see my wife already beat me back to the comments :-)

Many of them I never would have thought of on my own. As my wife said, we'll be sure to report back any discoveries.

Freihofers. Find out if they are still doing tours. I went as a kid and not only was it fun seeing the baking, they were quite generous with the free cookies. And they seemed to taste so much better right off the baking line.

Come see a manufacturer right in downtown Albany. The Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany manufactures reflective safety vests for customers such as the NYC MTA, Long Island Railroad, Metro North, NYSDOT and many others. We employ over 90 people and make 70-80,000 vest a year.

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