7 factories and businesses that give great tours

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Touring factories and other businesses can be a great educational but fun experience and there are plenty of places to visit not far from the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area.

Whether it was tasting dozens of soda flavors from around the world at Atlanta's World of Coca-Cola or seeing hundreds of pretzels going into the oven at Snyder's of Hanover, summer wasn't complete for the Peck family of Elkridge without a trip to tour a factory.

When their son, now 19, was younger, they visited a different factory every year and often traveled to other cities to do so.

"Seeing how things are made is fascinating," says Susan Peck. "My son was just so thrilled with all the processes involved and amazed at how complex some things are."

Factory Tour OriolesWLori Ernest, of Gambrills, loves the educational aspect of factory tours, but more importantly, Ernest loves hands-on opportunities for her 8-year-old daughter, Caylee. The Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia, Pa., and the Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lilitz, Pa., are their favorite tours.

"If it's 3-D and interactive and you get samples, it's a great tour," Ernest says. "I like to be engaged."

You don't have to travel far from Annapolis to tour some cool businesses and factories. We've found several tours less than three hours away, so pack the kids in the car and get ready for a family field trip.

Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore

Orioles staff claim this is the best tour in baseball. While meandering through the ballpark, visitors will learn about the history of Baltimore, as well as the history of Orioles baseball and the construction of Camden Yards — the first ballpark of its kind.

"They will get a little bit about the history of baseball, not just the Orioles," says Sue Ellen Hickman, tour coordinator. "They get to sit where the players sat or will sit. They get a good perspective of the whole baseball experience."

Along the tour, visitors will explore the club level and press suites and walk through the umpires' tunnel and onto the warning track and dugout. (No one is allowed on the field.) Tours are conducted March (weather depending) through November. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online.

Distance from Annapolis: About 35 minutes
Price: $9 adults, $6 seniors and children 2-14.
Length: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Times: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. and Sunday, noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Tours are not offered on days with daytime games.
333 West Camden St., Baltimore
410-685-9800, baltimore.orioles.mlb.com

Turkey Hill, Columbia, Pa.

The Turkey Hill Experience, where tours are given, is about 10 minutes from the ice cream company's working factory. Learn about the history of Turkey Hill and how ice cream is made, sit in a milk truck, milk a mechanical cow and star in a Turkey Hill commercial. You also can sample all of the Turkey Hill flavors. In addition to the Experience, visit the Taste Lab where you can create your own ice cream, starting with vanilla and mixing in other flavors and toppings. Seating is limited so be sure to reserve a spot ahead of time..

Distance from Annapolis: About 2 hours
Price: $9.95 adults, $9.50 seniors, $9.50 ages 4 to 12, and free for ages 3 and younger. Tickets for admission plus the taste lab are $15.40 adults, $14.95 seniors, $14.95 ages 4 to 12 and $5.45 ages 3 and younger.
Length: 1 to 2 hours or more
Times: For most of the summer, Turkey Hill is open every day 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Check the website for details.
301 Linden St., Columbia, Pa.
844-847-4884, turkeyhillexperience.com

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