8 fun factory tours in and around Birmingham, including Cahaba Brewing’s Taproom Tour

On the Golden Flake factory tour in Birmingham, you can see this half-truck. It's kind of cute.
Why yes, that’s a half Golden Flake potato chip truck attached to the side of the building. Photo by Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Who’s ever been on a fun factory tour in or around Birmingham? If you’re looking for something fun to do, whether with the fam, the biz or with visitors, we’ve got you covered. Read on for all the juicy details.

1. Golden Flake factory tour–North Titusville, Birmingham

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My favorite view

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Golden Flake is an institution to anyone in the Southeast. Though the iconic local chip company is now owned by Utz, you can still catch a tour in North Titusville, right off I-65. While you can no longer get hot chips during the tour, it is still really fun and interesting to watch all the things be made. Plus, they give you bags of chips at the end—yum.

  • Tour hours: Monday—Thursday 9:30AM, 11:00AM, 12:30AM
  • Tour length: 30-45 minutes
  • Reservations: Email companystore@utzsnacks.com in advance to schedule a tour. Make sure you bring an email from them letting them know you’re approved.
  • Cost: free
  • Know before you go: Tennis shoes are ideal. They’ll supply you with your own fancy hairnet—and beard net (assuming, of course, you have a beard). If you’ve got major food allergies or a weapon you usually carry, be sure to read the fine print here.
  • Minimum age requirement: five
  • Don’t bring: watch, gum, flip flops, tobacco, phones / cameras (well, not for the manufacturing part—company secrets and all)
  • Address: 1 Golden Flake Dr., Birmingham, AL 35205

2. Mercedes-Benz U.S. International factory tour—Vance

I’ve always heard how cool the Mercedes plant tour is. It’s been on my list of things to do since my kids were born. Only a couple more years and we’ll finally be able to check it out!

  • Tour hours: Mondays and Wednesdays, 9AM, 9:15AM, 12:30PM, 12:45PM
  • Tour length: roughly 1.5 hours
  • Reservations: Required. Call (205) 507-2252 or (888) 286-8762.
  • Cost: $5 per person
  • Know before you go: the walking tour covers a 2 mile distance. Wear comfy, closed-toe and closed-heel shoes. Get there 15 minutes ahead of time (minimum) to complete registration. Like trains in Germany, these tours run on time. Get there late and lose your spot. The assembly line may or may not be operational when you go, depending on the needs of the business.
  • Accessibility: Wheelchairs are welcomed and not supplied. Mobility aids such as canes, crutches, and walkers—not allowed.
  • Minimum age requirement: 10
  • Leave in the car or turned off: cameras, phones, and other electronic devices are strictly verboten in the manufacturing areas. No smoking, shorts, sleeveless shirts, or open-toed or open-heeled shoes. Skirts and dresses must be two inches below the knee. Just like that strict teacher that wouldn’t let you get away with bending the rules, they mean business. Don’t bother bringing backpacks, briefcases, etc. Also not allowed. Ladies’ purses are okay. Just like at airport security, they might get inspected.
  • Address: 6 Mercedes Dr., Vance, Alabama

3. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama factory tour—Montgomery

Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama's factory tour is about an hour and a half South of Birmingham.
It is amazing how big an auto plant is. Photo from Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s Facebook page

This place makes over 1500 cars a day. After a video, you hop on a tram and your tour guide takes you through the plant where you get to see what goes into making a car.

  • Tour hours: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays—9:30AM, 12PM and 2:30PM
  • Tour length: 75-90 minutes
  • Reservations: required (don’t come without a confirmed reservation). Click here to make them—up to six months in advance. Current bookings start September 30, 2019.
  • Cost: free
  • Know before you go: dress for the weather—you’ll be inside and outside. They’ll give you safety goggles and a headset to wear during your visit. That’s right—you listen to the tour guide on your very own headset.
  • Minimum age requirement: six
  • Leave in the car or turned off: no cell phones or cameras allowed in the manufacturing area.
  • Address:700 Hyundai Blvd, Montgomery, Alabama 36105  
  • Phone number: (334) 387-8000 

4. Blue Bell Ice Cream viewing window—Sylacauga

Because who doesn’t love some good ice cream. Or sherbet? And when you get to watch it being made, it’s that much more fun. Just know there’s no actual tour that comes with this one so you won’t be disappointed. Also, you could check out DeSoto Caverns while you’re in the area—great way to cool off.

  • Hours: Monday-Friday, 9AM-4:30PM
  • Know before you go: Word on the street is that this one’s not so much a tour as a viewing window where you can watch the ice cream being made from inside the ice cream parlor.
  • Minimum age requirement: none
  • Address: 423 North Norton Avenue, Sylacauga, Alabama 35150
  • Phone: 256-249-6100, 888-573-5286

5. Honda Manufacturing of Alabama factory tour—Lincoln

Honda Manufacturing of Alabama has a factory tour about 45 minutes East of Birmingham on I-20.
Honda Manufacturing of Alabama is about 45 minutes east of Birmingham on I-20. Photo from Honda Manufacturing of Alabama’s Facebook page

Like the other car plant tours, but Honda. You should totally check out their plant tours page, where you can learn fun facts like how they dust their cars by lady ostriches. Hop over there to find out why.

  • Tour hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8:45AM and 12:30PM
  • Tour length: 1.5 hours (ish). 1.2 miles.
  • Reservations: required.
  • Cost: free
  • Know before you go: no sandals or open-heeled shoes. Long pants. No shorts or skirts. No cameras or video recorders. You know the drill. Leave ’em in the car. Yep, phones, too. Leave your bags in your car.
  • Accessibility: Not allowed—mobility aids such as canes, crutches and walkers. Wheelchairs are permitted but not supplied. All wheelchairs must be pushed from behind by an escort.
  • Minimum age requirement: 12
  • Leave in the car or turned off:
  • Address: 1800 Honda Drive, Lincoln, Alabama 35096
  • Phone: (205) 355-5000

6. Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark guided tour—Birmingham

View of Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark. Photo by Wade Cline for Bham Now

Those of us who live here in Birmingham often think of Sloss and its historic blast furnace as a backdrop for fun events. But even when nothing big is happening there, it is such a cool place to explore. Doesn’t matter whether you’re Birmingham born and bred or just passing through.

For this one, be sure to bring your camera. Here’s a sneak preview of some of what you might find.

  • Tour hours: most Saturdays and Sundays at 1PM
  • Tour length: about an hour
  • Reservations: none required, though it’s good to call to make sure a tour guide will be available
  • Cost: free
  • Know before you go: photographers rejoice—you can bring your camera! Dress for the weather and for walking outdoors. There’s also a self-guided tour you can do any time the park is open and an event’s not happening. Tuesday–Saturday 10AM-4PM, Sunday 12-4PM. 
  • Minimum age requirement: birth
  • Address: 20 32nd Street North, Birmingham, AL 35222
  • Phone: (205) 254-2025

7. Tiffin Motorhomes factory tour—Red Bay

Look at the inside of this Tiffin Motorhomes RV. Doesn't it just make you want to hit the road?
This dog is a tease . . . leave your own furry friends home when you take a tour of the Tiffin Motorhomes factory. Photo from Tiffin Motorhomes’ Facebook page

Watching the video for this factory tour made me want to drive out to Red Bay, a town right near the Alabama-Mississippi border, to go check out this factory tour. It’s obvious the folks who make motorhomes at this family-owned business are devoted to quality work and take real pride in what they do.

  • Tour hours: Monday-Friday 9:30AM except the weeks of major holidays.
  • Tour length: about an hour
  • Reservations: not required
  • Cost: free
  • Know before you go: walking tour lasts about an hour. Wear comfy shoes, closed toe. Don’t bring your pets. If you go to this place, you are really closet to Alabama’s famous Coon Dog Cemetery. And the glowworms at The Dismals. And Natural Bridge. It might even be worth making a trip just so you can go see all those things.
  • Minimum age requirement: none
  • Address: 105 2nd Street NW, Red Bay, AL 35582
  • Call: (256) 356-8661

8. Cahaba Brewing Taproom Tour—Avondale

So bear with us for a sec on this one. We know a brewery’s not exactly a factory. And yet . . . it’s still pretty cool to discover what goes on behind the scenes. Getting ready for this one’s pretty simple. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Tour hour: Saturdays at 2PM
  • Tour length: 1 hour
  • Reservations: not required. Head to the taproom and sign up at the bar.
  • Cost: $10. You get stickers and a pint glass as souvenirs, too. Cool.
  • Address: 4500 5th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222

Ready to go on a factory tour?

Whichever factory tour you decide to go on, always double-check the details and know that the needs of the business always will win. What this means is that if a factory doesn’t need to be running assembly lines on the day of your tour, they won’t. Or, if they need to cancel for whatever reason, they will.

That said, these places are all seasoned at welcoming visitors and giving them the behind-the-scenes look at their business. Obviously, many of them don’t want their inner workings to be broadcast, so most will require you to leave cell phones in the car or turned off.

Most of these places can arrange tours for your company, camp, school or religious group, too. Just get in touch with them directly to work out all the details.

Now tell us, what did we miss? And if you’ve been on one of these tours, let us know what you thought. We want to hear from you!

Author: Sharron Mendel Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference