Factory Tours in Wisconsin
How is it made? Wisconsin has plenty of ways to learn this firsthand. So, on your way to or from FMCA’s 92nd Family Reunion & Motorhome Showcase in Madison, Wisconsin, July 29-August 1, pop in to a factory and take a tour. This list covers everything from tasty treats to fishing lures! Be sure to get more details from the websites, or call before you arrive.
Are you an avid angler or know someone who is? Then you’ve likely already seen a Mepps pinner fishing lure.
Mepps pinner lures combine a shiny metal spinner with a three-pronged hook — amid many variations. Invented in France, the lures were imported by Wisconsinite Todd Sheldon for years. Finally he started making them in the USA himself.
Today Sheldons' Inc. produces more than 4, 000 types, all by hand. Tours are Monday-Thursday in the mornings and early afternoons. Visit for info; for groups of 10 or more, call ahead: (715) 623-2382.
Kohler: THE KOHLER COMPANY
Kohler offers the Industry in Action factory tour on weekdays. It starts at 8:30 a.m. and lasts three hours. The tour takes visitors through numerous areas as sinks, cast-iron tubs, and other Kohler items are made. Reservations are required: or call (920) 457-3699.
Pleasant Prairie: JELLY BELLY
This warehouse tour lets you try every flavor of Jelly Belly jelly beans. The free tour starts at the visitors center, where you board the Jelly Belly Express Train. The 25-30-minute ride stops at various stations with video monitors showing how the company makes candy corn, jelly beans, gummies, and more. The visitors center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; with tours offered until 4:00 p.m. If you will have a large group, call ahead: (866) 868-7522;
Racine: SC JOHNSON HEADQUARTERS
You won’t see household products being made here, but you will see where many of the ideas began: in 1930s buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This is Racine’s most popular visitor attraction, according to TripAdvisor, and it is free. The Landmarks Tour lasts approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. Just five miles from the company headquarters is Wingspread, a 1939 home that Wright designed for H.F. Johnson Jr. It is also open for a free (1-hour) tour. Reservations are requested for all tours; call (262) 260-2154 or go to to make your reservations.
St. Francis (just south of Milwaukee): BUDDY SQUIRREL
Do you like gourmet popcorn, or nuts, or candy? Then you must take this tour, which lets visitors watch as caramels, cordials, toffee, and much more come off the line, for a cost of $3 per person. The tour includes free samples and a 20 percent discount in the factory store. Reservations are required: Phone 414-483-4500; www.buddysquirrel.com.
Waterloo: TREK BICYCLE CORPORATION
Southeast Wisconsin harbors this little town where, in 1976, two men began building bicycle frames by hand. Nearly 40 years later, the company employs thousands of people worldwide and sells a variety of Trek bicycles and bike products. The tour is offered on Wednesdays at 10:00 a.m.; see or call (920) 478-2191, extension 12049, for details.
Woodruff: HILLESTAD PHARMACEUTICALS USA
Ever wonder how hand cream or vitamin tablets are made? This small factory manufactures a huge variety of items, so you can check out the process of producing tablets, powders, liquids, and more. It’s fascinating to see raw materials turn into healthful products. Hillestad tours are on weekdays between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Visit or call 800-535-7742. Walk-ins welcome.