Factory tours a fun, cheap vacation option

For those of you planning fall vacations on a budget, consider working a factory tour or two into your schedule. They're often more entertaining that commercial tourism sites and a whole lot cheaper. At some, you might even walk away with a free sample!

Finding factory tours has been made simpler by the web site Factory Tours USA, a nice compendium of over 400 companies that offer access to their workings. In Ohio, watch whistles being made at the American Whistle Corporation. See how hand-rolled cigars are made at San Diego's Cuban Cigar Factory. Hope for samples while touring the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Ft. Worth, Texas. Tour the NASCAR track in Georgia, the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Take a backstage tour at the Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York, or bend your mind at the Kaleidoscope factory in Pomeroy, Iowa.

Most tours are by prior arrangement, and some charge for the experience, so a wise traveler will book his visit in advance.

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