Ever wonder how tea gets into bags or how a glob of hot sugar transforms into a perfect candy cane? The answers and more can be learned on factory tours. Face it, everyone likes to know how things are made. And the world inside a factory can be mesmerizing as people with and without the aid of modern technology create items we encounter every day of our lives. Best of all, factory tours are often educational, offer a bit of insight into the U.S. economy and, best of all, serve up a bevy of samples. Here are some of our favorites, none of which will cost you a penny.

Inside the Celestial Seasonings factory in Boulder (credit: CBS)

Celestial Seasonings

4600 Sleepytime Drive
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 581-1202

Ya gotta love a place whose address is on Sleepytime Drive. So no surprise Celestial Seasonings offers free tours of its Boulder-based tea production plant. After a 13-minute video intro to the history of tea and close-up view of tea processing, you’ll get to walk through the largest, most modern tea factory in the United States. Stroll the factory floor to witness up-close how uncut herbs and teas get milled, mixed and packaged. Our favorite moment: a whiff of the Mint Room — guaranteed to clear the sinuses or your money back… oh wait, you didn’t have to pay for this tour! Afterward you can visit a tea sampling bar with more than 100 kinds of tea. Tours run year-round (except holidays) and depart hourly.

Outside the Coors Brewery in Golden (credit: CBS)

Coors Brewery

13th & Ford Streets
Golden, CO 80401
(303) 227-BEER

Visitors and locals alike learn a lot about traditional brewing in a short time. The free 30-minute self-paced walk-through of the malting, brewing and packaging areas at the giant Coors brewery in Golden is a short course in beer production. The Golden facility can brew up to 22 million barrels and package up to 16 million barrels annually. After the tour, visitors 21 years and older (with ID) can sip a cold sample in the “fresh beer room” and kick back while resting on ice-cube benches in a refrigerated room. Non-alcoholic beverages are available, too. You can also look at old photos, neon signs, historical beer cans, bottles and memorabilia. Tour schedules change with the seasons so check the website for the latest days and hours.

Inside the Denver Mint in 2011 (credit: CBS)

Denver Mint

320 W. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80204
(303) 405-4761 (reservations required)


Take a look at a penny. Is there a “D” underneath the date? If so, that penny was made in downtown Denver at the United States Mint, where 1.8 billion coins were produced in 2009. The noisy, precision-crafted tooling process is a sight to behold. More than 50 million coins are struck here and the noisy, precision-crafted tooling process is a sight to behold. Tours cover both present day coin manufacturing as well as Mint history. Learn about the craftsmanship required at all stages of the minting process, from the original designs and sculptures to the actual striking of the coins. Guided visits run on the hour weekdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and reservations are required though sometimes a walk-up space is available. Do note that like many government facilities, security at the Mint is tight, so read all the instructions and information about what you can and can’t bring and do (no photos, for instance) in advance at its website.

Inside Hammond's Candies in 2011 (credit: CBS)

Hammond’s Candies

5735 N. Washington Street
Denver, CO 80216
(303) 333-5588

A candy cane will last 20 years if kept cool and dry … and you don’t sneak a lick or two. That’s just one incredible fact you can learn after touring Hammond’s Candies which makes handmade candy canes, ribbon candy, lollipops and chocolate. You won’t find any of Willy Wonka’s Oompah Loompahs but this is definitely the place to learn how stripes get on a candy cane! Hammond’s makes about one million candy canes a year. Even more amazing, every cane is made the same way it has been for almost a century – one at a time. Best of all, everyone gets a free candy sample. Sweet! Free factory tours run Monday through Saturday, no reservations required. And though the regular tour is tons of fun, you can sign up for a behind-the-scenes peek into the kitchen and try your hand at candymaking for $25. These special tours must be arranged at least two weeks in advance.

— Mile High Cheapskates Claire Walter & Laura Daily keep Denver/Boulder residents informed about the latest deals, discounts and freebies at MileHighOnTheCheap.com