10 Factory Field Trips for Students and Families in the Triangle
Field trips are a great way to teach your kids about real-world experiences and for them to learn more about their surrounding community. Whether it’s a trip to your local grocery store or tour of a museum, field trips help shape your child’s understanding of how the world works.
Through community outreach programs, many Triangle businesses and factories offer educational tours for all ages. These experiences often feature hands-on learning and broaden your child’s curiosity. Here are 10 tours at factories or businesses to consider — or suggest — for your school’s or home-school group’s next field trip.
Photo courtesy of Bee Downtown
Multiple hive locations throughout the Triangle
Learn about the importance of pollinators in our environment and taste honey fresh from a comb. Bee Downtown tours are offered spring through fall at a variety of community apiary locations such as the Community Apiary on the North Carolina State University Centennial Campus. Tours are two hours long and offer participants the opportunity to put on an official bee suit to see the inner workings of a hive. You can also take home a small jar of local honey. Tours are typically scheduled two Saturdays each month. Tickets are $40, or $32 each for groups with six or more participants. For ages 8 and older.
1240 N.W. Maynard Rd., Cary
Learn about the bread-making process with a tour of Great Harvest Bread Company. Peek inside the huge oven, knead your own bread dough and learn how the company grinds wheat kernels into fresh ground flour. You’ll also enjoy delicious bread, fresh from the oven. Free tours are held Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Call 919-460-8158 to schedule a tour.
1507 Gavin St., Raleigh
Larry’s Coffee is a distributer of high-quality coffee with a focus on sustainable business practices. Learn about its “green-o-vated” plant, solar energy, rainwater harvesting, composting and the company’s vermiculture program. Participants will also learn about the company’s roasting and fair trade practices with farmers. Group tours are available. Call 919-828-1234 to schedule a tour.
Photo courtesy Carolina K. Smith M.D./Shutterstock.com
1005 Capability Dr., Suite 300, Raleigh
One day each month, the National Weather Service in Raleigh conducts 1.5-hour tours for the public. A meteorologist guides participants on a tour of the operations area and discusses how the National Weather Service works and how forecasts are created. Tours are for individuals or groups (school groups must consist of students in fifth grade or higher).
Visit the website to see upcoming tour dates and to register.
2 TW Alexander Dr., RTP
Learn about honeybees, nectar, pollen, queen bees, and the difference between worker and drone bees. Participants will have the opportunity to see a hive from the safety of an observation porch. During warmer months, participants can get a close look at the honeybee hive demonstration at the center. However, hive demonstrations are weather-dependent and not guaranteed. Tours are available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. and must be scheduled at least one week in advance.
Photo courtesy of Rob Wilson/Shutterstock.com
- 1441 Kelly Rd., Apex
- 1020 Bradford Plaza Way, Cary
- 3480 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary
- 1030 Forestville Rd., Wake Forest
Group tours are available at most locations by calling the local store manager. Participants will enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of various departments — dairy, bakery and produce, for example. Guests will also learn about recycling and the Publix philosophy.
- 111 S. Rogers Lane, Raleigh
- 4619 Industry Lane, Durham
Want to know what happens once you put items in your recycling bin? Learn how cardboard, plastic and other materials are sorted, baled and shipped. Tours are free for groups of five or more. Visit the Sonoco website for scheduling.
Photo courtesy of Spoonflower
2810 Meridian Pkwy. #176, Durham
Learn about Spoonflower, which designs, prints and sells custom fabric. Tours offer participants the chance to see how art and technology converge. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at how fabric is printed and orders are processed.
“Allowing local folks to see that something like this exists in their own backyard can be really magical and inspiring,” says Katie Berman, a Spoonflower event coordinator.
327 W. Davie St., Raleigh
Videri offers free, self-guided tours during business hours. There are educational signs up throughout the factory, so it’s easy to navigate as you learn about the chocolate-making process. Groups of 10 or more should call ahead for scheduling.
Tours are offered to groups for $10 per person. A guide describes each step of the chocolate-making process, and participants receive free samples at the end of the tour. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for scheduling.
Photo courtesy of Robert S./Shutterstock.com
Where does the water go when you flush a toilet? How does water get to your kitchen or bathroom faucet? Visitors ages 10 and older can take a free tour of Raleigh’s water and wastewater treatment plants to get answers to these questions. Submit your request for a tour at least two weeks in advance via online registration. Tour are available at the following locations:
- Dempsey E. Benton Water Treatment Plant: 2301 Benson Rd., Garner
- Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility (formerly Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant): 8500 Battlebridge Rd., Raleigh
- Smith Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant: 8505 Ligon Mill Rd., Wake Forest
- Little Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant: 1419 Highway 39, Zebulon
- Wrenn Road Wastewater Treatment Plant: 8828 Wrenn Rd., Garner
Myra Wright is the digital editor of Carolina Parent and Charlotte Parent.