12 Must-Visit Automotive Factory Tours in the United States
One of the best ways to get excited about the automotive industry is seeing the state-of-the-art technology in action. Across the United States, behind-the-scenes tours are offered by many of the world’s leading automakers. Next time you’re looking for a unique, memorable destination for vacation, consider one of these must-see automotive factory tours.
Keep the following in mind before you schedule:
- Most don’t allow cameras or recording devices on the tours
- Minimum ages of visitors around typically between 8 and 12 years old
- Nearly all of these visits require reservations in advance
- Adhere to the dress code guidelines, including closed-toed shoes
- Some tours involve extensive walking, so call ahead if you need special accommodation
Furry Friends: How to safely travel with pets
12. Nissan North America – Smyrna, Tennessee
Limited tours of this vehicle assembly plant near Nashville are offered–only Tuesdays and Thursdays–but a motorized, narrated ride through the assembly of these renowned Nissan vehicles is worth the waiting list. You’ll get to see everything from the Pathfinder to the Altima and the Leaf rolling off the production line. More information.
11. BMW U.S. Factory – Spartanburg, South Carolina
Those interested in getting an inside perspective on the “Ultimate Driving Machine” will love touring the only American BMW factory, which is near Charlotte, NC. For a $10 fee, visitors will get to see the modern engineering marvels of the German brand at work within the production plant. Afterward, swing by the Zentrum museum to see the history of BMW at your own pace. More information.
10. Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama – Montgomery, Alabama
If you want to watch the construction of a car you probably own, check out this factory within the historic Montgomery city limits. After watching a prep video and donning your headsets, you’ll be taken on a guided tram tour of the assembly of the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra. The experience is free and occasional evening tour times are offered too. Check out the gift shop after your tour for some Hyundai swag! More information.
9. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky – Georgetown, Kentucky
In the heart of the bluegrass region, not far from Lexington, is a massive Toyota manufacturing plant that has given tours to hundreds of thousands of people since 1990. Visitors can take a free guided tram tour through the inside of the facility while listening to friendly guides over headphones explain the work being done. An 11,500-square-foot Visitor Center includes displays and a Toyota gift shop. More information.
8. Subaru of Indiana Automotive (SIA) – Lafayette, Indiana
If you’re headed to Chicago sometime, swing by the home of North American Subaru production that’s southeast of the Windy City. A free, mile-long walk on an elevated catwalk through the facility offers a unique perspective on production operations, but skirts are highly discouraged for that reason! You’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable Subaru tour director on your walk. More information.
7. Ford Rouge Factory – Dearborn, Michigan
The assembly area is only one portion of this thorough five-part, self-guided tour. Apart from seeing the new aluminum F-150 produced in the assembly floor, learn more about the plant’s innovations at the Legacy Theater, Manufacturing Innovation Theater, and Legacy Gallery. Tickets are a bit pricey but it’s one of the few facilities open for weekend tours. More information.
6. Mercedes-Benz US International – Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Get a close-up look at the most luxurious auto brand around by seeing the Visitor Center Museum and taking a guided tour along the assembly floor, which produces such greats as the M-Class. Despite the tour costing a small fee, the experience is highly memorable–and the two mile walk will give you a workout too! More information.
5. Bowling Green Corvette Plant – Bowling Green, Kentucky
This place halfway between Louisville and Nashville received a lot of attention after a sinkhole appeared in its adjacent National Corvette Museum. Now that it’s being repaired, visitors are flocking to see the Chevy building and tour the assembly plant. For a small fee, you can take an hour-long guided walking tour of the Corvette sports car’s actual construction, from the initial steel structure to the final drive off the line. More information.
4. Honda Heritage – Marysville, Ohio
Although you can’t actually tour the factory here near Columbus which has been producing vehicles for over 50 years, the facility recently opened up a stellar museum on its grounds. You’ll learn about the role the factory has played in the history of the Honda, as well as see fascinating models on display. The best part of the experience is the hands-on activities! More information.
3. General Motors Fairfax Assembly Plant – Kansas City, Kansas
This GM assembly and stamping facility in the heart of barbecue city offers free walking tours on certain days. If you follow the strict set of safety guidelines, you’ll get to see the process of metal being molded into body panels and attached to vehicles like the Buick LaCrosse and the Chevrolet Malibu. More information.
2. Shelby American Inc – Las Vegas, Nevada
The legacy of Carroll Shelby lives on! This facility has been modifying and selling Ford vehicles for 50 years. If you still have time after seeing the numerous cars on display on the showroom floor, you can get a free tour of the garage (donations accepted). More information.
1. Harley Davidson – Multiple Locations
Multiple Harley Davidson plants offer tours in the US. A free, hour-long walking tour of the manufacturing plant in York, PA is offered, but most visitors prefer the Steel Toe Tour which–for a decent price–gets you entrance to special areas, a commemorative pin, a group photo, a safety vest, and $5 toward the gift shop. A Kids Corner makes this facility suitable for your whole family.
In the heart of Harley history, Menomonee Falls, WI has the northwest plant. You’ll love the interactive museum in downtown Milwaukee and the grand tour of the production facility. Staying overnight? Consider the unique Iron Horse Hotel.
Finally, observe the powertrain operations in Kansas City, MO with a free factory tour of some of the brand’s most beloved models. More information on all three tours.
Safety Tips: Reduce distracted driving and save lives
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a Hyundai Veloster Turbo (which recently replaced his 1995 Saturn SC-2). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.