A tour group riding through the Nissan plant in Smyrna.
Photo Credit: Nissan North America

Things to Do in Tennessee: Tour the Companies and Products You Love

From Nissan cars to Jack Daniel’s Whiskey & everything in between, Tennessee is home to factories that help America run.

Ever wonder how iconic brands make the products you love and enjoy? Tennessee lifts the curtain for behind-the-scenes tours across the state. It’s a chance for you to don a hard hat or hair net and learn more about the process, ingredients and spirit behind cars, ice cream and, of course, whiskey. Here are a few tours you can take the next time you’re in Tennessee.

East Tennessee

Mayfield Dairy – Athens

Take your love for ice cream to the next level with a behind-the-scenes tour of famous Mayfield Dairy Farms to see how the dairy products are made. A trip to the on-site, old-fashioned ice cream parlor for a large scoop of your favorite flavor is the cherry on top to this memorable tour.

Bush’s Baked Beans – Dandridge

What started as a tomato cannery in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee is now a nationally-beloved icon on dinner tables everywhere. Bush’s Beans has made a name for itself over the course of more than 100 years for the delicious varieties of beans they produce for all your chili, taco, and casserole needs. Visit the Bush’s Visitor Center housed in the original A.J. Bush & Company general store, founded in 1897. You’ll get a behind-the-beans look at the history, production and evolution of this Tennessee-founded company.

Middle Tennessee

Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant – Smyrna

Nissan began manufacturing in the U.S. in June 1983 and now produces 1.14 million vehicles, 1.65 million engines, 1.4 million forgings and 456,000 castings annually. You can take a tour of this iconic car company’s Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant. Just make a reservation for you and your traveling companions at least four weeks in advance. Tours are offered 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Nissan does have a policy that prohibits recording devices and cameras of all types while on the tour.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey – Lynchburg

The world’s most popular whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is carefully crafted in the small town of Lynchburg. At the Jack Daniel Distillery, you can see how skilled whiskey makers craft the amber gold you sip from your glass. For the full experience, book The Angel’s Share tour which includes a distillery tour and then a tasting in historic Barrelhouse 1-14. You can taste whiskey from individual barrels, an experience once reserved for distillers and tasters. 

George Dickel Tennessee Whisky – Tullahoma

George Dickel, a Nashville merchant, bought a large share of Cascade Hollow Distillery when it opened in 1878. He made his whisky in the winter months which is why George Dickel Tennessee Whisky is chilled before going through charcoal-mellow filtration in order to smooth out the flavor – the only distillery in Tennessee to do this. Learn all this and more on the Cascade Hollow Distillery Tour, an hour-long visit through the distillery and barrel house. The tour ends with a whisky tasting guided by an expert.

Goo Goo Cluster – Nashville

The iconic confection that began in 1912 and also the first time a chocolate bar consisted of more than just one ingredient, Goo Goo Cluster has become a candy staple in Tennessee, nationwide and even internationally. While the production factory isn’t open for tours, you can visit the Goo Goo Shop and Dessert Bar to see the milk chocolate-caramel-peanut-and-marshmallow-nugget creation crafted by hand. Buy the iconic candies, merchandise and even a sundae or milkshake from the dessert bar. You can even take a chocolate- making class 2 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays.

West Tennessee

Peabody Ducks – Memphis

See the famous Peabody Ducks, trained to perform the iconic Peabody Duck March that occurs in the grand Peabody Hotel in Memphis 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. in the lobby. The five North American mallards conduct their march to and from the fountain each day, a tradition that’s been held since the 1930s. You can help guide the ducks with the Ducky Day Package which includes an overnight hotel stay plush an official brass-head Duckmaster Cane, reserved table at your scheduled Duck March, Peabody Duck Cookies, self-parking, and a Peabody Duckmaster Celebriduck collectible rubber duck toy.

After learning about the process and passion behind some of Tennessee’s well-known brands, you’ll not only be confident of your future purchases but also have made some great memories for years to come.

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