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America’s Iconic Interactions

Americana is created every day in iconic places around the U.S.A.

Many of our ideas of classic Americana are rooted in experiences with consumer brands that have become mainstays of the national culture. Whether it’s Coca-Cola, John Deere, Airstream or Louisville Slugger, a well-loved product can become as much a part of our national identity as a historic event.

Some of America’s favorite brands have been produced for a century or more, and seeing the places where they are made helps travelers learn the stories and appreciate the impact of these products and reminisce about their own experiences with them. Tours of these factories, workshops and other attractions offer groups an inside look at what it takes to create Americana and, in many cases, give them opportunities to take home a piece of culture for themselves.

Check out some of these highlights for an up-close look at Americana on your group’s next trip.

Louisville Slugger Factory

Louisville, Kentucky

From the Little League to the major league, baseball players nationwide step up to the plate wielding Louisville Slugger bats. The company was started back in 1884, and today its factory is a landmark in downtown Louisville thanks to a 120-foot-tall baseball bat leaning up against the side of the building. That building is also home to a museum, which has artifacts related to the history of baseball and Louisville Slugger.

Up Close: Standard tours of the museum walk guests through the bat-making process, during which they’ll see plain dowels of wood turned on a lathe and carved into baseball bats, and then branded with the classic Louisville Slugger logo. Participants get free minibats to take home.

Enhanced Experiences: In addition to the standard tour, Louisville Slugger offers two private All Star Experiences. These include visits to the factory’s bat vault and up-close looks at baseball memorabilia from the museum archive.

Nearby Fun: Louisville Slugger Field is home to the city’s minor-league baseball team, the appropriately named Louisville Bats.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

St. Louis

More than 150 years of history — as well as a track record of savvy marketing — has made Budweiser perhaps the most iconic brand of beer in America. Budweiser and its associated products are made by Anheuser-Busch, which got its start in St. Louis near the banks of the Mississippi River in 1852. Today, the St. Louis brewery is still one of the country’s largest producers of beer, and visitors can choose from a variety of tours of the campus, which includes three National Historic Landmarks.

Up Close: Brewery tours give visitors an overview of beer-making, introducing them to the ingredients and taking them to various places in the factory to see the machines and techniques used today. Tours include a variety of tasting opportunities.

Enhanced Experiences: Groups can see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales, who live in stables at the museum, and opt for a specialized beer school experience.

Nearby Fun: The Gateway Arch, another iconic symbol of Americana, has undergone significant improvements and offers a variety of exciting tour opportunities.

Ben and Jerry’s Factory

Waterbury, Vermont

In 1978, two Vermont hippies took a correspondence course in ice-cream-making and opened a scoop shop in a renovated gas station. Ben and Jerry’s quickly grew to become one of America’s favorite sweet treats, known for high-quality products and fun flavor names. A stop at the Ben and Jerry’s Factory is a highlight of a trip to Vermont for many travelers.

Up Close: Standard half-hour tours of the factory introduce visitors to the company’s core values, show them how ice cream is made and include ice cream tastings.

Enhanced Experiences: Make sure you leave time in your schedule for some of the popular visitor options at the factory that aren’t official parts of the 30-minute tour, including a visit to the full-service Scoop Shop and time to browse items such as ice-cream-flavored lip balm in the on-site gift shop.

Nearby Fun: Food lovers can find a number of other sites to enjoy in Waterbury, including the Green Mountain Coffee Café and Visitor Center, the Cabot Cheese Annex and the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.

Brian Jewell

Brian Jewell is the executive editor of The Group Travel Leader. In more than a decade of travel journalism he has visited 48 states and 25 foreign countries.