Factory tours | You asked for it

Explore manufacturing plants in Chicago on these four tours.

By Tomi Obaro

Photo: michael roberts

Chicago isn’t the manufacturing town it used to be, but are there still factory tours in the area that I can go on to see stuff get made?—SF, Forest Park

Eli’s Cheesecake World On weekdays at 1pm, watch as thousands of cheesecakes make their way via conveyor belt into the oven. Workers bake and decorate while tour guides rattle off Eli’s trivia. As part of its “Discover Eli’s: Tasting and Traditions,” the company lets you sample its desserts for free every Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. If you come on the right weekend, you might even get to try something still in development. 6701 W Forest Preserve Dr (773-736-3417). $3.

Intelligentsia Roasting Works Factory Tour This java-fan fave lets the public spy on its roasting works on the first Saturday of every month. At the end of the tour, you get a free half-pound of coffee to take home. 1850 W Fulton St (312-563-0023). $18, free for kids under 13.

Oberweis Dairy Plant Famous for still home-delivering its milk, Oberweis holds by-appointment group tours of its plant. After seeing how all the hormone-free dairy goes from a cow’s udders to your doorstep, you’ll be rewarded with a cup of vanilla ice cream. 951 Ice Cream Dr, North Aurora (630-801-6100). $3 for adults, $2 for kids.

Vienna Beef Factory Ignore the old maxim and find out how the sausage is made. Senior Veep Bob Schwartz escorts you through the premises as workers turn raw meat into Chicago’s signature hot dogs. The one-hour tour covers trimming and casing, and culminates in a free lunch of—what else?—hot dogs. Make reservations well in advance. 2501 N Damen Ave (773-278-7800). Free.