Yesterday, I told you about our 12-hour trip to nowhere on Christmas Day, thanks to the Southwest Airlines meltdown. Did we end up flying to Little Rock on Thursday, December 29, as (re)scheduled? Nope. Long story short, that flight was canceled on Tuesday. We checked every possible airline to see if we could find a different way to get to Little Rock or to the next city on the itinerary. Nope and nope. There were very few flights to be found and those that were listed were as high as $8500. Per person. Basic economy. The cheapest we found would put us an 8-hour drive from where we needed to be for $1800 each (basic economy, non-refundable), a day later than we needed to be there. Um, no. We made the decision to cancel the entire trip.
What do you do when you're a travel blogger who is supposed to be exploring museums and other interesting sites 2000 miles away but you are unexpectedly at home with a bunch of free time? You visit awesome places close to home. First up, one of my very favorites: the Jelly Belly Factory Tour and Museum. Because I blog about educational travel, our family received comped admission during this visit.
We live about three miles from the Jelly Belly Factory and it's completely awesome, so I've been there many times. We always take out-of-town guests there, plus we pop over every once in a while to see what's new. There's always something!
Mr. Jelly Belly and I have been friends for a long time.
Steve took the tour just a month ago when an out-of-state coworker was visiting, but it had been awhile for Trevor and me. None of us had seen the brand-new museum. There was a new scavenger hunt as well, the Jelly Belly Sweet Trail, complete with prizes!
The main tour is self-guided and takes you through the entire Jelly Belly making process, basically in reverse order. You start at packaging.
These are the gummy Jelly Belly centers.
Here's where the candy coating is added to the gummy centers. It smelled strongly of Green Apple when we visited. The last time I was there, it was Juicy Pear.
Speaking of scents, there's a row of scent stations toward the beginning of the tour where you give a sniff and guess the smell. There are other interactive exhibits as well. The whole tour is very kid-friendly. Trevor is blocking the toddler-height window on the lower left, but you can see one on the upper right. Kids of all sizes can watch the action without their parents having to lift them.
Throughout the tour, there are many opportunities to see the famous Jelly Belly portraits. They're all over the factory (and museum, we would discover later).
I have two favorite parts of the tour. First, seeing all the finished Jelly Belly candy sitting in bins by flavor....
... and second, watching them poured onto conveyer belts to be mixed for the assorted packages.
I love the Jelly Belly Art Gallery. This room used to be where tours began, back in the day when they were guided. Isn't the carpet fun?!
They've been making Lunar New Year sculptures for about 6 years. The Year of the Tiger is almost over, then we welcome in the Year of the Rabbit! I'll definitely be back to see that artwork on display.
We didn't eat in the Jelly Belly Cafe this time, but have many times before. I highly recommend the bean-shaped cheeseburger or bean-shaped pizza! There are many other options as well.
We headed across the parking lot to the Museum to check it out.
I'm still wearing my tour hat, while Trevor is holding his.
Like I said, the Jelly Belly Museum is brand new. It houses a bunch of interesting exhibits about the history of the Jelly Belly Candy Company...
... Jelly Belly's most famous fan...
... two of the Vacaville Jacks...
...Jelly Belly fashion...
... a Jelly Belly chorus line...
... and all sorts of vehicles.
It's not unusual to see Jelly Belly cars or other vehicles driving around town, but getting the chance to sit on (or in Trevor's case, in) one of them was definitely new.
I highly recommend a visit to Jelly Belly! We had a great time, as always. Tomorrow I'll tell you about another local adventure we had.