Whenever you visit a place, you’re never seeing the full story. There’s always something going on behind an “employees only” door or a little secret that only the well-informed know. Luckily for you, some of the best places to visit in West Michigan have tours to show you everything you need to know. Ever want to see how Bell’s brews their beer? Or how Grimaldi’s chocolates turn out so delicious? Look no further than some of these behind the scenes tours!
The historic Henderson Castle was built in 1895 and is one of Kalamazoo’s most treasured landmarks. Today, they welcome visitors to come explore the castle in its entirety with their VIP Legacy Tour package. With this package, you can explore all floors of the castle from their basement kitchen to their rooftop deck and everything in between. Places that guests typically don’t see such as the vineyards and wine cave are also shown. If you want to get the most out of your trip to Henderson Castle, look no further than this extensive tour package!
Journeyman Distillery offers tours every day! The distillery is located in an 1800s factory building and has retained much of the original and historic architecture. Tours last approximately one hour and include the history of the distillery, a tour of the production facility, and an overview on how their spirits are produced. Of course, the tour concludes with a tasting of some of Journeyman’s finest spirits!
West Michigan Beer Tours
Why just tour one brewery when you can tour three? West Michigan Beer Tours offers variety of public tours with most including stops at three breweries to sample, tour, and meet the owners or brewers. Your tour director is knowledgeable in both the beer industry and the local area so you know that you’re getting a great tour. You’ll travel comfortably from brewery to brewery on their mini-coach bus. West Michigan Beer Tours is one of the best ways to see the behind of the scenes of local breweries!
Bell’s Brewery was a significantly different kind of brewery 30 years ago. It had one employee, Larry Bell, who worked out of plastic garbage bags and a 15-gallon stock pot. Today, Bell’s employs more the 400 people over 22 states and has their original brewery still in Downtown Kalamazoo. They offer free tours there on Saturdays and Sundays for those looking to see what goes into making their beer. Their Comstock brewery offers self guided tours where the public is welcome to observe the large area at their own leisure.
St. Julian Winery
St. Julian Winery’s Paw Paw location offers free year-round tours! Tours run seven days a week and all ages are welcome. After your tour, don’t miss their standard tasting of six samples of your choice and a complimentary logo glass which is yours to take home. Choose from over 40 products including wines that are exclusive to their tasting rooms, their Grey Heron Vodka, and their A&G Brandy. If you want even more, their Enhanced Tasting & Tour is reservation only and more than just your average experience! This is an extended tour and includes your choices of cheese or chocolate pairs. Their wine educators offer an in-depth education on the winemaking process from bud-break to bottling!
Don’t miss the longest running home tour in the Great Lakes area with Marshall Historical Society‘s Historic Home Tour! Private residences, commercial buildings, museums, and fairground buildings are given the tour treatment. The public is always invited to come see some of these amazing and unique places. Want to learn more about the architecture or the history behind of some of Marshall’s most famous buildings? Then take a day or two to explore and learn from one of the most trusted sources on Marshall’s past. Keep an eye out for 2016 dates!
Grand Rapids Symphony
Have you ever wanted to see what goes into producing a symphony? The Grand Rapids Symphony offers both backstage tours as well as musician meet-and-greets to educate the public on their exciting work. With their new program, Backstage and Behind the Music, each session corresponds to one of the symphony’s concerts and gives guests the opportunity to see the entire process. For adults ages 21 to 35, there is the MySymphony360 program which includes discounted tickets, best available sating, exclusive backstage access, and musical meet-and-greets.
Long Road Distillery takes great pride in their signature whiskies, vodkas, and gins. To show how much work goes into these creations, they invite you to tour their distillery. Led by one of their distillers or owners, tours take visitors through the entire distilling process, its principles, and where the ingredients come from. Questions are encouraged so don’t hesitate to ask your knowledgeable tour guide. You might even get to sample a spirit or two when you’re done!
Chocolates by Grimaldi
The factory tour at Chocolates by Grimaldi is the perfect way to learn about the process of making chocolate. See everything from the pod, to the bean, to the chocolate that you can eat! Taste fresh samples right off the line and see the production area for yourself. Check out their 1950s enrober that is just like the one from I Love Lucy. Schedule your tour today to see how Grand Haven gets their unique chocolates!
The Grand Hotel’s new stable is a great way to not only see the horses up close, but to also tour the island. Group carriage tours around Mackinac Island are perfect to learn about the area. These narrated tours start in downtown and stop at many points of interest along the way. The Grand Hotel’s concierge desk will help you personalize your route and even point out places on the island that are unseen by many. With an endless possibility of routes, adventure awaits you on Mackinac Island!
The tasting room at Chateau Grand Traverse invites you to check out their award-winning wines and enjoy their breathtaking views! Complimentary tours of the facilities are offered along with an overview of the history of the Northern Michigan wine industry. Your guide will teach you about the winemaking process from harvest to bottling. Don’t miss the chance to check out Chateau Grand Traverse’s wine making process and the amazing view that brought them there over 40 years ago.
Leelanau Adventures offers awesome guided tours and overnight stays at various locations. Have you ever wanted to experience Sleeping Bear Dunes or Manitou Island with a tour guide that will show you the best kept secrets? Look no further! You can choose between guided backpacking day trips or overnight stays with everything you need provided to you. Learn what it takes to survive in one of West Michigan’s most treasured locales. Trips run from June to September so check back next year to book your adventure!
Marking the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage, Point Betsie Lighthouse stands as one of Benzie County’s most famous landmarks. The lighthouse was built in 1857 and had significant restoration work done in 2006. Their tours give the public the chance to see the lighthouse up close and personal. You can even climb the tower! Tours run from May until October so make sure to check it out when they reopen it next year.