8 Free Tours Around Town

How Things Work Tours

When the kids ask “how does that work?” or “how do they do that?” consider arranging a free tour of a local business or organization to get answers firsthand! Here are eight to start with:

Chick-fil-A

Ages: All  Tour time: 30 minutes
Most CFAs offer behind-the-scenes kitchen tours of their restaurants. Small groups can visit to see the preparation stations, including the hundreds of lemons used to make homemade lemonade, learn about CFA history, and see how customer orders get taken and filled each day. Contact the manager at your local Chick-fil-A to schedule a tour. chick-fil-a.com/Locations/Locator.

Whole Foods

Ages: All  Tour time: One hour
Tours are offered to small groups at mid-morning or mid-afternoon times, Tuesdays through Fridays. They include an introduction to organics, local farms, quality standards, healthy eating, food samples and goody bags to take home! To schedule, contact the marketing leader at your nearest store at least two weeks before you’d like to visit. Wholefoodsmarket.com.

Fire Station

Ages: All  Tour time: 30-45 minutes
Fire safety is the main theme of a tour to a local fire station, where visitors can see where firemen work and live while on duty, including the kitchen, living areas, dispatch office, and fire trucks. Call your nearest station to schedule a tentative time to visit. Remember, firefighters may be called for an emergency at any time, so prepare the kids to be flexible. usfiredept.com/georgia.html.

U.S. Post Office

Ages: All  Tour time: 30 minutes
The Postal Service welcomes organized groups for a close-up look at how their local post office works. Tours offer a glimpse of the duties of retail clerks as they interact with customers and letter carriers as they sort mail and prepare to deliver cards, letters and packages. Most locations welcome tours; contact your local postmaster or station manager to arrange a weekday morning visit. usps.com/locator.

Water Treatment and Waste Water Treatment Plants

Ages: 8 and older  Tour time: About one hour
Plant tours cover how people around the metro area get clean water, what happens to the water when it leaves our toilets and tubs, and water conservation practices. Two to try: Clean Water Atlanta, multiple Atlanta plants. 404-546-3216; The Cecil B. Wood Water Treatment Plant, Roswell. 770-641-3816.

Georgia Dept. of Transportation Lab

Ages: 10 and older   Tour time: 2 hours
Tours, available for small groups, include a brief orientation to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the Office of Materials and Research followed by visits to testing units in the central lab building. Guests observe real physical and chemical tests on real materials (like asphalt and concrete) that are part of the construction and maintenance of Atlanta’s roads. Schedule tours ahead of time by phone; visits are arranged during working hours. 15 Kennedy Dr., Forest Park. 404-608-4817; dot.ga.gov/doingbusiness/materials/Pages/tours.aspx.

California Pizza Kitchen

Ages: 5 and older   Tour time: 30 minute tour; one hour with pizza-making
Free behind-the-kitchen tours are offered at most CPK locations for non-profit groups and schools, giving kids the chance to visit the drink stations, walk in the freezer, see how to wash dishes, and even make their own pizza. Each kid also receives an activity book, CPKids pencil, and a certificate for a free CPK Meal on a future visit. To submit your tour request visit the CPK website or call the manager of your local store. cpk.com/company/cpkids.

North Fulton Community Charities

Ages: 5 and older   Tour time: 30 minutes
Schedule a tour with NFCC for a group, large or small, and visit the food pantry, sorting area and thrift shop of this organization that assists needy local families. Check the website to see which non-perishable items are most in need when you plan to visit, but tours are provided with or without a donation. 11270 Elkins Road, Roswell. 678-387-4459; nfcchelp.org.

Do you plan to go behind the scenes at a neighborhood business? Post your experiences on facebook.com/AtlantaParentMagazine for possible inclusion in our next round-up of neighborhood tours.
– Dalia Faupel and Jennifer Haslam