I don’t have children, but my friends and I still went to the factory and had a great time. It's no Wonkaville, but when you get to One Jelly Belly Lane, you can't help but think that it would be very cool to work for a candy company. The employees agree. Located just 20 minutes south of Napa, the Jelly Belly factory is easy to find. Directions are available on the website www.jellybelly.com or call 1-800-JB-BEANS (1-800-522-3267).
Free tours are available every 15 minutes, seven days a week from 9am to 5pm (except holidays). Even on the weekends when they aren't making the candy, tours are conducted with a knowledgeable tour guide using video monitors so you can see what it would be like. I never really appreciated the fact that every Jelly Belly bean has the company logo on it until I saw the process in action. After the tour, we received a 2-ounce bag of complimentary Jelly Bellies and a small sampler bag of the new JBz candy. In addition to free candy from the tour, you can taste all the flavors for free at the tasting bar, and the bean-bartender will even recommend some. (Pass on the tabasco-flavored cinnamon unless you really like tabasco).
The gift shop has everything and anything Jelly Belly, and the highlight is the 2-pound bags of Belly Flops, which go for $6 a piece or "buy two, get one free." That’s $3 a pound versus $7 a pound bulk at the store, or $8 a pound if you buy your beans packaged. These are the "rejects" from the factory – two stuck together or no name on them. The Flops bags don’t have every flavor in them, but if you look around enough, you can find a bag with the flavors you like. You can ship anything from the factory store except the Flops for the UPS shipping rate plus a small surcharge. You might not think about this, but beware, Jelly Bellies are heavy – I paid the "overweight" fee on my luggage on the way back.
There is also a cafe with hamburgers and pizzas, but we didn't eat there so I can't say if it was good or not. But honestly, if you eat the candy first, you probably won't feel much like eating lunch.
I had never been on any kind of factory tour before, but even with my high expectations, this place was great fun. Oddly enough, it is not well advertised, so that made it even more of a "find" when we happened upon a brochure in our hotel lobby. Go, go go!