The Tillamook cheese factory offers free tours of the process to create 171,000 pounds of cheese daily. A perfect stop along the Oregon coast.
We knew the name Tillamook from the award-winning cheeses we had purchased so many times when we lived in California. What we discovered was an ice cream, creamy fudge, and cheese factory tour that blew our mind. Each day they make 171,000 pounds of cheese.
Tillamook County is along the Oregon coast. Its high rainfall, rivers, and ocean create a fertile region that naturally grows nutrient-rich grass, perfect for dairy cows.
The first Tillamook County cheese to win an award did so at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. Since that time, they have earned over 750 awards. Being farmer-owned, the milk goes from farm to cheese in less than 24 hours. The cheese is then aged from 60 days to over 3 years. And the best part, all products are made as naturally as possible.
Our Tillamook Cheese Factory tour
Stepping inside was a sharp contrast to the natural coastline we had been enjoying. It was bright, lively, and filled with happy people. No wonder it draws over a million visitors each year. The self-guided factory tour is fascinating. Best shared in photos (shot through the glass observation windows):
After the tour
The self-guided tour ends with samples. Then you are in the shop, more specifically, you are standing in front of a refrigerated cheese counter. You can pick up whichever cheeses have inspired you.
I imagine we are not the only ones who left that day with a sampling of cheeses and crackers. We also ordered sandwiches and enjoyed a picnic at our next coastal stop.
What you need to know for your free Tillamook Cheese Factory tour
- You can’t miss it if you are on driving along the Oregon coast on Highway 101 through Tillamook, but just in case, it does have an address: 4175 Highway 101 North.
- Open at 8 am every day (except Thanksgiving and Christmas), closing at 6 pm in the winter, 8 pm during summer.
- The factory tours are free and self-guided.
- There is plenty of free parking.
- Learn more at their official website.
- Cheese fans can pick up a copy of The Tillamook Cheese Cookbook: Celebrating Over a Century of Excellence.
- Tillamook can also be visited as a Portland day trip.
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