Did you know that during a trip to Portland, you can visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory & Creamery on the Oregon Coast to learn how cheese and ice cream are made?
My husband is a self-proclaimed “cheeseaholic,” so we knew that a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory during our trip to Portland, Oregon, was a must. And wow, we are so glad we prioritized the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour during our trip — it honestly exceeded our expectations!
In this post, I will explain some of the basic information you need to know about the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour when planning your trip, what to expect during the tour, and some tips to make your experience memorable and seamless.
FAQs: Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour in Oregon
Where is the Tillamook Cheese Factory
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is in Tillamook on the Oregon Coast. If you are driving to Tillamook Creamery from Downtown Portland, it is about a 75-mile drive and takes roughly an hour and a half to get there, depending on traffic.
What are the Tillamook Cheese Factory hours and days?
The Tillamook Cheese Factory is open seven days a week from 10 AM – 6 PM. They do occasionally close early for holidays or private events, so check the website ahead of time to ensure they are open on the time and day you are planning your tour.
Does it cost money to go to the Tillamook Cheese Factory?
The best part about the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is that it is completely free, making it one of the best things to do in Oregon on a budget. The self-guided tour also includes free cheese samples — just save some money in your budget to buy lunch or ice cream in the dining hall after your Tillamook Cheese Factory tour.
Does the Tillamook Cheese Factory have a gift shop?
The Tillamook Creamery has a fabulous gift shop to explore after your tour.
You can find tons of mementos to bring home, like shirts, hats, ornaments, and cute stuffed animals. There is also a grocery section with limited edition cheeses, ice creams, dairy products, and other Oregon-made products that you can’t find in your grocery store back home.
Is the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour good for kids?
Yes, the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is one of the best things to do in Portland with kids!
Not only will kids love watching how cheese and ice cream are made, but there are tons of interactive, kid-friendly, hands-on exhibits that will teach them how to “feed” a calf, milk a cow, the differences between different types of cows, and more.
Do you need reservations for the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour?
The Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is self-guided, so you do not need to make tour reservations. You can begin your tour right when you show up, or you can grab food in the dining hall first and complete the tour before you leave — it is up to you.
How long does the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour take?
Since the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is self-guided, you can spend one hour or all day here. However, most people probably spend between 2–3 hours at the Tillamook Creamery.
Personally, we arrived around 11:30 AM and left around 2 PM, so we spent a total of 2.5 hours at the Tillamook Creamery. We arrived, took the tour, browsed the gift shop, ordered food, and then enjoyed it in the dining hall before leaving.
Do they serve food at the Tillamook Creamery in Oregon?
Yes, in addition to the free cheese samples, Tillamook Creamery has tons of food to purchase. You can buy grocery items in the gift shop, or you can order meals to eat in the dining hall. They also have an ice cream bar if you are craving a sweet treat.
Can I visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory with a food allergy?
It is possible to visit Tillamook Cheese Factory with a food allergy. While you might have trouble finding much to eat with a severe dairy allergy (though it is possible!), there are plenty of options for gluten-free, nut-free, and other food allergies.
To better understand how Tillamook Creamery handles allergens before visiting the factory, please read the company’s allergen statement.
Does Tillamook Cheese Factory have samples?
Yes, the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour offers samples, and you can grab as many as you want (within reason, of course). I grabbed a Colby Jack, Medium Cheddar, and Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar to try. They were all amazing, of course!
What to Expect During the Tillamook Creamery Tour
During the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour, you will learn so much information about the company’s history, business model, how cheese is made, and how to care for cows. There is truly something to learn that will interest everyone — from young kids to adults!
During the self-guided tour, you will be able to explore the following exhibits and stops at your own pace:
The Grand Entrance is the first thing you will see when you walk into the Tillamook Cheese Factory. You will be greeted by a massive photo of Flower, one of Tillamook’s cows, at the entrance, and when you walk inside, you will see a sculpture of floating cheese loaves.
To the left, you will see a timeline that details the milestones that have happened in the company since 1851 — when it all began — to 2018, when the new Tillamook Creamery opened (the one that you will tour when you visit). If you want a sneak peek at some highlights on the timeline, you can view them on Tillamook’s website here.
Next up, you can visit the Farm Exhibit. This exhibit is especially fun if you have children because they can learn about how cows are raised and how they produce milk. You will be able to learn how technology is improving the care of cows. In fact, cows are milked using a milking device that you can try your hand at in this exhibit.
Something I didn’t realize about Tillamook Creamery until visiting is that they are a Dairy Co-Op committed to thriving farms and healthful cows. Tillamook has 80 farmer-owners, and some family farms have been providing milk to Tillamook for four generations!
In the upstairs Viewing Gallery, you will be able to watch Tillamook employees in action as they turn milk into cheese (within 24 hours of the milk arriving — amazing!).
Look through the glass panels into the factory to see the cooking vats, heat shrink tunnel, vacuum sealer, patching station, check weigher scale, and other tools and equipment in action that is used to make award-winning cheeses. And, of course, the cheese loaves!
There are plenty of easy-to-read displays, so you can understand what is happening during each step of the process. This is the coolest part of the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour, in my opinion — it is amazing to watch how efficient, yet precise, the employees are at producing the perfect-sized cheese blocks before they are sent away to age for 3–5 years.
Once you watch how the cheese is made, why not try some to see how it tastes for yourself? You can stand in line for cheese samples and grab one of each type — they are pre-wrapped, too, so everything is super sanitary. I grabbed a Colby Jack, Medium Cheddar, and Smoked Black Pepper White Cheddar because that is what they had available that day.
While you are snacking on your cheese samples, head downstairs to the gift shop — and don’t worry, there is plenty more cheese to be had!
The Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is free, but it’s worth bringing some extra money for the gift shop. While you’re here, you will find everything from food — from limited edition Tillamook cheeses and products — to mementos and souvenirs, like t-shirts, ornaments, hats, and stuffed animals (I mean, how could you resist this cute cow?).
We would have loved to purchase some food or local Oregon goodies, but we were getting ready to fly home and didn’t think we’d have enough time to eat perishable items before our flight — but if you are in town for longer, cheese makes a great snack in the hotel!
Chances are, you have worked up an appetite while touring the Tillamook Creamery, so it’s time to head to the dining hall. The Dining Hall has two sections with two separate lines — one for dining and one for ice cream.
On the dining menu, you will find every cheesy meal your heart desires, including cheese curds, mac ‘n’ cheese, grilled cheese, and cheeseburgers (all made with Tillamook cheese, of course). However, there are some lighter options too, like salads and soups, which you can enjoy individually or pair with other items (grilled cheese and tomato soup, anyone?).
We ordered cheese curds with sharp cheddar ranch and a delicious salad with smoked salmon, cheese, arugula, and dried corn (it was seriously SOO yummy!).
Then, we hopped into the ice cream line. I recommend getting a sampler platter (like the one pictured below) that allows you to try three flavors. My husband and I split this and tried the Oregon Dark Cherry, Peaches and Cream, and Oregon Hazelnut, and they were all delicious. The flavors do sometimes change, so keep your eyes peeled for a new favorite!
Tip: If both lines are long and you have multiple people in your group, have one person stand in each line and “divide and conquer,” so your ice cream and food are ready at the same time.
Tips for Visiting the Tillamook Cheese Factory
Arrive early to avoid the crowds.
If you want to avoid the crowds, try to plan your visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory as close as possible to when the factory opens (10 AM) on a weekday.
There are lots of opportunities to eat at the Tillamook Cheese Factory — free cheese samples, meals in the dining hall, ice cream, and more. Come with an empty stomach so you can enjoy as many of the goodies as possible!
Grab more than one sample.
When you get in line for cheese samples, know that you can grab more than one! I grabbed one of each type of cheese to try — just be respectful, and don’t grab more than you need.
Pair a trip to Tillamook Creamery with a day on the coast.
If you are planning a day trip to Tillamook Creamery from Portland, Oregon, you should plan to spend the rest of your afternoon driving up the Oregon Coast.
After we left the Tillamook Cheese Factory, we drove to Cannon Beach and spent the rest of the afternoon there, which was tons of fun. If you are like most visitors, you will only spend a few hours at the factory, so make a plan for how you would like to spend the rest of your day.
Take a photo by the Tillamook Creamery sign.
Before you leave, be sure to grab a photo in front of the Tillamook Creamery sign! It is located just outside the dining hall’s outdoor seating area, so it should be easy to spot when you are finishing up your food.
Is the Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour Worth It During a Trip to Portland?
Yes, the Tillamook Cheese Factory tour is absolutely worth your time during a trip to Portland or the Oregon Coast!
We were really impressed at the attention to detail and information packed into this free self-guided tour, and we loved browsing the gift shop and enjoying a meal in the dining hall as well. Regardless of your age, you are bound to have a wonderful time at the Tillamook Creamery.
Save These Helpful Tips for the Tillamook Cheese Factory Tour
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