In Oregon we're crazy about our cows, and some of the best dairy delights around are produced at the Tillamook Creamery. Last summer the iconic Creamery (formerly known as the Tillamook Cheese Factory) unveiled its impressive $26-million remodel of its visitors center. The total makeover produced a new and improved 38,500-square-foot facility ideal for a day of family-friendly fun!
For a little historical context, the Tillamook County Creamery Association was established in 1909. The operation started making ice cream in 1947 offering the standard chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Today, there are 32 delicious flavors to keep you coming back for more!
After all, who woudn't want to come face to face with a huge portrait of Flower the Cow, which adorns the entrance and welcomes the Creamery’s 1.3 million annual guests through the “barn door” entrance and into the center. Flower just so happens to be a real-life bovine beauty who happily resides on one of the dairy cooperative’s 90 farms. She's among the many cows responsible for the many sorts of dairy goodness that you and your crew can enjoy while visiting the Tillamook Creamery. Flower's barn-mate, Tilly, has her photo on another doorway inside the center near the gift shop.
The visitors center expansion doubles the size of the old facility, making it easier to tour the cheese factory with ease. Once inside, guests are greeted with a large stairwell leading up to an enhanced-viewing gallery for a behind-the-cheese-scene look at the factory in full production.
Be sure to indulge in some fresh cheese samples at the tasting room and check out the interactive exhibits with fun and educational facts about the cheese-making process. Test your farmer finesse at a simulated cow-milking station, “feed” a baby calf and watch mini movies highlighting different aspects of the Creamery.
On the lower level you’ll find an open and airy marketplace with an atrium-style Dining Hall and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating surrounded by a meticulously manicured landscape. There are a couple of ice cream counters with dozens of flavors to savor, including Oregon Strawberry (a local favorite), Malted Moo Shake and Marionberry Pie. A yogurt bar, espresso counter and soda fountain flowing with unique concoctions complete the area.
The Dining Hall menu is Northwest inspired and created by one of the region’s top chefs, Sarah Schafer. It includes many classic Tillamook cheese dishes, such as fried cheese curds and different types of mac n' cheese, as well as burgers, wood-fired pizza, salads, soups, desserts and even local wine and beer.
Want to take some Tillamook home? No problem! The revamped and roomy gift shop is brimming with cow-inspired memorabilia, clothing, gifts, gadgets and creamery edibles.
The Creamery’s first visitors center opened in 1949 with simple facilities, including restrooms, a small cheese store and guided tours. In 1968, the company built a special entrance and observation area where visitors could look through windows at the cheese-making process.
The visitors center saw its next expansion in 1979 and was remodeled several times in the following 40 years. Additions included a gift shop, a dining and kitchen area, an enclosed patio for the atrium and a new upstairs observation deck.
The most recent revamp, designed by Olson Kundig architects, has been 10 years in the making. Creamery officials say the expansion was necessary to transform the facility’s fragmented floor plan into a less-congested and safer experience for visitors.
The Tillamook Creamery visitors center is a popular attraction for travelers and one of the Northwest’s largest dairy cooperatives. It is located at 4156 Highway 101 North in Tillamook. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Labor Day and until 6 p.m. during the off-season. For more information call (503) 815-1300 or (800) 542-7290.
Learn about more events and activities throughout the North Oregon Coast and Washington's Long Beach Peninsula on our Daytime Events, Nightlife and Community Events pages. We'd love to hear about your highlights while visiting, so please share them in the comments section below.