Cow Palace

The New Tillamook Creamery Is a Dairy Lover's Dream Come True

Two floors and 42,000 square feet of ice cream, grilled cheese, movies, interactive milking exhibits, and—of course—heaps of free cheddar samples.

By Alena Willbur June 13, 2018

A rendering of the new Tillamook Creamery, set to open June 20

Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but with cheese. And ice cream, of course. Welcome to the new Tillamook Creamery on the Oregon coast: 42,800 square feet of pure dairy imagination. Best of all? You don’t need a golden ticket—entry is free. Good news for fans who’ve made a pit stop for curds and ice cream part of a beach trip ritual ever since the original Tillamook Creamery first opened its doors to the public back in 1966.

As we reported in 2016, when the cheesemaker first announced plans to expand, Tillamook's circa-1949 factory/visitor center had long struggled to accommodate the creamery's 1.3 million annual visitors. With the new standalone creamery, designed by Seattle design firm Olson Kundig, that problem is solved. Now, two whole floors dedicated to dairy worship invite you to gobble 5-year-old aged sharp chedder, slurp creamery-exclusive chocolate cherry fudge ice cream, or peek behind the scenes at the cheese-making process that built this North Coast dairy empire over generations.

Let's focus, first, on the food: The ground floor of Tillamook’s two-story site boasts a “food hall” style dining area that offers both classic and new menu items developed, in part, by Sarah Schafer, executive chef/owner of Portland’s Irving Street Kitchen. That means everything from Tillamook’s classic melted grilled cheese to a smoked-provolone and Monterey jack base for the creamery’s bacon & beer mac 'n’ cheese. Speaking of beer, the menu will feature it (and also wine). And if you’re not feeling a heavy meal, there’s a coffee and yogurt bar where you can stack on topping like sweet berries, savory hazelnuts, or a swirl of whiskey barrel-aged maple syrup. The first floor also offers a seasonal outdoor patio to soak up summer sun over cold scoops of ice cream. And yes, long-time Creamery visitors, there will still be free cheese and ice cream samples.

The second-floor viewing deck invites visitors to witness the cheese production process, enhanced by exhibit signage and sensory cues: acoustics and more samples. An open theater with informal bench-style seats will screen short videos on cheesemaking. Visiting with children? Try the interactive farm exhibit, where little ones can learn to milk a (fake) cow and get a hands-on introduction to farm life, from feeding (fiberglass) calves with bottles to examining dioramas featuring Tilly the Cow.

In Oregon, the dairy industry is still a pretty big deal. How big? Enough to bring out the Big Cheese: a day ahead of the June 20 grand opening, Oregon Governor Kate Brown is scheduled to attend the Creamery's private, invitation-only ribbon-cutting. (We're sure the speeches will be very mooo-ving.)

As of June 20, the new Tillamook Creamery—located at 4165 Highway 101 North in coastal Tillamook—is open seven days a week, 8 a.m.–8 p.m. (Hours will change after Labor Day.)

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