When you think of Tillamook, Oregon, does your mind immediately go visions of cheddar cheese and Tillamookies? If so, we wouldn’t fault you. Yes, this is the town where the legendary Tillamook Creamery cheeses and ice cream products are made. It may be the main reason that will draw you into town, but there is a lot more to see and do here.
Named for the Native American Tillamook tribe, Tillamook sits just off the coast of the Pacific Ocean about 40 miles South of Cannon Beach, Oregon. In addition to cheddar, this picturesque town is also home to one of the country’s oldest movie houses, a former blimp patrol station and the truly unique Rail Riders.
Today, Tillamook is a great spot for day sightseers and adventure seekers. Whether you like to hike, bike, fish or kayak, you’ll find something here to keep you occupied. Foodies will also appreciate the nice selection of eateries and beverage makers too. Now to begin, everyone say “cheese!”
4165 N. Hwy 101, Tillamook, OR 97141
Designed to look like a modern barn, Tillamook Creamery’s enormous visitor center almost looks out of place in this small town. But it is by far the town’s most popular tourist attraction for families. People come from all over the PNW to see the place where this popular cheese comes from.
Start off your visit with a free, self-guided tour above the factory and if you can swing it, opt for a visit during week when the factory is buzzing with employees busily making and packaging the many varieties of the company’s cheeses.
Another free experience, which is a hit with the kids, is the simply-named Farm Exhibit which shows off how well the cows are treated here. The experience also allows for a chance to milk a real fake cow!
The creamery also offers two premium experiences where you and your clan can learn all about the cheese-making process behind the scenes with hands-on activities and tastings of products. The other is the Ice Cream Experience which is an interactive tour that comes with taste-testing and some swag at the end. With that said, many visitors enjoy their time here without the expensive add-ons.
Of course, no trip is complete without a trip to the gift shop/market. This is also where Tillamook’s Cheese Curds (aka, “squeaky cheese”) are sold exclusively. The Tillamook Creamery’s café is a great way to finish out your experience here. Enjoy a Tillamook Double Cheddar Grilled Cheese sandwich, Fried Cheddar Cheese Curds (with dipping sauces), Triple Cheese Mac or a Classic Cheeseburger. Wash it down with a Stubborn Soda Root Beer Float or milkshake.
Blue Heron French Cheese Company
2001 Blue Heron Dr., Tillamook, OR 97141
The Tillamook Creamery may be the “big cheese” in town, but they are not the only player. The Blue Heron French Cheese Company, has been making fine cheese for over 40 years now thank you very much. Outside, you can inspect vintage farm equipment or roam through their petting zoo. Inside, Blue Heron offers its guests samples of specialty cheeses alongside wine tastings from their collection of over 250 select Pacific Northwest wines. The gift shop offers a nice variety of gourmet foods and gift baskets.
The Blue Heron Delicatessen makes for a great lunch spot serving sandwiches (made with fresh-baked bread), homemade soups and salads. Specialties include The Blue (made with Blue Heron brie cheese, turkey, cranberries, and cranberry sauce), the Blue Heron Classic (turkey, brie, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and mustard) and the Brie Sampler (A mix of Blue Heron’s brie cheeses (herb, smoked and peppercorn) served with a mini baguette.
Tillamook Farmers Market
Laurel Ave .between Hwy 6 and 3rd St., Tillamook, OR 97141
Every Saturday from mid-June through the end of September, you’ll find the Tillamook Farmers Market on the corner of Laurel Ave. and 2nd St in front of the courthouse. It’s an old-fashioned farmers market with locally-grown produce, hand-made artisan gifts, baked goods, jams and jellies, fresh meat and more. The place is alive with music and activities for kids.
The farmers market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. providing an excellent way to purchase goods directly from the local people in Tillamook (and nearby towns) who prepare them.
Tillamook Coliseum Theater
310 Main Ave., Tillamook, OR 97141
Located in the Beals Building on Main Ave., the Tillamook Coliseum Theater first opened its doors in September of 1923. Since that time, it has endured a lot from a damaging fire to multiplexes to streaming services. But today, the single screen theater still stands and is looking better than ever thanks to 2014 renovation which brought the theater to the digital age as well as some much-needed TLC.
The theater is open every evening and all day on the weekends offering first-run movies at a fraction of what you’d pay elsewhere. The snack bar has also been upgraded serving Nathan’s all-beef natural hot dogs, which you can dress up with cheese, jalapenos or sauerkraut. They even offer gluten-free buns.
Kayak Tillamook County
Kayak Tillamook County is an eco tour and guild service for the state for the Oregon Coast. Their address is not listed because, they come to you! Whether you are a complete newbie or have been kayaking for years now, KTC will match whatever your level of fitness and experience history to the best single and tandem tours.
Kayak Tillamook County transport their kayaks and gear to many launch locations along a 100-mile service area. While they can’t promise everything, chances are pretty good that you’ll get up close and personal with wildlife including river otters, harbor seals, mink, elk, raptors and seabirds.
Tour groups can be as small as two to up to eight people. You’ll get a half-hour of instruction on land before your two-hour adventure on the water. You’ll be in good hands too as the whole staff has been professionally trained, 3rd party certified and registered with the Oregon State Marine Board. Kayak tours are planned for those age 16 and up only.
Five Rivers Coffee Roasters Café
3670 Hwy. 101 N., Tillamook, OR 97141
Located right across from the Tillamook Creamery, Five Rivers Coffee Roasters is named after the five rivers that flow to the Tillamook Bay including the Miami, the Kilchis, the Wilson, the Trask and the Tillamook River. It can be easy to miss, but it totally worth a stop. This coffee shop’s hardwood floors, bright white painted walls and blackboard signage gives this café a warm and inviting feel. They also get high marks for good service.
Five Rivers hand-roasts coffee beans sourced from around the world. Their drinks are made from a house-made espresso blend. Specialty drinks include Caramel Kilchis (toffee nut and caramel latte), Miami Whammy (white chocolate, almond and coconut mocha) and Mexican Mocha (made with dark chocolate syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg). They also offer single origin brews. The most popular is the “Fogcutter.”
Five Rivers also features a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches and a handful of treats. The most popular include the Blueberry Crumble muffins, Double Chocolate muffins, cinnamon rolls and the classic chocolate chip cookie.
Five Rivers Coffee Roasters Café is not open on Sundays.
Tillamook Forest Center
45500 Wilson River Hwy., Tillamook, OR 97141
Oregon’s forest education and recreation center known as the Tillamook Forest Center wants to be your “Coast Range Retreat” offering picnic spots in the woods, a place where you can see spawning salmon or climb to the top of a forest fire lookout tower.
Overlooking the Wilson River, the Tillamook Forest Center isn’t too far away from town but far enough away that you’ll get the full experience in this remote forested setting. The space is good to visit any time of the year. Inside, the Center features free indoor, hands-on, interpretive exhibits of early settler dwellings and the animals who call the forest home. On a hot summer day, the Center is a cool place for an outdoor lunch alongside a river or take a hike on the forested trails.
Within the grounds of the Center, you’ll find a 40-foot-tall replica of a forest fire lookout tower and a 250-food suspension bridge over the Wilson River.
Buddha Kat Winery
Address: 6260 Blimp Blvd., Bldg #71, Tillamook, OR 97141
What makes Buddha Kat Winery so unique is that in addition to their nice variety of wines made with Pacific Northwest grapes, this winery also offers a selection of berry and fruit wines as well including blackberries, blueberries and even rhubarb! For instance, their Black Rosé is a full-flavored wine made with 100% blackberries that pairs well with desserts and/or appetizers. Their blueberry and blackberry ports are a mix of berries and brandy.
The award-winning winery offers a range of varietal wines that focus on maximizing the flavor. They are pretty proud of their 96 point Framboise Chocolate port style wine which is considered one of the finest wines in the world.
You can stop by to sample these, Merlots, Muscats and Chardonnays in their tasting room or better yet, call ahead to schedule a private tasting and/or tour of the winery and learn the process of winemaking with the winery’s head winemaker.
Twins Ranch Rail Riders
Hwy 101 at Hemlock St., Bay City, OR 97147
And now for something completely different…rail bikes. Twins Ranch Rail Riders offer guided, two-hour tours aboard a four-seat, peddle bike that travels along Oregon’s historical railroad tracks. Two tours are available and both are along mostly flat surfaces. Even when the grade goes up a bit, the bikes are still fairly easy to peddle.
The owners of the tours say that anyone can enjoy this activity from young (children 48” tall and up) to old. However, they also say that the rides are “enjoyable but can be strenuous” so take that word of caution for what it’s worth.
All seats are sold for these tours, so if you go solo or on a date, chances are good that you’ll share the tracks with others to enjoy the new adventure.
Tillamook Air Museum
6030 Hangar Rd., Tillamook, OR 97141
The aviation museum known at the Tillamook Air Museum is located at a former U.S. Navy Air Station. Filled with numerous artifacts and exhibits, the museum sits within “Hangar B” which was once a blimp hangar. Just the building alone is incredible. It is the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world.
Over 28 full-size aircrafts are on display here as well a number of exhibits which features large collections of rare historical aviation-themed artifacts (including pieces of the German blimp, the Hindenburg), photos and documents. Some highlights include the Anderson Air Raid Shelter replica, six cockpit trainers where families can get an idea of what is was like to train in a military plane and the engine room highlighting a large variety of aircraft engines.
Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
2106 2nd St., Tillamook, OR 97141
At little more down to earth (literally) is the Tillamook County Pioneer Museum which presents 19 displays which focus on the history of the North Oregon Coast. The three floors of the museum offer up approximately 55,000 items and over 20,000 photos on display here from prehistoric times to modern day.
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the museum houses natural history displays of animals, old automobiles, tools, household appliances and items like radios, typewriters and cameras.
Pelican Brewing Company Taproom
1708 1st St., Tillamook, OR 97141
If you’re a fan of Pelican Brewing’s light ales, lagers, fruit beers, India Pale Ales, dark ales, stouts, ciders and non-alcoholic “sparkle hops”, than a stop at the Pelican Brewing Company Taproom is in order.
The Tillamook location offers brewery tours on Saturdays and the place features a 40-seat casual dining area which overlooks the floor of the production facility. The restaurant offers pub favorite appetizers, burgers, fish & chips, fish tacos, clam chowder and more.