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Cheese, please: Where to find dairy deliciousness in Wisconsin

No trip to Wisconsin is complete without visiting some of the state’s award-winning artisan cheesemakers. Here’s where to find some of the best.

family at milwaukee public market
Cheese shopping at Milwaukee Public Market (Credit: Travel Wisconsin)

Wisconsin is serious about its cheese—and not just the kind that Green Bay Packers fans wear on their heads on game day. Wisconsin makes some of the best artisanal cheese in the state; if you need proof, just look at the trophy cases at our award-winning dairies and creameries.

Wisconsin is home to more than 50 artisan cheesemakers, including hundreds of varieties made by hand in small batches. Bring your appetite: Follow this itinerary to find some of the best cheese (and cheese-adjacent stops) in the eastern part of the state.

Check out another cheesy Wisconsin itinerary.

Pick an area below for the perfect day trip or combine for a longer overnight getaway.

Milwaukee

Taste & Shop: Downtown Milwaukee

A full day alone could be spent checking out Milwaukee’s food scene but here are our three picks for gastronomical shopping gems. With 24 vendors, the Milwaukee Public Market offers the best of gourmet, organic and specialty produce from independent purveyors. Aside from the shopping, the Public Market also offers cooking classes, tastings and in-house music performances. Sausage always makes a nice accompaniment for cheese, so visit the 100-year old Usinger’s Famous Sausage in Milwaukee’s historic German retail district. Usinger’s is nationally recognized for its production of 70 different types of gourmet German sausage. Just steps from Usinger’s, the Wisconsin Cheese Mart offers “the world’s largest selection of Wisconsin cheese” with over 150 varieties.

Taste & Tour: Lakefront and Sprecher breweries

The names Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst and Miller certainly ring a bell where beer is concerned. And what do they have in common? They’re all part of Milwaukee’s long brewing history. The Sprecher Brewing Company tour offers a pairing of ten Sprecher beers. Lakefront Brewery is a Travel Green Wisconsin-certified business.

Dine: Sanford Restaurant

In an upscale, but homey, atmosphere, Sanford offers guests a changing, gourmet menu to reflect the peak freshness and flavor of the season. Described as Modern Ethnic flavor, they take food traditions from around hte world and integrate them into modern dishes using ingredients close to home by supporting local farms and artisans whenever possible.

Stay: Pfister Hotel & WELL Spa and Hotel Metro

Both hotels offer luxurious accommodations and culinary options and boast Travel Green Wisconsin certification.

Cedarburg & Theresa

Taste, Tour & Shop: Widmer’s Cheese Cellars

Master cheesemaker Joe Widmer is the third generation of Widmer’s producing the family’s renowned Brick cheese. Joe is adamant about sticking to the traditional method of brining the cheese, still using the same bricks his grandfather employed to weight down the new cheese decades ago. Open during the week, Widmer’s Cheese Cellars Factory in Theresa features a guided tour. Call to make a reservation.

Taste & Tour: Cedar Creek Winery

Guided tours of the winery are offered daily and run around 45 minutes. The tour starts with a briefing on Cedar Creek’s history followed by a visit to the wine cellar, the aging room and the bottling line. At the end of the tour, guests can enjoy a brief video on Cedar Creek’s personal wine making process. The last stop includes a complimentary formal wine tasting in the Cedar Creek tasting room.

Stay: Washington House Inn

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Washington House Inn offers guests the opportunity for rest and relaxation in one of their plush private rooms. The Washington House Inn is the best bed and breakfast accommodation in Cedarburg and has been slated as a place of “distinguished comfort” by Better Homes & Gardens.

Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine Area

Lunch: Craverie

Craverie, located at the Shops at Woodlake in Kohler, offers diners a unique approach to cuisine—their menu walks the delicate line between lean and indulgent. For chocolate lovers, Craverie is home to Kohler’s Original Recipe chocolates. Along with the indulgent side, Craverie’s menu features decadent pastries, gelato and desserts. On the lean side, guests can feast on lighter soups, salads, sandwiches, and sorbets.

Dine & Stay: Osthoff Resort

Nationally recognized for its exquisite guest accommodations, the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake is also a foodie haven. The resort offers comfortable, spacious rooms and an unparalleled fine dining experience.

Appleton Area

Taste & Shop: Trega Foods/Simon’s Specialty Cheese

Steeped in the history and tradition of Wisconsin cheese making, Trega Foods churns out some of the best feta, mozzarella and provolone in the state. Simon’s Specialty Cheese, Trega’s Little Chute Retail store, is the place to go to browse 100 varieties of cheese.

Taste & Shop: Lamers Dairy

The Lamers Dairy retail store in Appleton specializes in providing guests with the highest quality Wisconsin dairy products and specialty foods. It’s a haven for the tourist interested in Wisconsin’s culinary tradition.

Lunch: Stone Cellar Brewpub

Guests can enjoy the pub, which serves traditional English style pub far and Stone Cellar’s ten original beers on tap. Call ahead for an appointment to tour the brewery.

Taste, Tour & Shop: Union Star Cheese Factory

Union Star Cheese Factory offers tours of their facility every morning except Sundays. The factory tour includes pit stops at pivotal steps in the cheese making process along with a cheese tasting at the end. Additionally, Union Star has an in-house retail store where visitors can purchase the cheese tasted on the tour.

Dine: Pick a Supper Club

For an authentic Wisconsin experience, dinner at a supper club is in order. Expect simple, classic American cuisine like surf and turf, shrimp cocktail, a generous relish tray, baked potatoes and salads with homemade dressings. The Appleton area boasts several supper clubs including the Lox Club or Simpson’s Red Ox Club.

Stay: CopperLeaf Boutique Hotel & Spa

Appleton’s finest luxury hotel features whirlpools, fireplaces, The RYE Restaurant & Lounge and SPA BenMarNico’s. Modeled after small, family-owned European hotels, you will be indulged with their personalized services.

A version of this article originally appeared on TravelWisconsin.com.