This US Road Trip Is The Perfect Vacation For Foodies Who Especially Love Cheese

If you consider yourself a tried and true cheese lover and haven't yet embarked on Wisconsin's epic cheese route, you might want to reconsider that title. This tasty cheese trail transverses the entire state of Wisconsin, leaving plenty of room for stops at some of the best and brightest cheeseries in every county. Farmers markets and farm-to-table eateries alike specialize in the decadent products, cashing in on the state's obsession with cheese. From authentic shops with gourmet lines of cheese handcrafted by passionate Wisconsinites to cafes and eateries specializing in craveable classics, one thing is clear: It's a route that won't leave you hungry! Hansel and Gretel your way (cheese style) on this trip from the southern end of Wisconsin before skirting the border of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan and ending with some crave-worthy bites on the outskirts of Minneapolis. 

According to Travel Wisconsin, this state is the proud producer of over 600 types of cheese, ranging from artisanal to farmstead. Its world-class cheese market is nothing new, first gaining traction in the mid-1800s. With its flourishing market of dairy farms, the state attracted an influx of cheese crafters from Germany, France, Switzerland, and beyond. This mass migration brought with it a wealth of knowledge regarding the cheese industry into Wisconsin. By 1869, Swiss cheese was among some of the first rapidly developing cheese varieties throughout the state, closely followed by the beloved mozzarella and provolone. As the cheese industry erupted into an epicurean sensation and spread throughout the state, so did its production standards. In an effort to protect its manufacturing and production, Wisconsin requested higher standards and implemented the first grading system, giving it the strictest cheese-manufacturing standards of any American state.

Green County to Milwaukee

Start your cheese tour strong at Baumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern, Wisconsin's oldest cheese store. This specialty cheese shop and restaurant in Monroe has been perfecting the art of cheese making since 1931, resulting in an impressive collection of dairy-based masterpieces. Monroe's vibrant community is so cheese-crazy, that they even hold a Cheese Days fall festival every other year.

About an hour's drive from Baumgartner's, pull over at Dane County Farmers Market in Madison County. This wholesome market is the largest producer-only farmers market in the entire country. If you haven't yet guessed, Wisconsinites love to put a cheesy spin on their products, crafting them in all shapes and forms, including bread. Make sure to stop by Stella's Bakery to sample their famous hot and spicy cheese bread (a local favorite!) Complement your new collection of cheese delicacies with some fresh-cut flowers or artisan jam at this adorable gathering of local vendors.

Fans of cheddar and Colby Jack will fall head over heels in love with this next road trip stop. Widmer's Cheese Cellars has specialized in house-made brick cheese for over a century. Nestled in the tiny town of Theresa, the tavern-style production plant was purchased by John O. Widmer in 1922. As a Swiss immigrant, the family-owned business carries its cultural heritage with pride, marked by a national embellishment on its exterior. Grab a few pre-packaged bricks along with some of their famous cheese spreads for a satisfying road trip snack.

Appleton Area to Ellsworth

Not only is Henning's Wisconsin Cheese where all of Kiel County's locals carry out their weekly cheese runs, but it's also a museum that documents this family's century-long cheese-making craft. Get the scoop on how real artisan cheese comes to fruition with an authentic display of cheese vats, presses, and separators used to carve decadent cheese since 1914. The retail section is a treasure chest all on its own. Warm samples welcome guests into the cozy store, setting the stage for the ultimate cheese shopping spree. Make your selection from a variety of shredded and sliced specimens, and don't miss out on their signature breaded cheese curds that are best enjoyed deep-fried.

Fun fact: Weyauwega Star Dairy holds the Guinness World Record for making the longest piece of string cheese ever to be strung, reaching one and a half miles long! This iconic cheese shop is somewhat of a hole-in-the-wall, settled in the small town of Weyauwega — but it's worth the trek even for a nibble of their specialty in-house cheeses. Known for their top-quality nutty and aromatic parmesan and feta, you can sample their products any way you like — grated, wedged, shaved, or shredded. Cultivating strong ties with local vendors and dairy producers, Weyauwega Star Dairy complements its respectable string cheese collection with a curated collection of cottage jams, beer cheese spreads, beef sticks, and more!

Just under an hour outside Minneapolis, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery puts a spin on classic white cheddar cheese curds with exotic flavors like cajun, garlic, and ranch. Located in Ellsworth, this family-run dairy establishment is situated in what is fondly known by locals as "The Cheese Curd Capital of the World." Each of their gourmet artisan cheeses is made by hand in small batches using nothing but the finest ingredients sourced from local vendors. A shopping trip in this adorable cheese shop is the perfect way to cap off a journey down Wisconsin's most enviable road trip route.