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We all know that real California is about the cheese – you know, those happy cows and all. But do you know how all that cheese is made?

At Hilmar Cheese Company, the largest single-site cheese and whey manufacturing facility in the world, you can learn how the process takes place, from how the cow is milked to how the finished product takes shape.

The Visitor Center is free and features interactive exhibits. (Of course, my favorite was the complimentary cheese sampling.) Their multi-dimensional theater show, “Lights, Camera, Cheese,” is an educational voyage behind the scenes at Hilmar. I learned that cheese making dates back 4,000 years.

Receiving nine million pounds of milk daily from 260 dairies with more than 150,000 cows, Hilmar produces Colby, Monterey Jack, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses.

Self-guided tours at the Visitor Center are available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Don’t forget to try their famous cheese chowder. Yum!

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