Marieke Gouda cow entrance

Marieke Gouda Store & Holland’s Family Cheese

Want to have a “Gouda” time shopping for cheese and learning about cheese and dairy? Maybe play a game or meet a cow? Enjoy some award-winning cheeses? Then a stop at the Marieke Gouda Store at Holland’s Family Cheese is a must!

Perched right along Highway 29 where it meets Highway 73 at Exit 108 in Thorp, there are several layers to this fun stop, from shopping for fun Wisconsin items to watching its favorite food getting made – and sold.

Marieke Gouda store

Marieke’s cheese and a slew of other kinds can be found here. Seriously, you want calcium? They have calcium…

The Marieke Gouda Store is the cheese factory and store, where you can buy the award-winning Marieke Gouda cheeses and all kinds of other foods, accessories, and more from Holland’s Family Farm. View the cheese factory from the store itself! They make cheese every day but Monday. Gouda varieties include everything from Black Pepper Mix to Cumin and Mustard Melange, Pesto Basil, Smoked, and many more.

Who’s Marieke, you may ask? She’s Marieke Penterman, who grew up on a dairy farm in The Netherlands, came to America, met her husband Rolf, and together they started a dairy farm in Thorp in 2002. Her cheesemaking skills led to Gouda styles that started garnering awards in 2007 and the U.S. Grand Champion Award in 2013. She also won the Wisconsin Outstanding Young Farmer Award in 2015, the first female to win. Their current facility opened in November, 2013.

Marieke Gouda Cheese Factory

Marieke Gouda Cheesemaking Tour

Across from Marieke is the Penterman Farm, where you can also watch the cheesemaking but have some fun on a jumping pillow, book a tour, and hang out with Dutchess the Cow outside – she can’t be missed.

Marieke Gouda, Bacon Gouda Cheese

We’re big Gouda fans – especially when bacon is involved!

Cafe DUTCHess is also located inside, where you can enjoy the cheeses, fresh ice cream, chocolates, or a meal from their breakfast or lunch menu. Holland’s Family Cheese, LLC hosts all of this.

Visit the store, meet their cows, book a tour, and see the passion for modern family farming and handcrafted cheesemaking.

You’ll find Marieke Gouda, Holland’s Family Cheese, and the Penterman Farm along the Highway 29 expressway at Exit 108, which is right where Highway 73 has the junction and heads north into downtown Thorp. Marieke Gouda is on the southwest corner of that interchange, within full eyeshot.

Marieke Gouda Hours:
Summer (April 1 – December 31) 7:00 am – 7:00 pm
Winter (January 1 – March 31) 7:00 am – 5:30 pm

Café DUTCHess Hours:
Monday-Saturday 7:00 am – 3:00 pm

Closed on New Years Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

Marieke Gouda & Holland’s Family Cheese Address:

200 W. Liberty Drive (SW corner of Highways 29 & 73)
Thorp, WI 54771
(715) 669-5230

Mars Cheese Castle

One of our favorite places that just screams “Wisconsin!” is the Mars Cheese Castle. This Wisconsin cheese shop, deli, bar, bakery and more is popular purveyor of cheeses, meats, hot sauce, bakery, and Wisconsin kick-knacks is a widely recognized landmark on the busy Milwaukee-Chicago corridor, with its iconic sign beckoning travelers.

Mars Cheese Castle in Kenosha, along I-41/94 and Highway 142.

Its new building, completed in 2011, finally makes it look like a castle. It didn’t for its first six decades.

Originally opened in 1947 along U.S. 41 and what was Wisconsin Highway 43 (today’s 142), the Mars Cheese Castle catered to travelers in search of a variety of cheeses and other local foods as they entered or left the state. Still a family business, Mario Ventura, Sr. started it up and added on as they could: a deli counter, a sandwich shop, a bakery, a bar, a gift shop… all of these were tacked on to the original building. He and partners built not only a successful travel stop, but a brisk mail-order and later online business, shipping cheese, sausage and other products from Wisconsin to locales all over the country. Their home brand of spreadable cheese is called “King of Clubs”, and a large tub of it with Town House crackers are available for enjoyment at the bar at all times.

Mars Cheese Castle samplesTheir deli offers an amazing selection of cheeses, sausages, crackers, and other enjoyable consumables; their wine and beer selection is extensive, their gift shop offers every Wisconsin-y thing you could imagine, their market and bakery offers everything from tons of hot sauce selections to kringle; and a State Trunk Tour favorite is a summer sausage sandwich from the deli. The bar even has a “leg lamp” – the kind popularized in the movie A Christmas Story – to add to the atmosphere… the lamps are crafted in Kenosha, after all.

Mars Cheese Castle's bar features a coveted "leg lamp"

The Mars Cheese Castle’s bar features a coveted “leg lamp,” just like Ralphie and the Old Man liked.

Mars Cheese Castle sausage selections

When I-94/U.S. 41 reconstruction began between Milwaukee and Chicago, it was determined Mars had to move to accommodate the new footprint of the freeway’s interchange with Highway 142. The new building opened in 2011 and finally resembles a castle on the outside and all the “regions of Mars” – if you will – are more easily accessible than they were in the original building. It’s still one of our favorite Wisconsin cheese shops.

Mars Cheese Castle sign at nightThe Mars Cheese Castle is open 9am-7pm, seven days a week. It’s easily accessible of I-41/I-94/U.S. 41 at Exit 340 (Highway 142), which is also famous for its “Bong Recreation Area” sign (note: it’s not what you may think.)

2800 W. Frontage Road (I-41/94 at Hwy 142)
Kenosha, WI 53144
(800) 655-6147