Photo Credit: jpellgen

Usually when you say you’re going to Mars, people would assume you’ve paid an exorbitant amount of money to travel through space. But there’s a different kind of Mars that’s planted firmly in the heart of the Midwest: the Mars Cheese Castle.

Fairly close to the Illinois border in a town called Kenosha, the Cheese Castle has been a family business and iconic roadside attraction since 1947. Ground zero for cheese, summing up every cheesy cliché about the Dairy State, the building has taken many shapes and locations throughout the years from a schoolhouse to a gas station to even a motel at one point before the fairy-talesque bastions you see today.

Photo Credit: Mike Myers

Unlike South Dakota’s Corn Palace, the building itself is not actually constructed of anything edible. In fact, inside is just an ordinary grocery store with a heavy focus on dairy. With over 350 kinds of cheese, beer, sausages, an ice cream shop and lunch counter, be sure to try their best sellers, the cheese curds with a bloody mary to wash it down.

At one point, Wisconsin had over 1,000 cheese factories in operation churning out over 600 varieties. For other cheesy endeavors, you can tour Clock Shadow Creamery (Milwaukee) to see how cheese curds are made or follow the Great Wisconsin Cheese Trail to taste your way around the state.

They may call it a castle, but we call it heaven on Earth.