Green Bay Wisconsin: More than the Packers

Downtown Green Bay Wisconsin and the Fox River. Chris Rand photo.
Downtown Green Bay Wisconsin and the Fox River. Chris Rand photo

Two perfect days in Green Bay Wisconsin

By Jill Robbins

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I’m lukewarm on pro football in general and about as far from a Packers fan as it gets.

And even though I love cheese with a zeal that borders on worship, this is not my primary motivation when deciding where to plan a trip.

If learning these two facts about me makes you scratch your head over why I chose Green Bay, Wisconsin, I’ll spoil it all upfront. There’s more to this midwestern city than cheese and football. 

Whether you’ve got your hands on highly-coveted tickets to a Packers home game, making your pilgrimage to Lambeau Field, where the Packers play, or just picked this spot on the map for a weekend getaway, here’s how to spend two perfect days in Green Bay. 

Getting to Green Bay

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If you’re starting from the Midwest United States, Green Bay, population  107,000, is easy to get to and thus ideal for a short break. Three hundred fifty miles from Detroit, 200 miles from Chicago, and 112 miles from Milwaukee, Green Bay is a doable road trip from several larger midwestern cities.

Nine cities have direct service to Green Bay’s Austin Straubel International Airport. If you opt to fly into Green Bay, you will need a car to get around. 

This schedule is based on a late afternoon or early evening arrival in Green Bay, two days to play, and a departure on the fourth day. If you have more than two days to spend in Green Bay, you won’t have trouble finding more things to do, but here’s how to fill two full days.

These are pretty packed days, so if you prefer a slower pace, it’s easy to omit activities or stretch them out over a longer stay.

Local Beer and Dinner

Cheers to your Green Bay adventure with a pint at Cycling Brews. This locally owned taproom is perfect for getting acquainted with Wisconsin craft beer. Thirty-six rotating taps feature Wisconsin brews and the occasional out-of-state craft beers, the latter affectionately385788474 10231462134722400 9070111067283567026 n nicknamed “intruders.” 

The taproom is adjacent to the Fox River Trail, popular with bikers, hikers, and walkers, so if you have time and want a more active option, this is a way to enjoy the outdoors. Bike rentals are available from Scott’s Sports. 

Green Bay has a thriving craft beer scene if you’re a true craft beer lover and have extra time. Other taprooms to check out are Titletown Brewing Company, Cocoon Brewing, Badger State Brewing, and Stillmank Brewing Company. 

Wisconsin’s supper club scene is famous, so if you’ve come to town hungry – the food is on the heavy side – the restaurant at the Union Hotel is a fun way to experience this unique dining culture. If you’re up for a pre-dinner cocktail, tradition dictates it is the supper club staple, the Old Fashioned. Expect to be asked if you want your Old Fashioned made with brandy or bourbon – that one threw me. 

386081252 10231462337127460 6431467877504737060 nFood specialties include walleye, scallops, and steaks. Leave room for a boozy ice cream drink – the restaurant does great Brandy Alexanders and Grasshoppers.

These after-dinner drinks are served in highball glasses, so the portions are manageable after a full meal. 

The Union Hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is known for its Art Deco bar area.

The Green Bay Packers were founded in this hotel, and during Prohibition, the owner distilled exceptionally strong “home brew” in what was then referred to as the hotel’s “booth room.” After the repeal of Prohibition, the space was, quite fittingly, remodeled into a bar.

McKayla Marie Sweets

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Touring Packer Country 

Our first stop of the day was Lambeau Field. Consider this activity, even if not a Packer backer or into football. 

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The history of how the Packers came to be in Green Bay is interesting, especially since football is such a big part of the city’s identity. We got to walk out onto the field through the same tunnel the players use and check out the cool artwork inside the stadium.

The pristine Lambeau Field grass is strictly look-don’t-touch, but fan or not, it’s fun to see a pro football from this perspective. 

385778351 10231462482371091 1120745399355334817 nWe took the shortest, most basic tour offered, the Classic Tour, which takes about an hour. There are two more tour options above that, the Champions Tour (90 minutes) and the Legendary Tour (120 minutes), if you want a deep dive into Packer fandom. 

Jump across the street to Titletown

From Lambeau Field, hop across the street to Titletown, Green Bay’s 45-acre development plan and recreation space. Titletown is an all-season park with a playground, football field, a winter skating rink, and a tubing hill.

 

Whether you want to catch a Zumba or yoga class, a kid’s art class, or a Friday night campfire, there’s always something going on at Titletown, and many of the events are free. And expect waves of green and gold on game day.

Since Packers tickets are next to impossible to get, watching with other fans in the shadow of Lambeau Field might be an acceptable second if you’re into that sort of thing. 

Anduzzi’s, is a Wisconsin chain of sports bars with a robust food menu. Although you can get burgers and tacos at Anduzzi’s, they’re famous for their Ultimate Bloody Mary, which has enough toppings to make a hearty meal for at least two people. 

Explore the “Bay” in Green Bay

Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. Photo credit: Jill Robbins.
Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. Photo credit: Jill Robbins.


Divide your afternoon between
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and Bay Beach Amusement Park. These are great activities for families and groups on a budget – the wildlife sanctuary is free, and the amusement park is low-cost.

Green Bay Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Jill Robbins.
Green Bay Botanical Garden. Photo credit: Jill Robbins.

The wildlife sanctuary has an indoor interpretive center with hands-on activities designed to teach visitors about conservation and the plants and animals native to this part of Wisconsin. The outdoor animal habitats are currently home to wolves, a cougar, and lots of free-roaming Canada geese.

The wildlife varies based on current rescue initiatives. This urban oasis feels very far from city life, and it’s a great place for gentle hikes in the spring, summer, and fall and for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are over five miles of trails to explore. 

Bay Beach Amusement Park is the ultimate throwback reminiscent of retro amusement parks from the fifties and sixties.

The park’s claim to fame is the Zippin’ Pippin, touted as Elvis’ favorite roller coaster, but that’s taking a few liberties since Elvis never actually rode this particular coaster.

Zippin' Pippin' in Green Bay Wisconsin.
Zippin’ Pippin’ in Green Bay Wisconsin.

The Zippin’ Pippin originated in a Tennessee theme park, but Bay Beach Amusement Park bought the roller coaster and the naming rights in 2010 and rebuilt it in Green Bay. This wooden coaster is gentle compared with the more high-tech rides engineered today, but it’s a fun piece of nostalgia.

The cool thing about Bay Beach is that admission is free, and the rides are accessed per ticket, giving it a carnival vibe. Tickets are 0.25 each – yes, really – and rides are anywhere from one to four tickets per ride, making this an activity that stretches small budgets.

386177861 10231462574413392 7429312454165733023 n recommend at least two hours at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and Bay Beach Amusement Park, although you can trim or add to the time based on interest and weather. 

Adjustments and Options

Dinner options include sampling deep-fried goodness at Bay Beach Amusement Park. There’s a robust, fair food-style menu if you fancy funnel cakes and hot dogs while you explore the park.

If you want something more high-end, book a table at Chefusion, which is as much about the experience as it is about filling your belly. Seasonal cuisine focuses on locally grown, fresh ingredients served in an elevated but unstuffy atmosphere.

Chefusion’s three-course prix fixe option is the ultimate way to savor your dining experience if you’re hungry. While the vibe is approachable, this isn’t the best choice for young children. 

Cheesesteak Rebellion

Adventure Park Canopy Tour, Green Bay Zoo
Adventure Park Canopy Tour, Green Bay Zoo

If you prefer something more casual, I recommend Cheesesteak Rebellion, where the love of Star Wars and cheesesteaks collide. The menu is simple – cheesesteaks and burgers – and the Star Wars-themed décor is fun and whimsical. If laid back is what you’re looking for, this is just the place.

Consider a segway tour to extend your day or substitute one of the above activities.

Glide N.E.W. offers several tour options that let you explore Green Bay on two wheels – no experience is required and there’s a training session at the onset of your tour to ensure everyone feels comfortable.

The sunset tour that leaves from downtown Green Bay is a fun way to end your busy day. 

Getting Outside in Green Bay

Green Bay’s coldest months are early December through mid-March, but the locals don’t let the cold keep them indoors. Although you need to be made of hardy stuff to enjoy a trip to the zoo or a botanical garden in winter – or at least have warm outerwear – Green Bay’s outdoor spaces are open year-round. 

Green Bay Packers fan rally on another NFL Sunday.
Green Bay Packers fan rally on another NFL Sunday.

The Green Bay Botanical Garden has 47 acres of display gardens and natural areas capturing all four seasons. The newly opened 2.5-acre children’s garden is a true outdoor wonderland with a slide and other play spaces that teach children about nature and the local environment.

It’s been a minute since anyone referred to me as a kid, and I enjoyed the slide and other play features. Winter visitors to the garden can enjoy winter birds, spotting animal tracks through fresh snow, and the evergreen plants. The garden’s colorful Chromatic Passage sculpture is the perfect Green Bay photo spot no matter what time of year you visit.

Ice skating at Titletown in Green Bay.
Ice skating at Titletown in Green Bay.

The NEW Zoo and Adventure Park is a small zoo that houses 200+ animals. The adventure park is an adjacent activity that offers ziplining and a canopy tour, where guests can walk over the treetops and get a bird’s eye view of the zoo.

There’s also a petting zoo, a train ride, and multiple opportunities to get behind the scenes and learn more about the zoo’s residents, from hand-feeding giraffes to being a zookeeper for the day. 

Barkenhausen Waterfowl Preserve

Top off your outdoor time in Green Bay with a visit to Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve. This 920-acre spread of forest, meadow, and wetlands is home to hiking trails, cross-country skiing, and snowshoe trails in winter.

If you visit in the summer or early fall, you can see a variety of waterfowl before they fly south, but the indoor interpretive center has a great display of animal exhibits that teach visitors about all the wildlife spotted on the preserve over the years.

There’s also an excellent sensory garden area with wheelchair-accessible trails and inclusive hands-on exhibits that people of all abilities can enjoy.

 Indoor options

If you want indoor options to throw in the mix, check out Odyssey Climbing and Fitness. This gym offers rock climbing, instruction, if you need it, and yoga classes. The Turn Restaurant and Lounge in Titletown has a Topgolf Swing Suite that offers virtual putting and other sports activities, like kicking a soccer ball and zombie dodgeball.

If your group includes skateboard and scooter fans, check out GBASO Skatepark. There are a variety of runs, from “just learning” to steep slopes for the most advanced daredevils. Inline skates, skateboards, scooters, and bikes are permitted. Bring your own or rent gear onsite.

Busy Day = Eat on the Go

A lion at the Green Bay Zoo
A lion at the Green Bay Zoo.

The zoo, botanical gardens, and Turn all offer food, so aligning lunch or dinner with one of those spaces may make sense if you’re making one of those stops. If you’re in the mood for pizza, Rustique has fantastic artisan pies and is an easy drive from the zoo.

Zesty’s Frozen Custard is a Green Bay icon if you have a sweet tooth. Zesty’s also serves food. And, while it’s impossible to spend time in Green Bay without realizing there’s cheese around every corner, a visit to Scray Cheese shop is fun if you can squeeze in the time.

From buying your obligatory cheese curds to take home to watching artisan cheese being made, it’s a fun experience to include in your day. 

Where to Stay in Green Bay

I stayed in the Aloft Green Bay, a solid and predictable Marriott Brand conveniently located to all the above activities. There’s an onsite bar, a lobby seating area, and a patio area with funky, eclectic decor. 

 If you’re traveling with kids, the Tundra Lodge and Resort has an arcade and indoor waterpark. If you want something more upscale, Lodge Kohler in Titletown is splurge-worthy, with indulgent options like a mimosa bar for two delivered to your room or fresh herbs set to steam in the shower for evening relaxation. Lodge Kohler also has an onsite spa offering massages, body treatments, and salon services.

Whether you want something to do besides geek out over football or looking for a destination that stands on its own for fun and variety, Green Bay is a pretty cool place to hang out for a couple of days. 

Jill RobbinsJill Robbins is a freelance writer covering lifestyle, travel, health, and commerce. Her writing has appeared in Insider, SheKnows, HuffPost, Tripsavvy, Insider, AARP, Matador Network, and other publications. Jill lives in San Antonio with her husband and two youngest kids, although she’s usually somewhere else.

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