Green Bay Is More Than the Packers
The story of a plucky Midwestern team that created a franchise resulting in 13 NFL Championships and four Super Bowl victories is pretty compelling, so start your Green Bay tour there.
Photos courtesy Green Bay Visitors' Bureau; Lambeau Field by Gonzofan 2007-Creative Commons
With all due respect to the team and its insanely loyal fans, Green Bay is so much more than the Packers. Still, the story of a plucky Midwestern team that created a franchise resulting in 13 NFL Championships and four Super Bowl victories is pretty compelling. So let’s start there.
Begin your city tour at Lambeau Field: home of the Green Bay Packers. Inside the Hall of Fame, a 12-minute film serves as a great introduction for those of us who weren’t born with Packers DNA. There’s also memorabilia from the team’s 100-year history and informative displays about its most memorable games and famous players.
There are different tours of Lambeau Field, but the Classic will take you into one of the stadium’s private suites and onto the “Frozen Tundra.” To get there, you’ll walk through the same tunnel the players use, and (cue audio!) it’ll be accompanied by a soundtrack of cheering fans to give you a taste of what they experience as they head out onto the field.
Back in the lobby, there’s an enormous fan shop selling everything from golf balls to barbecue mitts to Christmas pajamas, while outside two larger-than-life statues of Curly Lambeau (co-founder, player, and head coach) and Vince Lombardi (the team’s coach with the highest winning percentage) provide photo ops.
After you’ve had your fill of Packer-dom, head to The Automobile Gallery — which began as the private collection of legendary entrepreneur Will “Red” Lewis. At any given time, more than 70 cars are on display, ranging from the gallery’s oldest (a 1912 Maxwell) to a 1959 Cadillac Coupe de Ville to a 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby Hertz Edition, all housed inside an old Cadillac dealership.
For a machine shop of a different ilk, grab a ticket to the National Railroad Museum. Dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of railroad history, the collection includes Dwight D. Eisenhower’s WWII command train, a Big Boy locomotive (weighing in at more than 1 million pounds and stretching the length of half a football field), and a full-sized vintage train that takes visitors on a 25-minute tour of the museum’s grounds.
Looking for more outdoor fun? The Green Bay Botanical Garden and N.E.W. Zoo & Adventure Park provide flora and fauna for the whole family. The Botanical Gardens offer year-round activities (from culinary workshops to concerts to snowshoe hikes) on its 47-acre campus, where you can stroll through a rose garden, magnolia grove, and shady woodlands.
Small-but-mighty describes the charming N.E.W. Zoo, which is open 365 days a year. Special activities include feeding a giraffe, attending penguin and otter feedings, and experiencing what it feels like to be “zookeeper for a day.” Situated just outside the zoo is the adventure park, where you can test your skill on a zip line, ropes course, or climbing wall.
If the thought of all this adventure makes you hungry, tackle that with a quick breakfast at Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe (don’t miss the award-winning sea salt caramel pecan kringle), lunch with a view of Lambeau Field at Taverne in the Sky (definitely order the signature chicken and wild rice soup), or dinner at Republic Chophouse, where the entrees are top-notch but the four-layer Red Velvet Cake pushes the meal into the culinary stratosphere.
There are plenty of options as to where to lay your head, but none with more Packer-related history than the recently opened Hotel Northland. It was in the building’s Crystal Ballroom that Vince Lombardi gave his first press conference (and where today the hotel’s clocks are all set to “Lombardi time”), and where Curly Lambeau once lived.
So it seems that no matter where you are in Green Bay, it always comes back to those irrepressible Packers and their enduring footprint on the city they call home.
When You Go
The Automobile Gallery: 400 S Adams St., 920-437-9024, TheAutomobileGallery.org.
Green Bay Botanical Garden: 2600 Larsen Rd., 920-490-9457, GBBG.org.
Lambeau Field: 1265 Lombardi Ave., 920-569-7500, Packers.com/lambeau-field.
National Railroad Museum: 2285 S. Broadway, 920-437-7623, NationalRRMuseum.org.
N.E.W. Zoo & Adventure Park: 4378 Reforestation Rd., 920-434-7841, NEWZoo.org.