Green Bay, WI
Some cities struggle to find an identity. Green Bay, Wisconsin, has never had that problem. Say the city’s name, and wait for the inevitable (and quick) response: “Packers.” Ever since “The Pack,” the name a nod to the city’s strong meatpacking industry, became part of the NFL in 1921, this northeast Wisconsin town has lived and breathed football. From its humble beginnings as a French trading post called “the stinking bay,” Green Bay has grown into a proud, blue-collar city of more than 100,000 residents.
The heart of the city, the Packers football team stands out as the NFL’s only community-owned team. More than 100,000 people own stock in their beloved gridiron warriors. Since 1960, every game at Lambeau Field (named for founder “Curly” Lambeau) has sold out, and time on the season-ticket waiting list is rumored to be 30 years or more.
Understandably, a huge tourist draw in this down-home town is the football team, its stadium and the community that rallies around it. Football is religion in Green Bay, and football aficionados, Packers fans or not, can experience the fervor first hand.
Once visitors arrive in Green Bay, many choose to start their journey with the famed football mecca itself: Lambeau Field. Visitors can take a stadium tour to tread the same turf as legends Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre. Tours are offered several times daily except on game days; reservations are recommended. From there, visitors can head to the 25,000-square-foot Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame to view memorabilia and check out interactive exhibits honoring the best of the green and gold.
Pack-worshiping builds an appetite, and there’s no better Green Bay restaurant to fill up at than Chili John’s, rumored to be announcer John Madden’s favorite local pit stop. The restaurant serves up piping-hot bowls of chili in four levels of kick. Another favorite is Brett Favre’s Steakhouse, where locals and tourists mingle over entrees inspired by the South as well as the North. Favre hails from Mississippi, which explains why jambalaya and andouille sausage made their way on the menu. Hearty eaters favor Brett’s signature steak, a 20-ounce London broil.
Nearly every Green Bay street corner has a Packer-themed bar, perfect for a post-game celebration. Titletown Brewing Company has an open and friendly atmosphere, and The Bar claims to be the city’s first sports bar.
Though the Packer Nation may disagree, not every Green Bay visitor is in town for football. Those not interested in gridiron antics can curl up with a latte and a good read at Attic Books and Coffee or treasure-hunt for antiques at Somewhere in Time on Broadway.
Lodging options range from the Country Inn and Suites to the mod Aloft Hotel, with its loft-style rooms and “re:mix” lounge. For a fun escape from the cold, families can book a room at Tundra Lodge Resort and Water Park, where they will enjoy three stories of waterlogged fun.