Green Bay is known primarily for its Packers, right? And game attendance is what drives so many people up I-43, I-41, or any one of the highways to the city that prides itself on the nickname "Titletown." Pre-season games getting cancelled this year and no attendance for the first two home games at Lambeau, mitigated only slightly by what will be limited attendance moving forward for the 2020 season, has certainly made a dent in the city's coffers as a lot fewer people travel there.
Green Bay is still worth the trip though, especially when throngs of people aren't going there for games. The city has a lot to offer outside of Packers games at Lambeau, from major museums to a beautiful zoo and adventure park; from breweries and wineries to Bay Beach, which offers an amusement park in the summer adjacent to a year 'round wildlife sanctuary, both on the southern edge of the waters of Green Bay.
Check out a full list of places to see and things to do on StateTrunkTour.com, and here are some highlights:
National Railroad Museum
2285 S. Broadway, Green Bay, WI 54304, (920) 437-7623, Website
Train enthusiasts HAVE to check out the National Railroad Museum, sitting about a mile east of Lambeau Field just off Highway 32/Ashland Avenue. This remarkable indoor/outdoor museum hosts locomotives you can tour, including the famous Union Pacific “Big Boy,” the famous electric GG-1, the sleek 1950’s-era General Motors Aerotrain, the Dwight D. Eisenhower (the only A4 Class locomotive in the U.S.), a historic Pullman train outfit inside the way it was for passengers and porters – and more. The National Railroad Museum is open seven days a week, although times vary throughout the year. They have quite a fewCOVID precautions in placeand while some events like PAW-Palooza have been postponed, plans for the Polar Express trains are still in place for the upcoming holiday season.
You’ll find the National Railroad Museum a few blocks east of Highway 32/Ashland Avenue, just north of the Highway 172 freeway. And yes, you’ll have to cross some railroad tracks to get to it.
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary
1660 E. Shore Drive, Green Bay, WI 54302, (920) 391-3671, Website
Literally next door to the amusement park, you can commune with nature in Green Bay. The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary covers nearly a full square mile, serving as an urban refuge for tons of birds and animals, many of whom use the area as a stop while on migrating patterns (it makes sense, since it’s at the foot of the long waters of Green Bay at the end of Lake Michigan.) Along miles of walking and cross-country skiing trails, you’ll find live animal exhibits, educational displays, and observation spots. Along with trails, you go fish in the sanctuary at certain times in designated spots; call ahead for specifics. The Sanctuary is open daily from 8am to 4:30pm. There’s also an Observation Building (where you can buy corn to feed the wildlife) and the Nature Center; both are open 10am – 3pm and face masks will be required for the time being while inside those buildings. It’s a great spot to appreciate nature and relax, and it’s just blocks off I-43.
Green Bay Botanical Garden
2600 Larsen Road, Green Bay, WI 54303, (920) 490-9457, Website
Green Bay Botanical Garden is on the west side of town off Packerland Drive – an appropriate street name for the area – at the west end of Larsen Road, just a little west of I-41 and southwest of Highways 29 & 32. GBBG, and it abbreviates to, opened in 1996 and features 47 acres of gardens blooming with roses and native plants… even apples! This fall’s flora includes Japanese bloodgrass, Cool as Ice fescue, blue cardinal flowers, Little Goldstar black-eyed Susans, Bad Hair Day switchgrass, Jazzberry Jam hibiscus, and a lot more.
Garden grounds are fully open, access to buildings may be limited. The Gardens are open 9am – 6:30pm daily in September. From October-November 13th, they’re open 9am-5pm; by November 16th, it closes at 4pm (timing with when it gets dark out, of course.) Starting Friday, November 27th, Green Bay Botanical Garden will host the exceptional WPS Garden of Lights, which is a truly spectacular show of colored lights to go with the splendor of the gardens, even in the late fall and early winter months.
Heritage Hill State Park
2640 S. Webster Avenue, Green Bay, WI 54301, (920) 448-5150, Website
Perched above the Fox River on the southern end of Green Bay, Heritage Hill is a living history park that evokes the era of early settlement and 19th century life in northeastern Wisconsin. Covering 56 acres, the park includes 24 historic and reproduced buildings. Many are closed right now due to COVID-19, but the complex in general is open for walking and exploring. While not all of it is accessible right now, Heritage Hill has more than 6,600 artifacts in its collection, some on loan from the Green Bay & De Pere Antiquarian, Brown County Historical Society, and Wisconsin Historical Society. This includes original artwork, books, clothing and furnishings dating from the 17th century to present. One unique piece in Tank Cottage is a hand painted screen that belonged to the Tank family. Overall, you get to see the structures, walk the paths, and enjoy beautiful views that reveal the Fox River, Lambeau Field in the distance, and a lot of the surrounding area. It’s right next to junction of Highways 57 & 172.
NEW (North East Wisconsin) Zoo & Adventure Park
4378 Reforestation Road, Green Bay, WI 54313, (920) 434-7841, Website
“NEW” stands for “North East Wisconsin” and Green Bay’s NEW Zoo west of I-41/U.S. 141 north of the city offers a wide variety of animals to see and learn about. Sections include the Northern Trails, where you can see the likes of moose and tamarins; the Wisconsin Trails, with sandhill cranes, turkeys, and white-tailed deer; Australia, featuring emus, snow leopards, and macaws; Africa, with lions, goats, sheep, and alligators; a Children’s Petting Zoo, with accessible llamas and alpacas, plus goats and sheep. They include pygmy goats Brennan and Dale; you can even feed them treats! They also have a red wolf, a mountain lion, lynx and bobcats, and penguins. Some specific exhibits are currently closed due to COVID-19 (they normally offer Giraffe Feeding, for example), but plenty else to enjoy – outdoors and out – await at the zoo and the adventure park, which includes ziplines, a ropes course, and more. The grounds also offer a multitude of trails for biking, hiking, and cross-country skiing.
Neville Public Museum
210 Museum Place, Green Bay, WI 54303, (920) 448-4460, Website
Located right in the heart of downtown Green Bay where Dousman Street (U.S. 141) crosses the Fox River, the Neville Public Museum of Brown County champions history, science and art with a focus on collecting and preserving significant objects relevant to both Northeastern Wisconsin and Michigan’s U.P. A major exhibit right now is Amazing Dinosaurs, which offers like-like recreations of both younger and older dinosaurs across multiple settings. Kids (and you) can discover when various species roamed the Earth, dig for hatchlings and adult dinosaur fossils, explore a dinosaur habitat, and more. It runs through November 8th.
Children’s Museum of Green Bay
1230 Bay Beach Road, Green Bay, WI 54302, (920) 432-4397, Website
The Children’s Museum of Green Bay recently reopened and, while they require masks for entry on anyone age 6 and up, they do have them for sale at the door (reasonable prices, too.) Fun, interactive, and learning-oriented exhibits include The Fire Station, The Diner, The Farmer’s Market, The Vet Clinic, The Backyard, The Imagination Station, the Outdoor Discovery Center, and one that will generate giggles for kids and adults alike on the Digestive System – and yes, all the words are there describing gastrointestinal reactions.
Advance registration is required; you can call (920) 432-4397 or go to gbchildrensmuseum.org to register and get more details. The Bay Beach Amuseument Park and Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary are both just a few blocks away, too!
Ariens Hill & Skate Rink
1941 True Lane, Green Bay, WI 54304, (920) 569-7505, Website
Located in the heart of the Titletown District on the block north of Lambeau Field, Ariens Hill opened in 2017 and immediately added a cooler vibe to Green Bay winters. Punctuated by a 46-foot incline offering snow-covered grass for tubing in the winter, the area is essentially a multi-use park complete with a playground, football fields, and a terrific skating rink. Yes, winter offers more activities here than summer or fall, but it’s still a great place to explore, relax, or just let the kids run around as you tour the Titletown District. A refreshment stand is often open, and you’re wedged right in between Kohler Lodge and Hinterland Brewing. Kroll’s West (one of the two classic Kroll’s burger joints) and a ton of restaurants and stores are right on the other side, so there’s a lot to do and see right around you in the shadow of Lambeau.
Fox River Kayaking Company
The Draw, 800 S. Lawe Street, Appleton, WI 54915, (920) 931-4311, Website
The Fox River follows a northward flow into the city of Green Bay and waters of Green Bay into Lake Michigan; it’s one of the few northward-flowing rivers in North America. Harnessed by a series of locks from Lake Winnebago to Green Bay itself, the Fox River is great for kayaking and canoeing. Fox River Kayaking Company offers rentals and guides for a pleasure paddle up and down the waters of entire rivers, rapids and locks included, but that last big stretch from the lock in De Pere to downtown Green Bay offers the calmest waters and some great views, including of St. Norbert College, Heritage Hill, downtown bridges and buildings, even Lambeau Field on a clear day. For $60/person, you can paddle all day and cover some serious ground… or, to be more accurate, water.You can get details on the Green Bay paddle stretch and book online here.
Breweries in Green Bay include Hinterland, Titletown, Badger State, Copper State, Stillmank, Noble Roots, and Zambladi; the Captain's Walk and Mona Rose Wineries are also in town, as is the roomy Green Bay Distillery, which like Hinterland and Badger State Brewing, is located in the Titletown District within walking distance of Lambeau.