You may be so football-clueless that you think the word “Lombardi” describes a style of pasta. Even so, the Green Bay area offers plenty of great things to do. After you drop off the Packers fans at the Hall of Fame, follow the green and gold path less traveled. We've got a play list for some off-the-field action.
Explore greenery at the Green Bay Botanical Garden, providing a natural escape right in the heart of the city. More than a dozen themed formal gardens showcase a range of plantings, including magnolias, roses, herbs and vegetables.
The Gertrude B. Nielsen Children’s Garden captures the imagination of the young at heart with a tree house, life-size maze and giant sun dial. Whimsical, hands-on educational areas let children smell, touch, hear and taste different plants.
There are no tailgating crowds at the L.H. Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve, except for those truly wild animals with authentic tails. Stretching along the western shore of the bay of Green Bay, this hidden gem gifts visitors with nine miles of scenic hiking trails through 920 acres of marshes and forest preserves that transform into groomed cross country skiing trails in the winter. Amid this scenic backdrop is the West Shores Interpretive Center, where you’ll find hands-on activities and animal displays.
For plantings with a European touch, stop by Mayflower Greenhouse where owner Jan Wos blends an array of unique plants influenced by his Polish roots. Check out the artistic living creations ranging from animal-shaped topiaries to antique wagon wheels vibrant with greenery.
Score a cultural touchdown at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, a chic venue on the UW-Green Bay campus that offers a range of ongoing performances by nationally ranked artists. In addition to music, dance and theater, the Weidner Center offers various painting and sculpture exhibits throughout the building, including the elegant Weidner Center Chandelier made up of 465 pieces of hand-blown glass designed by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
For hands-on history, check out Heritage Hill State Historical Park, a 50-acre living history museum. Heritage Hill brings the history of Northeast Wisconsin to life through four distinct park experiences that recreate various periods of the region’s rich history: the fur trade era, Fort Howard, community growth during the late 1800s, and vibrant immigrant farming history. Explore both original and replica buildings of these eras – from the Fort Howard Company Kitchen and Orderly Room to a farmhouse built by Belgium immigrants in the 1870s.
Especially for Kids
Kids cheer in delight at the sight of the Union Pacific #4017 “Big Boy,” the world’s largest steam locomotive on display at the National Railroad Museum, dedicated to collecting and preserving the equipment and history of U.S. railroading. From May 1 to Sept. 30, as well as weekends in October, you can ride a train pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive.
Kids may not realize how much they are learning at the Neville Public Museum’s Discovery Zone for Kids. Self-guided scavenger hunts help children explore a range of exhibits focused on local history, from tall ships to area architecture.
And whether you're a kid or a kid at heart, you have to escape to Bay Beach Amusement Park on Green Bay's east side.
Among the unique eateries in Green Bay is Kavarna Coffeehouse, offering flavorful vegetarian fare off the expected path. A Travel Green Wisconsin-certified restaurant, Kavarna features unique specialties such as a hot cheesy artichoke wrap sandwich and seasoned and baked yam fries, served with a spicy cucumber wasabe sauce.
Located in the restored Chicago & North Western Railway depot, Titletown Brewing Company blends a hearty menu with homemade beverages, including the brewery’s own beer and root beer brewed on-site. But just in case you need a reminder of that other, Packers-packed side of Green Bay, there’s a giant statue of a Packers receiver gracing Titletown’s front lawn (the 22-foot-high fiberglass statue stood in front of the Packer Hall of Fame until 2003).
Lisa Kivirist is co-author of Rural Renaissance and ECOpreneuring and writes from her farm in Browntown. Content produced in cooperation with Wisconsin Trails, www.Wisconsintrails.com.