Why Minnesotans May Love Green Bay

Hear us out! Titletown is known for its football team but offers other reasons to be a fan
Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field

Courtesy Discover Green Bay

To most Americans, it’s known as Titletown. To many Minnesotans, it’s the home of a rival. To me, it’s a weekend getaway with a vibrant arts community, upscale to kitschy cuisine, and, yes, football lore for the whole family. I’m referring to Green Bay, Wisconsin, a small city with some big charm.

Many Minnesota Vikings fans already know most of the background on how the Green Bay Packers became the only professional sports team in history to be owned by fans, in one of the smallest markets nationwide. They hear about it ad nauseam. And many will hear it some more when they make the trek from Minnesota to Lambeau Field on Jan. 1 for the second-to-last regular season game of the season. At the start of the season, the anticipation was high and ticket prices to the Vikings-Packers game were even higher. But as the Vikings continue to dominate their competition, the Packers have struggled. This may finally be the Vikings’ year to make it to the Super Bowl, but Minnesota fans know not to get their hopes too high. If a home playoff game is already clinched, the Vikings may have little incentive in the New Year’s Day game beyond bragging rights.

Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame
Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

Courtesy Discover Green Bay

No matter. As a season ticket holder who is married to a Green Bay native, I plan to be at the game, tailgating beforehand with my Minnesota neighbors beside our Packers friends. After multiple visits to the area over the years, along with a few hosted media tours with the Green Bay tourism group, I know the area well. If anyone asks for recommendations for their winter visit, here’s what I’ll recommend:

Tour Titletown District

More than a century old, the Packers are a big deal in Green Bay—and also big business. Of course, there are the sold-out home games every season, but some smart marketers with the team have made the stadium, the Packers Hall of Fame, the expansive gift shop inside, and the surrounding residential neighborhoods a must-visit year-round.

An outdoor ice skating path is one attraction at Green Bay's Titletown District
An outdoor ice skating path is one attraction at Green Bay’s Titletown District

Courtesy Discover Green Bay

I’ve taken several behind-the-scenes tours of Lambeau Field and never get tired of walking out to the field from the players’ tunnel and checking out a luxury suite even though I have my own seats for home games on the cold metal bleachers. Across the street on the west side of the stadium is the three-block Titletown District with restaurants and bars, some retail, housing, a sledding hill, a practice football field, and an outdoor ice rink all in the shadow of the stadium. Last winter, we watched a free fireworks show above the open-air Lambeau, sitting by a bonfire after skating a few laps with our kids.

Uncle Mike's kringle
Uncle Mike’s kringle

Courtesy Discover Green Bay

Consider the Culinary Scene

From booyah to cheese curds, kringle to chili, Green Bay has some flavorful signature foods. And then there’s the beer. This is Wisconsin after all.

For those who haven’t sampled it, booyah is a version of chicken stew featured at many restaurants and a staple at church fundraisers. The hole-in-the-wall Booyah Shed is my favorite go-to for a cup with some tots or any sandwich with their bacon jam. Pull the rubber chicken to order at the front window and ask for one of the novelty chickens with your meal.

Cheese curds appear to be one of the four main food groups in Green Bay and come in a rainbow of versions—white, yellow, jalapeño, bacon, and so on. Minnesotans may know about the Racine kringle because it’s available in local grocery stores, but the best kringle I’ve tasted by far is at Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe. Two pounds of butter go in each full pretzel-shaped braid of flaky goodness, and while exotic and seasonal flavor combinations exist, like cranberry orange and sea salt caramel pecan, good old almond is still my favorite. You can only get these in the Uncle Mike’s three locations, though, so stop by or order online. And to warm up after a game or an afternoon outside, Chili John’s chili hits the spot with its base of spaghetti noodles, bowl-staining seasoned meat, red kidney beans, and cheddar cheese toppings. We buy frozen pints of the meat to keep in the freezer almost every visit and use it to make tasty omelets, quesadillas, and tacos on the regular.

Captain's Walk Winery
Captain’s Walk Winery

Courtesy Discover Green Bay

The Twin Cities definitely have Green Bay beat for taprooms and breweries, but the old guards like Titletown Brewing Company and Hinterland Brewery hold their own against upstarts like Badger State, Copper State, and Ahnapee breweries. The peanut butter porter at Copper State is my husband’s top choice. There are also emerging wine and spirits cultures in the area worth checking out. Captain’s Walk Winery has new owners focused on offering quality wines, and I recently discovered the cozy LedgeStone Vineyards about 20 minutes to the south of Green Bay with a wood-burning stove inside and firepits to sit around and sip outside. A few years ago, I also spent a lovely afternoon sampling at 44th Parallel Wineries on my way to the Door County region.

Explore the Outdoors

Winter in Green Bay includes all the outdoor activities: hiking, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, fat-tire biking, and more. The Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Center is open year-round for exploring nature and visiting the animals in the refuge center. For more animal viewing, stop by the NEW Zoo on the grounds of the Brown County Reforestation Camp. The Green Bay Botanical Garden is also open all seasons for exploration.

Cheesesteak Rebellion
Cheesesteak Rebellion

Photo by Amy Nelson

Eat

For kitschy fun and fantastic cheese curds in the shape of cubes, the “Star Wars”-themed Cheesesteak Rebellion is a wonder. Its theme is “Rebellions are built on ’ope.” Order a cheesesteak sandwich and a cheesecake dessert while you watch one of the many films in the “Star Wars” franchise on the TV or play pinball in the adjacent arcade. facebook.com/cheesesteakrebellion 

Play

Bay Beach Amusement Park is one of Green Bay’s absolute gems. While it’s closed during the winter months, it’s worth a return trip for a day of fun. A municipal park on the shoreline of the bay the city is named for, Bay Beach at first glance could seem like a tourist trap that has seen better days. But it’s not. This affordable park continues to upgrade and expand its rides and facilities yet maintain its charm. For the throwback price of 25 cents per ticket, there’s a giant slide, merry-go-round, flying swings, the Zippin Pippin roller coaster, and Ferris wheel that offers views of the bay. greenbaywi.gov

Lodge Kohler
Lodge Kohler

Courtesy Discover Green Bay

Stay

Lodge Kohler across from Lambeau Field opened in Green Bay in 2017 and instantly added much-needed glitz and glamor to the area. Operated by the Kohler Co., known for high-end kitchen and bath products but also luxury lodging and world-class golf in Kohler, Wisconsin, this 134-room hotel features the dream bathrooms you’d expect, as well as fine-dining options and a knockout spa with various indulgent hydrotherapies. lodgekohler.com

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As editor of Minnesota Monthly, Amy works collaboratively with a team of writers, designers, photographers, and digital producers to create impactful, surprising, timely and insightful content that reflects the Spirit of Minnesota. An award-winning newspaper and magazine editor based in the Twin Cities, Amy has decades of experience guiding coverage of luxury living, arts and culture, style and travel topics across multiple platforms. She has interviewed personalities ranging from Prince to Roger Goodell and has stories to tell.