If you love the game of football, you’ll find a lot to love in Green Bay, Wisconsin, even if you aren’t a Packer fan.
One thing that makes Green Bay so special is the close connection between the city and the Green Bay Packers. With a population of about 100,000, Green Bay is the smallest market in U.S. professional sports, yet the Packers are literally owned by the fans that live in Green Bay and around the world. Proud fans like myself!
I recently spent a day in the city of Green Bay, and saw evidence of that special relationship everywhere I went. You should put the following 6 activities on your itinerary if you ever get the chance to visit (and you should visit, because Green Bay and Lambeau Field should be on every sports fan’s bucket list).
#1 – The Packers Heritage Trail is free, self-guided walking tour that tells the history of the storied Green Bay Packers. It also shows how the residents of Green Bay, and their commitment to their beloved football team, pulled the team through when financial struggles threatened the team’s survival.
The story covers the years of the legendary reigns of Curly Lambeau and Vince Lombardi, from 1919 through 1968. The 22 commemorative plaques are located at sites where the history of the Packers and their fans actually unfolded.
Be sure to stop by the Neville Public Museum in downtown Green Bay for a map of the trail. I was there on a Monday when the museum was closed, and the navigation of the trail was a little challenging without a map.
#2 – The Walk of Legends, sponsored by the Oneida Nation, is also a free self-guided tour. Covering one-mile east of Lambeau Field, it features 24 statues celebrating the history and legends of the Green Bay Packers.
The Walk starts at the corner of Lombardi Avenue and South Oneida Street. You’ll continue east on Lombardi, and will also find statues on nearby Bart Starr Drive, Reggie White Way, Tony Canadeo Run, Brett Favre Pass and Holmgren Way.
In light of his recent induction into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, the monument dedicated to #4 Brett Favre was particularly fun to see. It stands at 1004 Brett Favre Pass, in front of Brett Favre’s Steakhouse (which is a great place to eat, by the way):
#3 – Don’t miss the residential neighborhoods immediately surrounding Lambeau Field, where you’ll see how the locals show their pride in their team:
Nearby Ray Nitschke Field is one of the two outdoor practice facilities of the Green Bay Packers. The day I was there, the grounds crew was preparing for the start of training camp.
#4 – And then there’s iconic Lambeau Field, land of the Frozen Tundra and the Lambeau Leap. In a time when many stadiums are being replaced every 20 years, Lambeau Field will host its 60th season of football this year!
Lambeau is the longest continuously occupied stadium in the NFL – 10 years more than the next-closest venue, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego at 50 years. In pro sports as a whole, only the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park (105 seasons) and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field (103 seasons) have longer active home-field tenures.
#5 – Stepping inside, my favorite feature in The Atrium is the set of banners featuring the players whose numbers have been retired by the Packers. The banner series now includes Brett Favre, whose #4 jersey was retired in 2015.
The Atrium is also home to the Packers Hall of Fame, several restaurants, and the Packers Pro Shop, 21,000 square feet of everything you can possibly imagine in green and gold (and many things you would never have thought of).
Just a few steps away is my second favorite feature, a 50 foot replica of the Lombardi Trophy, the Super Bowl trophy named after the legendary Vince Lombardi, who led the Green Bay Packers to victories in the first two Super Bowls.
#6 – Last but not least is an official Stadium Tour, where a guide shares highlights of the rich Packer history, you get to walk through the same tunnel that the players use to take the field on game day, and then walk out into the end zone.
As I stood and looked around the stadium from the same perspective that the players have, I literally got goosebumps, even though temperatures that day were in the uppers 80’s!
It is amazing to think that even though 80,000 people fill the stands on game day, there are another 80,000 on the waiting list for season tickets!
It’s no secret that I am a lifelong Packers fan, even though I have lived in the Southeastern United States for more than half of my life. But I believe that any true football fan will appreciate just how special Green Bay is, and would enjoy the activities I’ve shared.
Have you been to Green Bay? If not, is it on your sports fan bucket list?
Comment below and let me know what you think!
Until next week,