GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 08: Fans tailgate before the Green Bay Packers take on the New Orleans Saints during the NFL opening season game at Lambeau Field on September 8, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
In 2007 I had the opportunity to go to Brett Favre's last game as a Green Bay Packer. When we arrived to our seats there was a guy from Florida who was a Giants fan. He didn't expect his team to win, but from the moment he sat down he was happy. He looked at me right away and told me that he was able to cross something off his bucket list to be able to be at a playoff game, at Lambeau, in the cold, with everything on the line.
Whether you are a Packer fan or not there is just something special about Green Bay and Lambeau Field. It's one of those venues that seems to transcend the individual game being played and provide a sense of history and entertainment that few other places can give in the sports world. This is especially rare in the NFL where more and more teams opt to go for big, fancy, and high tech rather than celebrations of tradition and what came before in their stadium designs.
As a result, Lambeau Field is one of those destinations for countless Packer, and NFL fans, want to visit at least once in their lives. I have talked to fans who dream of making the trip and just being part of that action once. Here at APC we see that play out every year with fan posts of people who are asking advice on making the trip and getting pointers on what to do once in Green Bay. Since I'm a Green Bay native I thought it would be a good thing to centralize some of these tips and advice into a series of columns for visitors and community members a like to reference and find some of the outstanding advice our community is able to give to make a memorable pilgrimage to the NFL's greatest shrine.
Now before I jump into tips for traveling to Green Bay, and a lesser extent Wisconsin, I thought I would attack the first hurdle many will have to face in planning their Packer Pilgramage....getting your family/significant other to agree to the trip in the first place. A few assumptions to guide this advice:
Most of this advice is for a SUMMER TRIP. Now is a great time to start planning a trip to see training camp, but it may be dicey to plan a fall trip. Green Bay books up fast for game weekends, heck the whole area does really. It's easier to make the first pilgrimage in the summer with camp. You can take your time exploring the sites, get in a trip to the Packer Hall of Fame. See the players ride little kid bikes and enjoy the comforts of the new practice field the Pack put in a few years ago. Later articles will pick up game day weekend advice, and if you need something sooner ask in the comments and many of us will be happy to help you out.
The article is not the end all be all. The comments and contributions from the community is going to be key (especially in this article). Everyone has a different experience of a trip and different expectations and so the multiple points of view may be more helpful than what I have to type here.
Finally, I'm writing this with the understanding that most of my readers are going to be men trying to convince their wives to make the trip. Ladies, you may find that many of these tips may for for your non-Packer fan hubby, but then again it may not. Really the effectiveness of any of this advice depends on your spouse/family but I will try to keep things general and give some outside the box ideas for getting the trip together.
Now, on to the tips....
I love Green Bay. I have lived in many places and traveled all over the world and I have to say that there is just something special about this place that always has me come back. With that in mind though, it's not for everyone and it's probably not the first place you think of when you think vacation getaways....especially for those who are not dying to see the Green Bay Packers first hand. Here are a few suggestions to pitch when trying to sell your family/significant other on the idea of making the trip in the first place:
1. Compromise. Those of us who have gone through the war that is marriage (or a long term relationship/committed relationship or whatever you call it) know that this is the key to winning the war and staying happy. It means losing a battle here or there, but in the end you get at least some of what you want. Good compromise means that no one is really happy with the individual outcome, but everyone gets at least some experiences they like. So that probably means a weekend or day trip to Green Bay instead of a full week. It may mean extra chores or going to a different location you don't want to go. Whatever you need to sacrifice to get it done do it. Training camp is a special time and for the hardcore Packer fan it will always be worth the trip.
2. Door County. This is probably going to be your ace in the hole for this adventure. Door County is to Chicago like what Vermont and New Hampshire are to New York. It's that nice, some what rustic get away that's bed and breakfasts, art boutiques, and fruit groves as far as the eye can see. You know that little store full of expensive knick knacks your spouse loves to drag you to that your eyes glaze over as soon as you walk inside? Door County has that in droves. Whether its wineries, nature trails and state parks, petting zoos / model farms, or orchards for an afternoon of fruit picking Door County has it. Really it should be an easy sale for a romantic weekend with you and spouse, and not too hard a sale if you want to take the whole family. The best part though? You pretty much have to travel through Green Bay to get there, so it's easy to sneak in a day trip (or two) for Packer events around the bigger Door County trip.
3. Milwaukee. Milwaukee is about two hours south of Green Bay. If your spouse isn't into the rustic charms of Door County, Milwaukee should offer you something to latch on to while still being not too far a quick day trip to Green Bay for some Packer action. In Milwaukee you can catch some great concerts (especially if you can get there at the time of Summerfest), countless brewery tours, or a Brewers game. There is also a great zoo and art museum as well.
4. Wisconsin Dells. The Dells are a bit farther than Milwaukee, with a travel time of about two and half hours from Green Bay. It's going to be pushing it, but still doable to sell a day trip there. If you need to sell a total family vacation this is your spot. Wisconsin Dells is to water slides what Orlando is to roller coasters. There are countless water parks there. From really big, Noah's Ark (the largest water park in the United States) to indoors (the Kalahari) you're going to find at least one park that that should fit your taste. There are other tourist attractions such as the actual Dells for those who like to view nature, water ski shows, and touristy resturants. It's one the main vacation getaways in the Midwest since it is equal distance between Chicago and the Twin Cities with Madison right near by as well.
5. Smaller events. Wisconsin is going to have many smaller events through out the summer that should appeal to some audience and possibility get your foot in the door for a Packer trip as well. Some are going to be very unique, such as Oshkosh's EAA, which hosts a week convention every year as well as a museum for those who love aviation. There are also going to be your garden variety concert festivals such as Country USA or Lifefest.
The first step to any trip is to ensure you have a good plan. The real trick through all of this is to arrange a trip that you, your spouse/significant other, and possibility the kids will enjoy while still being close enough to Green Bay to be apart of one of the most historic places in the NFL. If you are able to find the right event or destination this should not be too hard, from there it's just a matter of how hard you are able to sell the idea. Good Luck.