With its eclectic downtown and waterfront views, Green Bay is an unexpected gift for groups.
Settled by the French in the 17th century, the Wisconsin city where the Fox River flows into the green-hued waters of the bay was an important trading post and one of the earliest European settlements in the area. Today, the city is home to just over 100,000 residents. Despite its small size, Green Bay offers a surprising mix of cultural attractions, outdoor activities and diverse culinary experiences.
Green Bay will host the 2023 Going on Faith Conference from August 22-24 at the Hyatt Regency Green Bay, located in the heart of the thriving city.
“We have this reputation of being a small town,” said Nick Meisner, vice president of digital communications at Discover Green Bay. “Yes, we are the smallest city to have an NFL team. We have all the unique things about a small town and the hospitality of a small town, but we have big city amenities.”
One of the things Green Bay is best known for is being the home of the Green Bay Packers, the beloved green-and-gold NFL team whose colors can be found throughout the city. The city’s signature landmark is Lambeau Field, where the Packers play. Football fans can tour the stadium to learn about its history and see everything from visiting team locker rooms to the tunnels where the team emerges. They can also opt to visit the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, where some of the team’s most iconic players are celebrated.
As prominent as the Packers are in the city, a long list of attractions unrelated to football also await groups.
“The city and the region itself are known on a national level for the Green Bay Packers, but Green Bay is definitely a lot more than that,” Meisner said.
Green Bay has an impressive performing arts scene, with multiple venues equipped to accommodate plays, comedy shows and concerts of all sizes. One of its key venues is the Meyer Theatre, which originally opened in 1930. Located in the heart of downtown in close proximity to many hotels and restaurants, this historic theater was restored to its original architectural grandeur and beauty in 2002. It’s the perfect place for a group to enjoy an entertaining local production after a day exploring the town.
For some fun in the sun, groups can head to Bay Beach, where they’ll find Bay Beach Amusement Park. People of all ages will enjoy the amusement park rides and activities, and of course, some classic carnival food. Across the street from Bay Beach Amusement Park is the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary, which cares for and rehabilitates injured and orphaned animals. At the sanctuary, groups will get to walk through the serene 700-acre park to see animals like gray wolves, owls, otters and more. They can hike the park’s trails and participate in educational talks about the park’s wildlife.
Green Bay was settled because of its waterways. Those same waterways are still an important part of the city’s charm and character. Restaurants and businesses line the banks of the Fox River, giving the city’s visitors plenty of opportunities to enjoy its most beautiful views.
“The bay and the river are one of the largest freshwater estuaries in the world and provide a plethora of outdoor activities all year long,” Meisner said.
Those who enjoy outdoor recreation can participate in activities such as kayaking, boating and fishing along Green Bay’s waterways. Green Bay’s parks are beautiful places to take in natural scenery and stunning waterfalls, such as the 30-foot waterfall at Fonferek’s Glen Conservancy Area. For another outdoor activity, groups can head to the Green Bay Botanical Garden, a 47-acre horticultural destination featuring over 65,000 plants from around the world.
Groups looking to relax and take in the scenery of the city will enjoy a tour of the Fox River aboard the Foxy Paddler, a 35-foot pontoon boat. Passengers on the Foxy Paddler will get a guided tour of downtown Green Bay from the river; they have the choice to either help power the boat’s paddle-wheel or sit back and enjoy the ride. They can also bring their own beverages onboard and/or opt to stop at a riverside restaurants and bars.
The Northeast Wisconsin Zoo and Adventure Park is another exciting outdoor attraction just outside of Green Bay. The zoo offers plenty of opportunities for visitors to view and interact with over 200 species, from feeding giraffes to taking canopy tours over the animal habitats. Groups can arrange to participate in behind-the scenes tours, close-up animal encounters and educational programs.
As the oldest European settlement along the Green Bay, the city is home to many museums and attractions that explore its rich history.
At Heritage Hill State Historical Park, groups can experience an immersive journey into historic northeastern Wisconsin. This 56-acre park is located on the banks of the Fox River and is designed to foster a sense of appreciation for the region across time. Historic guides in period clothing take visitors through a variety of original buildings from different eras, from cabins built during the French fur trade era to the first courthouse in Wisconsin, circa 1934. Many of these buildings were relocated from their original sites, and some of them are replicas of the state’s historic structures. Both walking and tram tours of the property are available, and groups are free to stop for refreshments at La Baye Coffee House and Gifts.
One of Green Bay’s most notable museums is the National Railroad Museum, which teaches visitors about the rail industry and the history of trains and railroads in the U.S. It features some impressive locomotives, including the world’s largest steam locomotive, which weighs over 1 million pounds, and the locomotive General Dwight. D. Eisenhower used to travel around the U.S. during World War II. Groups can tour the museum to learn about these locomotives and get inside some of the train cars. Auto enthusiasts will also enjoy the Automobile Gallery, an automobile museum converted from an old Cadillac dealership, which now features a collection of 75 distinct classic and modern cars for visitors to see.
The Neville Public Museum is a history and natural sciences museum dedicated to exploring Wisconsin. Exhibits highlight everything from the history of civilization in Wisconsin to modern art in the Green Bay area.
For a well-rounded cultural experience, a visit to the Oneida Nation Museum allows groups to explore the history and culture of the region’s Native Americans, which long precedes the European settlements of the 17th century. The museum includes Iroquois and Oneida artifacts and exhibits detailing the ways of life and histories of the tribes. Groups can also purchase contemporary Native American arts and crafts.
Gourmet Green Bay
Wisconsin is known for its love of dairy and party foods. Cheese curds and Kringles, a Danish pastry shaped like a pretzel, are some of its most notable local foods. While Green Bay is as good a place as any in the Badger State to find its classic fare, the city’s vibrant dining scene is exceedingly group-friendly and varied, providing both laid back and sophisticated dining options.
“Wherever you are in the city there are local restaurants, from fine dining to pub-style and breweries,” Meisner said.
One of the options for fine dining downtown is the Republic Chophouse, a steakhouse with surf and turf options, from scallops to tenderloin filets. Chives, located in a historic schoolhouse building, is a unique restaurant for groups. Chefs there serve up a customized and creative menu for groups to enjoy.
At the Depot, a historic train depot converted into a restaurant, guests will find a mix of upscale entrees and pub food, including classics like fish and chips and a New York strip, as well as sandwiches, burgers and craft beer. The Depot also has a brunch menu featuring hearty dishes like chicken and waffles, a Monte Cristo sandwich and loaded French toast.
Recreation and dining collide at the Turn Restaurant Lounge, an entertainment venue and restaurant that features a Topgolf Swing Suite for groups to enjoy virtual golf and other simulated games. It offers craft cocktails and pub food like flatbreads, burgers and loaded nachos for groups to fill up on in between rounds of virtual golf or zombie dodgeball.
Green Bay has plenty of breweries that are ideal for large groups, such as Hinterland Brewery and Restaurant, an elegant, modern indoor and outdoor dining space. Hinterland’s menu changes frequently based on the fresh local and seasonal ingredients available and aims to surprise and delight its visitors with intriguing pairings and memorable flavors.
Groups will find coveted Wisconsin staples throughout the city. The best Kringle in North America is rumored to be found at Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe, a locally owned bakery that serves this signature Wisconsin pastry and plenty of other sweet treats. As for cheese curds, Titletown Brewing Company is said to offer some of the best in the city, though groups will find them at many restaurants and shops throughout Green Bay.