My memories of Wisconsin are of brilliant green, rolling hills and cool mornings, even though it was the middle of summer. Green Bay is located on its namesake bay, an “arm” of Lake Michigan. Green Bay, although it is Wisconsin’s third largest city, is relatively small–in fact, it is the smallest city in the US to have a professional sports team. Green Bay has an industrial base — a large portion of the economy is meat packing and paper plants.
I’m a pushover for quaint, old-fashioned downtowns, and Green Bay’s is calling to me. The squat, brick buildings with intricate details and wide sidewalks hold the promise of interesting little shops, antique stores, and tiny boutiques with locally handcrafted items. There’s nothing quite like strolling down main street, window-shopping, perhaps buying a handmade quilt or a gotta-have-it, completely frivolous antique then stopping at a family-run coffee shop for a rejuvenating latte.
Green Bay’s history dates back to the 1600s, when French explorer Jean Nicolet established a trading post along the bay, making Green Bay one of the oldest permanent settlements in the country. Green Bay later became an important part of the fur trade. This part of this city’s history is celebrated at Heritage Hill State Park, a park that contains log cabins from the fur trade and buildings from Fort Howard, a fort built after the War of 1812.
Other points of interest include Hazelwood Historic House Museum, built in 1837, and the National Railroad Museum, the oldest museum in the country dedicated to the history of the railroad. It was established in 1956. A beautiful spot that explodes with amazing pops of color is the Green Bay Botanical Garden, complete with beautiful fountains and lush landscaping. Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is Green Bay’s largest park at 700 acres. This park is a great place to visit year-round, with cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking trails in the summer.
This picturesque city is also a college town, home to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. This beautiful campus contains everything from a nine-hole golf course to a 230-acre arboretum, complete with hiking and biking trails.
Green Bay couldn’t be more different from Pittsburgh — it is small and quaint where Pittsburgh is large and sleek. These rivals will meet soon for the big game when the Packers take on the Steelers. The Packers won the first-ever two Super Bowls (they’ve won three total), but the Steelers have won the most of any team overall – six wins, seven appearances. It is gearing up to be an amazing match-up. And as exciting as the game is going to be, so are these two cities. I have a new appreciation for the teams—and the two new places on my need-to-visit list.