I wouldn't call myself a cheesehead. Well, not the kind who wears a foam rubber wedge on her head and proclaims her love for the Packers. But there is something about being in Green Bay, with its storied, gorgeous football field, family-friendly Titletown park and walls of murals that almost gives you football fever.
But before we go there, let's talk about actual cheese. It really is everywhere. At one point, my teenage son asked why every restaurant we went to had a charcuterie board and cheese curds.
Visit a cheese shop to get a good feeling for the depth and breadth. Scray Cheese, a fourth-generation shop just a few miles from downtown, allows you to watch cheese being made on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. If you are lucky, you may get samples. Or just try one of those charcuterie boards for all the varieties Wisconsin offers.
Things to do
Tour Lambeau Field or the Packers Hall of Fame: Packers fan or not, this is one impressive stadium. Even if you don't have time for a full tour, see the Packers Hall of Fame; a self-guided tour will take an hour or two. It's 15,000 square feet of interactive exhibits, memorabilia (Super Bowl rings, Lombardi trophies) a replica of Vince Lombardi's office, a tribute to the coldest game ever played and much more (from $18 to an ultimate tour for $106, packershofandtours.com).
Titletown: This entertainment district, just across the street from Lambeau, opened in 2017 and still has that new-park feel. With a four-diamond hotel (the Lodge Kohler), a brewery, restaurants, 10-acre park and plaza perfect for gathering before and after games, it also features a sledding hill and ice skating in the winter. In summer, people sit on the hill to watch movies. Bocce ball, table tennis and shuffleboard line the walk to the back of Titletown, where you will find playgrounds, a football field and a 50-meter sprint lane (titletown.com).
Green Bay Botanical Garden: From the gorgeous grand garden that overlooks a concert amphitheater to the intriguing Kaftan Lusthaus, a summerhouse of Scandinavian design, to the oval rose garden to remnants of the orchard on which this botanical garden was built, this stop is a treat for kids and adults alike ($12 for adults; gbbg.org).
Bay Beach Amusement Park: Step back in time with this fun throwback. There is no entry or parking fee. The highlight is the Zippin Pippin roller coaster, which zips and dips with views of the bay. The most expensive ride in the park, it costs four 25-cent tickets. It's one of the oldest existing wood roller coasters in the U.S., getting its start in the 1910s in Memphis, where it is said to have been Elvis Presley's favorite coaster. Don't miss the park concessions, which include cheese curds, of course (greenbaywi.gov/445/Bay-Beach).
Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary: Just next door to the amusement park sits a 600-acre urban refuge with beautiful water features and miles of trails. Known for waterfowl, the sanctuary is home to the second-largest wildlife rehabilitation program in Wisconsin. If you are lucky, you can spot coyote, deer or turkey from a lookout tower or enclosed trail, but there are also educational buildings that guarantee looks at animals (free; baybeachwildlife.com).
Northeastern Wisconsin Zoo: Commonly called the NEW zoo, although it's not new at all, the zoo sits a bit outside of town in Suamico. If you want to see some darling Japanese snow macaques or majestic wolves, it's a nice stop ($11 for adults and $8 for kids). But part of the zoo's allure is the adjacent adventure park with zip lines, ropes course and a climbing wall ($32.95 for the complete adventure; newzoo.org).
Fonferek's Glen: The main attraction of this geological gem is a 30-foot waterfall that can be viewed from a platform near the parking lot. But take the hike down to it, across the creek, through the glen, through a forest and back across the creek. The website urges caution because of steep cliffs, rugged terrain and no marked trails, but it was worth it (browncountywi.gov).
Where to eat
Taverne in the Sky: There is no greater view for a Packers fan than this upscale restaurant overlooking Titletown from the fifth floor of the new Kohler Lodge. From the artichoke lemon fritters with a delightful caper remoulade ($8) to the shrimp cooked in an open wood-fire kitchen and served with grits and lemon beurre blanc ($32), each course is more amazing than the next. After dinner, grab a drink at the bar or sit on the deck in front of a fire pit (lodgekohler.com).
Pick a brewery: In Titletown, Hinterland opens its garage doors to the action on a nice day. On the other side of Lambeau, along with a smattering of bars that make the area feel like a college town, you'll find Badger State Brewing, with a turf-clad outdoor area where dogs can play. We especially enjoyed the live entertainment and cheese curds at Narrow Bridge Brewhouse. Sip a beer outside while you people-watch at Hagemeister Park, along the Fox River downtown.
Waverly Beach: I was surprised to find few watersports and few restaurants along the actual Green Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan. Seeking out a waterfront, I found Waverly Beach about 30 minutes away in Menasha, on Lake Winnebago. Outdoor tables on the water's edge pair with yard games and a menu of burgers and seafood (waverlybeach.com).
Where to stay
We opted to rent a house in nearby Appleton via Vrbo.com, but Lodge Kohler (lodgekohler.com) is an excellent choice if your goal is to stay right in the middle of everything. You can catch the game and go out on the town to see the sights without ever getting in your car. Prices are reasonable during nongame weekends, but otherwise they climb quickly.