Green Bay is a strange little town that feels like a big town for one reason – and you already know what it is. It’s home to the Packers, an oddity in the NFL Football world because it defies the common practice of putting teams in big cities with lots of revenue-generating fans. And yet, here it is, in this remote corner of Wisconsin, a giant — and successful — football franchise. Clearly, Green Bay’s world revolves around their team, and as a result, the Packers shape just about everything about the city.
Green Bay, Wisconsin is located on Interstates 41 and 43, about 120 miles north of Milwaukee. The city is on the banks of Green Bay (the inlet from Lake Michigan). You’ll find Lambeau Field, home of the Packers, in the southwest part of town, off Lombardi Avenue.
As Day 2 of my trip began, I needed to continue the drive north into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But first, I decided to explore Green Bay — a town that you hear a lot about, but probably don’t know much about.
Yes, Green Bay is the home of the Packers. And even before you get to storied Lambeau Field, you realize that this is the center of Green Bay. The highways leading up to this part of town seem huge, especially for a city of just a little over 100,000. But, those roads are needed to accommodate fans on game day. Even the stadium itself is massive, in comparison with everything around it.
If you don’t have any other football loyalties, I could make a good case for you adopting the Packers as your team. It’s the third-oldest NFL franchise, dating back to 1919. It’s also the only non-profit major-league sports team in the U.S., owned by its fans. And, the notion that such a model works, way up here in the frozen north, is quite remarkable.
I’m not a huge fan of the Packers or football in general, but it was still humbling to see the stadium and think of everything that’s happened here.
On the way from the stadium, I found a roadside attraction that’s more to my interest. Anytime anybody builds anything that’s bigger than it should be, and puts it beside the road, they get my attention. And here, in Green Bay, you can observe — and even stand inside — a giant nut. No, not the kind from a tree — a threaded nut, the kind you’d put onto a bolt. Here it stands, in all of its hexagonal glory, ten feet tall and weighing 3 and a half tons, at the corner of Lombardi and Ashland Avenues. It’s in the parking lot of Packer Fastener, which is, of course, a place that sells nuts. A sign advises you to tag your selfies with the hashtag #biggestnutsintown. I did not do that.
From here, I drove around Green Bay, into and around downtown, but I didn’t find much of interest. It’s a nice enough town, but there isn’t very much to it. You can see it all in the Drivelapse video, below.
Here’s a look at the drive around Green Bay, Wisconsin:
The Bottom Line
If you’re a Packers fan, a visit to Green Bay is mandatory. If you’re not, it still interesting to spend some time here, to see how the team has shaped the city.