Love football? We know a day trip for. Don't love football? These cities still rule.
By LINDSEY ANDERSON, ANN CHRISTENSON, CHRIS DROSNER, KARISA LANGLO and ADAM ROGAN with contributions by JANE BURNS, ALLISON GEYER, ELIZABETH JOHNSON and MATTHEW MARTINEZ.
Here in Wisconsin, we’re used to football being the center of many fall weekends. (OK, maybe every fall weekend.) And there may be no better place to go deep for a day of football than Titletown itself – even on the 350-some days when there’s not a game there. And just to the southeast lies a pristine stretch of Lake Michigan dotted with attractions that’s worth a jaunt north on its own merits.
It’s a Packapalooza
Forget game day in Green Bay. Think any day. Since Lambeau Field’s renovation in 2000, the Packers have steadily built up reasons to visit the city and the stadium area year-round.
The Packers Hall of Fame is in the stadium’s atrium, but the center of everyday activity is the Titletown District west of Lambeau Field. The park bustles with kids climbing a gonzo playground and running timed 40-yard dashes. Older competitors can get in on the action with lawn games: bocce, cornhole, table tennis, foosball, even horseshoes. And a full-size football field (bring a ball!) offers a chance to try a field goal or see just how hard it is to complete a 15- yard back-shoulder pass. In winter, visitors can fly down the 46-foot sledding hill and skate on an ice rink set up in the plaza.
To maximize exposure to actual Packers, though, late summer’s training camp is the best time to visit – if only to see the tradition of gargantuan linemen riding local kids’ little bikes or score easy, cheap tickets to a preseason game.
Embrace the Lake
Milwaukeeans know a thing or two about Lake Michigan. It defines our city.
But somehow our Great Lake feels even greater when it’s experienced from a small town. The lake just seems to consume, to absorb everything else, when there’s less human activity to balance its immense natural majesty. Exhibit A here is Manitowoc and its twin town, Two Rivers.
Start with a visit to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year) and dive into the town’s prolific shipbuilding past. A tour of the museum’s signature piece, World War II-era submarine USS Cobia, brings the stuffy, confined duty of its crew to life.
Hugging the lake along the 7 miles between the downtowns of Manitowoc and Two Rivers is the Mariner’s Trail, with scenic overlooks and the flower-filled lawns of the West of the Lake Gardens making for good stops along the way.
The area also boasts some of the state’s best beaches. Neshotah Beach, in a municipal park on the north end of Two Rivers, offers a snack bar, shaded pavilion and volleyball nets in the sugary white sand. Point Beach State Forest includes a 6-mile expanse of mostly undeveloped beach, with a campground, lighthouse, nature center and hiking trails nearby.
Where to Eat
We asked Carthage College placekicker David Collins for some keys if you’re trying to knock one through the uprights at the field in the Titletown District. His tips: Keep your head down, follow through with your body and take deep breaths to block out distractions like your heckling friend. Collins centers his kicks on the big knuckle of his big toe and says positivity is vital. “Always have faith in the kick,” Collins says.
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