It comes as no surprise that fewer Americans than ever before will look out the window on Christmas day and see snow. This is due to massive population shifts since 1900, when Americans had a 33 percent chance of seeing snow during the holidays. Today, less than 25 percent of Americans live in regions where they can have a white Christmas.
If you are keen to increase those odds, head north to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where you will have a 75 percent chance of a white Christmas and an opportunity to experience a range of winter activities. Last December, I visited Green Bay to report on its many holiday offerings. You should know the Green Bay Packers’ home schedule be- fore you book your holiday trip. Green Bay has a population of 107,000; it is 8 percent smaller than Evansville. The number of people in the city swells to nearly six times that on game days to 600,000.
Our group of travel writers checked into the Hotel Northland. Originally opened in 1924, the newly restored Hotel Northland, Marriott Autograph Collection, blends modern luxury with nostalgia and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel offers several dining options. I grabbed a snack at Poke the Bear because dinner, around the block from the hotel at Republic Chophouse, would not be for several hours. When we arrived at the modern steakhouse, I could tell we were in for a special meal. The chef’s focus is on traditional preparations of artisan-aged beef.
My trip was for a long weekend, and we planned to hit the ground running — or cross-country skiing, to be specific. A rare lack of snow kept us from exploring the L.H. Barkhausen Waterfowl Preserve on skis, fat tire bikes, or snowshoes. Located along the west shore of the bay, you’ll find nine miles of trails along 920 acres of forest, meadows, and wetlands.
If your trip coincides with a Packers home game, a tour of Lambeau Field is possible. Tours for the day before a home game automatically include Hall of Fame admission. Guides tell the story of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the only nonprofit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the U.S., at their state-of-the-art home turf. The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, located at the Atrium entrance of Lambeau Field, documents 100 years of Packers history. And you can’t miss the 21,500-square-foot Packers Pro Shop. Take time to dine at 1919 Kitchen & Tap, located in the Atrium.
Just west of Lambeau Field within walking distance is Titletown, a 45-acre master development for residents and visitors to play, stay, eat, relax, and enjoy Green Bay in all four seasons. Titletown includes a large public park with outdoor games and a football field, event space, a playground, fitness activities, a music venue, a skating rink in the winter months, a hotel, and a giant hill.
If you need to get out of the cold for a bit, you can warm up with a hot toddy or latte at 46 Below. The name is a nod to the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 NFL Championship game at Lambeau Field where the wind chill registered 46 degrees below zero. The name has a double meaning; the location of the refreshments spot is 46 feet below the top of Ariens Hill.
You don’t need to leave Titletown for dinner. Hinterland Restaurant and Brewery is a massive establishment serving daily created menus. Favorites are pumpkin bisque and four-cheese wood-fired pizza topped with rosemary honey. After dinner, stick around for the Winter Jubilee Light Show. Enjoy a dazzling blend of holiday-themed lights, music, and special effects including animation, lasers, and fireworks projected onto Lambeau Field’s west facade and visible from Titletown.
Our holiday-themed Green Bay vis- it continued with a visit to the National Railroad Museum’s Festival of Trees. The National Railroad Museum is a treat for train lovers of all ages as one of the oldest institutions in the U.S. dedicated to preserving railroad history. During the Festival of Trees event — running this year from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31 — guests can view more than 40 themed Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and organizations.
More than 70 locomotives and rail cars are on display (both inside and outside), many of which you can walk inside. Among the highlights is Union Pacific #4017, known as “Big Boy,” one of the world’s largest steam locomotives. The museum is the only location where you can see one of the eight remaining Big Boys housed inside a climate-controlled facility.
Special events during the holidays in addition to the Festival of Trees include Holidays on the Rails train rides and the special Polar Express Train Ride.
We also explored the winter trails of Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. The 600-acre ur- ban nature preserve is home to Wisconsin’s second-largest wildlife rehabilitation pro- gram, caring for more than 6,000 orphaned and injured animals annually.
The holiday theme continued with a visit to the Green Bay Botanical Garden.
Thursday through Sunday nights, Garden of Lights displays spectacular lighting and light shows throughout 47 acres. Additional activities at Garden of Lights include holiday shopping, concessions with hot chocolate and cookies, and photos with Santa. Purchase your date and timed entry tickets in advance online.
After active experiences, indulge in Wisconsin treats and libations. A few miles southwest of Green Bay is De Pere, population 25,000. Here you should eat Kringle at Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe, baker of the best Kringle — Sea Salt Caramel Pecan — in North America. My favorite is filled with their homemade cherry filling made with Red Tart Montmorency Cherries from Seaquist Orchards and topped with homemade Danish icing. Uncle Mike’s ships nationally, and Kringles can be frozen for up to six months.
Also in De Pere is Seroogy’s Chocolates, specializing in homemade, hand-dipped candy for more than 100 years.
Captain’s Walk Winery bills itself as “a venue for vinifera.” I enjoyed pours of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir in an Italianate home with a third-story widow’s walk.
Paradise North Distillery, located right on the bay, opened in 2021 to offer premium hand-crafted, full-bodied spirits including rum, whiskey, and vodka.
Copper State Brewing Co. in downtown Green Bay offers a great atmosphere, food, and beer. Try the Rugged North German Lager with loaded beer cheese fries and a truffle shuffle burger.
At Ledgestone Vineyards and Gnarly Cedar Brewery south in Greenleaf, Wisconsin, guests can grab a pair of skis or snowshoes and explore the vineyards. After, enjoy wine flights and food pairings or relax in the nano brewery and try a peanut butter porter.
And how does one conclude a visit to Green Bay? With dinner at a traditional supper club — of course. We visited the Union Hotel, a classic Wisconsin supper club in downtown De Pere. Start the experience with a Brandy Old Fashioned in the beautiful Art Deco bar before moving to the dining room, where tables are set with traditional canapes before the main course of aged Angus steaks or Lake Superior whitefish, and more.
WHEN YOU GO
DISCOVER GREEN BAY
UNCLE MIKE’S BAKE SHOPPE
CAPTAIN’S WALK WINERY
1919 KITCHEN & TAP
LAMBEAU FIELD STADIUM TOUR PACKERS PRO SHOP GREEN BAY PACKERS HALL OF FAME
HINTERLAND RESTAURANT AND BREWERY
NATIONAL RAILROAD MUSEUM’S FESTIVAL OF TREES
BAY BEACH WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
GREEN BAY BOTANICAL GARDEN
PARADISE NORTH DISTILLERY
COPPER STATE BREWING CO.
LEDGESTONE VINEYARDS AND GNARLY CEDAR BREWERY
Photos by Kristen K. Tucker