Green Bay, Wisconsin is a wonderful area to live and visit. The oldest city in the state straddles the Fox River as the river empties into the Bay of Green Bay. Hunting, fishing, boating, and other outdoor activities are available in this area. While once primarily known for the paper-making industry and the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League, there are many more things to do in this city.  Here are four recommended sites to visit.

The National Railroad Museum

The National Railroad MuseumCredit: Green Bay Convention and Visitor's Bureau

The museum began in 1956 as a local effort to display items from American railroad history. In 1958, the US Congress designated it as the National Railroad Museum. [1] You can take guided or self-paced tours and walk aboard many historic cars, such as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Command Car, the Union Pacific #4017 Big Boy, and various Pullman Porter cars. You can also view an extensive model train display and take a short ride on a train that circles the park.

The park also hosts special events such as the Halloween Haunted House and Train, the Rails and Ales Brewfest, and occasional visits from Thomas the Tank Engine (from the PBS Children’s show of the same name.)

Admission is $7.50-$12.00 depending on age. The museum is open all year.

Bay Beach Amusement Park and Wildlife Sanctuary

Visiting both of these parks is a nice way to spend the day. The amusement park is fun for everyone and the wildlife sanctuary is both educational and entertaining.

The amusement park opened in Green Bay in 1898 and now offers rides like bumper cars, Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler, a Ferris wheel, and others. The Bay Beach train will take you on a ride that circles the park. In 2011, the park added the Zippin’ Pippin, a vintage wooden roller coaster which was Elvis Presley’s favorite. [2]

Bay Beach Amusement ParkCredit: Green Bay Convention and Visitor's Bureau

You will need tickets to go on the rides and each costs a specific number of tickets. The merry-go-round and the train are cheapest rides at only two tickets. The roller coaster is the most costly at four tickets. The tickets cost 25 cents each. Food is available for purchase, as are picnic tables and covered shelters for those who want to bring their own lunch. A family could spend the day here and not spend a lot of money. 

The park is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission and parking are free. 

The wildlife sanctuary offers a different type of family entertainment. The city purchased 250 acres near the amusement park with plans to build a city golf course in 1929. But within six years the city started the wildlife refuge instead. [3] Now you can walk trails that explore the 700-acre park and see animals native to this area such as deer, cougars, and wolves, as well as smaller mammals like otters, raccoons, and foxes. The aviary also houses various raptors native to this region, including bald eagles, falcons, and owls. The nature center has indoor exhibits if the weather is not right for walking the trails. You can also fish in the lagoon or cross-country ski on the trails in their respective seasons.

And finally, you can help support the park by buying a bag of corn and feeding the thousands of ducks and geese who spend the year here. Many of these birds have adapted to human contact and will eat out of your hand. Their population swells every autumn as migrating geese stop on their journey from Canada to their winter habitats.

Bay Beach Wildlife SanctuaryCredit: Green Bay Convention and Visitor's Bureau

The wildlife sanctuary is open all year with free admission and parking.

Heritage Hill State Historical Park

The last stop on our tour of Green Bay will take us back in time. This 54-acre park shows Green Bay's growth, through historical and reproduction buildings from 1672-1940. [4] This is an educational and interactive experience. Docents act in roles correct to the historical era of the buildings.

Heritage Hill State Park

Schools often take field trips to experience Wisconsin's history. Civil War reenactments are held annually in the summer, as well as two- and three-day youth camps. The buildings can also be reserved for weddings, birthdays and other private events. During the Christmas season, you can ride horse-drawn wagons while looking at the many festive trees, decorated with homemade, natural and depression-era decorations.

Admission is $7-$10, with discounts to AAA members and US military veterans. The park is open all year, but historical interpreters are only employed during the regular season (June 1 – Labor Day.) 

These four area attractions are original, inexpensive and fun for the entire family. After visiting any of these, try one of the "Secret Restaurants" in the area for the tastes of the local life.

Many thanks to the Green Bay Convention and Visitor's Bureau for the use of their photographs.