The Fox River Trail is one of the best places in the Green Bay/De Pere area to take a hike, bike ride or glide along on your rollerblades.
Even dogs are allowed – but not skateboarders for whatever reason (poor guys).
If you’re like me, you prefer to have a destination when you’re out exercising, because the health benefits aren’t quite enough. So we put together this list of places you can stop and visit when you’re taking advantage of the Fox River Trail.
The trail is 25 miles long and features 10 miles of paved pathway in the more urban areas of De Pere and Green Bay. We’re going to focus on that area for the purposes of this article.
However, if you’re looking for a more rustic ride, the trail will take you into some beautiful countryside south of De Pere all the way to the Brown/Calumet County line.
1. Locktender’s House (Coming Soon)
We’ll start our trip on the Fox River Trail in De Pere at the site of a new addition to the area that will transform a historic building into a unique concession stand, as well as a conference and office space.
You probably remember seeing the green, barn-shaped Locktender’s House as you crossed the old Claude Allouez Bridge. It is on a little island just off the eastern banks of the river. As a kid, I always wondered what it was like inside. Soon I’ll get to find out!
Alex and Linda Galt – the owners of Kavarna Coffee and Parisi’s Deli in downtown Green Bay – are opening the snack shop. Their plan is to offer lots of nutritious and delicious choices.
According to the Locktender’s House Facebook Page, they hope to have it open sometime before the cold weather sets in. But they are also dealing with some extra-sticky red tape. We may have to wait until spring of 2014 for doors to open.
2. The De Pere Riverwalk and Voyager Park
You’ll be able to get to the Locktender’s House using the De Pere Riverwalk, another fairly new addition along the trail.
This is a cool place for birdwatchers to get a good look at pelicans, and for anglers to cast their line.
You’ll take a bridge over the locks and then walk out onto a long pier that extends into the river.
The Riverwalk is part of Voyager Park, which is a beautiful spot along the Fox River. I grew up in De Pere and made a lot of memories in that park – before there was even playground equipment. That includes getting a really bad rash while picking cattails.
You’ve been warned.
3. White Pillars Museum
When I was just a kid living in De Pere, someone once told me they have Hitler’s brain in the basement of White Pillars Museum. I kind of doubt it – but there is a lot of interesting stuff for history buffs to explore.
Learn about the story of how De Pere came to be, and see unique artifacts as well as thousands of photographs from the city’s past.
White Pillars is operated by the De Pere Historical Society, which received the 2013 Reuben Gold Thwaites trophy in recognition of its effort to preserve local history.
The Kress Family Library is also right in the area. Stop in and read a good-old-fashioned, real-life book or go to one of the library’s events.
4. The Bike Hub
After leaving downtown De Pere and riding past the backyards of all the historic mansions along the river, you’ll come to a small group of businesses – including The Bike Hub.
It’s in the perfect location for bicycling enthusiasts – especially if you’re in need a of a tune-up or got a flat tire.
You could also stop in and let the experts give you a free consultation on what you could do to improve your bike.
If you’re feeling a little bit morbid, while you’re in the area you can also stop in at Van Gemert’s Memorial and pick out your tombstone. I went here for my first-ever field trip as a kid and remember being really interested in how they carve the stone.
5. For the Birds
You’ll have to venture off the trail and cross the street to get to this unique little shop, but it’s worth it.
Whether you’re a birder who goes out in search of hard-to-find Wisconsin bird species, or just someone who likes keeping your backyard birds’ bellies full – For the Birds is guaranteed to have everything you’re looking for.
I picked out an Oriole feeder for my mom one Mother’s Day, and can tell you that the employees are friendly and eager to give you tips and advice. Even if you have no interest in birds – this building alone is worth a look. During the summer the have a prairie restoration project and beautiful plants and flowers surround the store.
While you’re on the trail – you might be lucky enough to catch a bald eagle soaring down the river. Some of these majestic birds make the Brown County Fairgrounds, on the west side of the Fox River, their home.
6. The St. Norbert Abbey Hill
For the Birds is right next to the St. Norbert Abbey. Check it out while you’re on that side of the street. You’ll find a koi pond, the Abott Pennings football field, and one of my personal bike-riding favorites, a huge hill that leads up to Webster Avenue.
As a kid, when we went on family bike rides, I always looked forward to coasting down that hill at top speed. I tried to see how far I could get without touching my pedals before I came to a stop.
It will be a long hard climb to the top, but the feeling of whizzing back down will make up for it.
7. Zesty’s Frozen Custard
Zesty’s has become a favorite spot for folks in the communities of De Pere and Allouez. I believe the building it’s in used to be a bait shop back in the ’80s.
There’s a full restaurant located near Green Isle Park off of Libal Street and another location in Howard. But when you’re on the Fox River Trail, the Zesty’s Frozen Custard stand is almost impossible to pass up.
Every day brings a new featured flavor. Zesty’s even partners with Seroogy’s Candy and often creates custard using their mouthwatering, chocolate Meltaway Bars.
Zesty’s also uses Titletown’s SnoCap Rootbeer in their floats. That’s one of six Wisconsin Root Beers we featured here on WhooNEW.
If custard isn’t your thing, there’s also an A&W and a Dairy Queen right next door.
8. The Mariner Supper Club
Want to create an enchanted evening for you and your significant other? A meal at The Mariner and a stroll on the Fox River Trail at sunset could be a winner.
The Mariner Supper club has been around a long time and is a well-known local favorite. You’ll find mixed reviews online about the food, but the view from the dining room can’t be beat.
There’s a little bit less friendly competition for The Mariner these days as Eve’s Supper Club – another long-time establishment – closed its doors this summer after more than 45 years.
So if you still love the tradition of supper clubs enjoyed by your Classic Wisconsin Grandma – make sure you keep help keep them in business. A fun bonus at The Mariner – they have free bikes you can take out on the trail.
9. Hazelwood Historic House Museum
After you’ve filled your brain with knowledge at White Pillars – you can bone up on your Green Bay history at this storied house along the Fox River Trail.
The Hazelwood House was originally owned by the Morgan and Elizabeth Martin family. They were among the first people to settle in Green Bay. Morgan Martin played an important role in Wisconsin achieving statehood.
The Martin family was very influential in Northeast Wisconsin. You’ve probably noticed roads and businesses bearing the Martin name – and most likely went to school with a few Martins too.
The Brown County Historical Society purchased and restored the Hazelwood House in 1989. Outside you’ll notice the classic Greek architecture and inside you’ll step back in time to find ten rooms decorated with paintings, photographs and furniture from the Victorian era.
Regular tours run all summer long and open again for the holiday season. Private group tours are also available.
10. That One Gazebo
As you move into the downtown Green Bay area, you’ll notice a big white gazebo outside of what used to be the location of the city’s chamber of commerce.
This is a nice place to stop for a quick rest. It’s also a popular spot for popping the question.
I planned to ask my wife to marry me in that gazebo as the sun set. However, I came down with a sudden case of nervous stomach and had to make a run down the trail to find a bathroom mid-proposal.
Thankfully, I made it. Then I ended up proposing right on the Fox River Trail, across from the always romantic giant coal piles. Almost as good as a gazebo.
There’s another nice gazebo in Allouez at St. Francis Park, which is also right on the trail.
11. Fox Harbor Pub and Grill
Perhaps you are wondering where I ran during the digestive issues I had while attempting to get engaged.
This is the place. Although at the time – it was known as Stan & Ollie’s.
Fox Harbor Pub & Grill is a great place to grab dinner and some drinks – especially if you dine on their back patio along the trail.
There’s also an outdoor bar and even a fire pit for those cool Wisconsin evenings. You can enter directly from the trail.
Fox Harbor is located in yet another historic building. It was once the Friemann Hotel and often housed employees of the railroad.
- Check out some cool postcards of historic Green Bay buildings
12. St. Brendan’s Inn
Just a little further up the trail is St. Brendan’s Inn, one of our Best Places to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
As the we get closer to fall and the weather gets a bit cooler, an Irish coffee or pint of Guinness might hit the spot – especially if you’re on a leisurely evening walk.
St. Brendan’s Inn has 15 imported beers on tap, but I’ve always been a fan of their Bloody Marys. That’s because it comes with a huge pickle, olives, string cheese and a beef-stick. It’s a drink and a snack!
This is another excellent place for a date in which you can combine an excellent meal and some quality time traversing the Fox River Trail. There are some delicious and authentic Irish dishes on the menu at St. Brendan’s Inn.
But if you’re living the single life – I also like this spot for fishing right off the rocks on the banks of the Fox River.
13. Hagemeister Park
You may have noticed by now that the Green Bay half of the Fox River Trail features a bunch of bars and restaurants. Hagemeister Park is one of the highlights of Washington Street and quickly made a name for itself since opening in the summer of 2012.
The food menu is nice too. We actually had a WhooNEW writer’s meeting at Hagemeister Park this summer. I had the Wiener Schnitzel, which was delicious. The best Wiener Schnitzel I’ve ever tasted…also the only Wiener Schnitzel I’ve tasted.
14. Green Bay CityDeck
Our final stop on the Fox River Trail bring us to an area that has become a special gathering place for people in the community.
Green Bay’s CityDeck is a big boardwalk that spans four blocks – from Walnut to Main Street.
There are regular events in the summer, like Dine on the Deck as well as a synthetic ice rink that can be used all year long and fun splash pads for the kids (and kids at heart).
- Discover other pools and splash pads in our area
Other events on the CityDeck include an annual, free outdoor movie. This year it’s Jurassic Park on August 27th. There are also free, outdoor yoga classes from Jenstar Yoga – as mentioned in our article from Kari Perlewitz – Get Out and Zen Out.
You don’t have to stop your ride when you get to the end of the Fox River Trail. The trail’s website encourages you to keep exploring the area.
With “a little maneuvering” you can make your way to Bay Beach Amusement Park and even go all the way to UWGB where there are more trails and some great views of the bay along Nicolet Drive.
What did we miss?
Leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite places along the Fox River Trail!