Getting to the Big Game: Driving Tips If You Are on the Western Side of the State
For various reasons, I seem to have found myself crossing the state to drive to Green Bay a lot in the past month. Let me just preface this by saying it has been the first time I’ve had to turn the Garmin on to get advice to drive to my parents’ house. For whatever reason, Construction–Wisconsin’s fifth season that seems to encompass more and more of the 365 days in a year–is extra special bad this year. My primary and secondary routes transecting Wisconsin are detoured beyond belief. I swear the people in charge of planning some detours threw darts blindly onto a map and then played connect the dots. Some take you very out of the way.
Discovered more construction last night. For the love of god, do not even think you can take HWY 21 east/west. The detours make no sense, they send you to BFE and really do add a lot of time on to your journey.
The worst, as always, is HWY 41. For that matter, I hate taking 41 on a game day any now. It becomes a parking lot and it only takes one accident and ten bamillion rubber neckers to bring it to an absolute standstill. Even if you are not coming from the west side of the state and hate HWY 41 the closer you get to Green Bay, you may want to try the Wrightstown shortcut further down in the instructions.
But I, being a former townie myself, do know a lot of the shortcuts. I’ll include my usual shortcuts, but will include traffic updates. Don’t bother pulling out your GPS, because unless it has construction updates, you are going to find yourself taking a really stupid detour.
First of all, may be a good idea to look at a map. Your route has been blown to hell, and some of my suggestions are going to be tertiary county roads. TRUST ME! I’ve done this several times this summer and even managed to have zero traffic in places!
If you are coming from Winona, La Crosse or other points where you start your journey on Hwy 90 and cross the state starting in Tomah:
- Head WEST on Hwy 21 like you normally would.
- Shortly east of Tomah take a RIGHT onto HWY 173. Yes it is marked as a detour for 21, but do not follow the entire detour instructions. They are truly whacked and will add an extra hour to your journey. (And yes, 173 is the straightest, most boring road in the entire state. And yes, it is going to feel like you are headed to nowhere. But trust me, it’s not a Deliverance bad type of route! (Though it may feel like it.)
- When you get to the HWY 173/HWY 80 intersection DO NOT FOLLOW THE DETOUR!!!! It will take you back to Necedah and tack on an extra hour to your juorney. Trust me, my husband did it coming back from visiting his dad and was Pissy Smurf by the time he turned into our driveway.
- STAY on 173 and TURN RIGHT away from the detour. HWY 173 and HWY 80 will merge as you head into the town of BABCOCK.
- Take a LEFT on to COUNTY ROAD GG. If you miss GG take a LEFT ON G a few miles down the road.
- Take a RIGHT and head WEST on HWY 54 into Wisconin Rapids. Yes, this will take you into Rapids proper. There is no better way to do it because there are only a a finite amount of ways to cross the Wisconsin River. Just deal with it. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t for very long.
- Stay on HWY 54 to Plover.
- Turn LEFT and head NORTH on Interstate 39/HWY 51 to Stevens Point.
- Take the HWY 10 exit and turn RIGHT on to HWY 10. This is your only freeway option across the state. It will take you all the way to Appleton.
- While it takes you to Appleton, you cannot get onto NORTHBOUND HWY 41 from here! So pay attention, I’m going to take you on a little backroad route again. I’m saving you the hassle of turning around at the PDQ gas station in Menasha.
- Take the HWY 76 to SHIOCTON exit and turn LEFT on Hwy 76. This will take you to the backside of the Fox Cities Airport.
- Stay on HWY 76 through the first stoplight (There will be a school on the right.)
- Turn RIGHT at the SECOND LIGHT on to HWY 96 (Wisconsin Avenue.) This will take you past the Fox River Mall.
- Take a LEFT on to the NORTHBOUND HWY 41 on-ramp (Through the 41 underpass and the turn is on the other side.)
- Head north on 41 like you normally would. This could be the end of the tips, but if you want a shortcut, keep following.
Kelly’s double top secret, traffic-free townie version to actually go to Lambeau. Yes, it makes zero sense, but it is tried and tested and has never let me down.
- If traffic is fine on 41, do what you normally do.
- If traffic is starting to back up at Kaukauna, take the WRIGHTSTOWN EXIT and turn RIGHT on to HWY U.
- Take LEFT back on to HWY 96 into Wrightstown which will take you down MAIN STREET.
- Take a LEFT on to COUNTY ROAD ZZ which will run you parallel to the Fox River. Why not stay on 96 because you’re going to get back on it again? Take a guess. Why, yes, there is another detour that will make you a sad panda. Yes, I am perfectly aware that you are now on the oppositive side of the river from Lambeau. But did you notice it is only you and a pick-up heading down the road at highway speed. Doubt 41 is moving this fast.
- Take a LEFT on to HWY 96 (yes you were on it before, no you don’t want to know what was between then and now.)
- Take another LEFT onto HWY 57/HWY 32 and take it all the way into De Pere.
- Sorry about the Roundabout at the bridge but stay on this road as it becomes Broadway. Don’t worry, my mom has lived there for over 40 years and still doesn’t understand it either. Look kids, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament!
- Drive past the pretty houses in De Pere and keep heading north on Broadway as it becmoes Monroe Street.
- Resist the urge to get on to HWY 172 at the prison/Heritage Hill and head to Lambeau. Everyone and their dog coming from Milwaukee has that same brilliant idea. Remember this is a Gold Package game. Nothing good can come of getting on to 172!
- Go all the way to the NEXT bridge which is the MASON STREET BRIDGE. This will be near Howe Elemntary.
- Take a RIGHT (yes it loops around) on to CHICAGO ST and cross the river on Mason Street.
- Get off at the ASHLAND ST EXIT
- Turn LEFT on to ASHLAND ST and head back toward Lambeau.
- Great parking on POTTS AVENUE starting at 10 bucks down by the Kenworth sign. Top parking is $25. The Green Bay Distillery is on Potts.
- Best part of parking on Potts? Super easy escape.
- Going home, reverse the directions. By the time you get on to 41, you will be ahead of the Packer Traffic.
- NOTE: you can directly get on to WESTBOUND HWY 10 directly from Southbound 41. It’s just a little past the Fox River Mall.
For those coming from Eau Claire or the Twin Cities, as far as I know 10 is clear all the way through. Can’t vouch for HWY 29.