MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

For football fans, a preview

Watching is free and festive at training camps for Vikings, Packers and Bears.

Green Bay Packer on way to practice.


At the Packers' camp, kids bring bikes for players to ride to practice.

From late July through August, die-hard football fans can get a head start on the season.

If you're wondering how the Vikings, Packers or Bears will do this year, you can get a preview by watching the players gear up for the season at training camps.

Make a day of it, because all of the camps offer festivities, games of skill, giveaways, autograph sessions for kids and even fireworks. Admission is free.

Here are the highlights.

Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis.: The Packers, whose camp Sports Illustrated calls one of the best and most fan-friendly (kids bring bikes that players ride, often toting the kids, to the field), practice across from Lambeau Field. 

Special events include Family Night. Fans also can tour Lambeau Field and the newly renovated Packers Hall of Fame. The complex is in the middle of Green Bay, at Lombardi Avenue and South Oneida Street.

Fans also can follow the new Packer Heritage Trail and visit Heritage Plaza.

For more about visiting Green Bay, see Packer country.

Minnesota Vikings in Mankato, Minn.: The Vikings will hold practices on the campus of Minnesota State University, an hour and a half south of the Twin Cities.

Special events include Football and Fireworks. In the evening, players and coaches will introduce themselves and fans will have a chance to catch an autographed mini-football. The team introduction will be followed by fireworks. 

There are two free youth training camps.

On Fan Appreciation Day, fans get prizes and the entire team is available for autographs. On other days, only certain squads are available in the Autograph Zone.

At Viking Village, fans can buy team souvenirs, food and beer.

MSU's Blakeslee Stadium and fan parking is on the south edge of town at Warren Street and Stadium Road.

For more about visiting Mankato, see Mankato meander.

Chicago Bears in Bourbonnais, Ill.: The Bears will hold practices on the campus of Olivet Navarene University, about an hour south of Chicago.

At Family Fest, they'll practice at Soldier Field in Chicago. There will be games, music, giveaways and a fireworks show after practice.

Other special events include Kids Day/Run With Staley, Vamos Bears Dia, Ladies Day, Bears Blue & Orange Friday, Armed Forces Day and Youth Football Day.

Kids can play games in the Kids Zone and visit the mascot at Staley's Corner. On many days, they can get a pass for autograph sessions.

Last updated on August 29, 2018