Welcome to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Never been to Wisconsin? Neither had I...until we moved here, pretty much.
We lived in North Carolina for about eight years after we were married there. I was sent an email from a headhunter, to see if I knew anyone who did data modeling. My husband did and was ready to get more experience in the job. So he went to Overland Park, KS, where he got a job doing just that. We enjoyed KS, but when the company started laying off people, my husband knew he'd better find another job or he'd be unemployed. Thus we moved to the Green Bay area of Wisconsin.
When he came up here for a job, he told me that this area was a lot like where I'd grown up, in Lancaster, PA. It's very rural in places, and even when in the city, it feels more like a suburb than a city. I don't think there's a particular part that's considered to be the center of 'downtown,' but the 'downtown' part isn't very large.
The city is divided by the Fox River, which is about 3/4 of a mile wide at some parts. The lower Fox River runs from south to north, from the north end of Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh to the bay of Green Bay, which is part of Lake Michigan. To get from the eastern part of the Green Bay area to the western part (where Lambeau Field and many of the shopping areas are located), one has to go over the Fox River, using one of five bridges in the area.
I live on the eastern side of the metropolitan area, so to go shopping, I have to go over one of those long bridges. I'm not a fan of bridges, always worried about being shoved over the side by other cars.
As for shopping, we don't have many of the chain stores that the rest of the country has. For example, there's no Bank of America or Chick Fil-et up here. If a writer uses this area for a plot, make sure the business exists here, because, like I tell my mom, I don't think Wisconsin is in the United States. LOL!
The culture here revolves around the Packers, cheese, and snow, pretty much. On a Sunday in the fall and early winter, you won't see many people in the stores. They're either in their homes watching the Packers play, or they have tickets to go the game on the west side of the river. Also, if you want to travel on the streets during a home game, stay away from the west side for about 3 hours before the game and about 2 hours after the game. During the game is the best time to go shopping, since you'll have the store to yourself, pretty much.
When we moved here, I figured I'd be in a social coma. My Natalie series of books explain how I felt when I moved here--just like Natalie. It's a 'small city' and everyone seems to be related. They don't like newcomers, and it's really tough to break in. It's also a very Catholic area, so if you're not Catholic, you're also considered to be an outsider.
Winters are a little tough, but if you're not afraid to drive in snow (I AM!), then you'll enjoy it. They don't close schools unless the wind chill is below -25, or if the snow is so deep that it doesn't clear the bottom of the cars/buses. Usually, they have 1-2 days off school a year because of cold/snow. They do clear the roads fast, so it's rare to drive in deep snow. Instead, the roads can be a little slippery until it melts. The winters are very cloudy, so the sun doesn't melt the snow that much.
If you're writing about this area, the coldness of some of the people as well as the winters have to be considered for the plot. It snows about an inch every day, piling up as ice crystals over time. It's hard to shovel those ice crystals, so daily snow blowing or shoveling is a must. Most people have snow blowers up here.
If you ever have a chance to visit the Green Bay area, I'd highly suggest it. The summers are gorgeous and pleasant, and the air is clear. Traffic isn't bad at all, any time of the year, and there are some things to do in the area. It's a great place for a setting for a book, so go for it!
Have a great day!
Sweet Tale Books