Just three hours from Chicago is the 2nd largest city in Indiana: Fort Wayne. Not really on my travel radar before, but the theme of my summer is the “Best of the Midwest” and I wanted to see it all! When the folks at Visit Fort Wayne invited me to visit and shared a list of options, I was overwhelmed by the choices! My first impression of Fort Wayne is that it’s a lot larger than I imagined. At 250,000 people, this is no po-dunk farm town. From my two-night visit, here are a few fun things to do in Fort Wayne.
Fort Wayne Baseball
My first stop in Fort Wayne was Parkview Field for a Friday night Tin Caps game. Parkview Field is rated the #1 Minor League ballpark experience in the country, and I’m not surprised! The park, built in 2009, has a ton of options for watching the game. I thought the lawn section in the outfield looked pretty fun. There are plenty of food and drink stalls, along with games and activities for the kids. Parking in a nearby lot was $5, but I’m sure you could also find street parking if you arrived early enough. When I visited, it was 70’s Night, and there was plenty of disco entertainment, and good 70’s jams between plays.
Fort Wayne Outfitters
Fort Wayne Outfitters is your one-stop shop for outdoor fun in Fort Wayne. Their location in the Cass St. Depot offers a gear shop, boat rental and bike rental. I was able to take a kayak out on the St Mary’s river, and given a tour by local river enthusiast, Aaron, who regularly paddles the area, picking up trash along the way. Like many Midwest towns, the rivers in Fort Wayne weren’t always valued for recreational opportunities, but are now seeing a resurgence in funding and conservation. We paddled along Headwaters Park, where the Three Rivers Festival was taking place, with boat tours and helicopter rides. The river was abuzz with activity!
Arts United Center
If you are a theater buff, go see a performance at the Arts United Center. If you prefer architecture, get yourself on a tour of this unique building! The Arts United Center was designed by world-famous architect Louis Kahn as part of a larger Arts Campus in the 1960’s. The 655-seat theater features performances by Fort Wayne Ballet, Fort Wayne Philharmonic, Fort Wayne Dance Collective, and more! The building is an architectural marvel, with folded concrete walls and brick arches throughout. Next door at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, you will find two special exhibits highlighting Louis Kahn and his work in the community.
Fort Wayne Festivals
The Fort Wayne calendar is chock full of festivals. When I visited, the Three Rivers Festival was in full swing. This 9-day festival draws nearly half a million visitors each summer! There are over 80 events including Food Alley, Art in the Park, the Three Rivers Festival Parade, the Raft Race, Children’s Fest, and the Chalk Walk at the Arts Campus! Evening concerts highlighting artists like The Purple Xperience (Prince tribute band) and Rock of the 80’s Tour had crowds dancing until dark! Three Rivers Festival is more like a ton of festivals within a festival as there seemed to be events all over town.
Bicentennial Woods is one of many properties in the ACRES Land Trust, and is a wonderful respite from urban activity. Located on the north end of town, Bicentennial Woods features 2.6 miles of hilly hiking trails along a shallow creek that is perfect for splashing around on a hot summer day. We found many intersecting, unmarked trails, so a good sense of direction (or a GPS unit) is a good idea, although you’re never too far from civilization to get lost. When in doubt, follow the creek!
Fox Island County Park
Fox Island is a great little park on the edge of town with a swimming beach, seven miles of hiking trails, wildlife observation towers and a doggy beach! A $2 entrance fee provides access to the park for the entire day, even if you leave and come back. We visited on a warm summer Sunday and there were lots of families enjoying the beach and nearby picnic shelters. Fox Island is a great place to take your pup when it’s hot out.
Fort Wayne Hotel
During my visit, I stayed at the Ramada Plaza Fort Wayne Hotel and Conference Center. Pet friendly is the #1 hotel requirement for me when traveling, and the Ramada allows dogs up to 80 pounds for a $50 pet fee. The outside of the hotel is not much to look at, as it’s one of those large convention hotels on the northern edge of town. However, the interior has been updated more recently, and there’s a pretty cool indoor/outdoor pool with a nice sundeck. The hotel is about 15 minutes from the downtown area.
More Fort Wayne…
For all that I saw in Fort Wayne, I feel that I missed even more! There’s the Children’s Zoo, Science Central, the Genealogy Center, the Botanical Conservatory, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, DeBrand Chocolate Factory tours, 12 free splash pads and over a dozen farmers markets!
Fort Wayne also appears to have a serious foodie fling going on. There are plenty of brewpubs, food trucks, cafes and ethnic dining available for all kinds of tastebuds!
Since there are so many fun things to do in Fort Wayne, I recommend starting at Visit Fort Wayne to plan out an itinerary of your interests. Feel free to contact them via Facebook or Twitter as they are a great resource for information, and can help you narrow down the many, many options in the area!So many fun things to do in Fort Wayne, Indiana! @visitfortwayne #myfortwayne Click To Tweet
I was a guest of Visit Fort Wayne. These are solely my personal opinions and I was not financially compensated for this post.
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