Vacationing in the Midwest is a great way to get in touch with the heart of America. If you are looking for a balance of fun, convenience and culture, take a closer look at Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Fort Wayne is located within easy driving distance of the Indiana’s borders with Ohio and Michigan, making it a focal point for the region. It is situated along three regional rivers: the St. Joseph, the St. Marys and the Maumee.
Fort Wayne is the second most populous city in Indiana and is considered the cultural center of the state. Museums, restaurants, nightlife and a thriving tourism industry help to keep it on the map. About 6.5 million people visit Fort Wayne each year, and it has been named among the 50 best places to live in the United States.
If you’re thinking of taking a vacation to Fort Wayne, here are 16 of the best things to do while visiting this vibrant Midwestern city.
Table of Contents:
- 1. Fort Wayne Adventure Pass
- 2. Fort Wayne Savings Pass
- 3. Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
- 4. Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
- 5. Fort Wayne Museum of Art
- 6. Science Central
- 7. Parkview Field
- 8. Old Fort Wayne
- 9. Fort Wayne Outfitters Bike Depot
- 10. Lakeside Park and Rose Garden
- 11. Clyde Theater
- 12. Embassy Theatre
- 13. Castle Gallery
- 14. DeBrand Fine Chocolates
- 15. Dining
- 16. Drinks and Nightlife
1. Fort Wayne Adventure Pass
If you are planning to spend a few days in Fort Wayne, start by looking into the Fort Wayne Adventure Pass. For a flat rate, you can purchase admission to four of the city’s best attractions at a discount. Add-on options are also available for those who want to get the entire experience of the city. It’s a perfect way to guide yourself for a few days in Fort Wayne.
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2. Fort Wayne Savings Pass
Add the Fort Wayne Savings Pass to the Adventure Pass for an even better experience. You can download the pass instantly on your smartphone to enjoy over $200 in savings at over 40 participating businesses. You’ll save on food, special sale items, experiences and more just for choosing Fort Wayne as your vacation destination.
3. Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is considered one of the top 10 zoos for kids in the entire United States. It is home to an extensive population of exotic as well as domestic animals. The wildlife isn’t the whole story, either. The facility features rides, unforgettable tours and educational experiences offered by respected and knowledgeable staff.
Look out for the zoo’s special events, designed specifically for community outreach and education. The Fort Wayne Adventure Pass includes zoo admission.
4. Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
The second stop on the Adventure Pass is the collection of gardens and botanical displays at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Billed as “an oasis in downtown Fort Wayne,” it lives up to the hype.
The conservatory is organized into seven distinct gardens (three indoors and four outdoors), all decorated with different plant life from all over the world. There are over 1,000 varieties housed here. Admission is only $7 for adults most days, and only $1 every Thursday evening from 5 to 7 p.m.
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5. Fort Wayne Museum of Art
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art aspires to be “the best nationally accredited art museum of [its] size.” The museum connects with a diverse audience with a beautiful array of both permanent and rotating exhibits. Art and culture afficionados will love to tour this gem of Fort Wayne. Special events are held often for educational groups and families. Don’t forget to use your Adventure Pass.
6. Science Central
Science Central is an educational science museum built into one of the city’s old refurbished factories. With over 200 permanent exhibits and shows, it’s the fourth attraction on the Adventure Pass. The center is so popular that tickets are sold by the hour, and there is a cap on how many people may be admitted to ensure all visitors have the best possible experience.
7. Parkview Field
Sports fans will run to check out this award-winning minor league baseball stadium that’s been a local favorite since it was built in 2009. The Fort Wayne TinCaps, a minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres, call the park home. They’ve been a huge draw for local fans and visitors alike. The venue rents out indoor space for events, and they’ll even provide the catering.
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8. Old Fort Wayne
See the fort that started it all! Since a nonprofit took over the maintenance of the Old Fort back in 2004, the public has enjoyed visiting this place to learn about this iconic footprint of the original city.
The Old Fort was originally built in 1794 during the American Revolution by General Anthony Wayne. The fort and the city both carry his name today. You can always walk the grounds, but need to wait for a special tour to see the insides of the structures.
9. Fort Wayne Outfitters Bike Depot
See the city in a whole new way while riding a bike. The bike depot specializes in renting out all types of bicycles meant for roads, trails, fitness, or pleasure. Additionally, the depot has a wide selection of kayaks and canoes so that the city’s visitors can get out onto one of the three rivers and explore the natural beauty of the region. The shop also has plenty of merchandise for sale.
10. Lakeside Park and Rose Garden
Lakeside Park is a favorite for visitors looking to enjoy a beautiful day in Fort Wayne. Its popular Sunken Garden was designated a “National Rose Garden” back in 1928, and it has recently been restored from its original 1920s construction. It is one of the most popular draws in the city for visitors.
The park itself has sports facilities, trails, grassy areas and plenty of places to take in the sunshine.
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11. Clyde Theater
Constructed in 1951 and having undergone a major renovation in 2018, the Clyde Theater is home to live shows, concerts, private events and community gatherings.
The owners take pride in the restoration of the property, and it shows in the state-of-the-art stage area and the comfortable seating for the audience. The theater even offers a premium concert experience with VIP service. It is a great place for individuals, couples or the whole family.
12. Embassy Theatre
The Embassy is another historic theater that hosts regional comedy, live music and seasonal festivals. From classic summer evening shows to a tree festival in December, this community staple is here to entertain Fort Wayne.
13. Castle Gallery
The Castle Gallery is a fine art gallery featuring the works of Fort Wayne and regional artists. Art lovers looking to pick up a new piece should consider a stop here to support talented local creators. The gallery is free to visit.
14. DeBrand Fine Chocolates
Chocolates make great gifts. With four different locations scattered around Fort Wayne, vacationers can stop by DeBrand Fine Chocolates for a souvenir or satisfy a sweet tooth.
The shops boast of their top-quality ingredients, and all the chocolates are made on location at each store, so you know you’re only getting the freshest chocolate in town.
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No vacation is complete without checking out the area’s best restaurants. Fort Wayne’s dining establishments cater to a range of tastes and budgets. Here are just a few of the most popular.
- A. Seafood
Seafood lovers will want to check out The Oyster Bar. Their signature dish is, of course, the oysters, but they serve all types of seafood dishes. There are also some popular steak and chicken dishes for those who don’t eat fish.
- B. Pizza
Alto Grado Pizza is a simple, laid-back pizza restaurant that focuses on its single specialty. Stop in to try traditional pizzas, the rectangular Detroit-style pie, or one of their popular dessert pizzas. Who knew a s’more-flavored pizza could be so delicious?
- C. Steakhouse
BakerStreet Steakhouse opened in 2008 and strives to provide an upscale dining experience and serve the best steaks and chops Fort Wayne has to offer. The elegant dining room sets the tone here. No one will leave unsatisfied.
- D. American Grill
Black Canyon Restaurant is the premier establishment in Fort Wayne for American grilled fare. Their custom cuisine is made from the freshest local ingredients, cooked up by specialty chefs, and ready to satisfy. Stop here for a burger, a steak or a signature sandwich.
- E. Casual
The Coney Island opened back in 1914, and this hot dog joint is still a Fort Wayne favorite today. The menu includes the popular Coney Dog, chili, hamburgers and more. The restaurant aims to take customers back to the days when going out for hot dogs was a special experience.
- F. Gastropub
The Hoppy Gnome is a creative restaurant serving American food with a Mexican influence. The casual atmosphere provides a welcoming environment where visitors can try some of the most creative tacos and other dishes around.
Of course, Fort Wayne has many more great dining establishments — too many to list here. Ask some locals for recommendations and you’re sure to find a meal to satisfy your cravings.
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16. Drinks and Nightlife
- A. Country Heritage Winery
Wine connoisseurs should make it a point to stop at Country Heritage Winery during a Fort Wayne visit. It’s a family-owned and -operated winery that’s been growing its own fresh fruit since 2000.Now their mission is simple: produce the best wine the region has to offer by growing the freshest grapes and providing great service to the community.
- B. Club Soda
With live jazz and some of the best cocktails in the city, Club Soda boasts a unique vibe that separates it from traditional bars and clubs. The club boasts a nostalgic atmosphere where some of the old crooners of the past would have loved to hang out.
- C. Conner’s Rooftop
Conner’s Rooftop is the only rooftop bar downtown. It has great views of the ballpark, indoor or outdoor seating, fire pits and some great food and specialty drink options. Stay and chat the night away with their friendly serving staff.
- D. After Dark Nightclub
After Dark offers a versatile nightclub experience for party-loving adults. The main bar is a great place to connect with friends over a drink. There’s karaoke downstairs on certain nights, and even dancers and drag shows to keep patrons entertained.
- E. Best neighborhoods/areas to stay in Fort Wayne
There are two popular options for those visiting the area for just a few days. The first is downtown Fort Wayne. It’s the best place for travelers because it’s the location of the highest-rated hotels and many of the city’s attractions, restaurants and nightlife.The city offers free parking after five p.m., but downtown is also a hub of the city’s bus routes for those who aren’t driving.North Fort Wayne is another popular neighborhood where travelers may choose to stay. This part of town is close to the zoo and the local mall. It also features good hotels and is easily accessible from all other parts of the city.Of course, travelers may also opt for the convenience of a home-sharing app. There is no shortage of great neighborhoods in Fort Wayne such as Westlawn, Cherry Hill and Twin Eagles, just to name a few.
- F. Traveling around the cityWhile Fort Wayne is a convenient place to rent a car and drive to all of your desired attractions, the Citilink bus line has over two dozen routes around the city. The local public transit system covers most of the city, so vacationers can get where they need to be.If it’s late and the buses stop running, plenty of taxi services and rideshare apps are available in Fort Wayne.
It’s easy to see why the tourism industry is booming in Fort Wayne. People from Indiana, the Midwest and the entire United States travel to this lovely city to take in the culture of the region and enjoy all that Fort Wayne has to offer. The city has done its best to open the doors and make it a welcoming place for all.
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