I have to admit that my visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana really surprised me. I had no idea that the downtown had so much to offer. Growing up, we would visit my cousins who lived about 30 minutes from downtown Fort Wayne, but we typically only visited the mall which left me with an impression from 30+ years ago that there wasn’t much to do there. Well Fort Wayne, you got the last laugh and my apology.
I packed a lot into my short visit and I hope that this will encourage you to discover what Fort Wayne offers for kids and adults.
Adventure with Animals
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo located at 3411 Sherman Blvd, Fort Wayne
This zoo really went BEYOND my expectations! First off, don’t let the name give you the impression that it only appeals to kids. I would still enjoy and spend a lot of time at this zoo if I was kid free because there is so much to see and do here. When I arrived, I appreciated the free onsite parking because it’s rare to not be charged parking when you visit a bigger zoo.
You might want to bring a few extra dollars for the rides that average about $2 each. During our visit, we rode the Crocodile Creek Adventure Ride that gave us another perspective of the exhibit with kangaroos. Parents of small children will LOVE that this zoo is designed so that you don’t have to take kids out of their strollers to see the animals. This thoughtful detail is really appreciated as a parent who has taken kids out of a stroller more times than I can count when they were little because they couldn’t see.
Make sure that you allow several hours for your visit and that you look at the schedule of daily events and map. We almost missed The African Journey, which would have been horrible because it’s a giant portion of the zoo that includes the area where you can feed the giraffes.
Science made FUN
Science Central located at 1950 N Clinton St, Fort Wayne.
This former power plant has been transformed into 30,000 sq ft of hands on learning making science and math FUN! I will also add that it’s fun for adults too. You will want to allow time to experience all of the exhibits on each level. Science Central does a really great job of awakening curiosity for guests young and old.
Kids and …some adults will want to go down the giant tube slide with the loaner clothing items provided so that they don’t get shocked. I hate getting shocked on slides and that is genius! Free parking is once again another bonus that gives you more money leftover for items at the gift shop.
Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory- located at 1100 S Calhoun St.
Speaking of parking, the conservatory validates parking for your visit at the nearby Civic Center Parking Garage with paid garden admission. Bring your ticket for validation at the front desk. Score! The inside and outside of the conservatory are really beautiful. There are permanent exhibits and seasonal ones along with several hands on areas for kids to learn and explore. The conservatory offers a lot of special events including evening concerts on the roof by the outdoor garden.
If you are hungry during your visit you might want to check out the Empyrean Cafe that features fresh food that is made from scratch. I would suggest making this your 1st stop if you plan on visiting a few other places downtown and just leave your car parked in the parking garage to take advantage of its central location.
Bike Racks that Double as Art
There are over 40 unique bike racks that double as art in downtown Fort Wayne. The downtown is very bike friendly. There are connecting paths from neighborhoods leading to downtown and Bike Share rentals with several stations throughout the city. You could easily make an adventure out of searching for all of them.
Art Inside and Out
Street art always brings a smile to my face when I’m walking around a city. Fort Wayne Museum of Art located at 311 E Main St, Fort Wayne is a stop for American and related art from the 19th century and up in a variety of styles and mediums.
The museum has many special events and rotating exhibits so make sure that you stay connected to their website so that you don’t miss any of the incredible art on display.
I’m a sucker for a pretty building and I found several downtown that were worth going inside to view. The only catch is that you can’t take pictures inside so you will need to take pictures with your mind… but it will be worth it.
Make sure that you stop inside the Allen County Courthouse located at 301 N Main St. and the Lincoln Tower located at116 E Berry St with amazing art deco design.
Dining and Drinks
Downtown Fort Wayne is experiencing a sq.. with new shops and restaurants. During my visit I enjoyed a Hazelnut Mocha from Fortezza Coffee and ate lunch at the farm to table restaurant called The Golden. I had to try the restaurants namesake burger with two beef patties, beer cheese, fermented cucumber, revitalization, honey bun.
The menu changes often with the seasons which gives you another excuse to come back. Craft Beer lovers will want to add The Hoppy Gnome to their list for their large selection of drinks along with their unique takes on the taco.
Discover your family history
The Genealogy Center located in the Fort Wayne Public Library located at 900 Library Plaza. People come from all over the country to the center to discover more about their ancestors. The Genealogy Center has one of the largest research collections available as the second largest genealogy department in the country. They have staff available who specialize in genealogy who can help you get started on your path to discovery. This can be a place to just get started or dive really deep into finding out more about your lineage.
Need a place to stay?
During my visit I stayed at Hotel Fort Wayne located at 305 E Washington Center Rd, Fort Wayne. I found the location to be extremely convenient to all of the attractions during my visit. The ballrooms at the hotel are a popular venue for conferences and wedding receptions. I LOVED the pool that allowed access to swim inside or outside. The temperature of the pool was perfect which made it hard for me to want to get out of it. I like when pools are a little warmer. There is also a hot tub inside for guests to enjoy.
If you stay on the Concierge level you will have access to the Concierge Lounge that has an enhanced breakfast and hot Hor’doevres. I might have also tried more than one cookie… for research purposes of course (don’t tell).
There are two restaurants located within the hotel. Duesy’s Sports Bar is casual with lots of tvs and Red River Steakhouse. I took advantage of a Taco Tuesday special at Duesy’s later that evening before a great night’s sleep.
You can find more ideas for your next visit from the Visit Ft. Wayne website.
Thanks again to Visit Ft. Wayne for hosting my visit!