15 Best Things to Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana

15 Best Things to Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana

One of the first choices for novice travellers is Fort Wayne, a gem of a city in the state of Indiana, US. The city practices low cost of living, all the while maintaining a classy lifestyle, which is something locals as well as visitors love. Even though it is the second-most populous city in Indiana, the amount of cultural and cosy vibes the place exudes will make you forget that fact. Fort Wayne has a number of things to do and places to visit, including parks and boulevards, mesmerising museums and amazing restaurants – the list would just go on.

Fort Wayne Museum of Art

Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Momoneymoproblemz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in Downtown Fort Wayne is one of the most-visited museums of the place, Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Operated by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, it houses fascinating American art, ranging from paintings and sculptures to glass and displays. There are more than 7,000 of these arts, created by world-renowned painters and artisans and put together in the sleek façade of the museum.

It is also seen hosting programs, seminars, classes and events frequently all year long. These include comfortable art classes, museum internships and the beautiful and artistic event of Chalk Walk, part of the annual Three Rivers Festival. Look out especially for the glass sculptures right by the entrance – they are enough to lure you in!

Native Trees of Indiana River Walk

Snaking around the St. Joseph River is the beautiful river walk, known as the Native Trees of Indiana River Walk. It spans up to 1.25 miles and is asphalt-paved and almost eight feet wide, making it preferable for jogging, biking and obviously, walking. There are more than 100 species of Indiana native trees lining the walk – and each of them come with their own plaques of interesting information.

The path skirts around Purdue University campus, which has led the university securing and maintaining it. This walk is rather fascinating – and a great way to spend time in Fort Wayne. Why? As one can experience what it is like to move along amidst flora and fauna, right in the middle of an urban area.

DeBrand Fine Chocolates

Step into the chocolaty world of DeBrand when in Fort Wayne! DeBrand is the delicious brainchild of Cathy Brand-Beere, who started it in 1987. As any local would reassure you, their chocolates are heavenly delicious that you’d cry happy tears after eating them. DeBrand has always been keen on using the highest quality ingredients – and one can see it in their fine chocolates.

All of these come in beautiful boxes, some of which are actually edible! The shop, with its aesthetically brown and royal façade, also has a perfect and private Party Room, which can comfortably host groups for parties and get-togethers. If you want to know more about their chocolate-making process, tours are taken around the DeBrand Factory, where this real magic happens – something definitely worth experiencing.

Allen County Courthouse

Allen County Courthouse
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A national as well as a historic landmark in the heart of Fort Wayne, Allen County Courthouse is one of the best buildings exhibiting Beaux-Arts Architecture. It was included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1967 and was bestowed the honour of being a National Historic Landmark in 2003. Stained glass, mesmerizing murals and sculptures, balanced comfortably on the delicately patterned tile floors are just some of the beauties of the place.

The Allen County Courthouse Preservation Trust is the one looking after this 1902 façade, which completed its 100th anniversary in the last decade. Group tours, as well as self-guided ones, are available - and the only way for the visitors to experience the Courthouse’s charm.

Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

Fort Wayne has a number of natural attractions – and one of them is Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Located right in the heart of Fort Wayne, this enclosed conservatory was founded in 1983 and is spread over 25,000 sq. foot of expanse. This conservatory offers four seasonal exhibits, has four outdoor gardens, including a beautiful waterfall, a Desert garden, an outdoor terrace and, not to forget, an exploration garden.

What is more impressive of this garden is the abundance of trees adorning the place. There are more than 502 different species along with around 72 types of cactus, including Saguaro Cacti. Take a stroll around this enchanting place, have a bite at the café and pick some memories from the gift shop.

Arena Dinner Theatre

Most people go for shows first and then to dinner – or vice versa. However, there’s a place in Fort Wayne where you can do both things at the same time. Arena Dinner Theatre, located in Rockhill, is an amazing community arts corporation, big on live theatre productions. Around seven theatrical productions are annually featured in the theatre, which is worthwhile and enchanting. Indiana’s many famous actors and actresses – both amateurs and superstars – have found their way on this Theatre’s stage, with popular directors directing them.

The theatre also has its own kitchen, which provides delicious meals for the audience watching the plays. The theatre is one of kind, providing food for the stomach and soul at the same time.

Historic Old Fort Wayne

Historic Old Fort Wayne
Travis Eckert / Shutterstock.com

Believe it or not, the Old Fort Wayne that you see today on the Spy Run Avenue, parallel to the St. Mary’s River, is a beautiful replica of the Third American Fort of 18th century. A complete document of local history, it showcases different eras ranging from French Colonial History to Civil War re-enactments. The place is run and maintained by a non-profit organization, Historic Fort Wayne Inc.

Displays and events are hosted frequently all year round, most of them featuring characters in costumes and guided tours around the fort’s premises. In case of no events, visitors are allowed to roam around and absorb the vintage knowledge the place imparts. A place right out of a history textbook, the Old Fort is one interesting place to visit.

Lakeside Park & Rose Garden

Lakeside Park & Rose Garden
Joseph P. Brennan / Shutterstock.com

The lake avenue of Fort Wayne is blessed with a beautiful place, known as the Lakeside Park & Rose Garden. What makes this historic garden famous is the presence of a sunken garden, consisting of more than 2000 rose plants available in more than 150 varieties. The climate is not really conducive to grow roses, but the soil worked wonders for the roses’ growth.

The garden was, therefore, restored to its historic charm and has been seeing hundreds and thousands of visitors annually. However, if you think this place is only for nature lovers, think again! The park consists of expansive tennis and basketball courts, provisions of ice-skating in winters and a number of spacious playgrounds where people can laze around.

The Hoppy Gnome

If one wants to describe The Hoppy Gnome, only three phrases are enough – inviting ambience, lip-smacking food and excellent service! Located on East Berry Street, the place has been around since 2015 and became a hit among the locals. GnomeTown Brewing Company was recently added to this paradisal group and offers more than 40 taps of craft beer and quality array of wines.

The restaurant employs a very unique concept, where the menu is not only elegant and eclectic but also entirely made from scratch, including tacos, tortas as well as steak and seafood, not to forget, delicious vegetarian options. To top it off, if you visit there after a few months, you will find the menu completely transformed! Nevertheless, the Hoppy Gnome, with all its whimsical charm, is a must-visit.

Glenbrook Square

If you wish to purchase anything in Fort Wayne – I mean, anything at all – then Glenbrook Square is the place for you! No, it is not a square, but a shopping mall, filled with lines and lines of stores. The anchor ones are Barnes & Noble, Macy’s, JCPenney, HomeGoods and Dave & Buster’s, among others.

It has been around since 1966 and standing on 1,210,000 sq. ft of space, is one of the three largest malls in Indiana. From beauty and skincare to electronics and house supplies, you can find everything here. A huge plus point is the availability of many restaurants in and around the mall so that you don’t have to hunt for food and drinks after you are done shopping - to your heart’s content, might I add.

Headwaters Park

Headwaters Park
Travis Eckert / shutterstock.com

Located on Clinton Street in Downtown Wayne, Headwaters Park is a paradisal place, where relaxing vibes is an ever-present entity and events and festivals are an everyday occurrence. This 30-acre park offers a whole range of events and activities, the public as well as private. Two parking lots, plazas, Hamilton Sculpture Garden and picnic spots adorn the place, with a spacious open-air pavilion sitting in the middle, which is available for everyone for rental.

One of the picturesque places in Fort Wayne, it has been popular space to host weddings, receptions, family reunions and picnics. And when the snow blankets the city, this pavilion is where the popular Headwaters Ice Skating Rink is held. An upbeat and cosy place, you’d have to attend an event in the park to feel its charm!

816 Pint & Slice

What is more enjoyable than having a pint of beer and a slice of pizza to relax? Absolutely nothing! This is exactly what the Thomas Family decided to offer to Fort Wayne when they opened ‘Pint & Slice’. It was established in 2007 and quickly rose to fame, not just in Fort Wayne, but in the world. The pizzeria offers a delicious selection of classic pizzas, made with fresh ingredients, spices – and love.

Quality beers and wine are on the menu too, along with salads, grinders, calzones and pasta. All of these are made in a clean and hygienic open kitchen, while you enjoy your meals in a spacious and cosy space. If you don’t visit Pint & Slice when in Fort Wayne, know that you have missed out on something deliciously great!

The Embassy Theatre

The Embassy Theatre
Cliff, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the beautiful places to experience the cultural life of Fort Wayne is the historic Embassy Theatre. It has been entertaining the visitors since 1928 and is very much close to celebrating its 100th anniversary. Formerly known as the Emboyd Theatre, it has the seating capacity of whooping 2471 seats and is the proud home of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra. It has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 – and was then reopened as a performing arts centre.

The embassy is also well-known for hosting functions and events, including weddings and parties. The ornate decorations, the dazzling lights and the vintage charm of the place resonate in the façade, making your experience of watching any performance there quite memorable.

Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve

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With more than fourteen miles of trails, shallow-water wetland, prairie, forest areas and sedge meadows, Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve is a magical wetland of 831 acres. It is located just on the southwest border of Fort Wayne and is the proud home to a number of mammals - including beavers, muskrats and otters – as well as reptiles and amphibians. More than 200 types of birds are seen flying across the sky, which visitors can gaze at to their heart’s content.

The trails of the wetland would take you to different preserves, letting you enjoy watching the magnificent animals in their natural habitat. Tours are taken around, included guided and self-guided, from morning to evening. If you wish to spend some time away from the hustle-bustle of the city, then this is the place for you!

Fort Wayne Firefighters' Museum

Firefighters are one of those people who’d risk their lives unthinkingly to save others’. These heroes, therefore, definitely deserve a tribute of some kind or the other. This led to Fort Wayne creating the beautiful Fort Wayne Firefighters’ Museum, located on Washington Boulevard.

It is a non-profit organization, which focuses on preserving the Fort Wayne Fire Department’s magical history and the associated artifacts of the fire service. Right from uniforms and apparatus to fire gear and tools, the museum has it all for visitors to look at. A tour around the museum would make you appreciate firefighters more – you just have to visit once.

Fort Wayne might not have anything in the ‘world-famous’ category, but it has a bunch of beautiful and cosy attractions that make your trip absolutely worth your time. You can visit Fort Wayne any time of the year, and it will still be the same - warm and welcoming, with something exciting brewing around the corner.