Visitors to Fort Wayne truly experience the best of all worlds: the trappings of a sophisticated city combined with a friendly, small-town feel and natural beauty.
“People can have the misconception that Indiana is either just corn fields or Indianapolis, so newcomers are surprised to see that Fort Wayne has a wonderful downtown experience. It’s very walkable but also has a real urban feel, and there is dining and shopping around almost every corner,” says Jessa Campbell, marketing and communications manager for Visit Fort Wayne. “There are also beautiful murals and sculptures all throughout the downtown, and it keeps growing.”
To top it off, Fort Wayne is an extremely affordable destination. “A family of four can do a weekend getaway for around $600,” Campbell says.
An easy drive — located just two and a half hours southwest of Detroit — Fort Wayne is Indiana’s second-largest city. “It’s so family friendly and has a real welcoming feel,” says Campbell of her city, which is more than 200 years old and the hub of three rivers — the St. Marys, the St. Joseph and the Maumee. The city has a good variety of hotels or vacation rental properties from which to choose, including some accommodations with unique family suites, indoor or outdoor swimming pools and other amenities. Fort Wayne’s first boutique hotel, The Bradley, opens this summer with 124 well-appointed rooms.
Planning a trip? Be sure to check out the Fort Wayne Savings Pass, which can save your family up to $200, and don’t miss these highlights:
- The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo was designed for youngsters so “you don’t have to pick your child up over a barrier to see the animals,” Campbell says. “It’s consistently rated one of the top 10 zoos in the country and is easy to walk. It’s a lot of fun for families.” Here’s a bonus: Members of the Detroit Zoo enjoy half-off admission.
- The city’s newest attraction, Promenade Park, connects the three rivers and “is a great starting-off point for people to see Fort Wayne,” Campbell says. “It surprises people who don’t realize what great natural amenities we have.” A few of the attractions provided include a playground, cornhole and ping-pong, a tree-top canopy trail, riverboat cruises or kayak rentals, a kids’ canal and a pavilion complete with local brewery so parents can enjoy adult beverages riverside.
- Science Central features more than 200 permanent exhibits that make learning fun. Highlights include Science on a Sphere, a 6-foot diameter sphere of Planet Earth that appears to be floating and rotating mid-air; Kids Central, designed for young tots with a giant piano keyboard, water table and play area; and the Swap Shop for junior rockhounds. “You can easily spend a whole afternoon here,” Campbell says.
- Splash pads are located all throughout the city and offer the perfect respite on hot summer days. Best of all, they’re free!
- The immediate area offers more than 120 miles of hiking, biking and paddling along Fort Wayne’s network of trails and rivers. There are parks, preserves, wetlands and fun activities along the way. The Fort Wayne Outdoor Pass supplies details and the chance to win prizes.
- The city’s minor league baseball team, the Fort Wayne TinCaps, plays in the family-friendly Parkview Field right in the heart of downtown. It’s affordable and fun — and Friday and Saturday night games are capped off with free fireworks. (Wondering about that name? It’s a reference to Johnny Appleseed, the famous tree-planter known for wearing a cooking pot on his head, who is buried in Fort Wayne.)
Concerned about Covid-19? Indiana strongly urges the wearing of masks, restaurants are at reduced capacity, and some attractions are offering timed admissions. Visitfortwayne.com provides updates and news.
Learn more and plan your own visit to Fort Wayne at visitfortwayne.com.