The Best Things to See and Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne is a city of over 250,000 people and the second-most populous city in Indiana. Finding fun things to do is never a problem in this city that keeps growing by leaps and bounds and aligning themselves with current trends and traveler’s needs. Not only is it a city I love visiting, but also one I enjoy sharing its attractions with everyone who will listen. From learning about your family history at the most resourceful sight in the country to a city responsible for producing the thousands of Vera Bradley purses and suitcases you see all over the world, Fort Wayne is a force to be reckoned with. Here are the best things to see and do in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as I’ve discovered over the years.
#1 Attend a Baseball Game
The Tincaps, Fort Wayne’s minor league baseball team, is the Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Their stadium’s (Parkview Field) downtown location has been attracting visitors and locals since 2009. In May of 2017, TripAdvisor named Parkview Field the “Best Minor League Baseball Park.” You will adore the Tincaps’ Johnny Appleseed mascot. Opt for box seats as you will have access to a private lounge.
#2 Attend the Annual Vera Bradley Sale
Fort Wayne is home to the annual Vera Bradley Outlet Sale. This highly anticipated event takes place once a year over four days in April at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. During this sale, nearly 700,000 pieces of Vera Bradley are marked down 40-60%, including accessories, handbags, luggage, and blankets. “Organized madness” best describes this event.
A VIP ticket is required to shop for the first two days of the sale. Purchase yours in advance as they sell out quickly. A ticket is not necessary to buy on the last two days, but be prepared to wait in line for hours to enter or checkout. This annual Vera Bradley sale contributes $5 million to Fort Wayne’s economy.
#3 Explore “Science on a Sphere”
At first glance of the Fort Wayne Science Central, the whimsical, colorful crayon-looking pieces sticking up through the roof instantly make you want to visit. This hands-on museum encourages visitors to fully engage with their more than 130 experiments and displays that foster learning. Science Central is doing big things with cutting-edge technology, most apparent by their Science on a Sphere special exhibit. Try to take a tour with the museum’s Executive Director, Martin. His passion for all things science is contagious!
#4 Eat a Yummy Bunni
Beat the heat with an ice-cold treat from Yummi Bunni in downtown Fort Wayne. The best-selling item is their Yummi Bun, a glazed donut filled with the ice cream flavor of your choice and the price won’t break the bank. Don’t stop there, add a topping to the ice cream edges such as Oreos, sprinkles, cereal, and candy bar pieces. Make sure to take a selfie on the Instagram wall before you dig in. Donuts are from Tom’s, a local Fort Wayne business that’s been serving the city for nearly 40 years.
#5 Get Your Ancestry On
Fort Wayne’s Genealogy Center is on the second floor of the Allen County Public Library. It holds the largest database of public records in the country. A professional staff of trained genealogists can help you trace your family graves or heritage or can be hired to do it for you using the center’s 4.5 million resources, and that is just a drop in the bucket. Fort Wayne’s Genealogy Center even has subscriptions to many of the online genealogy sites to use for free during your visit. Don’t want to put your finds and books away at closing? The staff is so thoughtful that they will save your space for the next day; just ask. Many people come to Fort Wayne, stay across the street, and spend days learning about their roots at this incredible place that I find myself telling people all over the country about.
#6 Brush Up Your Art Education
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMOA) has a gorgeous focal piece of hanging Chihuily glassware. The museum is home to both permanent exhibits (American Brilliant Cut Glass items) as well as changing ones. The photography exhibit “Sharon,” taken by the father of a girl with disabilities, is sure to invoke strong feelings. There is even a Sensory Friendly Space with the “Sharon” exhibit. Though small in size, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art packs a powerful punch with their extensive offerings.
#7 Step into An Amazing Oasis
One of the gems of Fort Wayne is the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Browse the indoor gardens (ranging from tropical flowers and trees to desert garden favorites) with a gorgeous cascading waterfall and admire the carefully labeled photo-worthy specimens. As you wander through the botanical garden, keep your eyes peeled for fruit and cacao trees. My visit to the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory was in the springtime when they had an impressive butterfly display. It has a gift shop and cafe, too.
#8 Visit the Zoo
What is there for kids to do in Fort Wayne? They will love getting their animal fix at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. This place is for kids and adults and features 100 animals in five exhibit areas. See animals from around the world and right here in the Hoosier state as you visit them in Central Zoo, Indonesian Rain Forest, Australian Adventure, African Journey, and Indiana Family Farm. Though I didn’t get to ride the African Journey Sky Safari, it looked like a great way to see the entire park from an aerial view. Interactive activities such as petting stingrays and feeding giraffes are real crowd-pleasers at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Stay for lunch; the restaurant serves tasty sandwiches, salads, and snacks.
#9 Indulge in Decadent Chocolates
DeBrand Fine Chocolates is a tasty Fort Wayne staple. This gorgeous business serves everything chocolate: from decadent handmade truffles to classic chocolates, ice cream desserts to cookies, and a fantastic offering of chocolate gifts. I recommend the Very Cherry Tasting Bars and Hot Chocolate on Spoon & Marshmallows. Both taste heavenly! DeBrand even offers a chocolate tour and tasting. No room in your suitcase to take some chocolates home? You can shop DeBrand Fine Chocolates online. If you visit the downtown location, be sure to grab a photo by the colorful Jeremy Selzer mural.
#10 Admire Incredible Art-Deco
I wasn’t expecting to find Art Deco anywhere in the country outside of South Florida (where I live), but then I wandered in the Lincoln Bank Tower. What a pleasant surprise. The Art Deco murals are incredible, and color schemes divine. The 22-story high-rise was the tallest building in the state of Indiana for quite some time and is one of the best-hidden gems and landmarks in the Midwest. Lincoln Bank Tower was built on the Lincoln Highway, the country’s first coast to coast highway, a really big deal in its time. Today, the beauty of the decor alone is worth the visit.
#11 Catch a Mad Ants Game
What a blast it is to see a Mad Ants game at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. They are the professional basketball team of the NBA G-League that is the farm team to the Indiana Pacers. Seeing a game is a great and inexpensive way to attend a fast-paced family-friendly sporting event with tasty concessions, too. I enjoyed the Madame Ant Dance Team and half time entertainment, as well as the fan and audience interactions as much as the game itself.
#12 Get Outdoors
Riverfront Fort Wayne’s first phase, Promenade Park, opened in the fall of 2019. The massive project is bringing a breath of fresh air to the city of Fort Wayne and the amazing riverfront property where three rivers converge. This incredible project has been ongoing for a couple of years and intends to make the area the centerpiece of river activity in Fort Wayne. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the kayaking and canopy trail, suitable for all ages and abilities. From community activities to swinging in hammocks, watching musical performances at the amphitheater to splashing in the kid’s canal, you are sure to have a wonderful time at Fort Wayne’s Riverfront. Upscale shopping and dining can be found in The Landing, adjacent to the Riverfront.
#13 Stay in a Boutique Hotel
Opening around October 2020 is the first and only hotel with Barbara Bradley Baekgaard’s (co-founder of Vera Bradley) stamp on it. She and Provenance Hotels have teamed up to create the 27 million dollar 124-room specialty hotel, still unnamed at this time. The 5-story hotel will have a restaurant, rooftop bar, and both meeting and retail space. I cannot wait to see it!
Fort Wayne: An Exciting Time to Visit
Fort Wayne is an exceptional city that will be a great addition to your travel itineraries. Be sure to check out the cool murals on the public art trail and see the unique bike rack sculptures that are scattered around town. With the opening of the newest attractions and businesses, Fort Wayne is going to explode! I hope you grow to love this Midwestern city as much as I do.
To learn more about the Fort Wayne area, check out the Visit Fort Wayne tourism board.
For restaurant recommendations, see our restaurant guide to some fantastic Fort Wayne eateries.
Need a Hotel in Fort Wayne?
The Holiday Inn (IPFW-Coliseum), across from the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, is the perfect home-away-from-home while visiting Fort Wayne, Indiana. The staff is friendly, rooms are comfortable, and the location is ideal for the Vera Bradley sale. A free shuttle service is provided.
The Hilton Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Convention Center is my pick for a premier downtown hotel. This stately full-service hotel is within walking distance to many city attractions and has a free airport shuttle with a reservation. There is a full-service restaurant and a real Starbuck’s on the Hilton Fort Wayne property. Rooms have 55″ TVs, spacious living quarters, microwaves, and convenient $8 self-parking.
Fort Wayne Photo Gallery
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