Fort Wayne, Indiana, was born about 200 years ago when a strategic war fort was constructed at the confluence of the three rivers. Since its establishment in 1794, the town has developed to form a gorgeous network of boulevards and parks that connect neighboring towns and three rivers, which are registered on the National Register of Historic Places.
According to Vacation Idea, Fort Wayne city is home to one of the state’s best zoos, splendid wedding venues, a famous theatre, an amazing science-center, and other popular tourist attractions. Regardless of the town’s young history, the city now has a population of about 300,000, making it the second largest populated city in Indiana, after Indianapolis. In this article, we will look at the 20 best things to do in Fort Wayne.
20. Relax at the Headwaters Park
Headwaters Park is a 30-acre park often used to host various private and public events such as weddings, cultural events, festivals, family reunions, and concerts. The park has ample parking lots, two festival plazas, and plenty of picnic areas. During the spring, you can cool off in the free splash pad, while the park has suitable conditions for ice skating in the winter. Headwaters Park also has historical sculptures of Emerine Hamilton’s grandchildren and the Hamilton Sculpture Garden.
19. Visit Fort Wayne Dance Collective
The Fort Wayne Dance Collective is an innovative non-profit dance workshop located in the center of downtown Fort Wayne. The workshop was founded in 1978 by five women who met at a dance workshop. Visitors to the Wayne Dance Collective get to enjoy amazing dance performances that are held throughout the year. They also offer modern, hip hop, ballet, and belly dancing lessons for about 45-60 minutes, costing $80 for seven weeks.
18. Stop at Mad Anthony Brewing Company
Are you looking for the best beer in town? Then, you should make your way to the Mad Anthony Brewing Company. Since it was established in 1998, the company has been a favorite location for the locals and tourists who come to enjoy their live music performances, perfectly-brewed beers, and tantalizing menu. They also offer various vegetarian selections and the now famous Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. According to Family Destinations Guide, the Mad Anthony Brewing Company brews about 2,000 barrels yearly. They are usually open all days of the week from 11 am to 10 pm.
17. Visit Science Central
Science Central is a remnant of the old power plant known as City Light & Power that used to occupy the enormous building. Today, the building is used by kids, their teachers, and parents who come to enjoy some hands-on fun with science and technology. Science Central is only open a few days of the week, and usually, their closing times differ throughout the week; thus, checking in advance is advisable.
16. Learn the town’s history at The History Center
The History Center is home to the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society and its art collections. The building itself plays a vital role in educating visitors about the town’s history. The History Center building was formerly known as Fort Wayne and Allen County’s City Hall building in 1893. It was later renamed the History Center in 1980 after the addition of more historical artifacts, documents, and images that explain the fascinating history of Fort Wayne. According to Planet Ware, the History Center has more than 26,000 artifacts for tourists to explore.
15. Stop at Foellinger Theatre
The Foellinger Theatre is situated on the greener hillside of Franke Park in Fort Wayne. It was initially constructed in 1949 to help provide an open-air informal community assembling area and play performing stage. This theatre can seat approximately 2,400 people. The Foellinger Theatre was established in memory of Oscar Foellinger, publisher of the Fort Wayne News Sentinel, and was later handed over to the local community by his daughter Helene. To date, the Foellinger Theater offers a well-known performance stage for all genres of music, movies, concerts, and several public and private functions.
14. Have a treat at DeBrand Fine Chocolates
DeBrand Fine Chocolates are known for their fresh crèmes, rich caramels, delicious truffles, brittles, and ganaches. All DeBrand products are made from their Fort Wayne factory’s high-quality fresh local ingredients. Additionally, they use the richest chocolates imported from all centers across the globe to wrap around the delicious filling. They then package their chocolates in lovely boxes, some of which are edible. Make sure to sign up for the DeBrand factory tour, where you will witness their chocolate-making process and try out some of their samples.
13. Stop at the Fort Wayne Philharmonic
The Fort Wayne Philharmonic, popularly known as The Phil, was founded in 1944 and hosted its first concert on 18th October 1044. The first music director was Hans Schwieger, whose orchestra featured soloists such as Mario Lanza, Yehudi Menuhin, and William Kapell. Jaime Laredo served as an artistic advisor for the 2008-09 season and was later replaced by the English conductor Andrew Constantine in July 2009. All visitors are welcomed for an unforgettable musical experience directed by Andrew, who has been Fort Wayne’s Philharmonic music director for six seasons. The Phil also offers classes for up-and-coming musicians of all ages and skill sets.
12. View the Native Trees of Indiana River Walk
Indiana is full of beautiful lakes, water parks, beaches, and stunning views of the Native Trees of Indiana River Walk. Indiana’s river walks allow you to enjoy the amazing scenery and view of the crystal clear waters while exploring the nearby local communities. Within this 1.25-mile river trail, you will see more than 100 species- including the American Elm, the American Chestnut, the Black Cherry tree, and the wide array of local wildlife the town has to offer. There are also plenty of fun water-based activities you can enjoy with your family.
11. Stop at Arena Dinner Theatre
The Arena Dinner Theatre is a community arts corporation solely devoted to hosting live theatre productions. The theatre features seven main theatrical productions held yearly in the historic building. These theatrical productions feature some of the state’s famed amateur and professional actors and well-accomplished musical directors. According to Travellens, the Arena Dinner Theatre is a member of the Indiana Community Theatre League, the Community Arts Council of Arts United, and the American Association of Community Theatre.
10. Visit Fort Wayne Firefighters’ Museum
The Fort Wayne Firefighter’s Museum was founded on 20th April 1974, and was once considered the largest firehouse in the city. In 1975, they began the collection of artifacts from Fort Wayne’s past. Additional renovations were carried out between 1998 and 2009 and later in 2019 to further expand the area. In 2001, the museum hired its staff, and now the public could visit the museum within the regular opening hours. Apart from the many historical arts on display, the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum teaches the public fire safety procedures.
9. Stop at Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve
Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve is a 720-acre wetland nature preserve located on the southwest border of Fort Wayne. It is home to a wide array of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals such as muskrats, beavers, and otters. Here, you will also get to view the spectacular sceneries of more than 200 bird species, including bald eagles, commonly seen at the preserve. You can also explore the preserve’s habitats and view the animals in their natural homes.
8. Visit African/African-American Historical Museum
According to The Broke BackPacker, the African/African American Historical Museum of Allen County (AAAHSM) was established back in 1999 to help preserve the African and African American culture and history via varying programs and collections. Here, you will get to view the stunning displays, which perfectly showcase the history of the African descent people living in Allen County. The museum is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm but is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
7. Visit Castle Gallery
The Castle Gallery was constructed in 1905 as a wedding present for Paul Mossman and his bride. Here, you will get to enjoy the amazing views of the original maple, oak, cherry, mahogany, and walnut floors and artifacts at the gallery. All visitors are required to schedule their visit to the Castle Gallery.
6. Hike at the Rivergreenway Trail
The Rivergreenway trail runs along the banks of the St. Joseph’s, St. Mary’s, and Maumee Rivers. This 25-mile trail provides perfect conservation, recreation, and fitness opportunity. In addition to enjoying a nice hike, jog or walk through the trail, you can try the bicycle ride or roller blade for a thrilling hike experience.
5. Stop at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory was established by the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department, which is also in charge of its upkeep. There are three main indoor gardens for you to explore, and each garden has four seasonal exhibitions annually. In addition to the stunning exhibits that change with the seasons, these showcase gardens also feature some permanent inhabitants such as gardenias, hibiscus, creeping fig, and bamboo.
You will also get to enjoy the spectacular view of orange trees, bromeliads, bananas, orchids, a chocolate tree, and a cascading waterfall. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory sits on 25,000 square feet of land and is home to about 1,200 plants of more than 500 species. This is the perfect getaway location from the hustle and bustle of the city, and the garden entry fees are very affordable.
4. Visit Fort Wayne Museum of Art
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art collects, showcases, and preserves all-important American decorative and fine art through show exhibitions. This helps explore the similarities between artists from various ethnic and national backgrounds and their artwork. In 1921, the museum received ten stunning paintings from Theodore Thieme, which were the first artifacts in the museum. Here, you will learn more about the different periods of American history through paintings, sculptures, photos, and other forms of memorabilia.
3. Visit Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Are you looking for a perfect family-fun outdoor activity? Then you should make your way to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. The zoo is home to more than 1000 animals, making it one of the best zoos in the state. Here, you will have the unique opportunity to explore a wide array of life, from African Journey to Australian Adventures. You can also make your way down the African safari trail, where you can feed the giraffes, listen to the yacking hyenas, and marvel at the sight of 400-pound lions. Between the sight of penguins splashing, sharks cruising in the large aquariums, lions roaring, and monkeys playing on the branches, you are guaranteed to have so much fun at Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
2. Relax at Parkview Field
Parkview Field is a modern multi-use ballpark and is one of the latest additions to the town of Fort Wayne. The stadium hosts more than 400,000 baseball fans attending the minor league baseball matches held yearly. Parkview Field is usually open to the public and often visited by walkers and runners. The field also attracts approximately 100,000 tourists who come to enjoy the fun activities offered in the field, from wedding receptions, fundraisers, open-air rock concerts, business events, and big festivals such as YMCA Healthy Kids and Fort4Fitness.
1. Stop at The Embassy Theatre
The Embassy Theatre was constructed in 1928 and was first used as a movie palace before it was converted to a theatre. The theatre offered some of the best entertainment at the time, including the famous 1,100-pipe Page theatre organ, performed by the Fort Wayne Philharmonic Orchestra. According to The Crazy Tourist, this 2,500-seat grand theatre is considered the most popular Fort Wayne venue for a wide array of theatre productions, including those from Broadway shows that were best-known as ‘Broadway at the Embassy.’ Embassy theatre is also used to host concerts, seasonal theater productions, corporate events, and fundraisers.