Image courtesy of USA Today.
If you ever have the pleasure drive through northeastern Indiana, you’re going to want to stop and visit Fort Wayne. This city has so much to offer visitors just passing through, as well as those looking to make this their road trip vacation destination. As the second most populous city in Indiana, and a multiple All-American City award winner, this former frontier fort is just bursting at the seams with exciting things to do. From museums, parks, dining, and live music, this city has a lot to offer visitors and locals alike!
There is no shortage of history at Fort Wayne, and visitors might not know it but this bustling midwestern town came about due its position at the confluence of three rivers. These same rivers contributed to the growth and prosperity of a city that was once a fort, and has changed it into the vibrant metropolis we see today. Fort Wayne has revitalized itself over the years and is now a fantastic place to explore all the culture and fun you handle!
5705 Bluffton Rd. | Belle Vista | fwhistorycenter.com
Recognized as the oldest Native American structure in the midwest, this Greek revival house was originally home to Jean Baptist de Richardville, who was the son of a French fur trader and a Miami Indian mother. Tours are available of the house and are conducted by the Fort Wayne Historical Society. The society also runs the local museum, which has exhibits that are dedicated to both the Native American past as well as the European settlers who later inhabited the area. In addition, it has some very interesting items in its collections that show how Fort Wayne became one of the emerging epicenters of industrialization. Be sure to tour the grounds and gardens afterwards!
“Great way to experience a piece of Fort Wayne history! Fun, informative and a great place for adults and children.” -Trip Advisor Review
1201 Spy Run Ave. | Park District | oldfortwayne.org
No trip to Fort Wayne would be complete without a visit to the replica of the original fort that marked where present-day Fort Wayne would be. The fort, and the city, are named after U.S. Revolutionary War hero General Anthony Wayne, who was sent in 1793 to subdue the Native Americans and protect American interests in the area.
The Old Fort is a public park and is available to tour anytime, but there are also many events that are worth attending, including historic reenactments of various battles. It’s a great way to learn about how important this region was to the Native Americans, the French, the British, and then the Americans.
“This is a rare gem that is run by the park district of Fort Wayne. It is a great way to educate the kids and spend a few hours on the weekend.” -Yelp Review
Grabill, IN | grabill.net
Just a short 30 minute drive from Fort Wayne is the Amish enclave of Grabill, IN. This lovely little town welcomes visitors to come out and explore their slower pace of life. This is a great day trip, where you can get out and do some shopping and dining! There are plenty of cute stores to visit, such as Sauder & Sons General Store, Grabill Hardware, or Katie’s for some handmade Amish quilts. When it’s time to grab a bite, check out Coffee Cabin Cafe or the Grabill Country Store for some hot and delicious food cooked in the Amish style.
“In seeing the Amish on the outskirts of Fort Wayne, IN...a must stop to see all they have.” -Trip Advisor Review
202 W. Superior St. | Downtown | riverfrontfw.org
Fort Waye is located at the crux of the St. Mary’s, St. Joseph, and Maumee rivers, which not only led to the construction of the original fort, but also helped secure its place as a prosperous stop on the Erie Canal. Today, locals and visitors to Fort Wayne can take advantage of all these beautiful rivers have to offer! Consider visiting Promenade Park, the newest addition to Fort Wayne’s budding riverfront. You can stroll the park, take in the views of downtown, and let the kids play on the playgrounds.
If you want a more interactive view of the rivers, consider taking a kayak or standing paddle board trip with Fort Wayne Outfitters or sign up for one of the popular river boat cruises! You can choose to ride the rivers in an authentic canal boat replica, a pontoon boat, an airboat, or even a party barge!
“What an incredible addition to downtown Fort Wayne! So many spots to sit and enjoy the view and stay awhile. I saw families, couples, bicylists, runners, dogs and more out enjoying the space.” -Yelp Review
1600 S. Wayne St. | Auburn, IN | automobilemuseum.org
While you’re exploring Fort Wayne, it’s worth it to pop in the car and take a short 30 minute road trip to Auburn, IN and visit this museum dedicated to Auburn and Duseunberg automobiles. Even if you’re not super into car history, this museum has three floors of cars that you’ve probably only ever seen in the movies! The craftsmanship is unmistakable, and it’s easy to see why these were the most luxurious cars available for the first part of the 20th century.
In addition to having one of Amelia Earhart’s favorite cars in its collection, you can also view the car of choice of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who was also a huge fan.
“One of the coolest car museums I've seen! They have over 150 cars! They also have Amelia Earhart's car!! This museum scans 3 floors of automobile history, from wagons, to carriages, and onto to the automobile.” -Yelp Review
311 E. Main St. | Downtown | fwmoa.org
Explore Ft. Wayne’s cultural scene at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Arts United.
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art is at the center of the budding Fort Wayne cultural district in the downtown area. It features art in all its forms from the 19th century to present day. Its featured collections include American Brilliant Cut Glass, Indiana Impressionism, and the Prints and Drawings Center. The museum also offers museum classes and workshops for children and adults, and participates in vigorous outreach in local schools.
“It's a small art museum, but the works are well curated and the space is peaceful. We had a great time here.” -Yelp Review
1100 S. Calhoun St. | West Central | botanicalconservatory.org
The Fort Wayne Botanical Gardens are a wonderfully peaceful place, nestled right into the bustling downtown section of the city. It’s always interesting to learn about new species of plants, and the botanical gardens is designed to be walked through for a relaxing afternoon. Visitors can explore the indoor garden, that is housed under an enormous glass enclosure, and then venture outdoors to take in four gardens featuring native Indiana plants that can weather all the seasons. You can even stop in their sales garden for a nice selection of midwest-friendly plants to add to your garden at home!
“What a beautiful place in the middle of downtown Fort Wayne. Botanical gardens are my happy places, and as soon as I stepped into this one, I felt relaxed.” -Yelp Review
1830 S. Calhoun St. | Downtown | fwoysterbar.com
Every visit to Fort Wayne absolutely should include a stop at one of the favorite local hangouts, The Oyster Bar. This historic building has operated as a restaurant of some kind since 1888, and it shows no signs of slowing down! After a day of taking in the sights of Fort Wayne, this cozy place offers some of the best seafood in the city, including raw oysters. If that’s not your thing, they’re also known for having some amazing fish and chips, po’ boys, and even fried to perfection crab cakes. Be sure to also check out their fantastic wine list and seasonal draught beer selection!
“Ft Wayne's oldest fine dining establishment...and there's a reason for its' longevity! Small, intimate, crowded (in a good way!), and welcoming.” -Yelp Review
Biaggi’s should be a stop on your visit to Fort Wayne if you enjoy delicious food served in a relaxed and comfortable environment. All your Italian favorites are served up made to order, using fresh and local ingredients. So whether you’re in the mood for wild mushroom arancini, chicken piccata, or rigatoni Bolognese, the chefs at this spot will be sure to serve it up right. If you’re out and about seeing the sights of Fort Wayne, consider making reservations ahead of time from their website!
“This is my favorite restaurant hands-down. Biaggi's is a large, classy Italian restaurant with so many options. I visit super often with my family--it's good for any occasion. LOVE.” -Yelp Review
135 W. Columbia Street | Downtown | columbiastreetwest.com
No matter if you want to catch some amazing live music, enjoy some appetizers with friends, or want to catch the latest up and coming Fort Wayne comedian, Columbia Street West has got you covered. This neighborhood establishment has been keeping the music and arts scene alive and well in Fort Wayne, all while offering a fantastic kitchen and some of the best bartenders in town. If you’re visiting over the weekend, check out Friday and Saturday nights, where there’s always a band or live music act.
If you just feel like stopping in for a bite, that’s no problem either, as their pizza is well known among the Fort Wayne area. Be sure to check out their game room and try your luck!
“This is apparently the place to be to see music in the downtown Ft. Wayne area. All in all, it was a fun time.” -Yelp Review
Fort Wayne is a fantastic place to visit, and has all the cultural and dining experiences you would expect from a much larger city. In this friendly midwest town, you’re never too far away from history, and that contributes to its welcoming and easy going atmosphere. Where are your favorite places to visit in Fort Wayne? Let us know of Facebook!
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