As much of the United States begins to open up after nationwide shutdowns in response to COVID-19, many of us, myself included, are beginning to research and plan for summer and fall travel. Perhaps more important than deciding where to go, is deciding how you can do so safely. This summer I think we'll see a lot more people choosing to travel locally and opting to pack up the car and hit the road as opposed to booking a flight. With that in mind, I started to make a list of Midwest destinations I wanted to explore, and Fort Wayne - Indiana's second largest city - was top on my list. Located just a short drive from most major cities, it makes the perfect weekend getaway with many outdoor attractions and activities which allow you to enjoy the summer sun while maintaining your distance from others. Keep reading to discover how we spent a weekend in the city!
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Visit Fort Wayne. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Explore the Riverfront
Fort Wayne was founded on the water with three rivers - the Maumee, St. Joseph, and St. Marys - connecting the city and bringing people together along the water front. Shortly after we arrived and checked in at the Holiday Inn Purdue Fort Wayne, we headed downtown to check out Promenade Park which recently opened in summer 2019 and is truly one of a kind. Here you'll find fun for the whole family including a playground and kids canal which is perfect for splashing in on a hot summer day. Walk across the Wells Street Bridge (great photo op!) to rent kayaks from Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot and hit the water. We chose to paddle the urban side of the St. Marys river which led to great views of the city, historic Fort Wayne, and the Martin Luther King Bridge. After returning our kayaks, we took a stroll along the 560 foot treetop canopy with great views of the river and the city skyline. In need of a place to cool off, our next stop was Trubble Riverside Tap and Cafe which is located within Promenade Park and offers craft beer (highly recommend the triple berry cider) and snacks which can be enjoyed at the outdoor tables within the park.
Visit the Farmer's Market
Farmer's markets are a summer tradition and a great way to discover local produce and goods. The Barr Street Market - YLNI Farmer's Market is located downtown and happens every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., May through September. The open air market offers local produce, fresh flowers, baked goods, and so much more. Some of my favorite finds were the homemade strawberry lemonade popsicles, handcrafted earrings from Hook and Leather, and a hand drawn Indiana postcard from Fawnly. There were also several food trucks parked at the end of the market if you're visiting around lunch time or in need of a quick snack. Click here to discover more of the city's markets.
Hunt for Murals
If you've been following along for a while now, you know how much I love to discover new murals on my travels. I have to say, Fort Wayne has one of the best public art scenes I've found. There were murals that spanned entire alleys and others covering the side of buildings and bursting with bright colors. Many are located within walking distance of one another which makes it easy to check several off your list in a short amount of time. A few of my favorites were:
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
You can't visit Fort Wayne without trying the locally made DeBrand Fine Chocolates. Trust me, you won't be disappointed! The chocolate company has four locations throughout the city. If you're visiting some of the murals I mentioned above, their Harrison Street location is located directly across the street from the flower mural. This location is home to a gelato bar and serves up their famous chocolate sundae - which I'm convinced I'll be drooling over for months to come. You can also choose from a variety of fine chocolates and truffles. My top picks are the key lime and pecan truffle, the raspberry cream and gourmet pbj from the classics collection, and the caramel pecan patties. If you're interested in a behind the scenes look at how the chocolate is made, visit their Auburn Road location to take a 30-45 minute tour for just $5 a person.
Sip Local Beer and Wine
We love trying new brews and wines any time we travel to a new destination. Our first stop for dinner and drinks on our trip was to Ted's Beerhall. While they don't brew their own beer, they have a wide variety of local and regional beers on tap. Next door you'll also find Ted's Wine Hall along with a large patio with outdoor seating and live music. Be sure to try Ted's Nachos featuring their famous house chips with an assortment of delicious toppings.
Another stop which was top on our list is one of Fort Wayne's newest breweries - 2Toms Brewing Company - which features a number of speciality beers and sours with unique flavors. My personal favorite was the key lime sour which is actually green! They also have out of this world bbq plates. Click here to discover the entire Northern Indiana Beer Trail.
Don't miss the chance to give the local winery scene some love as well. Country Heritage Winery is located in nearby LaOtto and home to an expansive lawn with plenty of outdoor seating, an amphitheater for live music, and their insta-worthy blueberry sangria wine slushies. They also had a food truck on site while we were there if you come hungry.
Overall, we were very impressed with all the restaurants we visited during our stay. They all had plenty of outdoor seating and proper spacing of tables indoors. Parties were limited to 6 people or less and all menus were disposable. However, if you're still not comfortable dining on site, many restaurants are offering curbside pickup and takeout options. We ordered takeout from Asakusa Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar on Saturday night and took it took it to a local park for a picnic dinner. Some great picnic recommendations are Promenade Park, Freimann Square, and Headwaters Park.
Hit the Links
My husband and I are both golf fans (him more than me) so we are always looking for a chance to visit a new course on our trips. This is also a great way to spend time outdoors. Many of the courses have implemented "no touch play" meaning you don't have to touch the flag sticks, rakes, etc. making it a very safe way to have fun. We played a round Foster Park Golf Course which was a great intermediate course and perfect for my skill level. It's also located next door to the beautiful Foster Park which offers various running/walking paths if you're looking for another way to get active. Click here to discover all of Fort Wayne's courses for all skill levels and interests.
Stroll through the Botanical Conservatory
You'll never guess you're in the heart of downtown when you step foot into the lush, green oasis at the Foellinger Freimann Botanical Conservatory. Here you'll stroll through a rotating exhibit garden and a tropical jungle featuring orchids, palms and a cascading waterfall before traveling through the Sonoran desert and enjoying the peaceful outdoor gardens and water features. With admission just $5 for adults and $3 for children, this is a fun and affordable adventure for the whole family.
Visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Looking to get your creative juices flowing? Head to the Arts Campus and follow the colorful road to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. The museum features permanent collections and national traveling exhibitions. You can also head across the street to the Auer Center for Arts and Culture which is home to many nonprofits including Artlink which exhibits a variety of emerging artists throughout the year.
Still in search of more fun activities and adventure? Head to Visit Fort Wayne for more great trip ideas.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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