There are some road trips that I know what to expect. I know exactly what the city has to offer me and my family and I’m stoked. Then there are cities that I don’t know much about so I’m even more excited – and Fort Wayne, Indiana, was one of them until very recently. I had the pleasure of being chauffeured around the fun city by none other than the folks that know it best (its Visitors Bureau!) and learned that the city is so much more than the spot to score Vera Bradly goodies. Here’s my top ways to have an amazing and memorable family getaway to Fort Wayne, Indiana.
With so many things to do in Fort Wayne, Indiana, narrowing down my top family-friendly choices was a bit difficult. There’s everything from sporting events to educational fun. So which ones were the standouts in my eyes? Here’s eight that topped my list.
Give Me Chocolate or Give Me… Chocolate
It’s one thing to grab a chocolate bar off a store shelf and dive in, but it’s quite another to visit an artisan chocolate brand to sample and enjoy creative flavor combinations. DeBrand Chocolates is the place to visit in Fort Wayne (there’s several locations in the city) and the craftsmanship is just stunning. You can purchase single pieces to sample but my favorite way is to order a few pieces ranging from large truffles to chocolates with a spicy kick.
Johnny Appleseed’s a Baseball Fan?
In Fort Wayne, he sure is! The city’s in-house baseball team, the Tincaps, makes sure that everyone can see a baseball game with its affordable tickets. Not only that, special events, player autograph sessions, and even the cool mascot, Johnny Appleseed, keep the kids entertained in between innings. Ticket prices start at $5.00 and on Mondays there’s select concession goodies for only a buck. A local favorite, the Bad Apple Dancers, grab huge applause for their silly choreography between the 6th and 7th innings.
They Blinded Me with Science!
I’ve always written that the best way for kids to learn is when they don’t realize they’re learning. And, while it makes a perfect place to visit when the weather isn’t cooperating, Science Central is my choice for teaching kids about science fun any day of the week. The former City Light and Power building, the STEM-loving spot is floors of science, tech, engineering, and math fun. The adult benefits? You get to learn right along with the kiddos. Check the schedule before you go as Science Central is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
There’s no denying that the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo caters to families with kids – its name gives it away! But, would I have a ball there even without taking my teen daughter? Absolutely! The zoo is a manageable size so little ones won’t feel overwhelmed, which is a bonus. What I loved most about it? The ski lift. It’s a fun way to catch an aerial glimpse of the zoo and a few of its residents.
Spring is an especially fun time to visit because the city is blooming fun! Okay, I had to use that pun but it’s true. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in the heart of Downtown Fort Wayne is a nice respite. A leisurely spot to visit anytime of year, my fave is in spring for its “Perspective” Butterfly Display. Each day, new butterflies emerge from their cocoons and are carefully placed into a massive exhibit tent to check out up close. The fun is watching the flutter about and trying to snap photos of their colorful wings.
Vera Bradley Everything
There’s no way I could write about Fort Wayne and not include a bit on its celebrity style brand, Vera Bradley. Its patterns are iconic and folks come out in droves for the annual Vera Bradley Outlet Sale. What started out as a tent sale in the front yard has grown to a multi-day event filled with amazing deals on handbags. But, there’s blankets, luggage, and even Christmas ornaments, too. If you really want to score some VB goodies, a VIP pass will get you in before the general admission sale madness goes on.
I had the pleasure of watching from above the fun that goes on when the ropes are dropped and it was a hoot. One word of advice, though: you’ll probably end up bringing more items home than you thought you would – I had no idea the sale was that good!
My teen daughter wants to turn her love of art into a career in a few years. It’s that love of art that makes us happily seek out museums in every city we visit. The Fort Wayne Museum of Art is one of those hidden gems that I could visit over and over again compliments of its featured exhibits. There’s two new ones that are a must see: Sharon: Photographs by Leon Borensztein and Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! The exhibits are on temporary display so make sure you head to the official website for closing dates.
“Sharon” highlights poignant photos that Borensztein has taken of his severely disabled daughter. He paints her in such a light that, not only are they beautiful, they teach the viewer about how to look at art through their eyes. The exhibit was created using low light to keep sensory overload at bay and Braille is used throughout.
Robert Williams: SLANG Aesthetics! is completely the opposite. It’s high-energy, whimsical feel is like stepping into a comic book. I immediately saw the Salvador Dali influence and pop surrealist fun. His pieces are true eye candy.
A Nice Place to Rest Your Head
If you’re looking for lodging options, I was so happy with my stay at Don Hall’s Guesthouse. The hotel is only 10 minutes away from Downtown and has accommodations from King Rooms to Loft Suites. My king bed was super comfy and I loved the space to move around.
Disclosure: A huge thank you to the folks at Visit Fort Wayne for the kind hospitality during my press tour. All opinions are my own!