Fort Wayne, Indiana, is always calling my name to come back and there’s good reason why: its outdoor attractions and fun locations. And, while you may not think of it as an outdoorsy city, maybe it’s time you should. From affordable sports to cuddly animals, here are the 7 best outdoor activities in Fort Wayne for everyone.
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at Visit Fort Wayne to give you the scoop on its outdoor activities. All opinions are my own! Lead photo image courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne.
I’ve been lucky to travel to Fort Wayne several times over the past few years. Yes, a couple of those visits have been to check out the Vera Bradley Annual Outlet Sale. But in addition, I’ve been able to check out plenty of outdoorsy places that are fun for couples, families, solo travelers – you name it. Here are my top picks.
1. Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
If you have children, or even if you don’t, getting outside with a visit to Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo is a no-brainer. Both affordable and fun, the top-rated zoo caters to smaller kiddos with lower viewing spots and animal experiences. This year, a huge expansion near the entrance is giving an additional reason to visit. Monkey Island, home to the adorable capuchin monkeys, will be bigger and better than ever with an interactive addition: a small waterfall-style play area for the kids. The otters are also getting a habitat upgrade, too: a large slide will be added to give them a playful enrichment area.
Another cool feature about the zoo is that each dedicated section has a family-style ride. Personally, I love both the Endangered Species Carousel and Sky Safari Ride. Each costs 2 tokens per rider (you can purchase them at token vending machines throughout the zoo) and they really are fun additions to the visit.
Let’s talk animal experiences for a minute. While the giraffe feeding is probably my fave, feeding the goats and pony rides are also available. The giraffes are very friendly and so adorable and on-hand staff are happy to answer questions.
2. Promenade Park
Okay, you’ll have to trust me an have plenty of forward vision when looking at the above photo. This month, I took a hard hat tour of the Promenade Park area that will be THE new place to hang out on beautiful days. Similar to Pittsburgh, PA, Fort Wayne has three rivers, so why not expand the outdoor activities around them, right? Called the “front door” to the rivers, the massive area is scheduled to open on June 21, 2019 (just in time for summer) and has plans of new dining experiences, a park, playground, and even a Tree Canopy Trail.
We’ll also be able to access water trails by both kayak and canoe, enjoy outdoor concerts and entertainment at the Ambassador Enterprises Amphitheater, and check out the bike trails, too.
Want the scoop on what do in Fort Wayne when the kids are out of school? Here are my top picks for the best things to do in Fort Wayne in summer.
Love strolling through gorgeous flower gardens? Then, a visit to Foellinger-Freidmann Botanical Conservatory is a must. Yes, it’s a mostly-indoor space, but you’ll feel like you’re outdoors in its themed rooms. Throughout the year, special events and exhibits (like the popular Live Butterfly Exhibit) give us plenty of reasons to see what’s new.
As for the outdoor part, the Exploration Garden is my pick. Filled with Midwestern shrubs, trees, and other greenery, it’s a quiet area that kids and adults will both enjoy. Garb a bench and take a break or check out the cute goldfish pond.
4. Tin Caps Baseball
Did you know Johnny Appleseed has ties to Fort Wayne? Yep! He’s a beloved regional folk hero and just happens to be the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ mascot. Another family-friendly and affordable activity, promotions include everything from $1 beer nights to fireworks displays to $1 food during games.
What I found super fun is the fact that kids can really get into the fun with between-innings field games and entertainment. It was also very refreshing to learn about the team rapport with its fans. The players are very personable and kind and love signing autographs and grabbing photos.
5. Sculpture with Purpose
Sculpture with Purpose can be treated as a car or walking game. Throughout Downtown Fort Wayne, look for 50 sculptural bike racks. What you’ll find are not only fun art pieces, they’re beneficial to bike riders. My favorites? The Silly Straws and giant apple complete with a worm.
For the entire listing and locations for the fifty pieces, here’s a link to a printable .pdf.
6. Art This Way Alleyway Murals
Keeping with the art in Fort Wayne theme, a fun (and free!) way to check out some of its large pieces is with a stroll through several alleyways. The Art This Way Alleyway Activation Project is taking plain alleyway walls and turning them into beautifully-interesting pieces with the help of local artists.
On my recent trips, we had a chance to check out several of the fascinating, whimsical paintings. What blew me away is the amount of hours spent on the murals. Themes range from inquisitive to affirmative and each can bring about talking points that can bring about fun family conversations. Well, that and cool photographs.
7. Hanson Quarry Observation Deck
If you look up Hanson Quarry online, you’ll soon realize locals and tourists call it a hidden gem. And it’s definitely for good reason. Also dubbed the Indiana’s Grand Canyon, checking it out via the Hanson Observation Deck is worthwhile. You may need to be a bit of a daredevil to do it, tough: on windy days the deck sways!
Did I miss one of the best outdoor activities in Fort Wayne? Please let me know your fave in the comment section below!
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