Fort Wayne is a city that has it all, and it’s just two hours north of Indianapolis. It’s the place to visit where there’s something for everyone to do. From outdoorsy families and sports fans, to animal-obsessed kids and art aficionados, Fort Wayne is the perfect destination for your next family trip. Here are just some ideas of what to do and where to stay in Fort Wayne!
What to Do in Fort Wayne
There is a lot to do in this family-friendly city! One of the must-visits is the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Everything at this zoo — from the rides to the displays — is designed with the littlest visitors in mind. Plant lovers will find the Foellinger-Friemann Botanical Conservatory an oasis in the middle of the city. Science Central is also a must for kids of all ages. You’ll find lots of hands-on exhibits that teach scientific concepts in a fun and interactive way.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! We found even more fun as we explored our way through Fort Wayne.
Challenge Your Family to a Game at Combat Ops
When my Nerf-obsessed boys found out that there’s a place in Fort Wayne where we can have Nerf battles, they were all in! Combat Ops is 33,000+ square feet of entertainment, where families can enjoy mission-based Nerf battles and laser tag in a 10,000-square foot arena. Our family booked a 30-minute Nerf battle, and after we chose our weapons and put on safety glasses, we played games like Capture the Flag and Freeze Tag. The time flew by … not unlike the Nerf darts that whizzed by our heads!
Combat Ops is perfect for older kids and teens, but younger kids will also find lots of fun, too. My 6-year-old was a little too young for the laser tag that his older brother did — those guns can be heavy for pint-sized players! But he had a blast at the miniature golf course, mini bowling (the small bowling balls are easy for little hands to hold), and the laser maze. Combat Ops also has an arcade with a King Kong VR machine, outdoor axe throwing and an on-site eatery. It’s an all-in-one venue with hours of fun for all ages.
Catch a TinCaps Baseball Game
Watching a baseball game is a classic family pastime. The Fort Wayne TinCaps’ baseball season started on May 4, and my family was pumped to catch one of the first games of 2021. The price to attend a TinCaps game makes it affordable for most families: lawn seats are only $6, and stadium seats are $10-$12.
For even more fun, get tickets for one of the TinCaps’ promotional days like Family Feast Night, where concessions are discounted, or fireworks during select nights. You might also spot TinCaps mascot, Johnny TinCap, dancing in the field between innings, or — our favorite — see giant ketchup, mustard and relish packets racing each other during the Condiment Packet Race. You never know what kind of fun is in store at a TinCaps game!
Play in Promenade Park
Promenade Park is a must-see for everyone, but especially families who love the outdoors. The park joins Fort Wayne’s three rivers together with the city’s downtown’s urban center, creating a destination that has fun for everyone.
One way to explore Fort Wayne’s Promenade Park is by watercraft. Fort Wayne Outfitters offers kayak, canoe and stand-up paddleboard rentals, right on the banks of Promenade Park. We took advantage of the great weather and calm waters to explore the city’s water trails by kayak, and it’s a great way to get a unique view of the city (and see beaver dams!).
For kids who like to enjoy water on land, The Doermer Kids Canal splash pad opens for the season on May 29. It’s a shallow splash pad that’s perfect for babies and toddlers, and includes natural features like flat stones that kids can hop on. And of course, the PNC Playground at Promenade Park is a must-visit! The colorful and dynamic playground is designed for children of all ages and abilities, and includes lots of slides, climbing structures, musical instruments and a merry-go-round.
Visit a Local Farmers Market
The farmers market scene in Fort Wayne is top-notch. On Saturday morning, we hit two farmers markets — Fort Wayne Farmers Market and the YLNI Farmers Market — to pick up some local syrup, artisan-made candles, homemade baked goods and local honey. Both of these farmers markets operate outdoors during the summer months, and then move inside for their winter farmers market during the colder months. You’ll find fresh produce, flowers and handmade goods at both. If you’re a foodie family, the YLNI Farmers Market has a food truck area with several local mobile restaurants serving everything from Jamaican soul food to pulled chicken sandwiches.
Appreciate the Fort Wayne Art Scene
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art is a must-see for art lovers. But the whole city of Fort Wayne is a hub of creative expression, in the form of the public art that adorns the buildings downtown. There are murals that span alleyways, and sculptures big and small everywhere you look. The Fort Wayne Visitors Center has an interactive map that you can use to find all of the public artworks.
Where to Stay in Fort Wayne
Fort Wayne has an abundance of accommodations for families. We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites, located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne. This family-friendly hotel is within walking distance to many restaurants, museums and attractions, including Parkview Field (home of the TinCaps baseball team), Foellinger-Friemann Botanical Conservatory and lots more.
Hampton Inn & Suites has free breakfast (my kids loved the cinnamon rolls and make-your-own waffles) and my husband and I loved the rooftop restaurant and bar (Conner’s Rooftop) for guests 21 and older. My husband and I took turns enjoying a drink and watching the TinCaps’ baseball game from the heated outdoor patio. It’s a great place for parents to unwind without the kids!
Another family-friendly hotel option is the Holiday Inn Purdue – Fort Wayne. This hotel has an indoor swimming pool, and kids 11 years and under stay and eat free at the on-site restaurant.
What we’re looking forward to: Slated to open in summer 2021, The Bradley is a new boutique hotel in downtown Fort Wayne that’s the brainchild of Barbara Bradley Baekgaard, the co-founder of Vera Bradley, maker of floral bags and accessories.
There are so many more things to experience with your family in Fort Wayne. Enjoy exploring the second-largest city in the state of Indiana!