13 Top-Rated Things to Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana
Author Brad Lane enjoyed a reporting trip to Fort Wayne and looks forward to attending the Three Rivers Festival in the future.
Fort Wayne is the second-largest city in Indiana, casting a wide cultural net with many tourist attractions and fun things to do. From the charming downtown district to the scenic outdoors awaiting on the city's edge, visitors to Fort Wayne have plenty of sightseeing opportunities throughout town.
The real heartbeat of culture in the city is brought to life by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne. This organization helps oversee the Cultural District of Fort Wayne, including the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Arts United Center, and the History Center. Arts United also hosts many festivals in Fort Wayne each year, including the iconic Three Rivers Festival in July.
With other important and attention-grabbing places to visit dotting the city, including botanical gardens, baseball parks, and children's zoos, it's easy to see why Fort Wayne is also growing as a great place to live. For more ideas on fun places to visit on this leg of your Indiana getaway, see our list of the best things to do in Fort Wayne.
1. Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
A few miles north of downtown, the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo is one of the area's most popular family-friendly places to visit. Serving the community for more than 50 years, the Children's Zoo has expanded to receive many accolades and more than a half million visitors each year.
Specialty-themed areas and attractions at the zoo include an African Journey Safari Trail, an Australian Adventure River Ride, and an immersive Indonesian Rainforest. Some of the resident animals include orangutans, lions, kangaroos, Komodo dragons, zebra sharks, and Tasmanian devils.
Kids and adults can interact with animals through giraffe feedings and other scheduled "Wild Encounters." Other events and special programs offered by the Children's Zoo include Family Wild Nights, Kids Nature Camps, and adult-only galas and fundraisers.
Address: 3411 Sherman Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Indiana
2. Parkview Field
Parkview Field is home to the Fort Wayne TinCaps Minor League Baseball team, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres. The field was constructed just before the 2009 season and has been a vital component of downtown ever since.
Noted as one of the best minor league baseball experiences in the country, it's a real summer treat to enjoy a game under the lights at Parkview Field. The regular season typically spans from April through September, with home and away games. Extra special game attractions include post-play fireworks and between-innings crowd interactions.
Parkview Field remains equally as busy outside of baseball games. Its extensive event calendar also includes concerts, fitness festivals, and more than 400 non-baseball events throughout the year. And, weather permitting, the concourse of the baseball stadium is open daily to the public for anyone wanting to stretch their legs on the track.
Address: 1301 Ewing Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
3. Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory
On the south side of downtown, near Parkview Field and the Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum, the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is a year-round tropical attraction. This conservatory delivers three distinct garden areas and is a great place for kids, families, and anyone interested in botanical beauty,
Cacti sprout in the arid environment of the Desert Garden, and the foliage of the Tropical Garden nearly overflows on the walkway adjacent to koi ponds and a waterfall. The seasonal Showcase Garden rotates exhibits throughout the year, including an immersive Butterfly Garden in the spring.
Several classes and programs are offered at this botanical center, including plant swaps, artists' receptions, and grow-your-own activities. The Conservatory also hosts a low-cost $1 Night on the first Thursday of every month.
Address: 1100 South Calhoun Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
4. Headwaters Park
Headwaters Park is a popular natural space often filled with community activity at the confluence of three major rivers a mile north of downtown. In addition to the year-round schedule of concerts and festivals, including the keystone Three Rivers Festival, the 30-acre park is also a popular place to simply enjoy the nice weather and river surroundings.
On-site, the Hamilton Sculpture Garden provides a landscaped space to appreciate. The large open-air pavilion at Headwaters Park can also be rented for private events. Expect crowds of locals and visitors across this sprawling green space throughout the warmer months of the year.
Throughout the colder months of the year, the popular Headwaters Ice Skating Rink is a fun place to enjoy the winter chill. This lighted skate rink operates in the evenings typically from December through February and includes open skating times seven days a week.
Address: 333 South Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
5. Lakeside Park and Rose Garden
Lakeside Park is a popular place to visit just east of town on the shores of a small lagoon. The park encompasses over 25 acres and is popular for several park activities, such as picnics and lounging outside. It's also home to basketball courts, tennis courts, picnic pavilions, and playground equipment.
However, one of the main tourist attractions at Lakeside Park is the astonishing sunken rose garden. This designated All-American Rose Display has over 1,500 varieties sticking out of the ground, typically in full bloom by June and lasting through the summer into fall.
The grounds of the sunken garden are beautiful, too. Landscaped rows of roses stand out in their sunken gardens against white gazebos and a reflecting pool. And despite the crowds that tend to gather on sunny summer weekends, it's hard not to feel the tranquil spirit.
Address: 1401 Lake Ave, Fort Wayne, Indiana
6. Science Central
Science Central is a hands-on science museum housed in a retired 1908 coal-burning power plant. It caters to kids and interested members of the community, and from the outside, the building still has the appearance of the power plant it was originally designed as, save for the colorful smokestacks and faux dinosaur skeleton near the front door.
Inside the now historic City Light & Power building, more than 35,000 square feet of space help introduce concepts of science to young children. One of the most exciting permanent exhibits at Science Central is the High Rail Bike, which safely teaches kids about gravity.
Science Central facilitates several learning activities and events throughout the year. A few of the programs offered at Science Central include STEM Camps, Coding Clubs, and an Afternoon Science Series.
Science Central is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and open both days of the weekend.
Address: 1950 North Clinton Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
7. Three Rivers Festival
Fort Wayne is also referred to as the City of Festivals, much in thanks to its busy event calendar throughout the year. From food festivals like the St. Joe Pickle Festival to cultural celebrations like Taste of the Arts and Fort Wayne Pride, there's something to enjoy nearly every weekend of the year in Fort Wayne.
Music plays a critical part in every Fort Wayne festival. Certain celebrations like Buskerfest and Middle Waves Music Festival cater specifically to it. Perhaps the biggest of all festivals to hit Fort Wayne, however, is the Three Rivers Festival in July.
With more than 80 scheduled events, the entire Three Rivers Festival takes place at the expansive Headwaters Park. Celebrations at the festival range from music concerts, massive parades, and fireworks, to other fun things like pie-eating contests.
As the annual summer celebration of Fort Wayne for nearly 50 years, Three Rivers Festival is a longstanding tradition for residents and tourists from across the country. Expect hotel rooms to be booked solid during the event, typically occurring near the beginning of July.
8. Fort Wayne Museum of Art
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMoA) is a cornerstone of Fort Wayne's Cultural District, and one of many institutions operated by Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne.
The museum highlights a wide range of mediums in American art, including a collection of more than 7,000 paintings, sculptures, and delicate glass. Through its exhibits, FWMoA highlights Indiana Impressionists, world-famous painters, and artisan glass cutters.
FWMoA hosts a wide variety of programs, events, and classes throughout the year. Some of the events include art classes, internships, and a family-friendly Día De Los Muertos celebration every October.
The museum also hosts a popular Chalk Walk in conjunction with the Three Rivers Festival every July, which transforms Main Street into a bustling art corridor and is enjoyed by thousands of people each year.
Address: 311 East Main Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
9. History Center
The History Center provides a dense collection of regional artifacts and insights as part of the Arts United cultural campus. It's home to the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society and features a collection containing more than 26,000 artifacts, including the 1893 City Hall building in which it resides.
Detailed exhibits at the museum tell a regional story spanning from native cultures to 20th-century technological innovations. A few of the permanent exhibits include a detailed representation of Miami Indian history in the area, as well as a recreation of a blacksmith shop and foundry. Further exhibits illuminate the more recent innovations to come out of the region, including music equipment and motorcycles.
Five miles south of downtown, the History Center also oversees the tours and events that take place at the Chief Richardville House. This 19th-century residence is the well-preserved mansion of one of Fort Wayne's most influential historical figures. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of this National Historic Landmark with a small price of admission.
Address: 302 East Berry Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
10. Arts United Center
The Arts United Center was created by world-famous architect Louis Kahn in 1973 and is a crown jewel of the downtown Cultural District. As his last completed theater before his death, Kahn's influential designs are apparent throughout every sunlit corner and brick arch of this performance art and civic theater.
This brilliant auditorium is home to the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre, the Fort Wayne Ballet, the Fort Wayne Dance Collective, and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. The main stage is surrounded by concrete to create a dramatic and isolating acoustic effect. And, several of these performances take place at night, offering excellent evening entertainment.
Backstage tours are available upon request and shed a light on the architecture and design of the theater.
Address: 303 East Main Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana
11. Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum
The Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum can be found downtown near Parkview Field and the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, housed in historic Old Station #3.
Immediately upon entering this two-story museum, visitors encounter firefighting relics from a different generation. This includes antique red fire wagons and retired operating systems.
More artifacts are admired on the second story of the museum, and visitors can look into the lives and living quarters of modern firefighters. Every relic and artifact at the museum is accompanied by a wealth of information about that certain era of firefighting, providing great insight into one of the bravest professions on the street.
Address: 226 West Washington Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Indiana
12. Historic Old Fort
This detailed "Old Fort" is a reconstruction of the original 1815 Fort Wayne, providing a fun place to visit and learn about the history of the area. It's across St. Marys River from Headwaters Park, only a quarter mile from its original site. As a public space, anyone is encouraged to explore the grounds on their own.
To see the interior of the fort, and to participate in some of the live-action history that it sponsors, the non-profit Historic Fort Wayne hosts numerous special events throughout the year. Much of those events, like the annual Siege of Ft. Wayne reenactment, include costumed characters and guided tours.
Address: Rivergreenway, Fort Wayne, Indiana
13. Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve
Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve is a 756-acre restored mix-wetland environment on the southwest edge of the city. It's a great place to visit to spot wildlife in a natural habitat, and the preserve maintains more than 10 miles of hiking trails to explore the different wetlands, meadows, prairies, and forests that comprise the area.
The preserve is owned and operated by the Little River Wetlands Project, which also oversees other similar preserves surrounding the city. The organization hosts several programs and ways to explore its properties, including organized runs, public hikes, and naturalist-led explorations.
Farther southwest, the Arrowhead Preserve and Arrowhead Prairie are also operated by the Little River Wetlands Project.
Address: 6801 Engle Road, Fort Wayne, Indiana