This summer, Visit Fort Wayne (Indiana) hosted us for a family weekend getaway showing us all the highlights their city has to offer. With it being a 2.5 hour drive from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Fort Wayne could your next affordable family adventure. Here’s a recap of our visit:
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo was incredible! We spent just over 3 hours exploring the 4 regions: African Journey (leopards, giraffes, monkeys), Australian Adventure (reef sharks, kangaroos, stingrays), Indonesian Rain Forest (orangoutangs, tigers, snakes) and the Central Zoo (monkeys, free roaming peacocks, sea loins). The zoo was incredibly well designed and you could easily spend 4 hours meandering the walkways. Parking is easy, there is onsite food (we ate at Ray’s Barefoot Grill - no one went hungry and reasonably priced) and it was incredibly well maintained and clean. This was by far the highlight of our trip!
After lunch at the zoo, we headed downtown for the day (parking in one of the many city lots) stopping first at the Botanical Conservatory. The conservatory is lovely and houses three indoor gardens: the Showcase, the Tropical and the Desert. During our visit (and the biggest reason we visited while in town), the Showcase Garden (which changes seasonally) had the Migrations: Live Butterfly Exhibit. Natalie loves butterflies so this was a must-see for us. Each year we are spoiled by the Fredrick Meijer Gardens’ Butterflies Are Blooming’ exhibit and this exhibit in Fort Wayne was a nice reminder of that. They had a small children’s play area where we were able to enjoy a quick rest off our feet, cool down in the AC and use the restrooms. They kids got a kick out of the interactive play tree and the slide area located between the Tropical and the Desert Gardens. Pro Tip: park in the Civic Center lot on the corner of Jefferson and Calhoun if you’re visiting the Conservatory because they will validate your parking for free with entry.
On our mini tour of downtown we made a few fun stops along the way including grabbing a few sweet treats at DeBrand Fine Chocolates. The kids each picked out one of the many beautiful chocolates that we enjoyed together in their cafe area. They are pricy, but very tasty. A second stop included Fort Wayne’s very own Famous Coney Island. This place reminded us a lot of Yesterdog here in Grand Rapids, serving traditional coney dogs, sodas and fries. We enjoyed some pies and were on our way again.
Another fun aspect of downtown is their display of outdoor artwork. We stopped for a family pic by this one in Midtowne Alley. Being from the city that hosts ArtPrize, we are big fans of outdoor city artwork!
We also visited the Fort Wayne Museum of Art (FWMOA). The museum itself was on the smaller size but had some wonderful exhibits on display. My favorite was The Persistence of Vision by Tim Tate which was a series of mirror and glass pieces. I still don’t quite know how he created them, but perhaps that’s why I liked them so much. The kids enjoyed the children’s center - again it was a great place to take a quick rest, use the restrooms and cool off. They had coloring materials out for the kids and I know they enjoyed taking a break from the site seeing.
For dinner we joined the rest of the families from the blogger media group at the not yet fully opened Riverfront site for BBQ and a sneak peak at the construction currently underway. Riverfront Fort Wayne is an initiative led by the City of Fort Wayne aiming to better utilize their waterfront spaces. We were pretty jealous of this initiative because in our opinion, Grand Rapids has lots of room for improvement in the use of our own Grand River frontage. We were also scheduled to ride the river boat during our the tour but unfortunately, the boat broke down and we weren’t able to go. However, the sheer fact they have river boats to ride was impressive enough to us.
We ‘capped’ off our visit in Fort Wayne with a Tin Caps minor league baseball game at Parkview Field. We loved the fact that their ballpark is central to downtown and that we were able to walk there from dinner at the Riverfront. The stadium was stellar and included a splash pad area for kids as well as an inflatable play station section where our kids enjoyed the bounce house. We munched on popcorn and had we stayed long enough we would have been able to see the Friday night fireworks! But alas, bedtime called.
Fort Wayne is a ‘not too far’ and affordable option for a family weekend getaway in the midwest area. Things we missed included a stop at the Science Central (which was closed due to a water main break - we heard great things coming into the trip) as well as the riverboat ride which, again was broken down during our visit. If you go the Children’s Zoo is a must-see and the baseball game was a great option for an evening activity for all ages. Enjoy your visit!
This post was in collaboration with Visit Fort Wayne. All opinions are our own.