Fort Wayne, Indiana, is one of those towns that I’ve heard of for years. Known for being the home and corporate headquarters of Vera Bradley (have you seen her latest patterns? They’re so cute!), I have girlfriends that make the trip from my hometown to Fort Wayne just for the amazing deals on VB products.
But what if you’re looking for family-friendly fun in Fort Wayne? Are there attractions, dining, and fab places to lay your head at night? You betcha! My daughter, who I lovingly refer to as “The Kid”, and I recently visited the city in early summer and found out that there is so much more to this amazing city than what you’ve probably heard.
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
There’s nothing overblown or pretentious about the city of Fort Wayne including its Children’s Zoo. It’s a very manageable size and filled with the usual lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!) that most city zoos have. There was a Sky Safari which took us high in the sky ski lift-style and gave us a bird’s eye view of the African Journey exhibit. The ride lasted well over 10 minutes and was a fun way to see the creatures from the balmy continent. I can totally see why thousands of families flock to the zoo every year as you can see all of the animals in a few hours’ time and not get pooped out.
A fun part of our visit was purchasing Zoo Tokens which may be used for rides including the Sky Safari, Endangered Species Carousel and train ride. My 13-year old daughter, an avid foreign coin collector, kept a couple for herself.
Our favorite parts of the visit? Watching the sea lions play with quarters that we set in front of the glass in their exhibit, the Indiana Family farm filled with curious goats that love to be fed, and the gorgeous albino peacocks that we got lucky enough to see with opened plumage. Oh, and I cannot leave out the giraffe feeding opportunity. We purchased a few pieces of lettuce with our Zoo coins. The Kid and I had a blast watching their tongues curl around the snacks.
Fort Wayne Museum of Art
Kids don’t have to know a single thing about art or the artists that created the beautiful masterpieces in the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to enjoy a visit. Our first stop inside the museum was the Early Learning Center filled with vibrant colors and plenty of opportunities to create. My teen daughter loves art and drawing and spent more than a few minutes leaving her mark on the large wall that was made for kids to show off their creative stuff. Touring the exhibits made for a leisurely afternoon and I love the fact that The Kid can learn on vacation.
Note: The museum offers free admission to all military personnel and their families Tuesday-Sunday compliments of the 80/20 Foundation.
There’s plenty of learning opportunities for kids in Fort Wayne and Science Central is on the short list. Three stories of science fun including demonstrations and 130 hands-on exhibits gave my 13 year-old plenty of opportunities to get her science on. She loved walking from exhibit to exhibit, but her favorite was by far the area on magnetism where she could have stayed all day playing with the metal shavings encased in water and watching the pretty patterns they make.
Science Central has an area specifically for younger children aptly titled Kids Central, where little ones from ages 2-7 can play in safety. The exhibits were created specifically for kids that fall in this age range and include a giant piano and Tidal Touch Pool.
I’d love to tell you about how much fun a TinCaps Baseball game is (they’re the hometown Class A Minor League baseball team affiliated with the San Diego Padres) or how much we loved the Botanical Conservatory (both were on our list of to-dos) but The Kid caught a stomach bug while we were in town and we had to take it easy for a couple of days in the hotel room.
Speaking of taking it easy while in Fort Wayne…
Hotel Fort Wayne
If she was going to catch a bug while in Fort Wayne, I’m happy she was able to rest up at our trip’s accommodations: Hotel Fort Wayne. We had a fabulous room in the tower section and a key to the Concierge Lounge- what a lovely addition. I was able to run upstairs to the lounge and grab some ice and Sprite for her to ease her belly and the hosts were more than happy to help me grab and go. On our checkout morning, she was feeling good enough to enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the Concierge Lounge that included breakfast sandwiches, toast, and cereal and she loved every bite. I loved the fresh coffee and tea and the great view of the city.
The beds were super comfy, the indoor and outdoor pool area is perfect for families, and it’s within five miles of the attractions I’ve spoken of and Downtown Fort Wayne. The on-site restaurant, Red River Steakhouse, offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I’ve heard from both visiting guests and locals that the food is really good.
Hotel Fort Wayne has several packages that are perfect for families including a Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo package and a Family Breakfast Package.
Disclosure: I was hosted by Visit fort Wayne to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes the city so amazing for families. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own!
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