Fort Wayne City Guide
Built above the confluence of three beautiful rivers, Fort Wayne is a city for pioneering spirits, leaders and bold thinkers; visitors might be surprised to find a food scene as innovative and worldly as any urban megacity, and craft beer operations rivaling any you might find in Minneapolis, Portland or even Europe. Located close to an array of water, The Bradley is the perfect home base to explore miles of scenic trails and verdant acres of parks. Plus, Fort Wayne's unerring love of culture, museums and art mean there are countless ways to fill a day in Summit City. Read on for a few of our favorite spots to eat, drink and play in Fort Wayne.
Eat - For Breakfast
A retro 50s diner serving up nostalgia alongside comfort-food classics, Cindy’s Diner is as much about the experience as it is about the breakfast. You can sit at the shiny red and chrome counter and sip your coffee out of one of the charming hodgepodge collection of mugs, perhaps alongside a donut from the famous Murphy Donut Machine, or sit on the patio for a bit of alfresco dining.
A closely guarded favorite of Fort Wayne locals, Spyro’s Restaurant often has a line on weekend mornings, but don’t be daunted — the huge servings of uniquely indulgent breakfast standards are well worth the wait. The skillets are always a flavorful hit for those who bring their appetites, and kids love the angel food French toast and the hot cakes, laden with tempting fruit toppings and whipped cream.
Stay cozy in the comfort of The Bradley and enjoy a mouthwatering rooftop brunch at Birdie's. From French toast and mimosas to biscuits topped with tomato jam and fried eggs, it's the perfect place to fill stomachs and enjoy city views.
Everything in Between - Lunch & Dinner in Fort Wayne
Located in the historic cluster of buildings where Fort Wayne was first born in the early 19th century, The Landing is an exciting redevelopment project consisting of industrial-chic live-work spaces and 56,000 square feet of boutique shopping and dining — the beating heart of downtown Fort Wayne. Make sure you check out Nawa, a sophisticated Asian-fusion spot serving up inspired cocktails with the freshest ingredients and The Landing Beer Company for local beers and great wings.
For a chi-chi date night downtown, head to Club Soda, a jazz and blues club featuring live music every weekend. The menu is brimming with fantastic steakhouse and surf-and-turf specialties, so go all out, baby!
The sibling of other uber-excellent Fort Wayne spots, Proximo and BakerStreet Steakhouse, Hoppy Gnome is a unique restaurant concept focused on made-from-scratch recipes using seasonal ingredients. You’ll see Thai tom yum soup on the same imaginative menu as Middle Eastern fattoush salad and Mexican chicken pozole stew, and plenty of vegan options alongside steak, seafood and even duck. As you might have guessed by the name, Hoppy Gnome has an extensive tap list of craft brews, as well as a collection of wines and cocktails bold enough to stand up to the striking flavors of their food menu.
DeBrand is famous for making gorgeous, world-class, artisan chocolates that taste as good as they look. There are three DeBrand stores in Fort Wayne, where you can shop for indulgent truffles, luscious-centered chocolates, cookies, hot cocoa and even caramel apples. If you’re looking for a fun (and delicious) activity for the fam, visit the Auburn Road location to take a 30-45 minute tour to watch the expert chocolatiers at work — chocolate samples are included!
Kids of all ages will adore the sweet treats at Sweets So Geek — from frosty and fizzy mugs of Harry Potter’s Butterbeer (adults can mix it with coffee), to Homer Simpson donut-flavored ice cream, to intricately designed medieval Dungeons & Dragons tarts. Fans will certainly geek out over the confectioners’ attention to detail, but anyone will appreciate these phenomenal flavors.
There are a lot of amazing homemade ice cream shops in Fort Wayne, but Just Cream Ice Cream Boutique is our favorite. Serving up all the best standard flavors like Butter Pecan, Cookie Dough and Strawberry, but also charmingly creative ones like Exhausted Parent (bourbon-spiked espresso with bittersweet chocolate) and Munchie Madness (cake batter with caramel ripple and assorted candy pieces), we can’t help but feel like they can read our minds when they are inventing these perfect recipes. For those with dietary restrictions, Just Cream offers plenty of vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, no-sugar-added and all natural options.
A Fort Wayne Coffee Roaster with a global impact, Utopian Coffee invests in small, sustainable farmers around the world to not only bring excellent coffee to customers locally, but to bring a better quality of life to communities that need it. And as good as you’ll feel buying a pound of their sustainably grown beans, you’ll feel even better sipping one of their delicious lattes at their bright and airy café in The Landing, a new mixed-use commercial and residential project backed by 185 years of history.
There are so many amazing craft breweries and pubs in Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas, it’s easy to get so overwhelmed by names and places, you might not even know where to start. Fortunately, you can hike the Northern Indiana Beer Trail, trying out all of the different area breweries and earning stamps along the way! The name is, of course, tongue in cheek, as you are not expected to literally don a heavy pack and walk to all 24 stops along the trail — which reside in seven different counties — but you can hit the trail safely, no physical effort required, on Brewhound Bus Tours. In Fort Wayne, make a point to try Hop River Brewing Company and Junk Ditch Brewing Company.
Three Rivers Distilling Co. is a craft distillery that promises every step of the distilling process is Southern Indiana local, meticulous, organic and non-GMO and done with honor, from growing the grain, to aging in the barrel to bottling. You can enjoy tours and tastings at their distillery by appointment, but we also love delighting in a fancy cocktail on their dog- and family-friendly patio.
The Fort Wayne Arts Campus at Headwaters Park includes the Arts United Center, an eclectic performing arts center, the Auer Center, an interactive space that’s home to the Fort Wayne Ballet and a number of small galleries and studios, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. For those looking for a traditional day-at-the-art-museum experience, FWMoA has a focus on the preservation and presentation of fine and decorative American art from the 19th century to the present, with a vision of inclusivity and diversity. You can view a beautiful and educational range of pieces in a single afternoon, and there are plenty of special hands-on experiences for tiny guests in the Early Learning Center.
If you’re a lover of history, or you’re curious about your family’s roots, whether they lie in the Midwest or not, the ACPL Genealogy Center is a treasured resource in Fort Wayne, as the staff is highly skilled in genealogy and can help visitors in genealogy research methodology no matter where their ancestors are from. If you took a DNA test and you just have to know more, the Genealogy Center should be on your list of must-visit stops in the city.
Built in 1928 in grand Art Deco style, complete with a Grande Page pipe organ, the Embassy Theatre is fully restored in all its majestic grandeur and brings Broadway shows, live concerts and cabarets to Fort Wayne. There’s certainly no more glamorous feeling than getting dressed up for a night at the orchestra, and sitting in those lavish red seats and gazing up at the ornate stage that has been gleaming and gorgeous for a century. It’s an evening out for the ages.
Promenade Park sits in the Riverfront, the lively center of Fort Wayne’s outdoor entertainment and play, and the thriving heart of its spirited community. Promenade Park offers kayak and paddle board rentals, an exciting tree canopy trail for little ones, a range of dining options, live music, games, and a special kids’ canal for safe swimming and a fun playground.
It’s good to be number one — and Fort Wayne was named #1 City in Minor League Sports by the Sports Business Journal. It’s no wonder, with the city being home to three excellent teams: TinCaps Baseball, Komet Hockey, and Mad Ants Basketball. Fans of all ages can enjoy catching a reasonably priced game, stadium snacks and all, and will find they won’t miss the major league crowds or egos — but don’t be surprised if the super-talented players you’re watching wind up in the big leagues soon enough.
Being so close to such a thriving agriculture industry, it’s no wonder Fort Wayne is home to such a remarkable farmers market scene. YLNI (Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana) is an inspiring not-for-profit farmers market run by some of the most talented young professionals in the Fort Wayne Community. And more importantly, the market is gorgeous — located at the historical corner of Barr and Wayne streets, outdoor in the summer and indoor in the colder months, entirely run by the farmers/producers and volunteers who care about the incredible and unique produce, meat, baked goods and handmade crafts they sell.
The Fort Wayne Farmers Market is another incredible, year-round farmers market, located in the historic and charming West Central neighborhood. With everything from farm-fresh produce to prepared meals to artisan goods, this beautifully arranged and curated market is not only a feast for the eyes, it’s a one-stop-shopping spot for everything you could possibly desire. And with plenty of tempting restaurants, cafes and bars nearby, you could easily make an entire day out of an excursion here.
Photos by Visit Fort Wayne