Venture off the beaten path for a family-friendly retreat to Fort Wayne, Indiana. With a variety of fun things to do with kids, Fort Wayne should be on every Indiana bucket list.
Downtown Fort Wayne is a thriving entertainment hotspot with museums, botanical gardens, and a growing food scene. Zip across town to explore their famous children’s zoo or venture into the intriguing science center.
However your family enjoys spending time, Fort Wayne has it! This post is in partnership with Visit Fort Wayne. As always opinions are my own. This site contains affiliate links.
Where Is Fort Wayne, Indiana
Fort Wayne, Indiana is located in the northeastern portion of Indiana in Allen County. Fort Wayne is conveniently 18 miles west of the Ohio border and 50 miles south of the Michigan border.
- Cincinnati, Ohio – 180 miles – 3 hours and 5 minutes
- Indianapolis, Indiana – 126 miles- 2 hours
- Columbus, Ohio -158- 2 hours and 48 minutes
Fun Things To Do With Kids In Fort Wayne
Repurposed buildings are always a favorite of mine, especially when they are transformed into a state-of-the-art children’s museum. Science Central made its home in the city’s first City Power and Light utility building that dates back to 1908.
The brightly-colored piping and machines left behind, serve as a reminder of the building’s fascinating history. Hands-on learning is the focus as kids learn about everything from filling a hot air balloon to stepping into space.
Little ones will love Kids Central which is focused on kids ages 2-7. Inside you will find a play area, a nursing room, a water table, and more.
I was impressed with all they had to offer for toddlers. My daughter even enjoyed venturing out into the older kid area to test out the magnets, try her hand at the pulleys, and even discovered what an echo was. It is difficult to leave here without taking home a new fascinating fact.
Tip: If you currently have a membership to a Science Museum check to see if they offer a discount or even free admission.
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Nothing says family fun like a trip to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. One day is not nearly enough to explore all the great exhibits and experiences that are offered.
Each exhibit has hands-on learning experiences and interactive displays to engage all ages! A favorite of ours was the Indonesian Rainforest which gives guests the impression they are actually going through a rainforest.
With rope bridges, tropical birds, and towering trees it took me a few minutes to realize we were actually in a conservatory!
The Australian Adventure is another spot not to miss as guests get the opportunity to walk with the resident kangaroos. However, those brave enough can enjoy a leisurely float down Crocodile Creek.
After that, venture over to the stingray exhibit where the stingrays offered up tons of laughs and shrieks as young and old tried to touch the fins of these gentle sea creatures.
After visiting it is easy to see why the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo has been named one of the “Top Ten Zoos For Kids!” Plenty of play areas, prime animal viewing, and an assortment of rides can keep the entire family entertained for hours.
Tip: Rides and animal encounters are paid in tokens which can be purchased at token stations throughout the zoo. Keep in mind that the zoo closes during cold weather months.
The Botanical Conservatory may have been one of our favorite places in all of Fort Wayne. The interactive displays for children were incredible.
How kid-friendly they made their gardens is quite impressive and I only wish more botanical gardens would follow suit. Before we stepped foot into the first garden we were greeted by a lovely nature-themed kid’s area.
A reading nook, playhouse, and plenty of stimulating activities would have been enough for our entire visit. After much coaxing and sugar-filled promises, we managed to make our way through the conservatory.
Throughout the conservatory, there are interactive displays, a scavenger hunt, and special exhibits designed to keep children stimulated and interested.
Between the gardens, a hallway was designed to appear as if you were underground. The bottoms of vegetables spanned the ceiling while children could climb in a tunnel to experience what an earthworm might feel like.
It ended in a wonderful slide that we had to do again and again. The gardens themselves are stunning and worth visiting with or without children
Tip: The Botanical Conservatory is open later on Thursdays. Check their website for hours.
Catch A Ball Game
A classic family favorite in Fort Wayne is catching a TinCaps baseball game. Tickets are affordable and everyone enjoys rooting for their Minor League home team. The downtown ballpark is very central to many great restaurants, hotels, and attractions.
Be sure to catch a photo with their mascot, Johnny TinCap, based on Johnny Appleseed.
Fun fact: John Chapman aka Johnny Appleseed, is buried in Fort Wayne. There is an annual festival every September commemorating him.
Enjoy The Arts
Whether it is spending an afternoon visiting the Fort Wayne Museum of Art or hunting down all 50 unique pieces of public art, the art scene in Fort Wayne is a lively one.
We had the opportunity to visit during the Taste of The Arts Festival which was quite a treat. Art activities and performances fill the itinerary, local musicians provide the tunes and mouth-water food is around every corner.
Take time to visit the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. It is home to great exhibits and even a children’s area for little artists to express their creativity. The glass collections are impressive and likely the main reason behind my tip below.
Tip: Backpacks and diaper bags are not permitted in the museum and required to be in a locker. Lockers with a key are free and available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
One of the newest parks to hit Fort Wayne is the scenic Promenade Park. Situated where the three rivers of Fort Wayne meet, this park offers a Treetop Canopy Trail, a great playground, riverboat cruises, a kid’s canal, and more await!
Our daughter loved the PNC Playground. This fully-accessible playground was a popular spot and it is easy to see why. The sounds of the park instruments echoed while kids of all sizes climbed till their little hearts were content.
There seem to always be events happening at the park so check the calendar to see what fun is in store during your visit.
Best Places To Eat In Fort Wayne
The Hoppy Gnome
If you enjoy delicious gourmet tacos with local beer then this is the place for you. The kitchen is serving scratch-made tacos made from duck confit and everything in between.
They are incredibly kid-friendly with a special “goldfish” taco being served to help keep little tummies at ease until the main event arrives. They have a special Lil” Gnomies menu that has a nice variety to help please those picky gnomes.
For the big gnomes visiting be sure to sample a few of their beers and rumor has it they have an amazing brunch!
Head to Proximo for the deep traditional flavors of Cuba, Columbia, and Spain. This Latin-inspired restaurant serves up craft cocktails and one of the best paella’s I had the pleasure of eating. Proximo is a shade more upscale than most traditional family-friendly places, however, they offer a great kids meal, high chairs, and outdoor seating. I will easily make the drive back to Fort Wayne for this restaurant alone.
Paula’s On Main
If you are in the mood for seafood head on over to Paula’s On Main. Make a reservation to ensure that a table is waiting for you. When greeted by a fish market upon arrival you know this is going to be a great place to eat. The seafood is fresh, tasty, and worth a return visit.
Where To Stay In Fort Wayne
There are plenty of great family-friendly hotels to stay at while visiting Fort Wayne, Indiana. I recommend staying in the downtown area to be within walking distance to practically everything.
A wonderful central location in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne is the Hampton Inn. This hotel is conveniently located right next to the TinCaps stadium. We could actually see the TinCaps ballfield from our hotel room!
The hotel is so central that you can walk to the convention center, the botanical conservatory, and the theater! The hotel is brand new, has a great rooftop bar and Burger Bar restaurant located inside it. The rooms are modern, the staff is excellent and the complimentary morning breakfast was a fan favorite. However, keep in mind that there is not a swimming pool here and parking is an extra charge per day.
In conclusion, we hope that we have convinced you that a visit to Fort Wayne, Indiana needs to be in your family’s future travel plans. To get a full list of all the great family fun activities and events happening in Fort Wayne head over to their website to start planning your trip today!
If you are looking for more great spots to visit near Fort Wayne read about our Northern Indiana Road Trip.