Travel Guides USA

A Fort Wayne Guide For The Twenty-Something Local

Ahhhh, Fort Wayne. We hate to brag, but we just have to about some things. It’s rumored that the television was made here, that Johnny Appleseed did his thing here, and that even the first baseball game was played here, which is probably why everyone’s favorite thing to do in Fort Wayne is go to a Tin Caps game. We even won the title of All-American City for three years, putting us in the All-America City Hall of Fame (yes, it really exists).

Life in Fort Wayne is centered around family and sports, as most Midwestern cities are. It’s the perfect mix of a small town and somewhat of a city life, with the country, suburbs, and downtown all within 20 minutes from each other…

And the more I live in New York City, the more I realize how great of a city Fort Wayne actually is and how high the quality of living is there. I grumbled about Fort Wayne as I was growing up here, but doesn’t every teen do that about their hometown? Now, I can’t wait to take my usual 17 hour train ride home to visit for a few days.

If you ever find yourself bored in the crossroads of America, check out these things to do here in our Fort Wayne guide:

Get a Latté at Friendly Fox

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…or Fortezza

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…or Firefly

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Ok I’m not sure why all the cool coffee shops of Fort Wayne start with Fs, but it seems to be a marker of success. Fortezza is my favorite to get blog and video work done; Firefly is my favorite to chat with friends; and Friendly Fox is my favorite if I’m trying to eat and/or play board games at the same time. No matter where you are in Fort Wayne, one of these cafés shouldn’t be more than a 15 minute drive. Drive down Coliseum Boulevard to Firefly Café or down Anthony to Friendly Fox or down Calhoun to Fortezza.

Eat authentic Burmese food at Akaungzarr

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After traveling and experiencing life abroad, all I can say is that Fort Wayne is very, very American. We have a humongous flag swaying in front of our most popular mall, and then another huge one right inside the front entrance. As pro-American as we may seem, Fort Wayne is also known for having the largest Burmese community outside of Burma.

Akaungzarr is family-run and seems to house the tight-knit Burmese-American community. The only reason I can say this is because our waitress sat in the booth next to ours and chatted away with the other families, as I scarfed down my Pad Thai.

Just make sure to say Minglaba as you walk in to show some respect.

Catch a movie at Jefferson Pointe for $5.95

IMG_2263 Let’s talk Fort Wayne malls for a second. We all know by now that despite Glenbrook doing away with it’s Apple Orchard or indoor skating rink, it still remains the mecca of commercial shopping in Fort Wayne and is referred to by locals as “the mall.” And then there’s Jefferson Pointe. I totally understand that it’s hard for most to get out of their car to stroll and shop in middle of an Indiana winter, but c’mon people, compared to Glenbrook, this place actually has architecture. It’s the closest thing in the Midwest if you’ve ever wanted to go walking in a quaint, Italian village…and not pay the $2000 round trip ticket.

Even my out-of-towner friends referred to it not as “Jefferson Pointe,” but “Disney Village.”

So anyways,

Typically I’m not a movie person, but when I saw that I could see any new release between the hours of 4-5pm for $5.95, compared to $14 in New York City, I made myself go. That, on top of the fact that once inside, I got different-flavored popcorn for free and I was convinced that I had to return twice in my one week stay.

Work out at Foster Park’s outdoor workout course

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Of course we have the ever-so-popular Rivergreenway, but did anyone ever tell you this outdoor workout course exists? Maybe it’s just my lack of green living in New York City that causes my over sensitivity to Fort Wayne parks, or maybe there really is something awesome about Foster Park. This last time I was home, I came here just to go walk.

Someone even said good morning to me.

Eat at the classics like Coney Island IMG_0727

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Yes I’m an eight-year vegetarian and yes the only thing I can eat here is a cup of coffee, but for the sake of keep local small businesses open, I thought I’d include Coney Island.

Nearly every time you come to this classic Fort Wayne joint that’s been in business for over 100 years, the place is packed…which is either a great sign or just super annoying. Hamburgers are only $2.25, which is basically the same price as McDonalds and instead of writing “Soda” on the menu, they even write “Pop,” which nobody really cares about or probably even notices, but personally I think it represents a piece of the culture of the Midwest.

Buy some Amish Bread

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It was an ethic battle as I tried snapping photos of my adventures in Amish country, trying to respect their community as much as possible, but how else can I effectively write this blog without including a trip to their markets and bakeries.

I can’t really tell you exactly where we went, because I swear my family took about every country road to get us there, but if you stop anyone near the super tiny town of Grabill, they’ll know.

May my (possibly unethical) undercover photo taking result in some new business their way.

Look up your family tree or your old yearbooks at the Main Library’s Genealogy DepartmentIMG_0689 IMG_0703 IMG_0691

if you find yourself downtown and bored, stop in the Allen County Public Library and see where you actually came from. Like really, really came from. After all, you can only be “American” so far back. If genealogy records seriously aren’t your thing, then pop into their yearbook section and check out those hideous photos from your high school or middle school years. I was even able to look up my grandma’s senior high school photo from the 50s.

Where do you spend your time in Fort Wayne?

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  • Derek Desjardins

    Damon, I really appreciate this blog! I had no idea about the All-American City Award…. Makes us sound pretty important 🙂 But it is rather tiring to hear people complain, so thanks for this! Best wishes for 2015.

    • Yes! Fort Wayne is kEWl and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t! It’s an awesome place to live!

  • Pingback: Locals of Fort Wayne: Ben Linehan - Shut Up and Go()

  • Oh god, thank you so much for this! I recently moved to Indy and decided to take a weekend trip out to Fort Wayne but was stumped at what to do that wasn’t just put together by a mom blog or the tourism board. Thanks!

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