Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Free event lets you be tourist in hometown

Take opportunity to enjoy what city has to offer on Sept. 11

Fort Wayne venues will offer free admission during Be A Tourist In Your Hometown.

Chris Hupe

Whatzup Features Writer

Published September 7, 2022

It’s time to show off the city once again.

The annual Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown highlights some of the best attractions and activities in Fort Wayne and is aimed at raising awareness for residents by allowing rare glimpses into some amazing attractions and, hopefully, piquing interest of some of the things Fort Wayne has to offer.

You’ll get your shot at free tours at 23 spots around downtown from noon-5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11, picking up a “passport” and getting stamps along the way. Begin anywhere you want and see as many or as few attractions as your time and schedule allows, but do yourself a favor and see at least one. Some attractions have special hours, so check them out before you go.

Rich history

Many of Fort Wayne’s fine museums take center stage during the five-hour tour, beginning with The African-American Historical Museum on Douglas Avenue where you can explore exhibits on Africa, African-American inventors, musicians, and local entrepreneurs, as well as pioneers in business, education, social work, and health.

Head to Artlink on Main Street for Over Under, a group exhibition featuring textiles, installations, and projected video, as well as figurative works by Debra Clem, who combines oil painting techniques with modern imaging technology and mixed media. 

After checking out some art, head over to the Diocesan Museum and Cathedral, 1105 S. Calhoun, which houses religious artifacts dating back to the time of Christ and Abraham as well as items from general regional history.

View more than 2,000 artifacts from wars dating back to the Revolutionary War through the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts at the Veterans National Memorial Shrine and Museum on O’Day Road. 

During your visit, you’ll want to view the permanent Vietnam Wall, which is 80 percent the size of the original in Washington, D.C. Take the opportunity to walk the grounds and see a Civil War tribute, Purple Heart, Afghanistan and Vietnam monuments, and a watchtower built in honor of POW/MIAs.

The History Center in the Old City Hall building on East Berry Street is filled with three floors of interactive exhibits showcasing the rich history and unique heritage of our community. Experience the lavishly restored Old City Courtroom, the historic old jail, and galleries of artifacts and engaging displays.

While the Allen County Public Library may not seem like a museum in the traditional sense, be sure to stop by to explore the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research where you can view original photographs, letters, and documents related to our nation’s 16th president. 

To round out the museums, stop by Science Central, geared toward the younger members of the family, offering an interactive experience designed to spark the imagination. 

Architecture

Fort Wayne’s architecture is another major component of Be A Tourist, with the Allen County Courthouse, The Freemasons Hall, Trinity English Lutheran Church, and the Lincoln Tower on display and open to the public.

The Allen County Courthouse and the Freemasons Hall are National Historic Landmarks, with the courthouse showcasing a premier example of Beaux Arts architecture, and The Freemasons Hall, nearing its centennial and designed by renowned Architect Charles Weatherhogg, housing a plethora of Fort Wayne history from some of city’s founding fathers.

At 176 years old, Trinity English Lutheran Church is another great example of Fort Wayne’s rich historical architecture combined with the art of stained glass. Families can stroll through the Cloister Garden and stop by for a free hot dog and enjoy other activities, including a petting zoo and face painting.

And, as we all know, the Lincoln Tower is often looked upon as the most magnificent of all of Fort Wayne’s architecture. For several decades, it was the state’s tallest building. It will be open for the day, but be advised that the rooftop observation deck and basement vault will not be open during this year’s tours.

No shortage of tours

Three of the city’s sports and concert venues, Embassy Theatre, Memorial Coliseum, and Parkview Field, will be offering behind the scenes views. 

Go inside the Komets’ and Mad Ants’ locker rooms at the Coliseum, take a TinCaps “ballpark tour” at Parkview Field, and check out several areas of Embassy Theatre that are not usually open to the public including the iconic stage, dressing rooms, ballroom, rooftop patio, and memorabilia. 

Right next to the Embassy is Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, where you can dive into nature and immerse yourself in the seasonal display of “Paris: City of Light & Love.” If you are there from 12:30-2:30 p.m., enjoy a free concert by Those Two Guys In Suits & Ties.

Yes, this event is only five hours long, but there’s more to see. 

Find out about “Bill Blass: Fort Wayne’s Fashion Designer” at the Barr Street Market, visit the First Presbyterian Theater to see a sneak preview of musical numbers from upcoming productions, and trek out to the Old Fort where you can witness demonstrations of blacksmithing, spinning, gardening, period cooking and baking, and games.

Pencil in two of the newest attractions into your itinerary, The Landing and Promenade Park, where you can enjoy a streetscape tour with historic facts and stories of the entrepreneurs who have breathed life back into area or spend some time relaxing by the river and enjoying the open spaces.

Finally, take a drive out to the Little River Wetlands to enjoy the Monarch Festival, a celebration of the monarch butterflies’ annual migration from Mexico to Canada, which has been called one of the greatest natural phenomena in the insect world. 

Also, celebrate “Creative Women of the World” at Amani Family Services, 125 W. Wayne St., and, of course, don’t forget to sop by the Visitors Center on South Harrison Street to discover what else there is to see and do in the city the rest of the year, as well as get all of your questions about the city answered by one of their experts.

Be A Tourist in Your Own Hometown is undoubtedly a great opportunity to explore the treasures we have right on our doorsteps. It is often easy to take our hometowns for granted when we have a world full of destinations on our bucket list, but there is enough to do in the Summit City to keep just about everyone exploring throughout the year. 

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