Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a town that offers outdoor adventures that often go overlooked in the heart of America. Each time I visit this charming town that sits in Northeast Indiana, I find myself planning a return visit.
1. Kayak The Maumee River
Rent a kayak at Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot for an enjoyable time out on the river. You can book your kayak through the website and fill out all waivers online as well. I have always stumbled around when it comes time to hop into a kayak. The folks here in Fort Wayne have figured all of this out. They have a kayak ramp that you push and pull yourself up and out of while on your kayak. This was the slickest way to hop into a kayak. If you have dreaded renting a kayak because of the difficulty of getting into it, this outfitter will help you out.
I enjoyed floating down the river wrapped around a forest of trees. You can rent a kayak for a couple of hours, half a day, and even a full day. There are no restrooms on-site, so plan accordingly. I would also recommend wearing water shoes and bringing a waterproof holder for your smartphone.
2. Bike The Rivergreenway Trail
The Rivergreenway Trail is a 25-mile trail that runs between Fort Wayne and New Haven, Indiana. It runs along the banks of the St. Marys, St. Joseph, and Maumee Rivers. You will find benches along the trail within the city limits of Fort Wayne. The trail is growing with bicyclists, which indicates the growth of Fort Wayne in the past few years. This vibrant city is connected through this trail. It connects history, neighborhoods, waterways, and city parks. You can bike part or all of this trail for an experience with nature. Sections of the trail are narrow, so pay attention to oncoming bicyclists. If you need to rent a bike, the Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot can help you out with that as well. Parking for the Rivergreenway is easy to find, as there are several trails along the route that offer free parking.
3. Hang Out At Promenade Park
Promenade Park is referred to as the front door to the rivers in Fort Wayne, which include the Maumee, St. Joseph, and St. Marys Rivers. Everyone can enjoy the festivities and nature experiences in Promenade Park. The trails are level and handicap accessible. Water fountains are popular with kids as well as adults. The Parkview Tree Canopy Trail sits on the north bank of the river and offers a handicap accessible playground. Wells Street Bridge connects the north and south river banks. The bridge ties the old with the new in this area of Fort Wayne. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it on the lawn of the south riverbank. Who doesn't love a picnic with a river view?
4. Explore The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo
The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo has been around since 1965 and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. With 40 acres in Fort Wayne's Franke Park, it's small yet it plays big in the world of zoos. The outdoor experiences are numerous in this zoo. Monkey Island will greet you upon entry and will bring a smile to your face. I particularly enjoyed the Outback Adventure. It was fun to walk near the kangaroos and watch them interact with each other. You will also want to stop to watch the black-footed penguins, as they keep everyone entertained while sliding and dancing around. I would encourage anyone to visit this zoo, as it is both child- and adult-friendly.
5. Hike Eagle Marsh
Hike the trails out at Eagle Marsh, which is located at 5000 Smith Road. This marsh area is a bird enthusiast's paradise, as there are more than 245 species of birds in this area. Bald eagles frequent the area along with owls, loons, and swans. Rabbits, turtles, muskrats, and snakes can be seen along the trails. Your adventure in nature at Eagle Marsh will be a memorable one when you allow yourself to be immersed in your surroundings. With an elevation gain of 45 feet, this is an easy hike. Informational signs are posted throughout the park and are worth taking the time to read. Wear a good pair of hiking shoes and bring your binoculars on your hike. Dog lovers will want to leave their dogs home, as they are not allowed in the preserves.
6. Play Disc Golf
There are several disc golf courses in Fort Wayne. One of the most popular courses is at West Swinney Park. The natural surroundings make this a fun course for all levels of expertise. You can play at a fast pace or a slower pace. The choice is yours. If you want to play a part of the course, it's okay to do that. This course is rated well for beginners, which makes it a favorite for many. If you are a novice disc golf player, this is a good one to get a feel for the game. Pack for a game of disc golf, and you will be ready to play any of the courses while spending time in Fort Wayne.
7. Search Out Public Art
Public art is at the top of the list of things to see in Fort Wayne. With several murals and public art sculptures, you will be inspired by art in Fort Wayne. I hopped in my car and turned this search into a Mini Fort Wayne road trip. Here is a map (opens as a PDF) of where you can find all of the art. The alleys, walls, and streets are all decked out with artistic inspiration. A favorite of mine is the bison, which is located near the Riverfront and Promenade Park. When driving around Fort Wayne, you will find that art is easy to find. With a map in tow, you will be sure not to miss anything. Look closely. You will also see bike racks that feature a unique piece of art. You can easily spend half of your day exploring art in Fort Wayne.
8. Take A Walking Tour Of Fort Wayne
The Fort Wayne walking tour starts at the Visitors Center and ends where you begin. Highlights of this walking tour include Promenade Park, Embassy Theatre, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. All of these attractions have outdoor landscaping that is top-notch. This walking tour is an excellent way to get a feel of the city's layout and insight into what you would like to explore further. The fountains, art, and community pride showcased throughout this walk will inspire you to plan your next day in Fort Wayne. Allow yourself two hours to complete this walking tour. Pack your map (opens as a PDF) and comfortable walking shoes, and dress in layers.
9. Explore The Old Fort
The Old Fort is a recreation of a fort that stood in 1815. The fort is located on public park grounds, and you can meander anytime at your leisure. You could incorporate this stop into your walking tour of Fort Wayne as well. The buildings are open for tours on special occasions, but you can see them from the outside while on your walking tour. The Old Fort sits in an area close to Promenade Park and other attractions in Fort Wayne.
These outdoor activities are top-notch and offer something different while you find yourself exploring Fort Wayne. The city of Fort Wayne is home to more than 250,000 people, and it is easy to find your quiet place of paradise in the great outdoors. While kayaking, I came upon two other kayakers, which made for an epic kayaking experience in Fort Wayne. It was easy to take photos of the murals, as these works of art all seemed to have their own home in the city. Fort Wayne does experience all four seasons, so dress accordingly. Fall is exceptional with fall color, and summer brings a sea of lush green in all of the parks and along the waterways. No matter when you visit, you will find the great outdoors in Fort Wayne to be an exceptional Midwest experience.