Hoosier Bound: Ft. Wayne Makes For A Killer Road Trip

Ft. Wayne might be a must-stop for any self-proclaimed foodie.
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When out-of-town friends visit me in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, they usually say some variation of this when they leave: “I didn’t know Ft. Wayne was so cool!”

The city has changed drastically since I moved here in 2008, and largely for the better—especially if you define more places to eat, drink, and play as “better.” And at just about three hours north of Cincinnati, it’s an easy drive for a long weekend getaway, or even just an overnight change of scenery.

WHERE TO STAY

Ft. Wayne is home to Vera Bradley, once best-known for brightly patterned quilted bags. Today, those patterns adorn everything: pajama pants, stationary sets, wallpaper. No, that’s not an error—and VB wallpaper is perhaps on best display at The Bradley, the all-Vera-Bradley-all-the-time boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Ft. Wayne. The space is modern, pretty, and, of course, patterned. Don’t miss out on Birdie’s, the hotel’s rooftop bar. Ft. Wayne’s skyline may not be as glamorous as Cincinnati’s or Chicago’s, but it’s still a spectacular sight, especially from a few stories up at night.

WHERE TO EAT

Marquee at the Landing in Ft. Wayne.

This is where Ft. Wayne really shines: Oh, man, this city knows how to feed you. Head straight for The Landing, a pedestrian-friendly strip of eateries and shops barely a block from The Bradley. Don’t miss Nawa, a crowd-pleasing Thai/Asian restaurant (get the duck buns), and Marquee at the Landing (the steak frites, holy cow).

Chance Bar, just over two miles straight south of The Bradley, might secretly be one of the city’s best spots. The menu is small and changes often, but the attention to detail and creativity of mains stand out—plus they often have fresh oysters. And every meal is so pretty.

If you like craft cocktails, Copper Spoon is a must-stop spot. The drink menu is more of a drink Bible, leatherbound and requiring at least 20 minutes to review fully. The staff is incredibly helpful, too; they’re great with requests like, “I love rye old fashioneds, but want to switch it up—what should I have?” or “Some sort of Prosecco cocktail, please?”

WHAT TO DO

Dessert from Copper Spoon in Ft. Wayne.

Ft. Wayne sits on three rivers, so renting a kayak from Ft. Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot is a great way to see the city. Paddle left on the St. Marys River out of the depot and meander through downtown. You can wave to the folks at The Deck (one of the city’s few al fresco dining options on the water) as you pass, float past The Old Fort (an at-scale reproduction of Ft. Wayne’s eponymous fort), and soak in the pretty at Promenade Park. Paddle right out of the depot, and you’ll veer toward nature, scenery, and plenty of water friends (lots of ducks, a turtle or two, a groundhog if you’re lucky).

Don’t forget to check the schedules at the Embassy Theatre, a gorgeous space that will celebrate 100 years in 2028 and attracts national acts including plays, musicians, and comedians, or The Clyde Theatre, which will quickly become one of your favorite spots to see a concert.

The Bradley Hotel

provenancehotels.com/the-bradley

The Embassy Theatre

fwembassytheatre.org

Ft. Wayne Outfitters & Bike Depot

fwoutfitters.com 

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