Fort Wayne Weekend Get Away Ideas


Being so similar to Toledo, Fort Wayne might not pop up on many people’s “Top Places to Get Away” lists.  But that’s their loss!

Only an hour and a half from Toledo, Fort Wayne is close enough for a daytrip.  Yet it has enough to keep any family busy for an extended weekend.  Here are some great ideas for a fun getaway to Fort Wayne with kids.

Splash Pads

With nine different splash pads throughout the city, you’re never far from getting some wet fun!  All the splash pads are free.  Where are they?

None of these splash pads are huge, but they’ve always kept my kids entertained for at least an hour–more if we bring a picnic!  I believehe biggest splash pads are at Kreager Park and Memorial Park, but they’re all fun.

Promenade Park

Most cities are trying to make their riverfronts proper attractions, and Fort Wayne is no exception!  Promenade Park straddles the St. Mary’s River.  Two bridges connect both halves of the park.  A nice playground, canopy walk, and kayak rentals are on the north bank of the river, while the pavilion, adult swings, amphitheater, brewery, and kid-friendly wading fountain are on the south side.  Bring some ping-pongs and paddles to take advantage of the permanent ping pong tables.

There’s a little something for everyone here!

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

What is the difference between a Children’s Zoo and a regular Zoo?  The distance between the exhibits!

Fort Wayne’s zoo is divided according to continent, with sections for Africa, Asia (focusing on Indonesia), North America, and Australia.  While the animals have a proper amount of space to roam around, the exhibits are closer together, making it easier for little legs to walk around.  (But the whole zoo is still a long walk, so bringing a stroller or renting a wagon is a great idea.)

For families that enjoy rides, Fort Wayne’s Children’s Zoo offers pony rides, a train ride, a river log ride, and a ski lift over the lion enclosure.

Be sure to pet the sting rays and the goats in the petting zoo!  You can pet and brush the goats for free, it just costs a dollar to feed them.  Also, all visitors can enter the giraffe feeding station–only those feeding the giraffes need to pay extra to feed them.

Toledo Zoo members receive 50% off entrance to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, so don’t forget your membership card and photo ID.

Science Central

If you need some indoor play space, Science Central is a great bet!  It’s a proper children’s science museum, very similar to Imagination Station–just smaller.  But that is also the beauty of it–if you’re an Imagination Station member, your membership also covers admission at Science Central!

Check out the three-story slide, the mastodon skeleton found in NE Indiana, and the build-a-train wind tunnel!

Playroom at Main Library

For parents with smaller children, Allen County’s Main Library has a delightful play area for toddlers and preschoolers.  Wander into the Children’s Section, and ask a librarian to let you in, and let your child explore the kitchen, store, puzzles, theater, and barn!

You do not need an Allen County Public Library card to enter this room, but you do need a small child.  Older children may or may not be allowed in, but there is a wonderful elevated book nook for them to curl up and read in just outside of the preschool room.

Chocolate Factory Tour

DeBrand Fine Chocolates are one of Fort Wayne’s best products, so now that they have again opened up their factory for tours, it’s also one of the best ways to spend an hour or so!

Whether you have time (or kids old enough to enjoy the tour), do stop in one of their stores.  Don’t leave Fort Wayne without a DeBrand’s truffle, or hot chocolate, or chocolate-dipped ice cream cone!  For years, I balked at the $6 that these ice cream cones cost, but last year I finally tried one.  On the first bite, I confidently declared that the cone was worth every single penny.

So glad it’s ice cream season again . . .

Kayak the Rivers

The whole reason that Fort Wayne exists is because the St. Mary’s River joins with the St. Joseph River to form the Maumee River.  Fort Wayne became a town right where those rivers come together.  So it’s only fitting to spend some time on the rivers!

Fort Wayne Outfitters is located right on the St. Mary’s at Promenade Park and rents kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, and double kayaks.  Click here to reserve your float of choice!  (Kids younger than 12 are not allowed to paddle a kayak by themselves, and there is a three-person limit in the canoes.)


Canal Boat Ride


Just like Toledo, Fort Wayne invested heavily in canals before railroads existed.  A few years ago, Friends of the Rivers got together and created a replica canal boat.  They give a great tour, so if you’ve got kids old enough to sit still for forty-five minutes, this is a great way to see Fort Wayne.  If your kids can only sit still and listen for about 20 minutes, they can head out on to the deck and watch the river, spy animals on the banks, and talk quietly without interrupting the docent.  Admittedly, this isn’t a great idea for really squirmy kids.

Click here for more canal boat tour details!

If you need to get out of Toledo, but don’t want to go too far, give Fort Wayne a try!

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Jill Douglas
Jill Douglas is a 40-something momma to her three minions (one girl and two boys, ages 11, 8, and 4). Originally from Ft. Wayne, IN, Jill spent most of her adult life in northern Mexico, almost halfway between the midwest and her husband's hometown of Mexico City. This last summer, Her husband's job asked him if he would be interested in moving to the Midwest, and Jill is thrilled to finally live so close to her family. Jill has been a stay-at-home mom for the last 11 years. In the wee hours of the morning, she teaches English online in China. When she's neglecting things around her house, she teaches herself how to knit, dabbles in music (flute and voice), watercolor, modern calligraphy, gardening, volunteering at church, wandering the woods, and kayaking the rivers. Jill blogs at, sharing epiphanies, inspiration, or great places to explore! Having spent the last 10 years documenting the great things about Saltillo, Mexico (the city where she lived), she's now looking forward to this new adventure of discovering and sharing the wonders that Toledo has to offer!


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