Fun Places! 12 Best Things to Do in Fort Wayne with Kids, Free & Affordable Activities Included

Things to Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana with kids

Fort Wayne Delights for the Whole Family

Looking for an amazing, affordable, easy-to-reach family getaway?

Northeast Indiana’s Fort Wayne takes the cake with its brand-new waterfront park and huge roster of family activities!

While we’re big fans of visiting Indianapolis with kids, Fort Wayne (the second largest city in the state after Indy) serves up a more laid-back, easy-on-the budget experience that a lot of families will appreciate.

Things to do in Fort Wayne with Kids

We spent a long weekend tooling around this Midwestern hidden gem and can’t wait to share the treasure trove of Fort Wayne activities you need to try for yourself.

fort wayne children's zoo
Fort Wayne’s Children’s Zoo

And bonus- I found that many of my Grand Rapids memberships offered reciprocal benefits in Fort Wayne!

Here’s my list of fun things to do in Fort Wayne with kids:

1 – Promenade Park

202 W Superior St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Fort Wayne’s three rivers converge in its Downtown Fort Wayne, creating a hub at Promenade Park.

Promenade Park Fort Wayne Indiana

It is the epicenter of the good things happening here and is the epitome of coolness. Take a look:

The park features the Parkview Tree Canopy Trail (boardwalk), pavilion, amphitheater, all-inclusive playground, kids’ canal (natural splash pad with climbable rocks), porch swings, yard games, for starters.

Fort Wayne things to do: Promenade Park

You’re in for a treat from the moment you step onto the park property.

There is so much to do you could easily spend an entire day here and not get bored.

Parkview Tree Canopy Trail

The Parkview Tree Canopy Trail in Promenade Park takes you on a whimsical 10-15 minute boardwalk adventure.

Wells Street Bride Fort Wayne Parkview Tree Canopy Trail
Historic Wells Street Bridge, Fort Wayne

Perched above the river, the trail leads from downtown (catch the trail on the north riverbank at Wells Street Bridge) to the newly upgraded playground.

Promenade Park Fort Wayne Map

If you’re visiting during the Fourth of July, you can watch the fireworks right from the trail or from the playground.

Fort Wayne Promenade Park - Tree Canopy Trail

Pedestrians, bikers, and skaters are all permitted to utilize the boardwalk.

Take a leisure stroll or make it a workout, but be sure to take in the sights along the way.

PNC Accessible Playground

1004 Cass St, Fort Wayne, IN 46808

The Parkview Tree Canopy Trail brings you to the newly updated, Promenade Kids Park and Playground on the northern banks of the river.

Promenande Park Playground Fort Wayne with kids

The accessible playground is packed with features kids love. From the squishy turf to the merry-go-round, climbing structures, and musical equipment there is a little something for everyone here. 

Fort Wayne Promenade Park - All Inclusive Playground

Nearby benches overlook the playground, making it easy to take play breaks.

More Promenade Park Fun Things to Do in Fort Wayne

This is only the beginning of the features of Promenade Park!

You will also find:

  • teds snack + bar
  • pavilion
  • fountain
Promenade Park Fort Wayne Fountain at night
  • amphitheater
  • porch swings
  • Paddling Rentals: Rent a single or double kayak, a canoe, or SUP and paddle the river!
Fort Wayne Promenade Park- Tree Canopy Trail
  • Take a Riverboat Cruise on Sweet Breeze

Saturdays & Sundays, May 27 – October 8, 2023. $30/person for a 90-minute tour, $20/person for a 45-minute tour (children 2 free on an adult’s lap). Tickets

Fun things to do in Fort Wayne with kids - river boat cruise on sweet breeze

No matter how you choose to spend your time at Promenade Park or who you have along with you, there will be something for all members of your group.

Kids’ Canal

On the other side of the river, the Kids’ Canal Natural Splash Pad will have kids hopping from stone to stone.

Kids Canal Promenade Park Fort Wayne

The stepping stone water feature of this playscape runs along the sidewalk. Spectators can stay dry and follow close by as kiddos splash their way through the water.

This is definitely a great thing to do when visiting Fort Wayne with kids on a warm day.

Promendade Park Stepping Stones - Things to do in Fort Wayne IN

Tip: Bring a change of clothes for kids unless they’re okay with being in wet for a bit. The water is so much fun, kids just have to play!

Events at Promenade Park

Promenade Park is a people magnet in the summertime, and the fun events hosted here just make it more of a destination.

Concerts in Promenade Park 2023
2023 Concerts in Promenade Park Lineup

Fort Wayne’s Dragon Boat Racing Event in August is exciting.

Colorful 46-foot-long Dragon boats – some with a dragon head, tail and scales are propelled by their team of 20 paddlers, 1 drummer, and 1 steersman. The drummer keeps the beat to synchronize the paddlers.

Things to do in Fort Wayne - Dragon Boat Races
Fort Wayne Dragon Boat Races

Races can last up to 10 minutes and cover anywhere between 200 to 2000 meters.

Opening ceremonies are performed by the Fort Wayne Chinese Friends and Family Association, “Awakening the Dragon”.

Dragon Boat Racing Fort Wayne 2023
4th Annual Dragon Boat Races – August 4-5, 2023

Time your visit to coincide with dragon boat races, concerts in the park, or one of the other many events happening at Promenade Park!

2 – Head to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

3411 Sherman Blvd., Fort Wayne, IN 46808

Open late April – October, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo will be the first stop on when I get back to Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo sign

They have one of the largest red panda habitats in the US. It boasts a new multi-species exhibit that has endangered Chinese & Himalayan Red Pandas, Chinese Muntjac, Red-billed Blue Magpie & White-eared Pheasant.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo - Red Panda Experience

Not too big, not too small, this zoo is just the right size. You can easily spend an afternoon exploring and won’t be utterly exhausted when you’re done.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo sting ray touch tank
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo sting ray touch tank

The quality of the exhibits and the diversity of animals at the zoo are to be commended, too.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo - Red Panda

The Jungle Dome Aviary, complete with bird identification cards, lets your kids seek and find flying creatures of all colors.

Add “sea lions frolicking during feeding time” to your items of sights to see. You don’t want to miss it.

Fort Wayne Children's Zoo

This zoo is awesome when visiting Fort Wayne with kids because of the many engaging experiences available!

Ride a dugout canoe through the outback, sky safari chair lift – get sights of the entire zoo, and ride the train and carousel. You can also feed stingrays, giraffes, goats, & chickens.

Some of the other must-see animals at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo include:

  • lions
  • tigers
  • giraffes
  • orangutans
  • leopards
  • zebras
  • kangaroos
  • monkeys
  • and more!

Bonus: If you have a membership at your local zoo, check to see if your benefits will work here. For example, John Ball Zoo members in Grand Rapids, GET 50% OFF ADMISSION. The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo participates in reciprocal member benefits with John Ball Zoo as well as other AZA zoos.

Call the zoo to confirm exact benefits before arriving: 260-427-6800

3 – Play All Day at Science Central

1950 N Clinton St, Fort Wayne, IN 46805

For a break from the outdoors, check out Science Central. Your crew will be entertained for hours.

Science Central Fort Wayne Children's Museum - 2- story Slide
2-story slide at Science Central

Splash in the water zone, zip down their 2-story slide, or see a live science experiment.

water zone - fort wayne with kids at science central

Explore, build, and test things out at the 200+ hands-on exhibits and activities.

Science Central - Fort Wayne Things to do

Kids have so much fun they don’t even realize they’re learning, too!

Fort Wayne  - Science Central

Science Central is Fort Wayne’s Children’s Museum.

Plan to spend a few hours exploring this fun destination.

BONUS: Science Central is a part of the ASTC Travel Passport Program, which means that many people with a museum membership (like the Grand Rapids Public Museum) will get you free Science Central admission for two adults and their children (living at the same address). This is subject to change; call ahead to confirm current offerings.

4 – Visit The Landing on an Empty Stomach

116 W Columbia St Ste 301, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

The Landing is a historic neighborhood. Recently renovated, this vibrant one-block area now sports 15 locally-owned restaurants, shopping, and galleries.

Outdoor Dining in Fort Wayne at The Landing

Outdoor dining areas line the street, murals and local artwork fill the alleyways, and the sounds of street performers tickle your ears.

This multi-sensory experience is located just a few blocks from Promenade Park.

A few eateries we enjoyed:

111 W Columbia St Suite 103, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Offers Cali-Mexican dining. Order your own plates or platillos (plates to share).

Fort Wayne Mercado

Gnome Town Brewing
118 W Columbia St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

For burgers and beer, stop in at Gnome Town Brewing Co. They allow you to brew your own beer. It will take an appointment and a visit back in two weeks. But how cool is that?

Fort Wayne Gnome Town Brewing Co.
Gnome Town Brewing Fort Wayne, Indiana

This cool hub is just a block away from Promenade Park. Stop on over after playing at the park or walk your dinner off while exploring more of downtown.

5 – Stroll Through The Botanical Garden

1100 S Calhoun St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Take a stroll through the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory. They’re open year-round and offer an indoor oasis to all who visit. Surround yourself with plants and nature in their tranquil gardens during your visit.

They also have butterflies in springtime. Visit their butterfly exhibit and take in the beautiful colors of these wondrous beings.

Fort Wayne - Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory

Check out their website for hours and rates. On Thursdays, visit for $1 admission from 5PM-8PM.

6 – Stop into Union Street Market

1622 Broadway, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Union Street Market is part of Electric Works district and is the region’s first food hall and public market.

Shop and dine at over 20 merchants and restaurants that are open daily. They’re also home to the weekly Farmer’s Market in the summertime.

The market is housed in an abandoned factory that has been modernized but still features original components of the historic building like ceiling cranes.

Experience food from all over the world including, Burmese, Salvadorian, Thai, Ethiopian, and Indian. The market has a very similar feel to Grand Rapids’ downtown market.

7 – Check out the Fort Wayne Farmer’s Market

Parkview Stadium – 301 E Wayne Street At Parkview Field in the colder months
Summer: 9AM to 1PM – Electric Works in Dynamo Alley – 1690 Broadway, Fort Wayne, IN

I’d drive to Fort Wayne just to go to the epic Fort Wayne Farmer’s Market on a summer Saturday.

White vendor tents fill Dynamo Alley in the Electric Works district. Find a variety of goods here, from fresh homegrown vegetables to freshly baked pastries and bread.

Fort Wayne Farmer's Market Summer
Fort Wayne Farmer’s Market – Dynamo Alley

The prices on their grass-fed, locally raised meat, eggs, cheese and produce were drive-worthy. And, I can attest to the flavors, as we sampled meat, cheese, and other yums while shopping.

Strolling through the farmers market is a fun thing to do in Fort Way, even for the kids. In the summer, be on the lookout for special family-friendly events like touch a truck experiences.

Every Saturday 9-1PM at Electric Works. 2 hours of Free Parking

8 – Explore the Fort Wayne Public Art Trail

Downtown Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Scattered throughout downtown Fort Wayne, the Public Art Trail features murals, sculptures, and other pieces of public art (perfect for selfies).

Use the free mobile-only map to find street art near you.

Fort Wayne Public Art Tour

Each mural has a QR code you can scan with your phone to get information about the artist as well as the artwork. This inclusive, city-wide art exhibit features a tactile piece for each art piece for the visually impaired.

For an interactive experience, check in at each art piece’s designated location to redeem prizes.

fort wayne public art trail

Take a selfie with your favorite pieces and use #PublicArtFW.

9 – Spend the Afternoon at Combat Ops Arena

702 Ley Rd, Fort Wayne, IN 46825

Spend time at Combat Ops Arena and get movement and tactical gaming in this indoor space.

They offer mission-based laser tag, omni treadmill virtual reality, indoor and outdoor axe throwing, nerf-style tag arena, small ball bowling, laser maze, arcade, & outdoor mini-golf course.

Fort Wayne - Combat Ops Arena

Your crew is sure to work up an appetite, they have you covered with their café that serves pizza, snacks, and soda. For the adults they offer beer and wine slushies!

10 – Watch the Tincaps at Parkview Field

1301 Ewing St, Fort Wayne, IN 46802

Fort Wayne knew what they were doing when they planted  Parkview Field in downtown.

Parkview Field Things to Do in Fort Wayne, Indiana

This is where the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the city’s minor league baseball game plays, and it’s just magical.

Summer nights lounging on the grass under the big lights – you can just smell the hotdogs. Watching a game here makes a great addition to your fun things to do in Fort Wayne list!

things to do in Fort Wayne with kids tincaps baseball parkview field

If you’re staying overnight, consider staying at the Downtown Hampton Inn & Suites (223 West Jefferson Boulevard, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.)

Hampton Inn Downtown Fort Wayne

This hotel is connected to the TinCaps Stadium and has a rooftop bar on top of their seven-story building.

Fort Wayne Hampton Inn Rooftop Bar
View from Hampton Inn Rooftop Bar

You can watch a game right from the roof! (PS- the fitness center also offers this stellar skyline view.)

11 – Catch a Renactment at the Old Fort – Historic Fort Wayne

1201 Spy Run Ave, Fort Wayne, IN 46805

What would Fort Wayne be without a fort?

The Historic Old Fort is a copy of the original fort that American troops built for cover in 1815. The replica fort stands about a quarter of a mile from the original site.

Today, the fort hosts reenactments and other events that teach visitors about the Old Fort’s role in the Old Northwest Territory and the impact it had on the state of Indiana and event the country throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.

Fort Wayne with kids

The Old Fort is located on public park grounds and you’re invited to wander around and into the parade grounds. The buildings themselves are only open during events, so be sure to check out the schedule while planning your trip.

You can also take a Virtual Tour to learn more about the Historic Old Fort grounds.

12 – Walk the Town and Trails

Fort Wayne, IN 46805

Fort Wayne was made for walkers, bikers, and anyone else who likes to get outside.

With the extensive Fort Wayne Trail System, you’ll find plenty of trails weaving in and out of the city. It comprises over 125 miles of trails, connecting four different areas (Fort Wayne, New Haven, Leo-Cedarville, and Monroeville).

Fort Wayne - Fort Wayne Trail System

Plan time to meander and take in the area during your time spent here. We’d love to know what you discover!

Fort Wayne with kids

Where to Stay in Fort Wayne

There are lovely homes and hotels in neighborhoods or right downtown waiting for your trip. We find Fort Wayne hotels to offer some of the more affordable overnight city stays.

Map of Things to Do in Fort Wayne IN

Amazingly, all of this stuff to do in Fort Wayne is within a 20 minute drive from start to finish. Once you get to Fort Wayne, you won’t be spending a lot of time in your car.

This is a get out and do stuff kind of town and we’re here for it!

Fort Wayne Activity Pass

Buy a Fort Wayne Adventure Pass & SAVE (pass valid for 72 hours after first use)

  • Adults (18+) $34.95
  • Child (2-18) $28.95

Pass includes admission to 4 AMAZING attractions: Children’s Zoo, Science Central, Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, & Museum of Art!

Have You Visited Fort Wayne IN?

We’d love to hear about your adventures and the things to do in Fort Wayne that you found.

Did you visit with family or kids?

What did you love?

Drop us a note in the comments!

And if you’re going for a visit anytime soon, let us know about any great things to do with kids in Fort Wayne that you find when you get back. Happy travels!

About The Author

1 thought on “Fun Places! 12 Best Things to Do in Fort Wayne with Kids, Free & Affordable Activities Included”

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I’ll take note of these places. I’ll be bringing my kids to Fort Wayne this weekend. I’m sure they’ll enjoy going to the Children’s zoo. Do you have recommendations on where I could bring them to eat?

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