Who has one of the happiest cities in the U.S. and one of the hottest real estate markets? Fort Wayne.
And who has one of the best-run cities in America, is ranked among the best cities in which to be a teacher and was called one of the best places to retire rich? You guessed it – Fort Wayne.
But enough bragging. We already know that the quality of life in northeast Indiana abounds, in more ways than one can remember. From a diverse and booming economy to a rich variety of cultural assets and attractions, we live in a place where fun exists at every corner.
Even so, it’s easy to take for granted just how much Allen County and its surrounding neighbors have to offer. So, in this, our debut edition, let’s recap just a few of the ways this slice of northeast Indiana is special.
- It’s Kid-Friendly. Parents don’t have to look very far to find engaging activities for young minds. Promenade Park downtown, the Allen County Library and Science Central are just a few places to start. And don’t forget about Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, which Parents Magazine called one of the best zoos in the nation.
The wide variety of child-friendly attractions in Fort Wayne is only one reason SmartAsset.com called this community the best place to raise a family last year. High-quality schools, lower costs of living and low crime rates play a big role, too. For many of the same reasons, Money Magazine lists us among the nation’s top 100 places to live.
- There are So Many Sports. For good reason, Livability.com and Sports Business Daily consider Fort Wayne one of America’s top 5 minor-league sports markets. Throughout the year, it’s easy to find high-level athletes at work. From Komets hockey and Mad Ants basketball to Purdue Fort Wayne, TinCaps baseball and the Derby Girls roller derby, it’s hard to find a week when there isn’t a game to catch, during a regular year!
And how about those venues, too? The state-of-the-art field at Parkview Park downtown is a lively place to catch the San Diego Padres’ high-A talent, so it’s little wonder that Stadium Journey called it America’s best minor-league park.
The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum is a major epicenter of sports, and just to prove the point, this year it will host the NCAA Division III Men’s basketball national championship in March.
Catch the Komets back on the ice Feb. 12 and keep an eye out for the Mad Ants’ abbreviated season, which starts in February at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.
The action doesn’t stop there. With more than 120 miles of recreation trails and numerous public parks, it’s easy to keep an active lifestyle. This time of year, it’s especially rewarding to hike, cross-country ski or birdwatch at Allen County Parks, Eagle Marsh or any of our amazing state parks, which are open year-round.
- Economic Strength. Pandemic aside, Fort Wayne’s economy remains robust. While manufacturing is still a major strength, education, health care and logistics remain powerful forces in what’s become a diverse economy.
Over the past year, Fort Wayne has been ranked among hot job markets, most livable cities, best places for new business startups … and the list goes on. But what really stands out is the city’s incredible affordability. In just the past year, we’ve been named a top place to retire rich (GoBankingRates.com), a top choice for early retirement (AARP.org), top 5 city for first-time homebuyers (SmartAsset.com), most affordable cities for millennials to buy a home (CreditKarma.com), best cities for Gen Zers on a budget (GoBankingRates.com), and the lowest cost of living in the United States (niche.com).
- History Comes Alive. Our city is almost as old as the U.S. Constitution, having started in 1794 as a military fort on the edge of the frontier. You can still get a sense of those pioneer times at Historic Old Fort, where costumed re-enactors bring the past to life during special events.
Our city is also the final resting place of Jonathan Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed. He’s the namesake of the Johnny Appleseed festival in September (and the park where it’s hosted), and the inspiration for our TinCaps baseball team (so named for the “tin hat” he dons in many a folktale.)
Long before European settlers, this was Miami country, a settlement and regional capital known as Kekionga. This heritage has been faithfully honored in places like the Chief Richardville House, once home to Indiana’s wealthiest man – a descendant of French fur traders and Miami Indians.
The History Center and firefighters’ museum downtown take a deeper dive into our fascinating past.
- It’s Easy to Get Away. For everything there is to do right here in Fort Wayne, there’s an awful lot to see nearby, as well. It’s all so close you can do it in a day and still be home by bedtime. Head to Grabill and get to know our area’s Amish neighbors. DeKalb County has four auto museums that specialize in cars and trucks, Duesenbergs and other machinery on the move. Live music and fine dining are major attractions at Warsaw’s Honeywell Center, but the charming downtown is full of surprises, too.
If it’s a big-city escape you crave, Fort Wayne is within a 3-hour drive of Chicago, Detroit, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis.
Don’t forget about the lakes. Noble, Kosciusko and Steuben counties each boast more than 100 lakes, including Indiana’s third-largest body of water and the impressive Chain O’Lakes, which comprises 13 interconnected waterways.
- There’s Always Something to Do. Even in the midst of a pandemic, there are a surprising number of ways to have fun in Fort Wayne and beyond – and it doesn’t take much digging to find them. Browse art at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art or send the youngsters to a dance class at Fort Wayne Ballet. Tune into a virtual event hosted by the Embassy Theatre. Find unique cuisine (and lots of to-go options) at local restaurants and breweries.
Shop at Jefferson Pointe, in the city’s southwest side, or go off the map and find unique antique stores, Hyde Brothers Booksellers and any number of other small businesses scattered throughout the city’s urban core. Boutiques abound downtown and in many nearby neighborhoods. Is it any wonder that Expedia.com says we’re a perfect city to tour like a local? With so much worth celebrating around here, why not be a tourist for a day and find something new? ❚