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Hoosier hospitality

Sports, music, food in Fort Wayne, Indiana

Situated at the convergence of three rivers—the St. Marys River, the St. Joseph River, and the Maumee River—Fort Wayne, Indiana, showcases Hoosier hospitality at the crossroads of America.

  • The Fort Wayne Philharmonic performs inside the Embassy Theatre, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo courtesy of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
  • Zach Huffman travels to Fort Wayne aboard a Cessna 172 with a group of friends for dinner. Back: Tyler Bradfield, Faith Denig. Front: Seena Greiwe, Zach Huffman. Photo by Zach Huffman.
  • Zach Huffman's Cessna 172 sits at Fort Wayne Aero Center after landing for an evening in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Photo by Zach Huffman.
  • Visitors listen in at the Sweetwater Band Shell, in Promenade Park, as a band performs. Photo courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne.
  • Delicious tacos decorate the plate at Hoppy Gnome, where Chef Erick Millan brings his Mexico City heritage to the Midwest heartland. Photo courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne.
  • Memorial Coliseum is home to the Fort Wayne Komets. Photo courtesy of the Fort Wayne Komets.
  • Fly in for dinner and a basketball game: The Fort Wayne Mad Ants are the Indiana Pacers' G League affiliate. Photo courtesy of the Mad Ants.
  • Fort Wayne's Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge welcomes visitors to the city. Photo courtesy of Eric Rogers.
  • Parkview Field is home to the Fort Wayne TinCaps, a minor league affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Photo courtesy of Jeff Nycz, Mid-South Images.

The city is named for Revolutionary War General “Mad” Anthony Wayne, and its airport at one point housed more than 100,000 military personnel during World War II. The city grew to become the state’s second-largest, and boasts a wide range of reasons to visit, including a renowned zoo and hands-on science center that appeal to families, as well as entertainment centers, nightlife, and other crowds that make Fort Wayne a great daytrip destination for aviators looking to get away.

Positioned 8 miles south of downtown Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne International Airport provides easy access to the city and area attractions. Grab a courtesy car from the FBO for a quick meal, or request a rental to take in all the city has to offer. If you’re planning a longer visit, hotel accommodations can easily be arranged through the FBO.

Fort Wayne International Airport is a Class C airspace featuring one of the longest runways in the United States at just under 12,000 feet. The airport services more than 735,000 passengers and handles 22 million pounds of cargo annually. Outside of commercial operations the airport is home to the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard flying the Fairchild Republic A–10C Thunderbolt II. Don’t be surprised if on approach or departure you’re lined up behind one of these incredible jets.

A modern and chic FBO welcomes general aviation and corporate customers to the area. Fort Wayne Aero Center features a workout facility, office space, conference rooms, flight training, and welcoming staff. After I landed, line workers quickly took my fuel order, provided recommendations in town for dinner, and pulled the rental car around to the airplane. I elected to call ahead and reserve a rental car, which the FBO arranged on my behalf. Heated hangars, hotel arrangements, maintenance, and catering are all available from the FBO for any flight crew.

Fly in for dinner and stick around for a minor league sports event. The Hoosier State is known for its basketball, and the Mad Ants are the city's NBA G League team. The organization is owned and operated by the NBA’s Indiana Pacers, and players such as Victor Oladipo have taken the court in past seasons.

Enjoy America’s pastime with a baseball game and beautiful view of downtown Fort Wayne at Parkview Field. The Fort Wayne TinCaps are affiliated with MLB’s San Diego Padres, and tickets for a game start at $6. During the winter months stop by the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum to catch a Fort Wayne Komets hockey game.

Those with musical inclination should not skip a trip to Sweetwater Sound, a leading retailer of professional audio and musical instruments in the United States. They offer music seminars, workshops, and summer camp programs. The corporation has been a staple in the Fort Wayne community since 1979, delivering audio boards and instruments to pros and beginners alike. Weekly events range from Rock Camp—a five-day crash course in rock ‘n’ roll—to recording studio sessions and podcast production. The Sweetwater Performance Pavilion brings artists to the area to perform and utilize the latest gear.

Fort Wayne makes so much music it is known as the Midwest Music City. Concert venues, stadiums, and night clubs offer a wide variety of local and globally known shows that tour the area. Theaters are scattered throughout including the Clyde Theatre, which serves as a local hotspot for concerts throughout the year, and the Embassy Theatre, which showcases national touring productions from Broadway and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you’re staying for a weekend getaway, travel along the Northern Indiana Beer Trail—a beer connoisseur’s dream, as more than 25 breweries dot the community and feature patio decks, rooftop bars, and bold brews. Collect stamps as you visit each brewery and win gear for the more locations you visit.

After making a few stops along the trail pivot over to The Bradley, the city’s signature hotel that features skyline views and modern amenities mixed with Midwestern charm. It is located in what is referenced as The Landing, where shopping and culinary destinations line the area along the St. Marys river.

On my last visit, a stop by the Hoppy Gnome, located in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne, brought incredible street tacos to the table, and provided a great meal before our flight home. Hoppy Gnome’s Chef Erick Millan brings his Mexico City heritage to the heartland with a menu that features creative takes on street tacos including duck mole, the Bob Marley, and drunkin’ avocado. If street tacos don’t tickle your fancy, a medley of other items grace the menu including pan-seared scallops, seafood gumbo, and lamb stew.

Those with a sweet tooth should not skip town without stopping by DeBrand Fine Chocolates, featuring some of the best chocolates in the area. Founded in 1987 in Fort Wayne, the chocolatier has expanded from a single storefront to locations throughout the state. From chocolate indulgences to cookies and pretzels, a stop at DeBrand is sure to satisfy.

Alyssa J. Miller

Zach Huffman

A private pilot and certificated remote pilot, Zach Huffman is an entrepreneur who creates drone flight programs for media companies and universities across the United States.
Topics: Travel, US Travel

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