Even though it’s already April, it doesn’t feel like spring yet here in the Midwest. Yes, we can see the sun most days but it’s still chilly. To beat the winter blues, I decided to leave the cold but beautiful Chicago and spend the weekend in Fort Wayne – the second most populous city in Indiana.
Why Fort Wayne? For starters – I have never been there. I have been to Indianapolis and liked it a lot, but I wanted to see something new, so I chose the second most populous city in the state of Indiana.
A short Uber ride to O’Hare airport straight from work, a long wait in line at the security checkpoint to be patted down by the TSA agents and I was on a United Airlines plane and an hour later we landed at the Fort Wayne International Airport.
I chose to stay at the Hilton Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Convention Center for two reasons – it’s located in the downtown area and the hotel itself offers a free shuttle service to and from the airport.
I knew what to expect based on the pictures I saw online when I was booking the hotel but when I got there, I was blown away by the ambiance of the hotel itself. Since it was quite late when I got there and I was tired from the long day at work, I decided to stay in instead of going out. After checking in I headed to the pool and after that grabbed a quick bite and headed to bed.
I woke up early since I was anxious to explore the city. But first I needed a good place to have breakfast. And since I have never been to Fort Wayne before, I went to Yelp for recommendations. After a few minutes, I settled on Cindy’s Diner at the intersection of Clinton & Jefferson streets.
What won me over were the positive reviews and the old-fashioned look of this cute little diner (seats only 15 people) in the heart of Downtown Fort Wayne. Imagine that – they don’t even have a website. That’s how old-fashioned they are.
I had the garbage (what else) – people online were raving about it and for a good reason. The garbage is a cluster of different things (eggs, potatoes, cheese, onions and bits of ham) and it’s huge. And it costs only $6.50, imagine that. I think I have never eaten that much in my life. After such a big breakfast I was ready to conquer Fort Wayne.
Since I wanted to get a feeling for the city I decided to go for a short walk – I wanted to see the architecture of downtown Fort Wayne. And boy did I. It turned out that the buildings in downtown Fort Wayne are abounded in history.
Only 2 minutes away from the diner is the Allen County Courthouse on 111 W Berry Street. The building is a National Historic Landmark and it’s beautiful. The interior is also amazing. It’s a case study in color decorative details and finishes. You must see it. I was pleasantly surprised they offered a guided tour even though I opted for the self-guided one.
Next, I went to the Lincoln Bank Tower (just a minute away by foot from the Courthouse). For more than half an hour I was soaking its beauty from the outside. The building has been an important part of the city’s skyline since it was built in 1929 (it was the tallest building in Fort Wayne until 1969). However, don’t be fooled by the name. It used to house a bank many years ago, but it’s used for office space now.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the interior matches the beauty of the exterior. I was impressed by the Art Deco’s interior of the lobby. Breathtaking to say the least.
I spent about an hour at the building before heading to the History Center on 302 E Berry St – a 3-minute walk from the Lincoln Bank Tower.
The History Center was built in 1893 and in the past was the headquarters of the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society. I found out that building’s design was influenced by the Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. A warning – there’s an admission fee but it’s worth it (however, it’s free for members). There are monthly events that are also worth it. When I visited it, there was a Miami Heritage Days event.
By the time I was done I was so hungry that I started looking for a truly local spot to eat which you can read more about in part 2 of my first day stay in Fort Wayne, IN.