How often have you taken the family to a “kid friendly” attraction only to find out that “kid friendly” means younger than seven years old? Older kids are bored, and while parents are happy that the little ones are enjoying the experience, they really aren’t getting anything more out of the adventure themselves. In Fort Wayne, you can visit a top-ranked zoo, a science center that makes learning fun for everyone, a top minor league ballpark, and miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, a great getaway for families with kids of all ages.
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, rated the number one attraction in Fort Wayne and one of the top children’s zoos in the United States, was designed with kids in mind. You don’t have to take little ones out of the stroller and lift them up to see the animals, since they are visible at ground level. While there are lots of exhibits that the youngest members of the family will especially enjoy, like the Indiana Family Farm with goats that kids can pet, the zoo is home to 1,000 animals of 200 species, including tigers, lions, and orangutans, that visitors of all ages will like.
Take the Sky Safari over the African Journey exhibit, a River Ride in a dugout canoe around the Australian Adventure, or a train, carousel or pony ride. (Age restrictions apply on the Sky Safari and Pony Ride.)
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, open from late April through mid-October, is located at 3411 Sherman Boulevard.
TinCaps Minor League Baseball
Home to San Diego Padres minor league affiliate TinCaps, Parkview Field was rated the top minor league ballpark experience in the country in 2011 and 2012. Tickets start at just $5 for lawn seats, where you can spread out a blanket, often a preference for families with antsy toddlers. Between-innings interactive, family-friendly entertainment is as much fun as the ballgame itself.
The TinCaps were named after Johnny Appleseed, who is said to have worn a tin pot on his head and is buried in Fort Wayne. The apple theme is present throughout the park, from the mascot Johnny to foods like apple dumplings, caramel apples, and grilled chicken glazed with apple.
Parkview Field is located in downtown Fort Wayne at 1301 Ewing Street. The TinCaps play April through August. Check the web site for game schedule.
A great choice for an inclement weather day, Science Central’s interactive exhibits invite kids of all ages, as well as adults, to learn by having fun. Interact with sea creatures in the Tidal Pool, participate in demonstrations in the Demonstration Theater that just might make you hair stand on end, or even ride a High Rail Bike around a track high in the air. The youngest kids (ages 2 through 7) can learn and play in Kids Central with exhibits like a giant piano keyboard and a water table.
Science Central is located at 1950 N Clinton Street.
Hike or Bike Trails
Fort Wayne is a bike-friendly city. Over 68 miles of trails in the Greater Fort Wayne Area create a perfect way for families to get some exercise while enjoying a day out together, whether you choose to walk, bike, or skate. You can download trail maps that are marked with drinking water and restroom stops from the City of Fort Wayne Parks & Recreation web site.
Pick up information on more activities that the entire family will enjoy from the Fort Wayne Visitors Center, located downtown at 927 South Harrison Street. While you’re there, notice the pinwheel sculpture outside, part of a 2014 project that placed sculptures all over Fort Wayne, 33 of them downtown. Each has a incorporated a triangle, the symbol of IPFW (Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne), sponsor of the program, and a bike rack. Make yet another family activity out of searching for the sculptures and seeing how the triangles and bike racks were incorporated into them.
Fort Wayne, in northeast Indiana, is about a three hour drive from Chicago, east on Route 30.
Disclosure: The author’s visit to Fort Wayne was hosted by Visit Fort Wayne, but any opinions expressed in this article are her own.
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Visit the author’s Midwest Wanderer blog to learn about attractions, restaurants, accommodations and events all over the Midwest.