West Central home & garden tour offers inside view of historic neighborhood

wc 300x126 West Central home & garden tour offers inside view of historic neighborhood

Grab your walking shoes, and get ready to explore one of Fort Wayne’s most historic neighborhoods!

Fort Wayne is home to many historically rich neighborhoods. Among them, West Central is worth a second look. The good news for you is that annual Home & Garden Tour is right around the corner. Here’s what you can expect from this weekend that celebrates history, arts and horticulture in one of Fort Wayne’s most eclectic neighborhoods.

On Sept. 6 and 7, proud residents in the neighborhood open their doors for a few hours to the public for this annual event. Think tours of gardens, historic homes and other buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries, an arts fest, food, and live music. Several stops are on the itinerary this year, including beautiful homes and gardens. Browse the booths of  local artists at the ArtsFest and select a one-of-a-kind treasure for your home or as a unique gift. You’ll surely be impressed by the amount of local talent.

If you’re hungry there will be a variety of local food trucks and other vendors on hand. There will also be live entertainment during the event. The block party lasts all weekend!

I have gone every year for the past three or four, and I can tell you it’s one of the highlights of the fall. It inspires me to see how old homes have been restored with sometimes new and modern twists. Occasionally you can talk to the residents and learn about their renovation adventures.

I also enjoy hearing some of the history behind the residences.  At one time West Central was where Fort Wayne’s wealthy lived, so there is a backstory or two waiting to be rediscovered. History buffs: rejoice!

Tickets are $15 the day of the tour.  You can buy discounted tickets are local shops in the area. The tour runs from 11 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 6 and 7.  For further information, visit the West Central Neighborhood website, or call (260) 385-WEST.

About

Lauren Caggiano was raised in Fort Wayne, and returned in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Dayton. The president of WriteOn LLC, she specializes in writing, marketing, and French translation. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, yoga and volunteering. In the summer you can catch her riding around downtown on her vintage green Schwinn. For more information, check out her website: www.lcagg.com.

Make it a day date in Fort Wayne!

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Ready to go for day date fun!

I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a date night rut and do the same things each time the idea of going out comes up. I grow a little tired of the run of the mill Friday/Saturday night date. They seem to all turn out the same – dinner at a local restaurant, a movie out somewhere, maybe grabbing a late evening drink and then home. I’m not complaining about being taken out on a date (so keep them coming, husband of mine!), but occasionally it’s nice to shake it up and switch date night to a day date! A few weeks ago my husband and I were lucky enough to both have a weekday off together and decided to go out and explore Fort Wayne day date style!

We started off by grabbing coffee at one of my favorite local places, Firefly Coffee House. I’ve been going to Firefly since I was in high school. I love the coziness inside with plenty of tables, and cozy couches to relax and sip on a cup of joe! They also have a nice deck that has some tables and chairs that make it perfect when the weather is nice. Although I do love their coffee, I would highly recommend a Firefly Smoothie on a warm day – it hits the spot!

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If you’re lucky you can even hand-feed a giraffe at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo!

Our next stop was the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. I know you may be thinking “a CHILDREN’S zoo for a date?!”, and my answer is YES! Don’t let the name fool you, the zoo is fun whether you have little ones or want to do something fun with your friends – no matter what your age! We decided to kick off our zoo trip with a trip to the African Journey. The African portion of the zoo has always been one of my favorites. I remember being little and going to the zoo with my mom and wanting to head straight for Africa so we could ride the “Zebra Cars” (RIP). The way the African Journey is set up is a big loop, so you aren’t going to miss any animals along the way! We were able to see Zebra’s, Hyena’s, a Honey Badger, Wildebeast and of course, lions!

After we exited Africa we decided to just pick one more area to explore for the day (another promise of a return zoo date?) and settled on the Australian Adventure. The Australian Adventure is currently undergoing some major upgrades and improvements, some that you can already see! Phase one of this project included updating bathrooms and walkways, creating a new entrance to the area and upgrading dining and outdoor seating. Phases two and three will see updates to existing exhibit areas and even some brand new exhibits and animals! We took a break once we came in the Australian Adventure, grabbed slushies and sat down to enjoy the beautiful weather in the new seating area! One of my favorite parts of Australia is getting to walk through the kangaroos. During our visit most of these cute animals were snoozing on their afternoon nap, but other times I have seen them hopping along checking out the people that have come to visit them.

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Coney Island’s coney dogs are famous for their steamed buns and secret chili sauce.

After a great morning at the zoo we were ready for lunch, and decided on one of our favorite local spots, Fort Wayne’s Famous Coney Island in downtown Fort Wayne. If you’ve never been to Coney Island it is an experience every local and visitor MUST have! I’m a big Coney Island fan and have been going to get delicious hot dogs and bottled Coke for as long as I can remember! We went through the back alley entrance (because it’s much more fun to enter where it feels like you’re being secretive) and found a table and ordered our food – easy as that! Both my husband and I got coney dogs and a bowl of chili along with their famous bottled Cokes and we were in heaven. And, although Coney Island is famous for their coney dogs, you really can’t go wrong with ordering anything off of their small, but delicious menu.

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The Allen County Courthouse is one of the many architectural gems you’ll find in downtown Fort Wayne!

Post stuffing our faces with coney dogs, we decided to walk around downtown for a little bit. Taking in downtown is one of my favorite things to do. I love checking out some of the historic architecture and our beautiful parks to pass the time outside. If you want to do more than just take a walk, check out other great downtown places like the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Botanical Conservatory, Science Central (also not just for kids!) and more!

Soon we were craving a sweet treat and headed off to Zesto Ice Cream. Zesto is another Fort Wayne staple that you MUST try! I had to get my tried and true favorite, a chocolate vanilla twist cone. There’s really nothing better than sitting outside on a nice, summer day eating your Zesto twist cone – I promise you!

Our day date stopped there and we finished our day with walking our dog and binging on Ugly Betty on Netflix, but if you want to keep the date going, I think the perfect ending would be dinner and drinks at The Deck! Want even more date ideas (day or night)? Checking our trip ideas page!

 

Katie

About

Katie Robinson simply loves Fort Wayne! Born and raised in the Summit City, she returned following graduating from Ball State University with a degree in Public Relations in May of 2013. A former Visit Fort Wayner, Katie currently works for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority as the Marketing and Customer Service Specialist. In her spare time you can find her baking cupcakes, Zumba-ing her heart out and relaxing with her husband, Joe, and their adorable Shih Tzu, Gidget.

Feel the “Rhythm and Flow” of Nature at New Botanical Conservatory Exhibit

As summer blooms outside begin to slowly fade with the heat, take a step inside Fort Wayne, Indiana’s own Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory to enjoy the latest exhibit – “Rhythm and Flow.”

flow1 Feel the “Rhythm and Flow” of Nature at New Botanical Conservatory Exhibit
This eye-catching display uses swatches of color in the form of mixed-species floral beds, colored grasses, succulents and more! Earth formations, curved lines and other artistic displays are sure to please the eye and inspire creatives at heart. A suspended canopy is also part of this exhibit, making a wonderful location for bridal party and wedding photography.

flow2 Feel the “Rhythm and Flow” of Nature at New Botanical Conservatory Exhibit
The display runs through November 16. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is located at 1100 S. Calhoun St., in downtown Fort Wayne, Ind. and within walking distance of two hotels. Admission is $5 for adults, children ages 3 to 17 are admitted for $3 each and children ages 2 and under are free of admission.

Hours of operation at the conservatory vary depending on the day of the week. Visit the conservatory online today to learn more about this exhibit and more! The atrium features more plants along with a gift shop and a small cafe.

Insider Tip: Pair your visit to the conservatory with some of Fort Wayne’s finest dining. Options downtown can please any palate. Visit the downtown dining guide for some ideas today!

About

Previously a news reporter at daily newspapers in Indiana and Ohio, Holly Hammersmith now enjoys the lighter side of writing through freelance work. In her spare time, Holly can be found running or practicing yoga. She also enjoys visiting local coffee shops and day-tripping. Holly lives with her husband, dog Lulu and half a dozen houseplants. Find Holly on Twitter @HFHammers and at http://hollyhammersmith.com.

Discover Fort Wayne during Be a Tourist In Your Own Hometown

bat 300x112 Discover Fort Wayne during Be a Tourist In Your Own Hometown
I love Fort Wayne. Having lived here my whole life (minus a few years away at college), I have had ample time to get out and explore my hometown. A lot of this stems from being someone who refuses to be bored, and who enjoys getting out and about to find new things to do and places to go. Living my teenage years on the north side of town (so close to the country and farms that my high school still had “Drive Your Tractor to School Day” sponsored by the FFA) I heard so many people say there was nothing to do in Fort Wayne – and I REFUSED to be one of them. My friends and I were adventurous, and often drive all over town finding things to do. We’d go to the zoo, go see different local bands play, check out the museums downtown and walk around aimlessly exploring Fort Wayne. That sense of wanting to go out and explore my city hasn’t left me, but there are so many people that can get stuck in a rut and aren’t aware of the amazing attractions we are so lucky to have! That’s why whether you’re a visitor in town looking for something fun to do, or a local who hasn’t a had a chance to visit all that Fort Wayne has to offer, you shouldn’t miss Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown!

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown is a great event put on by Visit Fort Wayne. The goal is to get people that live in Fort Wayne out and about to places they haven’t visited in awhile, or aren’t even aware of! There are twelve attractions that you can tour around , and the best part is that it is FREE! The attractions open during this year’s even are: The African-American Historical Museum, Lincoln Tower, the Allen County Courthouse, Science Central, the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, the Cathedral Museum, the Botanical Conservatory, The History Center, Parkview Field, the Embassy Theatre, The Old Fort and the Visitors Center. While the list of places to go and see may seem a little overwhelming, pick 2 or 3 you’re really excited about and focus on visiting those!

I’ve had the chance to both work and participate during Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown, so I’ve got some favorites. And while I’ve been to many of the attractions you’ll find on September 7th, the following four would be my top picks!

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The Embassy Theatre is a beautiful, and historic, theatre – and you can check it out during BAT!

Embassy Theatre
The Embassy Theatre is truly a gem in downtown Fort Wayne. The theatre was built in 1928 and is one of Indiana’s largest historical theaters. Anyone who has walked inside knows that the Embassy is a beautiful piece of history that has withstood the test of time over and over again! While many have sat in the theatre’s seats for a Broadway production, a headlining concert, Philharmonic performances and many other great events, Be a Tourist is one of the few times where you can tour around the Embassy behind the scenes!

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Take in the beautiful architecture at the Allen County Courthouse.

Allen County Courthouse
Take a tour of the Allen County Courthouse and you won’t be disappointed! While many either run in and out of the courthouse, or haven’t had a reason to go inside, Be a Tourist is the perfect time to check out this National Historic Landmark. Not only is the Allen County Courthouse a great part of Fort Wayne’s history, it is also an important piece of architectural history.  Having been restored, the Allen County Courthouse boasts beautful examples of art glass, murals and intricately patterned tile floors. It is often regarded as one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture.

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Celebrate Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown at the Visitors Center! Look for the giant pinwheel!

Visitors Center
You may be thinking “Why would I ever go to the Visitors Center if I live in Fort Wayne?”, and long ago I thought so too. But, the Visitors Center offers so much more than you could expect! The staff is extremely knowledgeable about all things Fort Wayne, as well as fun and friendly to boot! You’ll also find a variety of things to do and buy. There is information for tons of attractions, restaurants, parks and even more. – many of which are off the beaten path and you may not even be aware of! You can even find Fort Wayne souvenirs and locally made products such as coffee, DeBrand Fine Chocolate and Vera Bradley.

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Don’t miss the great views from the top of the Lincoln Tower. It is a BAT favorite!

Lincoln Tower
This is by far one of the most popular stops during the afternoon of BAT, and for good reason! This is one of the only days of the year that the Lincoln Tower observation deck is open to the public, with gorgeous views of the entire city. I would recommend making this your very first or last stop of the day because the line can get a little long, but is more manageable with a little planning. And, even with the thousands of people lining up to ride to the top, the line is fast moving and well worth the wait!

While you’re out and about I would also suggest stopping at one of downtown Fort Wayne’s yummy eateries for a bite before, during or after your stops! Grab a slice, a sip or a snack at Pint and Slice, Dash-In and many other great places. For more ideas of where to dine downtown, take a look at our downtown dining map.

No matter which attractions you decide to check out during Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown, you will have a great day discovering our wonderful city! Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown is Sunday, September 7 from 12-5pm. You can find passports for the event are Fort Wayne area Kroger and Old National Bank locations! Or, you can download your BAT passport here.

 

Katie

About

Katie Robinson simply loves Fort Wayne! Born and raised in the Summit City, she returned following graduating from Ball State University with a degree in Public Relations in May of 2013. A former Visit Fort Wayner, Katie currently works for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority as the Marketing and Customer Service Specialist. In her spare time you can find her baking cupcakes, Zumba-ing her heart out and relaxing with her husband, Joe, and their adorable Shih Tzu, Gidget.

Experience the best of Fort Wayne’s arts scene at Taste of the Arts

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A belly dancing troupe has performed in years past.

It’s not everyday you get to experience some of the tastes, sights and sounds of Fort Wayne’s restaurant and arts scene.  This is what you can expect August 23 at the 6th annual 2014 Taste of the Arts at the Arts United Center. This free festival downtown is suited for all ages, and provides an opportunity for the community to sample the different kinds of fine art, dance, theatre, music and more that Northeast Indiana has to offer. Come hungry for food and entertainment. Here’s what you can look forward to, in a nutshell:

Fare from 30+ restaurants: Craving pizza? How about hot dogs? Or cupcakes? Chances are at least one vendor will have something to suit your taste. Insider’s Note: We recommend not eating lunch before so you have room to sample and not feel stuffed.

Art Fair: This is my favorite part. Fort Wayne has a wealth of talented artists, and this event underlines that. You can find everything from handmade jewelry, to pottery, to oil paintings.  Insider’s Note: A lot of vendors accept card payments, but it’s never a bad idea to have plenty of cash on hand. I also appreciate the fact that most of the art is affordable. You’re sure to find a souvenir to take home, without spending a small fortune.

Arts activities: Local arts organizations will be present, to educate and entertain the public. For example, the Fort Wayne History Center will offer a portable jail for “selfies.”

Live entertainment: Think bands, dancers and actors. Most acts perform on the hour, so be sure to check out the schedule.

And now for the best part? Proceeds from this event go directly toward Arts United’s Art Education Grants to advance the local arts scene. Admission is free, however food and beverage tickets are required to purchase food. For more information, visit the Taste of the Arts website  or Visit Fort Wayne.

About

Lauren Caggiano was raised in Fort Wayne, and returned in 2007 upon graduation from the University of Dayton. The president of WriteOn LLC, she specializes in writing, marketing, and French translation. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, yoga and volunteering. In the summer you can catch her riding around downtown on her vintage green Schwinn. For more information, check out her website: www.lcagg.com.