So, why Fort Wayne, Indiana? This is the question most people ask me when I tell them I am from Brazil. 

When exploring different options to visit, live, or study abroad in the United States, you may initially think of big coastal cities. However, many cities across the country, especially in the Midwest, are real treasures and might have everything you are looking for. Fort Wayne, Indiana, is one of them.

Why Barbara Belli de Oliveira Calls Fort Wayne "Home"

I arrived in Fort Wayne in January 2013 to attend Indiana Tech. Back then, my answer to the question, "so, why Fort Wayne?" was more about school than the city itself. I would answer it by saying, "because I received a great scholarship," "to pursue my degree and play tennis," or "it seemed like the right place for me." Although school brought me here, it is not the only reason why I stayed.

Skyline from above the Landing Historic District

When I graduated, I moved off campus, got my first job, and started working towards my master's degree. I then began to see Fort Wayne as a place where I could live long term. So I made a personal mission to find the places, the people, and the routines that would make Fort Wayne home to me. I treated the city as a destination and started to explore. Four years later, if you ask me today, "so, why Fort Wayne," I would say:

Fort Wayne makes a great weekend getaway for out of town family.

On Saturdays, if I have guests at home, I like to take them to the YLNY Farmer's Market to taste Baby Got S'Mac's Brazilian Cheese Bites, and then stop by Fancy and Staple to choose the perfect gift for them to take home. In the evening, we'll head to The Club Room at The Clyde to enjoy the I Love Saturdays series featuring my favorite local band, Casual Friday.

On Sundays, we like to attend City Church. And of course, we'll stop by George's International Market on the way home for lunch or groceries. George's International Market is great because I can always find what I need to prepare a Brazilian dish at home like Pão de Queijo, Bolo de Cenoura, or Feijoada.

Fort Wayne has exceptional coffee spots.

I can walk to Conjure Coffee (my neighborhood's coffeeshop) on Columbia Avenue, either for a cup of turmeric ginger tea or to bring home a bag of their Brazil Anahi coffee. Conjure is one of my favorite places in town because of its fresh drinks, in-house made food, and cool layout inside and out. When I sit inside, I'm in for a treat with the artwork and a great atmosphere. If I decide outside, I enjoy the lovely view of the downtown skyline. Their produce is fresh, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

Exterior of Conjure Coffee Shop in the Fall

Fort Wayne has its own Creative Mornings chapter.

Creative Mornings is the world's largest lecture series for creatives, hosted in more than 200 cities worldwide. Creative Mornings Fort Wayne was founded in January 2019, initially hosted in the morning and rotating locations across the city. In the past couple of months, CMFTW has been live-streaming its events from The Landing because of the pandemic. With that change, the Landing Beer Company became the ideal spot to have a meal and hang out post-event. My go-to on their menu is the pulled pork sandwich paired with the Mule cocktail.

People walking along the pedestrian street on The Landing in Fort Wayne

Fort Wayne is unique and colorful.

Fort Wayne is home to various unique experiences and some of the warmest people I have ever met. That is what makes the city unique, colorful, and fun. If you choose to make Fort Wayne your next destination to visit or stay, please be safe, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and support the local small businesses. You will not be disappointed. We're not yet in a position to fully comprehend the pandemic's long-term effects. Travel as we knew it has changed, and the places I mentioned might be different in 2021. Check them out, spread the love, and discover why Fort Wayne is so special. While we don't know what lies ahead, we can still share the places we've loved and continue to inspire curiosity and awe for Fort Wayne.

So, what's your favorite Fort Wayne experience? Take a visit and let us know!