Fort Wayne Guys Getaway

Fort Wayne is a relatively hidden gem when it comes to destinations for a guys getaway. It is in a fantastic location - less than a 3-hour road trip from Chicago, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Indianapolis but it offers a diverse collection of activities and adventure for guys that love baseball, outdoor adventure, cars, trucks, and of course food, and craft beer. I've visited here a few times before to attend the Vera Bradley outlet sale and each time we visited I noticed "one more reason" to come back with a group of guys.

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While I still haven't had the opportunity to do an awesome guys trip to Fort Wayne, the folks at Visit Fort Wayne have been piquing my interest. Every time I talk with them at different events they keep telling me about the cool stuff they want to show me in person. So, they offered to host us when we came down for this year's couples road trip to the annual Vera Bradley Outlet Sale (you can read that post over on Couple Places). Usually, that's a day trip, but this year, I managed to carve out a few days to explore some of the cool stuff this city offers men like myself.

Car And Truck Museums

Fort Wayne is home to a Chevy plant where the Silverado and Sierra 1500 are born, but the area's history of producing industry-leading cars, trucks, and commercial vehicles goes back more than 100 years. This story is told extremely well at the Auburn Cord Duesenburg Museum just north of the city in Auburn, Indiana.

Here, you'll find three awesome museums and the Worldwide Auctioneers Annual Labor Day Auction and Show. The auction will celebrate 54 years in 2024 and is an event that anyone who loves classic cars, sports cars, and everything in between should absolutely plan to visit.

Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum

This museum features more than 120 vehicles and serves equally well as an Indiana automobile manufacturing museum. It is spread across nine different themed galleries that tell the story of the three famous car brands reflected in the museum's name. Even if you aren't a "car nerd" and just simply love the history of Hollywood glamour, the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum is a destination you shouldn't miss since Duesenberg is such an iconic brand that shaped the concept of American luxury in the early 1900s

nascar at national auto and truck museum

National Auto & Truck Museum

Located directly behind the Duesenberg museum is the National Auto & Truck Museum. Here you'll find a more typical automotive museum with fewer interpretive exhibits and row after row of cars across dozens of different brands. From hot rods to delivery trucks, this is a great museum for guys that love cars and trucks. This is particularly true while exploring the museum's lower level where they have an excellent collection of trucks ranging from performance trucks that won speed records to early attempts at making EV trucks.

Early Ford V-8 Foundation Museum

The Early Ford V-8 Museum completes the trifecta of Auburn auto museums. It is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of early Ford V-8 engines. This includes farm equipment, industrial engines, and speed-focused vehicles, as well as a 1940s Ford Service Garage. With a specific focus on vehicles and technology produced between 1932 and 1953, this is one of those unique places that anyone who loves Fabulous Fords will want to include on their itinerary. 

Fort Wayne Firefighters Museum

Back in downtown Fort Wayne is the Firefighters Museum. While this is obviously specialized around firefighting I found this a great destination for any man who has ever looked at a fire engine or call box and wondered how it worked or what it would be like to be a fire fighter. While there's no doubt that this would be a great destination to include on a father son trip, as an adult I found it a fascinating place to explore and learn a bit about the history of firefighting technology and what things were like back in the day.

 

Man-Friendly Foods

As you'd imagine from a city that was built on manufacturing,... there's some great man-friendly foods as well as breweries here. There's also a surprisingly good collection of excellent cocktails and a wide variety of other food options here too.

Don Hall's (Prime Rib and Steaks)

I'm going to lump a bunch of restaurants together here to kick things off with Don Hall's restaurants because I'm told they are all excellent and each has fabulous prime rib ... though the recipes may be slightly different depending on the location you go to. We ate at Don Hall's Factory and the prime rib was a perfect medium rare. The French onion soup was excellent and the service was fabulous as well. 

the brown house restaurant auburn indiana

The Brown House

While you are in Auburn, make sure to stop by The Brown House. This hot dog and ice cream stand offers and authentic 1950s feel and is featured on the Indiana Food Ways list. You'll find your Indiana food staples likc a Coney dog, cheeseburger, and tenderloin sandwiches but you'll find so much more. Of course, they also have soft serve, custard, malts, and more too. Some of the unique things they offer here include a "Steamed Custard" - soft serve custard steamed into a hot drink served topped with whipped cream and the "Indiana Sunburn" featuring vanilla custard, lemonade, and strawberries blended together. 

If a shake or malt is more your preference - they have 52 different flavors here (unique special offering each week) but then they have more than 30 other flavors available including Cake Batter, Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Blueberry, Pineapple Upside Down Cake and of course the classics too.

Fort Wayne Famous Coney Island 

Located right downtown is the Fort Wayne Famous Coney Island. It first opened in 1914 and is said to be the oldest Coney shop in the United States. Today it is exactly like you'd expect from an authentic hot dog stand with a retro feel.

chapmans brewing co fort wayne

Chapman's Brewing Company

Located adjacent to the Union Market food hall in the Electric Works area of Fort Wayne (a food, drinks, and entertainment district being reclaimed from the abandoned GE plant), Chapman's is a great destination for good beer and food. The tacos were among the best we've had in the Midwest, and the hot chicharrones were still popping hot when they got to our table. 

Not only is the food good here but they have a good selection of craft beers on tap from other regional breweries and it's part of the Electric Works DORA so you can walk over to the Union Market Food Hall and try some other food, visit a cidery, play some pinball and generally have a great guys night out.

cocktails at birdys fort wayne

Drinks

I expected good beer here as it has that Midwest industrial vibe that sorta lends itself to a collection of decent breweries. However, what surprised me was the quality of the cocktails downtown. For instance, a Nawa - an Asian restaurant had surprisingly good cocktails. It is located on West Columbia Street with a row of other restaurants and bars, including Mercado, Dana's, and Marquee at the Landing. Birdie's is another great spot - it's the rooftop bar at the Bradley Hotel located just a block away from West Columbia Street and is where we stayed. 

When it comes to beer we had a great experience at Champman's but there are more than a dozen breweries, cideries, and distilleries in town that we look forward to visiting in the future.

It's important to note as well that Fort Wayne offers a DORA - Downtown Outdoor Refreshment Area program that was established in 2024 and allows visitors to purchase a drink at one location and enjoy it while walking around in designated areas. There is a similar DORA established at the Electric Works which means that you can buy a beer at Chapman's Brewing Company and then walk down to the Union Stret Market to grab some food or try one of the other beverage companies without having to finish your drink.

You must purchase from an authorized vendor so ask your bartender about the rules before assuming you can just walk out holding your cup :)

 Promenade Park kayaks - sweet breeze pavilion - photo courtesy of Visit Fort Wayne

Outdoor Adventure

While there are plenty of places to walk in Fort Wayne, as a city built on three rivers there are also some great kayak and canoe opportunities here, as well as bike trails too. This includes the "Urban Paddle Trail" that stars downtown at Promenade Park and you can paddle past Don Hall's The Deck (or stop for a drink).

 fort wayne tin caps baseball stadium

Sports: Fort Wayne Tin Caps and Komets

 As a Padres fan this is on our list to come back to later this summer, Fort Wayne Tin Caps are the High-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres and while there was no game going on when we visited, the stadium looks like a great venue to watch a game.

This isn't the only game in town - The Fort Wayne Komets hockey team is the ECHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. The city is also home to the Fort Wayne FC soccer team and is owned by USMNT and MLS soccer star DaMarcus Beasley

 bed the bradley hotel

Where To Stay In Fort Wayne

We stayed at the Bradley Hotel, a fantastic location with a great vibe right downtown. It features a decor inspired by the Vera Bradley designs and owned by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard - co-founder of Vera Bradley. However, there are plenty of other great options for a boys trip as well.

For instance, if you are coming into town for a Tin Caps game, the Hampton Inn, Courtyard, and Hilton are both located adjacent to the stadium