Fort Wayne recently hosted an event that is family-friendly, fascinating and free!
The event is called ‘Be A Tourist’ (BAT). It’s held the Sunday following Labor Day and is designed to encourage people who live in Fort Wayne and surrounding areas to visit some of the city’s main attractions. Tourists are issued free blue passports which can be stamped at the door of each exhibit.
This is the third time in the event’s history my family has participated in BAT. In one day we feel like we are invited to visit the Best of the Best in Indiana’s second largest metropolis. We especially love that we can do so without paying a dime! Thankfully, the sun shone the whole afternoon, which made it a perfect day to stroll in and out of the available attractions.
The first attraction we visited was the Allen County Courthouse. This is a self-guided tour in which you can stroll throughout the massive building and observe what has to be some of the loveliest legal vistas in the US!
The intricately decorated dome inside the front doors is reminiscent of what you might see in historic drawing rooms of Europe!
The four courtrooms on the upper levels are no less magnificent with scenes of America’s rural life displayed around the walls.
Tours of the courthouse are available during the year, but the best thing about visiting on BAT is that cameras are allowed inside the courthouse-- the only day of the year that is possible!
Across the street is another gorgeous building – Lincoln Tower. The interior of this structure is filled with Art Deco. Lovely!
In past years the public was allowed to climb to the top of the tower and look out over the city from a secure balcony. This year the tower was not available, but the bank did the next best thing—other than give away money. They opened the bank’s original vault with its massive steel door, built in 1930, for people to tour. Cool!
Walking a few blocks took us to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. This is a lovely facility with paintings and sculpture (indoor and outdoor) and often special exhibits. The current exhibit of Chihuly glass has its own fee of $5.00. There is also a hands-on Early Learning Center in the MOA for children to learn about art.
At the Embassy Theatre we toured the green rooms where people like Bob Hope would have prepped before going on stage. The Embassy Theater, built in 1928, is one of Fort Wayne’s best historic preservation stories. It was slated to be torn down a few decades ago, but thanks to the efforts of concerned citizens, it was saved. Today, it is thriving and an active part of Fort Wayne’s social scene. We heard grandiose tunes played by a maestro on the Grand Page organ. This massive musical instrument has delighted audiences for many years. Kids enjoyed playing on the Embassy stage during BAT—who knows? They might be future stars!
Next door at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory we relaxed while viewing dozens of varieties of plants and foliage. Standing in front of the waterfall is the perfect place for photos. A free outdoor concert at the conservatory’s garden area by a group called ‘The Brat Pack’ was a fun addition.
Organizers estimate 30,000 showed up for BAT, but don't let that number scare you away. The exhibits are well spaced and parking is free in downtown Fort Wayne on weekends so plenty of spaces are available.
Other attractions included in the ‘Be A Tourist’ Day:
Parkview Field, home of the Fort Wayne’s Tin Caps baseball team
These places all have year-round activities so don't wait for the next “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” event scheduled for September 11, 2016, to visit. Check out their events and plan to visit soon!