Dog-Friendly Midwest Vacations | Fort Wayne, Indiana Pet Travel Guide

Weekend Road Trip with a Dog to Fort Wayne, Indiana

Dog friendly travel guides
Dog-friendly Fort Wayne, Indiana Travel Guide

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. However, I will always offer my readers an unbiased and honest account of my experiences. Your trust is very appreciated, and never taken for granted. ~Tonya, Dexter and Angel Nutter

Dexter and I were ready for another fun dog-friendly weekend road trip. This time I was packing my mom and step-dad along for the ride. Our destination, dog-friendly Fort Wayne, Indiana. Our family isn’t new to Fort Wayne, Indiana. In previous years, we headed to Fort Wayne to watch Ed launch model rockets! But this weekend getaway was going to be different; we were actually going to have time to explore all that Fort Wayne has to offer dog families.

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Travel ideas with a dog

Typically, when I travel to new destinations, I like to check out the local visitor center, so we stopped in at Visit Fort Wayne’s Visitor Center. The best part was that the visitor center is dog-friendly, and Dexter was able to join me. Not only were we able to pick up some great maps and local brochures, but Dexter received some much-needed pets and attention. The visitor center also had a great selection of local goods, souvenirs, and even a nice dog section.

Visiting Fort Wayne, Indiana with a dog
Visit Fort Wayne’s Visitor Center

Our next stop was Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot. Our original plan was to try dog kayaking for the first time. This is something that I have never done, and I thought Dexter would really enjoy chillaxin’ on the riverfront. Unfortunately, the river was high and moving pretty quickly. The wonderful staff advised us that it would be quite challenging even for an experienced kayaker.

Bike and kayak rentals in Fort Wayne
Inside shop is also dog-friendly

But, no need to fear, the amazing crew at Fort Wayne Outfitters and Bike Depot set us up with bikes and a kid’s trailer for Dexter. How fun is that? The three of us took a nice bike ride around the riverfront area with Dexter in tow in the kid’s trailer. He was pretty excited and sang along the way. I wonder what people must have thought as we rode on by. The weather was perfect, sunny and still cool.

Fun activities with dogs
Dog-friendly bike and kayak rentals

After our fun bike ride, we were all ready for lunch and a little rest. Shigs N’ Pit was calling our name. Shigs N’ Pit on Maplecrest has a large, dog-friendly outdoor patio. Not only was the patio dog-friendly, but there was lots of space between each table to allow ample room for even the largest of dogs.

Dog friendly outdoor dining
Dog-friendly Fort Wayne restaurants

But what about the food? If you are looking for a mouthwatering barbecue, you need not look further than Shigs N’ Pit. They have won various championships and awards for their smoked meats. As we were looking at the menu, it was hard to choose. They offer so many choices. Ed ordered the slow-roasted smoked wings with Shigs’ dry rub. My mom stuck with the classic pulled pork sandwich. And me, I dove into the Big Tom: smoked turkey, cranberry mayo, bacon, cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. For a side, I ordered apple pie baked beans.

Best wings in Indiana
Dry rub wings
Best barbecue in Fort Wayne
Pulled pork

The food was seriously good. With each bite, I could taste the fresh ingredients just melting in my mouth. We all were in agreement that this was one of the best barbecue spots we have ever eaten at. No wonder they have won so many competitions! Oh, and the apple pie baked beans were really different and had quite the kick with chunks of apples in each bite.

Restaurants that allow dogs in Indiana
Apple pie baked beans!

The dessert menu was just as tantalizing. With so many sweet treats to choose from, it was a hard decision to make. My mom chose a soft, large chocolate chip cookie, Ed the chocolate mint pie, and I ordered a slice of refreshing lemon meringue pie. I forgot how much I love meringue!

Dessert spots in Fort Wayne, IN
Oh ya!

Once our bellies were full, it was time to get a little exercise. Spring was in the air, so we thought it would be a perfect day to visit Lakeside Park. This dog-friendly park is a reconstruction of a historic park and sunken gardens. The original sunken garden was created in 1920 by Adolf Jaenicke. The new sunken garden closely resembles the original garden featuring rose gardens, pergola, and reflection pond.

Public gardens that allow dogs
Dog-friendly sunken gardens

The sunken garden was such a breathtaking sight. It was nice to walk Dexter around, and we both enjoyed sniffing the flowers. Lakeside Park offers more than just the garden. This 25-acre park also houses a basketball court, large pond perfect for fishing most of the year and ice skating in the winter, picnic areas, tennis courts, and playgrounds. It’s no wonder the park was brimming with activity.

Rose gardens in Indiana that are pet friendly
Lots of places to sniff

By this time, Dexter was getting a bit tired. Luckily the path around the pond was fully paved, perfect for Dexter’s dog stroller.

Dog-friendly public gardens

Dexter was ready for a power nap, so we decided it would be a good time to check into our pet-friendly hotel. We had reservations at the Holiday Inn Purdue-Fort Wayne. I couldn’t be more pleased with the customer service we received the minute we walked through the doors. Both front desk clerks were friendly and welcoming.

Best dog-friendly hotel chains
Pet-friendly Holiday Inn

The four of us were staying in a two-queen room. Our room was spacious, clean, and had all the amenities we would need for the weekend, including a refrigerator for Dexter’s fresh food. The room also included free high-speed wireless Internet, a large table, chairs, and a 32-inch HD LCD television. The beds were triple-sheeted and so comfortable.

Pet-friendly hotel chains
Spacious and clean rooms
Best hotel chains that allow dogs
Refrigerator in rooms for fresh food

Holiday Inn Purdue-Fort Wayne is a full-service hotel featuring on-site dining, room service, lounge, business center, fitness center, and indoor pool. The hotel also features a variety of meeting spaces that include state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment.

Dog-friendly hotels in Indiana
Indoor pool and lounge
Pet friendly hotels in Indiana, Fort Wayne
2 fitness centers

Once we hit the cozy beds, we were out for a couple of hours. A combination of outdoor exercise, good food, and travel caught up to us. After our power nap, we were refreshed and ready for our evening adventure.

Dexter is a big fan of live music. As luck would have it, Fort Wayne offers a free outdoor, dog-friendly concert series. Friday Nites Live concerts are held at Jefferson Pointe mall. We brought our lawn chairs and a blanket for Dexter, and enjoyed the live band. The concert was hopping with people and some dogs. It was a perfect way to end our first night in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Free concerts in Indiana
Free to enjoy
Pet friendly attractions and events
Dog-friendly outdoor concert

For breakfast, we ate at The Mastodon Grill, conveniently The Holiday Inn’s on-site restaurant. The Mastodon Grill is a full-service restaurant offering a large selection of American cuisine. We were able to dine with Dexter on their outside patio. The dog-friendly restaurant had plenty of tables with large shade umbrellas. Our waitress was exceptionally friendly and brought Dexter fresh water and bacon! Dexter was very happy.

Dog friendly patios near me
Spacious dog-friendly patio
Pet friendly patios
Wonderful food & service

After breakfast, we headed to the YLNI ( Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana) Farmers Market in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne. When traveling, it’s always fun to visit local farmer’s markets to shop for unique local products and food. The YLNI Farmers Market was a large, vibrant outdoor market. They had everything from homemade soaps to soups and everything in between. This market is dog-friendly and has a wonderful family vibe.

Fort Wayne farmers markets
Dog-friendly farmers market
Larger farmers markets in indiana
Lots of great local vendors

A visit to Fort Wayne wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the historic fort. The Old Fort is a replica of the fort that stood in Fort Wayne in 1815. This public park is dog-friendly, so we were free to wander and enjoy at our leisure. They also put on live demonstrations and re-enactments. During our visit, a young gentleman wearing period specific clothing was explaining to a family all about the fort and its history. The historic buildings were fun to look inside. A must-see for any history buff.

Attractions in Fort Wayne that allow dogs
The Old Fort
Pet friendly things to see in Indiana
Dexter checking out the historic rooms

Following the fort, we moved onto our next park, Foster Park. This 200+ acre park offers a great retreat for any dog lover. The park has beautifully landscaped community gardens, large trees, walking and bike trails, and even a dog park. The Fort Wayne Rivergreenway also passes through Foster Park.

Paved parks in Fort Wayne
Beautifully landscaped & accessible

We personally spent our time walking through the splendid gardens. There’s something about blooming flowers and trees that brings a peace over me.

dog-friendly attractions in indiana
Lincoln log cabin replica

Our last stop for the day was Hop River Brewing Company. Hop River isn’t just a dog-friendly Fort Wayne brewery, it’s a place locals call their second home. The warm-and-inviting atmosphere where family and friends congregate was obvious from all the smiles on patrons’ faces.

Pubs and breweries that allow dogs
Craft beer flight
Local breweries in Indiana
Where the magic happens

The outside patio was filled with fun games, tables, and a covered awning, a perfect way to spend an evening. Ed and my mom ordered up a flight of craft beers. Ordering a flight is a great way to sample a few of the local brews.

Dog-friendly breweries near fort wayne
Games & fun

Hop River’s menu offers great bar food made from local ingredients. The three of us ordered some tasty sandwiches. Mom, the Sloppy Joe: Wood Farms beef with mustard and vinegar slaw. Ed chose the buffalo chicken sandwich: Gunthorp Farms roast chicken, buffalo sauce, blue cheese spread, and crispy onions. I selected a Hop River burger: a quarter pound of Wood Farms ground beef, American cheese, Hop River burger sauce, bacon, lettuce, and tomato.

Pet friendly brewery in Indiana
Sloppy Joe
Pet friendly restaurants in the Midwest
Buffalo chicken

Oh yeah. The food was delicious. The food at Hop River is definitely more than a greasy bar burger. This food was appetizing and delightful with every bite. If you have a passion for craft beer and are looking for a community hangout, you definitely want to hop on over to Hop River Brewery.

Outdoor dog-friendly dining in Fort Wayne
Classic hamburger

It was nice to be able to finally experience Fort Wayne with Dexter. We had such a great weekend and hope to get back next year. If you are planning a dog-friendly road trip in the Midwest, Fort Wayne, Indiana is a great destination.

When planning your pet-friendly Fort Wayne, Indiana vacation, contact Visit Fort Wayne’s Visitor Center to help plan the perfect road trip.

Do you travel with your dog? Tell me in the comments.

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Dog-Friendly Midwest Vacations | Fort Wayne, Indiana Pet Travel Guide

54 thoughts on “Dog-Friendly Midwest Vacations | Fort Wayne, Indiana Pet Travel Guide

  1. I’m on a hunt for places to travel with my dog that we’d both enjoy. I live alone so it’s just him and me when I travel. I’m going to have to check out some of these suggestions for our fall vacation trip.

  2. I will have to let me mom know about some of the more dog friendly places to visit in the Midwest. She travels half the year in her RV with her dog and always looking for good places to visit. Fort Wayne seems really fun and perfect to bring her pup with her.

  3. What a fun place to travel to! I wouldn’t mind going here. We don’t have dogs, but it’s nice that they are welcome. All the food you shared looks incredible.

  4. You are a woman after my own heart. I wish I was along on this trip! Smoked turkey, cranberry mayo sandwich?! Pulled pork and buffalo chicken? Lemon pie!! Oh my…. all of my favourite things. Also, I’m obsessed with craft beer. I love it and I even make it! What a fun trip!

  5. Oh my, Dexter is so adorable 🙂 I can’t imagine how much thought needs to go into planning vacations with a dog in tow. Thanks for the detailed post, good to have in mind as my girls have been asking for a dog and I feel they are gonna wear me out and have their way pretty soon lol.

  6. Wow! This place looks super amazing I would to take my dog to this place. Thanks for recommending this place

  7. It’s so cool that you were able to rent a bike and cycle together with Dexter. It looks like so much fun! The foodie spots you visited look amazing as well, I’d love to try that Sloppy Joe.

  8. I love that in little time you can go from city to somewhere that you can get in touch with nature, culture and a less advanced way of life. Such a brilliant place to bring my dogs.

  9. Wow! The facilities in Fort-Wayne looks absolutely amazing. The food looks just scrumptious and I would like the opportunity to try those apple pie baked beans. I have a soft spot for lemon desserts so that is what I will be ordering if ever I visit this place.

  10. I would imagine it’s not easy to plan a vacation with a dog but it looks like you accomplished just that, and successfully too! Looks like a lot of fun and some good food too.

  11. I can’t believe how happy he is! the last picture killed me lol, so cute!!! I will need to check this place out, looks amazing.

  12. Fort Wayne is one of my favorite places to go with my dogs. I have a pack of dogs and we always vacation there and I didn’t know that there was a rocket launching show thanks for sharing that.

  13. NO longer a pet owner but think you’ve put together some great suggestions here. Appreciate your thoughtfulness in this post!

  14. This is some great information to know, especially for families traveling with pets. We have Great Pyrenees dogs that we’re not able to take on trips, but I bet these are some great places for a lot of dog owners out there.

  15. This is truly a bucket lists material.I’m hoping to go next year and this would be perfect place to start with my dogs!

  16. I just keep looking at the cockerspaniel. Wow Fort Wayne looks really interesting to travel

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