Weekend Road Trip with a Dog to Fort Wayne, Indiana
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.
Watch our dog-friendly travel vlog and don’t forget to subscribe!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
By this time, Dexter was getting a bit tired. Luckily the path around the pond was fully paved, perfect for Dexter’s dog stroller.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We personally spent our time walking through the splendid gardens. There’s something about blooming flowers and trees that brings a peace over me.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are you looking for even more ways to stay up to date with Raising Your Pets Naturally? Sign up for the newsletter for more tips and promotions. Don’t forget to be social and Like, Follow and Subscribe. Comments below are always welcome.