The heartbeat of the Summit City, 46802 is the epicenter of downtown. Historically, it was where nearly everything happened, from work and school to shopping and dining. Living downtown was the norm for many families. When subdivisions multiplied around the city’s perimeter, 46802 suffered from doughnut hole syndrome; the suburbs were the glazed cake. Those days, however, are of the past. And it’s about time.
Simply put, 46802 has more to offer than perhaps any other zip code in northeastern Indiana.
Headwaters Park is the Central Park of our miniature Manhattan, an all-seasons green space with a splash-pad style fountain and diverse weekly festivals in the summer, an ice rink in the winter and displays of natural beauty in both indigenous and installed flora in the spring and autumn.
The Arts Campus includes the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Artlink Contemporary Gallery, the Performing Arts Center and the Artslab Theatre. Nearby, the Dance Collective offers a wide range of classes above the Cinema Center, Fort Wayne’s go-to theater for independent films.
If architecture is your thing, take a stroll through Historic West Central, particularly on Wayne and Berry and their cross streets. Some of the houses function as art galleries (Castle Gallery and Timothy Johnson Fine Art) and even a dinner theater (Arena Dinner Theatre), so it’s no wonder the neighborhood has been named one of the hippest places to live (yeah, in the entire US) by a growing roster of media outlets.
For some respite from the bustle, head into the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and browse, sit and reflect among plants from different ecosystems in the desert garden, the tropical garden or outside in the exploration garden.
No report on the gems of 46802 would be complete without a mention of the phenomenal downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library. Besides the mind-boggling collection of books and other media, the downtown library houses its own art gallery and Maker Lab. The Genealogy Center, though, is perhaps the shining star of the facility; it’s world-renowned for the depth and breadth of its record collection.
One of the most eclectic shopping destinations around is at The Wood Shack, a 44-year-old architectural antique store consisting of several buildings and a backyard brimming with all things household: antique two-faucet sinks, desks, wrought-iron wall hooks, wooden siding, light fixtures — the list goes on and on.
Creative Women of the World is a local business committed to global empowerment though training and design. The boutique, which sells apparel, décor and bath products, is dedicated to inspiring creative women to forge sustainable lifestyles through educational opportunities focused on developing business and marketing skills.
The City Exchange affords shoppers the feeling of strolling down a metropolitan street lined with tiny, one-of-a-kind stores. One space houses several booth-like shops owned by local merchants. Sip on a fresh, organic juice from Juice Jar while browsing fashion, bath and gift options.
For all things music–well, listening to music–Neat Neat Neat Records and Music is the place to be. The knowledgeable staff can help you both build a stereo system and decide between “Rubber Soul” and “A Hard Day’s Night.” (Spoiler alert: The answer is both.)
Within 46802 exists a dizzying array of dining options to suit any craving and budget. Grab a hot dog at Coney Island, a locally-sourced plate of heaven at Tolon or top-quality seafood at the Oyster Bar. Saigon Restaurant is the place for pho, while newcomer Nawa offers upscale Asian-inspired cuisine. If you want authentic tacos, it’s hard to beat Tacos Arandas “El Amish.” Pizza? 816 Pint & Slice has you covered. And for the best grilled-cheese-and-tomato-soup options, Dash-In is a must.
Naturally, downtown is the place-to-be on a Friday or Saturday night. A neighborhood favorite is Henry’s, which has been open since 1959 and draws a diverse crowd for both food and booze. Wine Down may be known for its ultra-cool wine vending machines that allow guests to customize their own wine flights, but the selection of top-shelf, hard-to-find liquors is worth writing home about. (Lavender absinthe? Yes please.)
Wanna dance? Check out LGBT+-friendly After Dark and Babylon. Looking for live music? Club Soda, Fort Wayne’s original martini bar, features live jazz Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. The Brass Rail always delivers consistently good local, regional and national acts.
Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits–yes, they serve sandwiches, too–is a great place at any point during a weekend evening to be entertained. The adjacent Tiger Room hosts music, poetry, comedy and community events such as Drawn Together, nights of drinking and doodling.
Don’t drink? Not 21? Settle for an ice-cream bun at Yummi Bunni, where doughnuts with holes are a thing of the past.