It goes without saying that walking is good for you. Countless studies credit walking 30 minutes a day with a winding list of benefits, like increased cardiovascular fitness, bone strength, endurance, and cognitive health.
As fruitful as walking can be, let’s face it—in colder months, it can feel like a chore. Trees that were once lush appear barren, and the sun peeks out less and less, creating a less stimulating backdrop for your daily walk. But the colder weather doesn’t have to lead to a drab jaunt.
Bundle up, and head to the heart of Fort Wayne for a scenic walk, where you’ll find stunning views yearlong at:
Art This Way’s Double Plus Alleyways
If you think walking in the alley seems peculiar, you haven’t visited Art This Way’s Double Plus, which decorates Downtown Fort Wayne’s alleyways with public art and installations. Think of it as an interactive art exhibit. At each mural there’s a QR code you can scan to learn about the artist and their inspiration, just like you would at a museum. But unlike most exhibits, this one is free, making art accessible to everyone’s budget.
Art This Way’s alley murals weave through Downtown (and beyond), and adorn the buildings of some of Fort Wayne’s best restaurants, coffee shops, and boutique stores. So while you’re sightseeing, pop in to grab a bite or take home a souvenir from your trip.
You can let the art lead your way, or you can plan your trek in advance with Art This Way’s digital map. Choose your own adventure!
Paving the art trail’s way is local artist and Art This Way founder, Alex Hall, who thoughtfully curates the alleys with a variety of styles. Using sides of buildings as a blank canvas, Alex gives artists a platform, all while beautifying the city. It’s a win-win.
Fittingly, the muse behind Art This Way is the late Christy Landrigan, who was an advocate for improving Fort Wayne’s walkability and sense of community. Christy understood the impact of foot traffic to a city’s vitality and was an early supporter of Downtown’s redevelopment. Even though she was never able to walk the Double Plus, her memory still champions community and walkability every time people gather around the project’s spectacular alley art.
Promenade Park + The Landing
Fort Wayne is home to many natural resources, including the Saint Mary’s River. Even when the trees aren’t green, the water still flows through the city, making Promenade Park a lively destination for an outdoor adventure, regardless of the season.
Part of Riverfront Fort Wayne, a movement to revitalize Fort Wayne’s rivers, Promenade Park creates a gathering space along Fort Wayne’s streams with a state-of-the-art pavilion, plenty of designated play spaces for kids and adults alike, and of course, trails along the St. Marys so you can roam the waterside.
If you need to refuel, Trubble Riverside Cafe & Tap is located inside the pavilion at Promenade—or you can skip over to The Landing, where you’ll be met with more murals and a bustling food scene. Plan to cap your walk off with brunch, lunch, or dinner or grab coffee or tea from Utopian Cafe to help keep you warm as you explore the park.
Historic West Central Neighborhood
Architecture and history buffs will rejoice in a walk throughout Historic West Central—Fort Wayne’s oldest neighborhood. Home to many of the city’s early movers and shakers, the neighborhood boasts architectural styles from 1830 all the way to 1950. From grand castle homes to old brick workers’ cottages, you’ll feel transported back in time.
In addition to the neighborhood’s rich history, it’s a hub for artists and local creatives. The Castle Gallery, Arena Dinner Theatre, The Hedge, and the art studios of Jake Patten, Ruth Koomler, and Terry Ratliff all reside in West Central. So, while you admire the breathtaking buildings, you can stop in at a gallery or catch a show.
If you work up an appetite, Davey’s Delicious Bagels dons walls of art from its West Central neighbors and serves up bagels worthy of its name. Their bagel sandwiches are a work-of-art in themselves. If you have a sweet tooth, you can grab a treat from Sassy Cakes—so beautiful, you’ll feel a little guilty biting into them. And even though it’s cold, it’s never too cold for ice cream, right? Pop in to Brooklyn Pints Microcreamery, a small batch, artisanal ice cream shop located inside the Historic Sheridan Court apartment complex.
Taking a stroll Downtown Fort Wayne is an easy way to get your steps in year-round and keep your senses captivated. With sprawling murals, awe-inspiring architecture, the beauty of the three rivers, and plenty of cozy pit stops, your walk will be full of unique sights and experiences. There’s a lot to take in, so grab a sweater, a hot cocoa, and invite a friend to walk with you!
Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.