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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 10, 2018 1:00 am

Walking tours allow exploration of city's gems

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

If you're planning on sticking around home this summer, then why not take the opportunity to explore Fort Wayne's communities and what they have to offer with a walking tour?

A walking tour can not only allow you to explore area neighborhoods, but also introduce you to stores, restaurants and other spots you didn't know were there.

Visit Fort Wayne (www.visitfortwayne.com) already has several tours mapped out that will turn you into an urban explorer in no time. Just make sure you put on a good pair of walking shoes, dress for the weather and follow these ideas.

Downtown walking tour: Visit Fort Wayne offers a downtown walking tour, including a printable map, that will take you to some great spots downtown. Walkers will start at the visitors center, cross Washington Boulevard to Grand Wayne Convention Center, then pass Embassy Theatre and on to Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, to the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and several more stops along the way, ending at Parkview Field. You can find the map at www.visitfortwayne.com/things-to-do/downtown/walking-tour.

Heritage Trail: ARCH, a historic preservation organization in Fort Wayne, provides maps to four trails that take participants to several different stops throughout Fort Wayne. The Central Downtown Trail includes stops at the Allen County Courthouse, the Old Fort, Headwaters Park, the Canal House and other historic locations. There is also the Kekionga Trail which is chock full of historic spots such as the story of Tacumwah and the old apple tree and the Battle of Kekionga. Descriptions and maps can be found at archfw.org/heritagetrail.

Fort Wayne Food Tours: Local author and historian Randy Harter started Fort Wayne Food Tours last year as a way to spotlight the city's growing food scene. The tour goes to five local dining spots and allows participants to try some of their offerings. In between, Harter offers highlights of the history and architecture of Fort Wayne during the slow and easy 1.25-mile walk.

The tours happen at 3 p.m. Saturdays – rain or shine – and cost $60. To register, go to www.fortwaynefoodtours.com.

Garden tour: ARCH offers garden tours during the summer months that allow residents to explore neighborhood homes. The Illsley Place Home and Garden Tour on June 23 is a tour of nine historic homes, as well as the new '07 Pub, Modern Mill and CookSpring Shared Kitchen. Illsely Place, located near Foster Park and developed in 1923, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers examples of many architectural housing styles, including Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Eclectic, French Eclectic and Italianate.

The tour is 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tickets cost $12 to $14. For more information, go to archfw.org.

Riverfront walking tours: Beginning June 30, Riverfront Fort Wayne will offer free tours of the city's riverfront to share more information and development plans for the city's riverfront project. In addition, participants get to see the city from a different view. The tours start at Lawton Park, 1900 N. Clinton St., and begin at 10 a.m. Other dates are July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 29.

Rivergreenway: Of course, you can always hit the city's more than 100 miles of trails along the Rivergreenway, which connects various parks and neighborhoods.

Explore the river: Speaking of riverfront, if you don't want to walk, you could always explore a different side of Fort Wayne by taking to the rivers. There are several boat tours this summer that include rides on the river, along with historic information, river lore and interesting stories about the city.

Sweet Breeze is Fort Wayne's 1840s canal boat replica that departs from the public dock at Headwaters Park West. Tours go from 45 minutes to 2 hours and are $25 to $35 per person. For more information or to book a tour, go to fwoutfitters.com or call 420-3962.

Riverfront Fort Wayne Boat Tours are offered by Riverfront Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Parks Department. The tour is one hour and departs from the public dock at Headwaters Park West. Cost is $12 a person. To book a tour, go to riverfrontfw.org or www.fortwayneparks.org or call 427-6000.

Captain Black Boat Tours takes riders in a pontoon boat along the St. Marys and St. Joseph rivers. Tour time is 2 hours. Cost is $350 for a private tour of up to 12. To book, go to fwoutfitters.com or call 420-3962.

Airboat rides will allow riders to feel the breeze while on the water. Rides are from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Cost is $20 per person. To reserve a ride, email Mike Gasdorf at MGasdorf@frontier.com.

River City Ventures is a new party barge that takes groups of up to 16 on a floating bar tour of the rivers. Time is 2 hours and departs from the river dock below the Deck at Don Hall's Gas House on Superior Street. Cost is $25 per person. To book, go to rivercityventuresfortwayne.com or call 403-1911.

Kraken Cycle Boats is another new river venture that has riders pedaling their boat. Cost is $39 per person for up to 15 people. For more information or to book, go to www.krakencycleboats.com or call 813-603-3117.

trich@jg.net