It has been a long wait for things to open back up and people to feel safe getting out and doing things.
And although there are plenty of things to do, including taking that long-awaited vacation, not everyone has the dollars to do it.
This can be especially true for parents who are just glad the unpredictable and crazy school year is done and are now looking for fun – but cheap – things to do with the kids this summer.
We'll do better than cheap. How about free?
Here are some ideas that won't charge anything but having a good time.
The city's newest urban greenspace is chock full of things to do. There's the Tree Canopy Trail that allows visitors to walk a winding path 20 feet above the park and along the river, a kids canal filled with water and flat rocks to climb on and a playground. In addition, there are outdoor gaming areas that include pingpong tables, cornhole and foosball.
If that wasn't enough, the park offers various programs, including Storytime on the Riverfront hosted by the Allen County Public Library at 10 and 11 a.m. every Monday through August.
If you go: 202 W. Superior St.; hours, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Summer and pools usually go hand in hand, but let's be real, taking the kids to the pool can be costly. Try the city's splash pads instead.
There are several to choose from. And since many of them are located in parks, you can pack a lunch or treats and make a full day of it.
The splash pads are at: Buckner Park, 6114 Bass Road; Franklin School Park, 1903 St. Marys Ave.; Kreager Park, North River Road; McCormick Park, 2300 Raymond Ave.; Memorial Park, 2301 Maumee Ave.; Shoaff Park, 6401 St. Joe Road; and Waynedale Park, 2900 Koons St.
If you go: Splash pads are usually open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through early fall.
Looking at a gigantic hole in the ground may not sound like much, but trust us, you'll be amazed at this scene at Hanson Aggregates Mideast's Ardmore Quarry. Visitors can stand on an observation tower high above and view trucks moving rock from the ginormous crater way below.
The quarry has been in operation for decades and the hole grows bigger each year.
If you go: 6100 Ardmore Ave.; open from daylight to dusk.
Museum of Art
The Fort Wayne Museum of Art offers beautiful galleries and artwork that allows visitors can explore at their own pace. The museum focuses on American Art and new exhibits are brought in regularly. The best part is that the museum offers free admission from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays.
If you go: 311 E. Main St.; hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Parkview Field had been closed to visitors since March 2020, but now the gates are once again open daily to the public. That means you can take the kids out to the park and let them see where the TinCaps play and walk around the stadium. In addition, kids can enjoy the splash pad at the Robert E. Meyers Park.
If you go: 1301 Ewing St.; hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Friday; hours are limited on Saturdays because of game days. Gates close three hours before TinCaps games.
Sneaky parents know there's a bonus in finding things where kids can have fun and learn at the same time. The Old Fort offers just that. The replica fort of what once stood in the city in 1815 is located along the St. Mary River across from Headwaters Park. In addition to reenactments, the fort has staff available for tours and to answer questions during its summer hours.
Every Thursday, visitors can watch local craftspeople at work, and on Saturday and Sunday soldiers are there to talk about their daily lives.
You also can find out about upcoming reenactments at its website, oldfortwayne.org.
If you go: 1201 Spy Run Ave.; hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 1. Parking is at Lawton Park, Headwaters Park or in the lot on Spy Run Avenue across from the Fort (use the Rivergreenway Trail under the Spy Run bridge to access the fort).
Trek the Trails
Pull out the bikes and enjoy the Rivergreenway with Trek the Trails. The event offers families or individuals a chance to ride their bikes with groups at 6 p.m. each Tuesday in different locations.
Most rides are 8 to 9 miles long, but the pace is easy and no one is left behind.
If you go: For upcoming ride locations, go to fwtrails.org/events/trek-the-trails/. Participants are asked to wear helmets for the rides.
Over the past year many people have taken advantage of the shut down and ventured outside. There's no reason to stop that now. Take the kids to visit the many nature preserves in Allen County. ACRES Land Trust has several preserves, many that are so underused that you could be the only ones there at times.
Many of them have hillsides to tromp, streams to wade in, wildflowers to see and all types of animals.
If you go: You can find the different preserves at acreslandtrust.org.
Down on the farm
Get a glimpse of life on the farm by visiting Salomon Farm Park. The 170-acre park offers walking paths, views of old farm buildings, including a barn, and vegetable gardens and farm animals that include sheep, goat, donkeys and chickens.
If you go: 817 W. Dupont Road; hours, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
OK, yes, we said this was free stuff, but the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory offers $1 admission the first Thursday of each month from 5 to 8 p.m. For a family of four, that's only $4.
And for all the conservatory offers that's a true bargain.
The conservatory offers lush gardens and plants from various climates. There are also exhibits and activities for the kids.
If you go: 1100 S. Calhoun St.