Meet The Midwest's Friendliest City

In Fort Wayne, Indiana, it’s the little details that make a big difference for meeting planners. The downtown area offers a wealth of venues, attractions and restaurants. But it’s the city’s unique approach to hospitality that makes it the perfect place to host your next meeting, conference or event. From the dedicated staff who will help you customize your event to the friendly welcome your guests will receive at every restaurant and attraction, you’ll quickly see why so many meeting planners return to Fort Wayne, Indiana, year after year. 

Here are the top five reasons to host your next event in what Hoosiers call the Summit City.

1. First-Class Service at the Airport

Your guests will get a literal taste of the city’s famous hospitality as soon as they arrive in Fort Wayne. Since the late 1980s, volunteers have welcomed travelers from around the world to Fort Wayne International Airport with freshly baked cookies from Ellison Bakery, one of Fort Wayne’s entrepreneurial success stories located across the street from the airport. These volunteers have handed out over 2 million cookies for more than 30 years, and they will also answer any questions travelers have about navigating the airport, signing up for the free Wi-Fi, and getting into the city, which is less than a 20-minute drive or ride from the airport. 

2. Grand Wayne Convention Center

The award-winning Grand Wayne Convention Center is one of the Midwest's most beautifully appointed, professionally staffed event facilities. The 225,000-sq.-ft. venue hosts more than 300 events each year, with more than 80% of meeting planners rebooking the convention center for future events. Once you step into the luxuriously designed event spaces, you’ll understand why. From the 50,000-sq.-ft. carpeted exhibit hall to the 18 climate-controlled meeting rooms to the 30,000-sq.-ft. terrazzo floor corridor, no detail is overlooked. Each meeting space offers advanced technology, including high-end lighting and sound and presentation options like the new Converge classroom collaboration suite. The convention center also has free, high-speed Wi-Fi capable of connecting up to 5,000 users simultaneously. 

Beyond the technology, Grand Wayne Convention Center offers additional amenities that make it easy for your attendees to stay alert and focused throughout the day’s activities. Large windows welcome an abundance of natural light, while the lounge chairs and tables scattered throughout the pre-function corridors offer a spot to recharge between events. Bonus: The center also has more than 120 restrooms; no long lines here.  

Hoosier hospitality runs deep in Fort Wayne, and the convention center’s staff lives up to that famous hospitality. The in-house sales team, event managers, event hosts and guest experience managers are ready to create and plan the perfect event, and their in-house audiovisual teams will help you bring each idea to life. The Center has 24-hour engineering and room setup teams on call throughout the festivities to ensure a seamless transition between each meeting and breakout session. When it’s time to eat, the professional chef and hospitality crews are ready to wine and dine your attendees in style. It offers catering services for up to 3,100 guests for a single setting or multiple, simultaneous events. 

After the day’s activities are over, your guests will find it easy to explore the heart of Fort Wayne. The convention center is located in downtown and within walking distance of nearly 40 restaurants and pubs as well as several arts and entertainment venues. The Foellinger-Freimann Botantical Conservatory and extensive Allen County Public Library are also within one block’s walk of the center. If guests don’t feel like walking, the center is served by multiple bike sharing, taxi and shuttle services.

3. The Variety of Off-Site Venues

The Grand Wayne Convention Center is only one of Fort Wayne’s many venues and meeting spaces. Host an elegant cocktail party inside the palatial Historic Embassy Theatre connected to the convention center. This 1928 movie palace/vaudeville house was renovated in 2017 and now features a two-story ballroom and reception venue complete with a rooftop garden offering 360-degree views of downtown Fort Wayne.

Another popular venue is Parkview Field, located across the street from the convention center. Since its opening in 2009, Parkview has won multiple awards, including the top minor league ballpark experience by StadiumJourney.com. Invite your attendees to enjoy a ball game or special events like concerts, food festivals, and more. Finally, the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center is home to the world’s second largest archives of historical data from collections around the world. It’s one of the country’s top spots for genealogy conferences, but it also makes a unique backdrop for any off-site event or meeting. 

4. The Sites of Downtown

Part of the fun of attending an event in a new location is the chance to explore the destination’s attractions and amenities, and your guests will find plenty to see and do in downtown Fort Wayne. Riverfront Fort Wayne stretches through the city’s skyscrapers, marking the meeting point of the St. Marys, St. Joseph and Maumee rivers. Hundreds of years ago, this is where the city’s early pioneers settled. Today, it’s a sprawling green space that’s home to multiple parks and trails. Rent some canoes for a fun team-building event, or encourage a friendly competition on the cornhole or foosball courts. Around the corner from the greenspace is construction on the Historic Landing District. Once completed in October 2019, your guests will be able to enjoy multiple new shops, restaurants, pubs and more.

As your guests are exploring all of downtown’s sites and attractions, they will likely stumble upon one of the many “Art This Way” exhibits. This collection of professional murals, art installations and sculptures lines downtown Fort Wayne’s streets and alleyways, adding a unique atmosphere to the bustling city center. 

Finally, downtown’s historic West Central neighborhood offers a fascinating look at the city’s history and culture. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this district was first settled in the 1830s by the city’s most affluent families. Now it’s home to a diverse selection of architecture, from quaint cottages to sprawling Victorian homes, revitalized by the city’s popular downtown energy.

5. Wining and Dining

Downtown Fort Wayne’s food scene is making waves. The city’s Hoppy Gnome, a Mexican fusion restaurant and brewery, was recently featured in USA Today, and the Oyster Bar on Calhoun Street has been a Fort Wayne institution since 1888. You’ll find plenty of options for private dining and events in downtown. Treat your guests to a feast of Chinese and Thai flavors at Nawa’s Asian-inspired Cuisine in the Landing District. Or satisfy their steak cravings at the Copper Spoon … Irish fare at J.K. O’Donnell’s Pub … or Latino selections at Proximo, all within a few blocks of Grand Wayne Convention Center. Fort Wayne’s downtown restaurants are famous for their focus on sustainable and locally sourced meat and produce. And with several local breweries and distilleries — several receiving national accolades — it’s easy to settle in and enjoy everything downtown Fort Wayne and Grand Wayne Convention Center have to offer event planners and their guests.