24 hours in Fort Wayne with Reneta Thurairatnam-Sandkuhler

Name: Reneta Thurairatnam-Sandkuhler

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an avid foodie and traveler. I work as a Senior Wealth Advisor for Lake City Bank.

How long have you lived in Fort Wayne?

I’ve lived in Fort Wayne since the summer of 2002, and I have loved seeing it grow and develop.

What do you enjoy most about living here?

The great thing about Fort Wayne is that it is a small big town. It’s large enough to have access to an airport, amazing genres of food, and concerts, but it’s small enough to easily connect.

What would you do with 24 hours in Fort Wayne?

Where to stay: I love to travel, and to truly experience any city, you should live in the heart of it. I would recommend my friend’s Airbnb, which is a private home in the downtown historic West Central neighborhood. Minutes away from shopping, dining, baseball, the Allen County Public Library (which boasts the second largest genealogy collection in the US), and Arts Campus Fort Wayne, this is a perfect location to explore the city.

What to do:

AM: Start with a workout because my tour calls for lots of eating.


Orangetheory Fitness: Annie Melchi is typically the personal trainer in the morning, and she is so sweet and energetic, it makes the one-hour HIIT class fly by. (The great playlist helps too!)

Pure Movement: If you like to start your morning with more flow, I’d recommend Pure Movement Pilates Studio. They have an amazing reformer bed and instructor, Leah Grant, leads you through the class with the most entertaining descriptions that sometimes make you laugh so hard you’re really working on that core.

Pro-Tip: you have to walk through local Idlehour boutique to get to the studio. Make sure to check out the cutest collection of everything from curated workout gear to wine wands.

Idlehour is located at 526 W Jefferson Blvd.

Grab some coffee after that workout!

If you chose Orangetheory, check out United Coffee, which is locally owned by a sweet couple with a penchant for travel, too. Their coffee comes from a family owned business in Italy, and their famous waffles come from Belgium.

Pro-tip: Order the espresso. If you are hungry, I highly recommend the banana and Nutella Liége waffle, which is unique and highly addicting. You’ve been warned. The banana and Nutella Liége waffle at United Coffee.

If you chose Pure Movement, head further downtown to Fortezza Coffee. The coffees and teas are brewed to perfection.

Pro-tip: Order a green matcha latte or an espresso, and sit up at the window bar to people watch.

AM: Shopping!

If it’s a Saturday, head out to Fort Wayne’s Barr Street Market to check out the oldest public space in Fort Wayne. Explore organic produce, hand-made crafts, treats for your dog, food trucks, and oftentimes music! (If it’s winter, the market will be indoors at Parkview Field)

Also, be sure to check out The Find, which is a local boutique housing the most chic home décor, gifts, and apparel.

Pro-Tip: Hit up Hetty Arts Pastry truck for made-from-scratch donuts. You’ll notice Hetty’s pastry creations all over the Fort Wayne restaurant scene (including her most recent spot at Parkview Regional Medical Center), and when you see them just say, “Yes.”

Hetty Arts Pastry truck.

If it's a hot day, definitely check out the all-natural handmade avocado coconut pops at Xisco’s Pops.

AM: Take your coffee, and wander around downtown Fort Wayne to check out all the local art murals. Your Instagram will thank you.

Pro-Tip: Hop on one of the many e-scooters to zip your way around the city. Check out this map to guide you to all the cool spots. www.visitfortwayne.com/publicart

AM: Brunch.

We have no shortage of brunch options downtown, so here are some of my faves!

Bird and Cleaver has fantastic vegan and non-vegan options. I recommend the breakfast tacos, pop tart, and bottomless mimosas. Pro-tip: order the pop tart immediately before they run out.

The Dash In is perfect for a cold day. Get the breakfast grilled cheese with a cup of tomato soup, your choice of beer, and enjoy the local artwork on the walls. Banh Mi Pho has the best ramen in town.

Pro-tip: Check out Porch off Calhoun in the alley next door during the warmer months. There are couches, games, fairy lights, and you can eat out there, too!

Proximo is more upscale brunch and lunch for those who don’t want brunch. (Who even are you?!) Pro-tip: Breakfast tacos or carnita benedict. The shrimp sope for lunch.

Klemms is a hole in the wall quintessential American diner. Pro-tip: Sit at the bar so you can watch everything sizzle on the grill. Order the derby pie to go.

Junk Ditch Brewing Company offers brunch in an industrial warehouse with friendly staff. Patio seating is perfect for sipping your locally brewed Andy Pants. Pro-tip: definitely get the GK Pastries cinnamon roll. It’s up to you if you want to share.

Banh Mi Pho is great if you are really craving lunch, or it’s too late for brunch. I highly recommend this little Vietnamese shop that has the best ramen in town, as well as fun bubble teas, and of course, their namesake pho and banh mi sandwiches.

Pro-Tip: If you like spice, ask to have chili paste added to the broth. You can also order a baby size if you’re saving room for the avocado bubble tea.

PM: Head down to Promenade Park to see the newly developed Riverfront Fort Wayne. Check out the view from the giant swings, walk through the treetops, and challenge someone to a game of foosball.

Relax on the swings at Promenade Park.

PM: Depending on how active you wish to be, either rent some kayaks from Fort Wayne Outfitters to explore the river or book a Rum Runner Party Boat and have them drive you along the rivers.

Pro-Tip: With Rum Runner, you can bring your own food, drinks, and music, as well as up to 15 of your closest friends. If you prefer a guided tour, check out the Sweet Breeze boat tours.

The Rum Runner Party Boat in Fort Wayne.

PM: if hiking is your thing, be sure to look at the ACRES Land Trust maps for some great trails to explore and take in nature’s beauty.

PM: Get pre-drinks and apps at Nawa, a gorgeous Thai restaurant on the Landing.

Pro-tip: Order the pork belly bun and a curry flight, which includes massaman, red, and green curry. Be sure to wash it down with a bottle of Singha, the drink of choice in Thailand. (Well, my choice when I was in Thailand anyway.)

PM: For dinner, try Tolon. Masters of farm-to-table dining, Tolon is known for its adventurous menu, friendly staff, local art, and great cocktails. Definitely be sure to check out the roasted bone marrow and sriracha deviled eggs. While the pork and steak are amazing, Chef Nolot prepares the most divine scallops.

Pro-tip: This spot is hopping, so make sure to call in a rezzie!

PM: For entertainment, be sure to see who is playing at the Clyde Theatre, and dance the night away at this prestigious music hall with the latest sound and lighting technology. I have seen some of the most amazing shows there including Fitz and the Tantrums, The Flaming Lips, Hozier, Ben Folds, and talented tribute bands.

Pro-Tip: If you are tall, don’t stand in front of me.

Shows at the Clyde Theatre don't disappoint.

Late PM: After all that dancing, head over to Copper Spoon for their special late-night menu. They have late-night food until midnight, and bar service until 1 AM. This spot is always buzzing if you aren’t yet ready to call it a night. The drink menu is more of a Bible and includes everything from fine wines to adventurous cocktails.

Pro-Tip: If the weather is warmer, they open up the Sidecar next door, which has tiki-themed drinks. During the holidays, there is a pop up bar there instead called Miracle that serves crazy holiday concoctions in cute mugs shaped like Santa’s butt or a T-Rex.

Really Late PM: Be sure to pop over to Conner’s Rooftop bar (located on the top floor of the Hampton Inn downtown) to take in the Fort Wayne skyline while enjoying a night cap. With both an enclosed glass area as well as an outdoor space with stadium seating or firepit seats, it's a must-see.

Pro-Tip: During baseball season, you can get a great view of the Fort Wayne TinCaps in action.

Final Pro-Tip: When coming to Fort Wayne, definitely ask locals what they recommend. What better way to get a true Citizen Wayne experience?

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