24 hours in Fort Wayne with Andrea Dortch

When people visit a new city, they often want recommendations about where to go and what to do—but not just any recommendations. They want to know how locals who love that city spend their time.

So what would you do with 24 hours in Fort Wayne?

We asked Fort Wayne's own Andrea Dortch to fill us in.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm 46, and I was born and raised in Fort Wayne. I went to Village Elementary School and Paul Harding High School. After I graduated in 1993, I attended Florida A&M in Tallahassee, and graduated April 29, 2000, with a Doctor of Pharmacy.

I moved back to Fort Wayne in 2011, and now, my husband and I have two children, each of us bringing a child into our marriage—a son, 21, Khem Thomas, and a daughter, Jade Henry, 13.

I currently work for Parkview Health System and rotate between Parkview Randallia and Parkview Regional as a part-time pharmacist. I am also very active with my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and family organization, Jack n Jill of America, Inc.

I spend some time working for my father, John Dortch, too, on Fort Wayne Ink Spot, helping out with their mailing list, marketing, and circulation needs.

My family is pretty active in Fort Wayne, overall. My husband also owns the Health Hut, and my daughter is an entrepreneur, too. She created a business called More Than Just an Art.

The Health Hut is located in the distinctive pyramid building on Fairfield Avenue.

What do you enjoy most about living in Fort Wayne?

I love the change of seasons. As crazy as it may sound, when I lived in Miami, it was hard for me when it was 80 degrees during Christmas. It never really felt like Christmas.

I love the cost of living here, too. Both my parents are here, and they’ve been married for almost 50 years. I also love the exposure and opportunities Fort Wayne has to offer my daughter. I feel like I can do more for her here as opposed to being in Miami. It’s like a big small town.

My recommendations

Where to stay: Definitely stay downtown. The Hampton with Connor's Rooftop is great. But anywhere downtown is great. I’m glad downtown is growing.

Expert tip: Regardless of what time of year you travel, make sure you have clothes for this Indiana weather. You'll want to have some summer, fall, and winter clothes because you never know how the weather is going to be.

A view from Conner's Rooftop

What to do:

Morning

I would say check out a workout class, either at the YMCA or Orange Theory. I’ve been with the Y all my life, and I just joined Orange Theory a few years ago. It’s a circuit training class that’s about an hour long. I signed up for four days a month, once a week. It’s nice because they have coaches who give you instructions, and they have different levels of intensity you can tailor to your needs.

Breakfast

For breakfast, tea, or coffee, I like the Mocha Lounge. They have two locations, one Southwest and one Northeast, so you can find them no matter where you are. I also love guacamole, and their Asiago Bagel with Avacado Spread topped with Everything Seasoning is delicious.

The Mocha Lounge coffee shop has two locations in Fort Wayne.

Morning entertainment

If it’s summertime and the zoo is open, Fort Wayne has an awesome Children's Zoo. I'd suggest either going to the zoo or riding bikes on the Fort Wayne Trails. I live in the 07 neighborhood by Foster Park, so in the spring, I like to grab my bike and ride around there.

I also love thrift store shopping. I recommend reNEW, which is in the Maplecrest area. They have furniture and clothes. On the South side, I like Finders Keepers here on Calhoun for knickknack furniture. I love Goodwill and Clothes Mentor, too. Probably all of my clothes come from there. I like wearing things that are one-of-a-kind, and with all of Fort Wayne’s thrift shop options, I feel like I can look like a million dollars for $10.

Lunch

For lunch, I like Alberto's because I absolutely love Mexican food. Their enchiladas are amazing, and their margaritas are good. I pretty much get the same thing, authentic tacos with cilantro and onion. My mom likes their burritos. They do have some good grilled chicken nachos, too.

Afternoon entertainment

Go visit the Health Hut for any wellness needs. During COVID-19, people are trying to boost their immune systems, and the Health Hut can help you do that. It has products with Elderberry, which has zinc and vitamin C. It also has CBD if you’re anxious about these times. Then, of course, in the dry winter weather, it has shea butter, natural soaps, candles, and hot tea.

There’s just an assortment of items there, and my family members are big believers in supporting locally owned businesses.

Health Hut offers pure whipped shea butter in multiple scents.

Speaking of small businesses, there are two other little boutiques I like downtown: The Find and Creative Women of the World. They’re right next to each other, too, so you only have to park once. Both shops have unique things, and when you support CWOW, you’re supporting female artisans and small business owners worldwide. I like empowering women.

Evening

I like the 07 Pub on the South Side, and while they’ve been closed during COVID, they’re planning to reopen later this year. They have great drinks. My favorite is this pineapple-infused tequila drink that’s delicious. I like their flatbreads, too.

If you want live music and food, I suggest the Club Room at the Clyde. They have an awesome jazz night on Wednesdays, and then they have “I love Saturdays” where local bands come in. My favorite band in Fort Wayne is Casual Friday, so I try to go over on Saturdays when I know they’re over there.

There's a new development as part of the Club Room at the Clyde Theatre in Quimby Village.

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