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The Journal Gazette

  • File Be A Tourist is the only time the public can take phones and cameras inside the Allen County Courthouse.

  • Corey McMaken | The Journal Gazette The History Center has been part of all 20 Be A Tourist events.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Visitors to Embassy Theatre during Be A Tourist on Sunday can tour the recently renovated dressing rooms backstage.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Pick up some city-themed merchandise at the Visitors Center to show off your “trip.”

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette The Landing is one of the stops during Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown.

Friday, September 07, 2018 1:00 am

Local museums, attractions give free admission during 20th Be A Tourist

If you go

Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown is from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, unless special hours are noted. Download a passport at for free admission to the following venues:

  • African/African-American Historical Society & Museum, 436 E. Douglas St.

  • Allen County Courthouse, 715 S. Calhoun St. (noon to 4 p.m.)

  • Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza

  • Artlink, 300 E. Main St.

  • Cathedral Museum, 915 S. Clinton St.

  • Embassy Theatre, 125 W. Jefferson Blvd. (noon to 4:30 p.m.)

  • Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory, 1100 S. Calhoun St. (noon to 4 p.m.)

  • History Center, 302 E. Berry St.

  • Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum – Fairfield Hall, 2410 Fairfield Ave.

  • The Landing, 100 block of West Columbia Street

  • The Lincoln Tower, 116 E. Berry St.

  • The Old Fort, across Spy Run bridge north of Superior Street

  • Parkview Field, 1301 Ewing St.

  • Riverfront Fort Wayne, meet at trailhead in Lawton Park

  • Science Central, 1950 N. Clinton St.

  • Visitors Center, 927 S. Harrison St. (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Museums and attractions in the city will open their doors for free Sunday for the 20th Be A Tourist In Your Own Hometown.

Residents can pick up a free “passport” at local Kroger stores or Old National Bank locations or download one at The passport grants free admission for your entire group to any of the 16 venues listed. The annual event organized by Visit Fort Wayne draws 35,000 people to local attractions.

“It's really fun to see all the families with their passports out, walking between attractions downtown,” says Kristen Guthrie, director of marketing for Visit Fort Wayne.

She says Be A Tourist started because local museums and attractions wanted to have more residents coming out to enjoy the things that they saw visitors to the city raving about. The idea is to roll out the red carpet for residents and many of the participating venues have special activities for the event.

“They really do put on their best and do a great job of welcoming residents and sharing these great treasures in our community with them,” Guthrie says.

Be A Tourist is the only time that the public is allowed to take phones and cameras inside the historic Allen County Courthouse, offering the chance for a unique selfie with the ornate architecture, decor and stained glass. Embassy Theatre is offering the opportunity to see its recently renovated dressing rooms and Parkview Field will have special tours and kids activities. You can pretend you're on vacation and show off your tourism with a T-shirt or knickknack from the Visitors Center, which is offering 20 percent off all Fort Wayne merchandise.

There are two new additions to the event this year. The Landing project is offering behind-the-scenes tours and Riverfront Fort Wayne will have walking tours that include sharing plans for development along the city's rivers.

“We're really excited because not only are people celebrating the museums and attractions we already had, but now they can kind of look forward to some of the attractions of the future,” Guthrie says.

Only two local attractions have been a part of Be a Tourist all 20 times: Science Central and the History Center.

Executive Director Todd Maxwell Pelfrey says the History Center sees 2,000 to 3,000 visits during the five hours of Be A Tourist, making it the busiest time of the year in terms of attendance per hour.

A key part of the museum's mission is to provide seamless access to historical records about the city. Pelfrey says Be A Tourist helps meet that goal and might spark the public's interest in a return visit or spreading the word about what the museum has to offer.

“It's a dear part of the Fort Wayne tradition,” Pelfrey says. “So many people, and particularly families, look forward to the free access to these meaningful sites during the annual Be A Tourist day.”

– Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette