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Northern Indiana’s cultural kaleidoscope

Courtesy Lafayette-West Lafayette CVB

Lafayette-West Lafayette
Lafayette-West Lafayette is home to Purdue University. Groups can take a tour of the campus or visit a number of interesting scientific and historical sites around town. One of the most interesting is Wolf Park.

“It’s an educational research facility that studies wolf behavior,” said Ashley Gregory, group tour manager for the Lafayette-West Lafayette Convention and Visitors Bureau. “They have about 14 wolves, and they study how they interact with each other and other animals. For groups, they can do a howl night, when they teach you to howl at the wolves, and the wolves howl back at you.”

For the scientifically curious, a number of clean-energy sites are also on the itinerary. Visitors can tour a wind farm, where large turbines catch the breeze and spin to generate electricity, or check out a landfill generator that turns trash into electricity. The wastewater treatment plant even offers tours, showing guests how algae is used to clean wastewater.

Architecture buffs will enjoy a stop at Samara, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home still occupied by the original owner, who opens it for tours.

“You can sit on the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed furniture and talk to him [the original owner], ” Gregory said. “Samara is considered one of the most complete Frank Lloyd Wright homes because they followed all his plans for the dining room and living room furniture, and all the colors throughout the home.”


Fort Wayne

A number of attractions and special events make Fort Wayne an interesting stop on a tour through northern Indiana. Start downtown, where you’ll find museums and cultural attractions such as the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.

“They call it ‘three gardens under glass,’” said Kristen Guthrie, marketing manager for the Fort Wayne Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The showcase garden changes quarterly. In the spring, they always have a butterfly exhibit, where they fly around and land on you. The next one is a tropical house with a two-story waterfall, and the third garden is a desert house.”

The conservatory is one of about a dozen museums and other attractions in the city center. Other points of interest include the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, which recently underwent a major expansion, and the historic Embassy Theatre. The city also recently debuted a new minor league baseball stadium at a public park.

Many groups that visit Fort Wayne make a point to stop at Vera Bradley, headquarters of the company that makes the popular quilted handbags. Visitors can shop at the headquarters store or plan their trips to coincide with the annual outlet sale in April, which draws as many as 60,000 visitors from across the country.

Another special event, the Johnny Appleseed Festival, pays homage to John Chapman, the pioneer planter of apple trees, who is buried in Fort Wayne.

“It’s a fall food, craft and pioneer festival,” Guthrie said. “It’s an 1800s-style festival, so it’s all apple turnovers, chicken legs and other things made more primitively. There are primitive crafts, historic interpreters and soldiers from the time period.”