One of my favorite things about my job is the travel. Yes, it takes me away from my family (not a good thing), and it can involve airport delays (a worse thing). Plus, late nights, noisy hotel rooms and that un-natural smell of a rental car. But, I love getting to see new communities and experience all the local treasures that makes each of them different.
Take the city of Fort Wayne, for instance, where I happen to be headed today. My agency is doing some work for the city, so I’ve had the pleasure of visiting four times over the past few months, with two more trips to come. It’s a small midwestern city, so similar to many others, yet we’ve found some amazing places that makes it completely unique.
Did you know that Fort Wayne is the second largest city in Indiana, and that it has over 65 miles of walking and biking trails? That it’s the final resting spot of Johnny Appleseed (as well as home to the Fort Wayne TinCaps – a Class-A Minor League Baseball team with one of the most incredible stadiums you’ll ever visit – pictured above)? Or that it’s home to Vera Bradley Designs? And Powers Hamburger Shop? We’ve been lucky to meet a number of residents of the city during our time there, eat at some fantastic local restaurants, and experience a place that I may not have ever been if not for work.
A few years back, I had the opportunity to conduct social media training for local hotel properties. We coached them on how to use social and digital media to become “local market experts” who could provide added value to tech-saavy travelers. Some of the tools we introduced them to were Yelp! and TripAdvisor. I still rely on them both every time I travel (along with a smartphone app called GateGuru, which gives me valuable information about the airports I visit). They help me follow my own golden rule: If I can see it, eat it, or do it at home, I’m not going to do it on the road. It’s easy to stick with the familiar, but so much more rewarding to go with the local.
Where are some of your favorite places you’ve visited while traveling for work? How about out-of-the-way restaurants that we may miss? Any Fort Wayne-related tips?