An annual event that encourages local residents to explore and rediscover their hometown will celebrate 20 years this month.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown returns to Fort Wayne on Sunday, Sept. 9. Between noon and 5 p.m., 16 local attractions will be open to visitors free of charge.

Kristen Guthrie, a spokeswoman for Visit Fort Wayne, said the annual event started after the visitors center sat down with a group of local museums and attractions and were talking about the great experience visitors have in Fort Wayne.

“Sometimes, residents, no matter where you live, take for granted the things in your own backyard,” she said. “When you’re visiting a city, you take time to really explore and see everything they have to offer, so we’re just encouraging residents to do that as well.”

Come downtown and check out all the different museums, attractions and architectural gems the community has to offer, Guthrie said.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown is adapted from similar events in other cities. The attractions are all centered around downtown, so families can park and walk to the locations they want to visit. Street parking is free on Sunday.

Besides a pair of good walking shoes, people should be sure to bring a Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown passport and collect stamps at each location. Go to visitfortwayne.com/beatourist to download and print a one-page passport or pick one up at any Kroger or Old National Bank location.

The Visitors Center, located at 927 S. Harrison St., will be open throughout the event, offering visitors free cookies, a 20 percent discount on merchandise and family passport photos.

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory will be open from noon to 4 p.m. with a concert starting at 1 p.m.

There are multiple opportunities to learn more about Fort Wayne’s local history at the History Center and the Old Fort, where historical reenactors will bring local history to life and answer visitor questions.

The Allen County Courthouse will also be open. Guided tours will be available on an ongoing basis from noon-4 p.m.

“You can go into the courthouse any day, but this is one of the few times that you can bring a phone with you or a camera,” Guthrie said. “People love that. Photographers really appreciate that opportunity because you can’t normally do that.”

The event will celebrate the last 20 years, but two new locations will also take a look forward at Fort Wayne’s future. People will have a chance to learn more about redevelopment at the Riverfront and the Landing.

“In both places, you can see the development underway. People will be talking about what’s taking place in the future. They’re both going to be great additions to the tour,” she said.

Riverfront walking tours depart from the trailhead in Lawton Park near the corner of 4{sup}th{/sup} Street and Spy Run Avenue. Join this tour to learn about the history, ecology and plans of the future riverfront development.

For nearly a century, the Landing on West Columbia Street was the central business district of Fort Wayne because of its proximity to the Wabash and Erie Canal and later the railroad. The block is home to many Fort Wayne firsts, including the first post office, hotel, newspaper, theater and railway station. Tours offer a behind-the-scenes look at the plans for its redevelopment including retail and restaurants, a coffee shop and brewpub.

It’s not likely that families will be able to visit all 16 locations, Guthrie said. She encourages people to pick a few places that they have never been to or haven’t visited in years, get lunch downtown and make a day of it.

IF YOU GO

What: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown 20-year celebration

When: Noon-5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 9

Where: 16 local attractions will be open for sightseeing

Admission: Free

How: Go to visitfortwayne.com/beatourist to download and print a one-page passport or pick one up at any Kroger or Old National Bank location