Not every trip comes with time to explore all corners of your chosen destination.
Instead you need to make the most of a day or two at most. The best thing you can do in this situation is be armed with information about how to best use however many hours are available. What are the must-see spots? Where can you grab a quick bite to eat before moving on to the next attraction?
Fortunately, you can see a whole lot in The Bend over the course of a day. Let this be your guide.
Start Your Day with Breakfast
It’s the most important meal of the day, right? There’s no better way to kick off a day of exploring The Bend than by fueling up at breakfast. Locals and visitors voted on our best breakfast spots. Macadoo’s Family Restaurant in Mishawaka took the vote while Peggs is a downtown South Bend favorite. But let’s face it, there are no bad options on that list.
Tour an Iconic Campus
Walk off your meal by heading to one of the most beautiful and renowned college campuses in the world: the University of Notre Dame. Its campus is full of notable landmarks — Notre Dame Stadium, the “Word of Life” mural (known popularly as Touchdown Jesus), the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and more. Head out on foot and it’ll be lunch time before you know it.
Bite into a Burger
Grabbing an on-the-go lunch is necessary given the time constraints of this visit. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for fast food. Instead head to the East Bank neighborhood of South Bend for the undisputed champion of Northern Indiana burgers. The View Tavern is a no-frills neighborhood bar home to the Becky Burger (pictured below), which in 2014 took the crown of best burger not only in St. Joseph County but in a multi-county region. It’s one of many standout burgers in our area.
Take a Step Back in Time
One of the best ways to learn about a place is to absorb its history. You can do a whole lot of that at The History Museum and Studebaker National Museum. Even better, both are situated on the same campus. The History Museum covers a range of topics, dating back to the area’s settlement by European explorers, and includes the Oliver Mansion. Studebaker National Museum dives into South Bend’s rich automotive history. Just down the road, you can also check out the Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center.
Treat Your Taste Buds (Again)
Winding down the day means choosing a dinner spot. There’s no need to scroll through your phone when the editors of Midwest Living magazine can point you in the right direction. Some of our very best restaurants await on the Midwest Living Foodie Trail. A few of them are conveniently located in downtown South Bend, just a short trip from the museums. Perhaps after dinner (or heck, even before) kick back and reminisce about your day over a drink. Whether it’s a craft brew — South Bend Brew Werks is within walking distance of downtown South Bend restaurants — or a seasonal cocktail, there are several options.
View the River Lights
After filling up on dinner and drinks, it’s time to take in one of The Bend’s most unique features. South Bend installed its River Lights in 2015 as party of the city’s bicentennial celebration. Vibrant color washes over the St. Joseph River, highlighting the “Keepers of the Fire” statue and the water as it rushes downriver. Seitz Park, Colfax Bridge, Jefferson Bridge, Island Park and Pier Park are among the best viewing spots. It’s fitting that one of your most Instagrammable moments comes at the end of the day.