Visiting The Bend means many options are suddenly at your disposal.
Do you want to dine around? Catch a show? Get outside? With so many possibilities, it can be difficult to figure out how to organize your time in town. So, we took some of the guesswork out. Even if you only have a coupe days, you can create an in-depth experience. Let’s get going.
First things first when you arrive in The Bend. If you’re looking to stay in downtown South Bend near restaurants and attractions, there are three hotels — Aloft South Bend, Courtyard by Marriott and DoubleTree by Hilton — in walking distance of each other. You’ll find the Inn at Saint Mary’s and Hilton Garden Inn right off the Indiana Toll Road exit near Notre Dame. Speaking of campus, that’s where the Morris Inn is located. There’s an Embassy Suites and Fairfield Inn are across the street. Near Mishawaka’s restaurant and retail district you’ll find a Home2 Suites, Varsity Club and more. If none of these fit, maybe the Oliver Inn Bed & Breakfast does with its combination of personal service and cozy accommodations. Whatever your staying style, there’s a place for you around The Bend.
Dinner and drinks
We think the best way to launch into a visit is to experience the food scene’s very best. Grab a table at LaSalle Grill or Café Navarre for some of the finest menus The Bend has to offer. You can’t go wrong with a similar fine dining option at Corndance in Mishawaka, either.
Catch a show
Some of our favorite entertainment options are at the local theaters. Headlining concerts and live off-Broadway productions make their way through the Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend throughout the fall and winter. Nearby, the South Bend Civic Theatre is a vibrant space that showcases the community with its own plays and musicals.
RELATED CONTENT: Bringing Broadway to The Bend
Do you usually skip this meal? Here’s our advice: don’t. Locals take the first meal of the day pretty serious around The Bend and there is an assortment of diners and breakfast spots to prove it. It doesn’t get much more local than the South Bend Farmers Market Café, which sources as many of its ingredients as possible directly from the market.
RELATED CONTENT: The Bend’s Best Breakfast Spots
Shop the Farmers Market
One of the region’s oldest and largest indoor farmers markets awaits in South Bend (perhaps after you finished up breakfast at the café), just east of downtown along the St. Joseph River. Yes, you can browse for seasonal fruits and vegetables, plus meat, eggs and more. But there are all kinds of other goodies. DeLo’s Café offers dozens of coffees and sweet treats. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for flowers and gourds if you’re looking for fall décor. Not far from the Farmers Market, it’s worth wandering through Oh Mamma’s on the Avenue, an artisan cheese and meat shop, and Bamber’s Superette, which specializes in Italian foods.
This is a perfect time to start exploring. You could head to the west side for tacos at one of several authentic Mexican restaurants. Or visit The View for what’s considered Northern Indiana’s best burger. If the air is still a little warmer, head to Hensell’s Oaken Bucket for a bite and one of the best views of the St. Joseph River.
Time to explore
Now it’s time to really explore. Just because the air is a little brisk doesn’t mean you can’t get outside. In fact, fall might be one of the best times to do so. Mishawaka’s Riverwalk guides you along the long stretches of the St. Joseph River. You can also head out to any number of city and county parks. St. Patrick’s is probably one of the most popular, while Rum Village (there’s also an aerial adventure course here) and several more offer distinct hiking experiences. Perhaps The Bend’s most well-known park, Potato Creek State Park is about 20 minutes from South Bend. Miles of trails wind around the park’s centerpiece — Worster Lake.
RELATED CONTENT: More on Potato Creek State Park
Now it’s time to indulge in another meal. Head over to LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern in downtown South Bend for some elevated food options to pair with one of the best craft beer selections in the area. Near Notre Dame, Rocco’s Restaurant is a must for pizza. Barnaby’s Pizza is another local institution. Evil Czech Brewery in Mishawaka is widely known for its food to go along with craft beer brewed on site. If you’re feeling somewhat adventurous, Jesus Latin Grill in downtown Mishawaka is your spot for unique flavor.
Out on the town
If you chose LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern, you might want to hang around for live music. You can also take in some tunes at Vegetable Buddies, which always features live entertainment. If you’re looking for craft beer, it can easily be found with South Bend Brew Werks, Tippecanoe Brewing Co. and Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House all close to each other. Bare Hands Brewery is in Granger and the aforementioned Evil Czech is in Mishawaka. Looking for a craft cocktail? The Exchange Whiskey Bar and Spirited are among the top options.
RELATED CONTENT: A Guide to Craft Beer in The Bend
Sundays call for brunch. Peggs is a downtown South Bend staple. Evil Czech’s Hangover Brunch is a popular choice. Same goes for Uptown Kitchen and Rocky River Tap & Table in Granger. Order some comfort food and a Bloody Mary (or mimosa!) to get your Sunday started right.
There are few better ways to really understand the place you’re visiting than by peering into its history. Studebaker National Museum and The History Museum, situated on the same campus in South Bend, offer unforgettable looks at the area’s past. Studebaker focuses on automotive and industrial history, focusing specifically on Studebaker Co., a longtime automobile manufacturer. The History Museum takes a wider lens view of the area’s history dating back to early settlement and beyond and features the 38-room Oliver Mansion, a beautiful home that serves as its own kind of time capsule.
RELATED CONTENT: Take a History Tour of The Bend
We’re guessing lunch was pretty filling, but it’s not a bad idea to grab a snack before the last stop on your visit. Rohr’s, located inside the Morris Inn on Notre Dame’s campus, is the perfect place to drop in given the next step on the itinerary. Grab a quick bite and a drink at a place as welcoming as the campus itself. If you’re lucky, you can strike up a conversation with Murf, a beloved bartender at Rohr’s.
Tour Notre Dame
Heading out from Rohr’s puts you in right in the middle of Notre Dame’s campus. One of the world’s iconic college campuses is ripe to be explored. Trust us when we say it’s worth visiting even if you aren’t a fan of the football team. Stunning landmarks include the Main Building with the Golden Dome atop, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto and the Word of Life Mural (known commonly as Touchdown Jesus). Snap a photo here and it’s likely your friends will know where you are without reading the caption. It’ll be a fitting end to a trip you’ll reminisce about for years.
It might even inspire you to stay another day. After all, #MondaysCanWait.
RELATED CONTENT: 10 Iconic Landmarks at Notre Dame