Smaller towns around The Bend aren’t just places to pass through on your way to the city.
New Carlisle is one of our finest examples. Situated 15 miles west of South Bend, it’s the definition of small town America — quiet, quaint, unassuming.
Yet it’s far from ordinary. From destination dining to one-of-a-kind shops and underrated parks, New Carlisle is worth a visit.
Dive into History
Start your visit to New Carlisle by visiting its museum and gift shop, opened by Historic New Carlisle in July 2020.
In the museum you’ll find more about New Carlisle’s roots as a place for commerce along the Lincoln Highway. Exhibits detail some of the town’s historic figures, including former vice president Schuyler Colfax. There’s also a gift shop. Consider the museum a hub for the rest of your visit.
Authentic Dining Destination
Another area where New Carlisle shines — through its dining destinations.
Moser’s Austrian Café screams authenticity. Have you ever been served by waitresses wearing dirndls or had to “try” to pronounce menu items like jaegerschnitzel or zigeunerschnitzel? Since opening in 1999, Moser’s Austrian Café has been serving up Austrian/German cuisine.
Wash down your meal with a Stiegl, an Austrian pilsner or imported wine from Austria and Germany.
Another authentic experience awaits at Kate O’Connor’s Irish Pub. Originally from Cork, Ireland, its owners wanted to bring a real Irish pub to the States. They’ve done it.
It’s a cozy gathering place that bursts at the seams on St. Patrick’s Day. As for the food, you can’t go wrong with shepherd’s pie or fish and chips.
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Browse Can’t-Miss Shops
Retail isn’t just part of New Carlisle’s heritage. Many historic buildings in downtown now hold small shops.
The Village Shoppes is notable among them with over 27,000 square feet of display area. Shoppers can find furniture, collectibles and many other unique gifts. The Village Shoppes are known throughout the area as a must-visit, particularly around the holidays, and they attract shoppers from all over the region.
Just down the street, Feeney’s Hometown Goods is an eclectic shop with goods from local artisans.
Explore Nearby Parks
Working off all that grub is easy as heading to one of the nearby parks.
Two St. Joseph County Parks — Bendix Woods and Spicer Lake Nature Preserve — aren’t far from New Carlisle’s downtown. Both offer ample opportunity to immerse yourself in nature, especially if hiking is one of your pastimes.
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Bendix Woods covers about 195 acres. Hiking and mountain biking are among the staple activities here. Visit during February and March and you’ll be around when maple syrup making takes place from trees in the park.
Spicer Lake Nature Preserve (320 acres), located just north of New Carlisle near the Michigan border, is a geologic wonder with a couple “kettle lakes.” There’s a boardwalk that allows for exploration of some wetland areas. Both “lakes” include observation decks.