Planning vacation doesn’t have to mean leaving a part of the family back at home.
Isn’t it extra special having your pet (or pets!) along for the ride? There’s a sense of excitement when they hop in the car and poke their head out the window. But there also needs to be a dog-friendly destination at the end of that ride.
The Bend is just that. Our assortment of bars, restaurants and parks are a dog’s paradise. They can join you on a run along the St. Joseph River then unwind at one of our local breweries. And that’s just the beginning.
First things first, though. You’ll need a place to stay.
Pamper Your Pup at the Inn at Saint Mary’s
Few hotels embrace being dog friendly quite like the Inn at Saint Mary’s, a boutique hotel situated near the University of Notre Dame and just north of downtown South Bend. It’s located off Exit 77 of the Indiana Toll Road, making it one of the most easily accessible hotels in the area.
Even better, it rolls out the red carpet for man’s best friend.
The Inn at Saint Mary’s allows dogs of any size (no weight restrictions) and welcomes them with treats upon check in. There are two outside dog walking areas on the property, plus door signs to let the housekeeping staff know the pet is in the room. A doggie water dish is also available upon request.
It also has amenities just for you. The Inn at Saint Mary’s has 150 guest rooms, including suites. It’s hospitality is second to none, including free breakfast daily and the Atrium lounge with nightly cocktail specials. You can also fuel up for your day at the Innjoy Café, which proudly serves Starbucks coffee. You can also find an upscale dining experience next door at Bistro 933, one of The Bend’s top restaurants. It’s open for dinner nightly.
Now that you have a place to stay, it’s time to explore with your dog.
Is your dog always eager to head outside? Perfect. There’s no shortage of trails around The Bend.
You can start by exploring the University of Notre Dame. There are two landmarks that often inspire people to take photos of their pets: The Golden Dome and the “Word of Life” mural, commonly known as Touchdown Jesus. You could also line your visit up with a South Bend Cubs game. A Class-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, these Cubs host dog friendly nights every Monday throughout the season.
Area parks offer endless outdoor opportunities.
Bendix Woods and St. Patrick’s County parks are local favorites for dogs. Downtown Mishawaka features multiple parks – Battell, Kamm Island, Beutter, Central, Merrifield – that run along the St. Joseph River. Rum Village Park in South Bend woodsy, although it sits within the city limits.
If you’re looking for something a little more secluded, Potato Creek State Park is a gem. It features the 327-acre Worster Lake and a wide variety of trails.
Party at the Dog Park
The Bend has several areas where your dog can take off without a leash. A few stand out in particular: Niles Avenue (South Bend), Rum Village (South Bend) and Prickett Park (Mishawaka).
Niles Avenue was South Bend’s first dog park and is just off the East Bank Trail, a popular running route. Rum Village is newer and features a larger small pet area. Prickett Park is along the St. Joseph River next to the Bodine State Fish Hatchery.
Dining with Your Dog
After all that activity, you might need a bite to eat. Several area bars and restaurants are open for dogs, particularly during patio season.
Popular spots include South Bend Brew Werks, Chicory Café, Peggs, Brothers Bar & Grill, The Hammer & Quill, Tony Sacco’s, Uptown Kitchen, Villa Macri and Fiddler’s Hearth. That’s just a partial list. Call ahead to any area restaurant to ask about bringing your pup along.