Although it’s going to look a little different this year, fall in The Bend still figures to be a pretty special time.
Crisp air swoops in along with football season. Beautifully colorful leaves make for an experience that sticks with you, especially if you’re out in our parks and nature areas. Harvest time also brings fresh bounty for local markets and restaurants. Here are some of our favorite fall activities.
Fall Foliage Tour
One of the best things about fall has to be the change of colors. Bright oranges and reds dot the landscape as trees prepare to shed their leaves before winter. And there are plenty of places to snap photos. Find a park or path that suits your eye. Or maybe explore them all.
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This isn’t your average pumpkin patch. Thistleberry Farm in South Bend bursts with activity. Yep, you can pick out the perfect pumpkin for carving ahead of Halloween. But there’s so much more — pedal cars, a super slide, corn mazes, story book walking trails, duck races, giant Legos and, of course, hayrides. Oh and don’t forget pony rides and the corn cannon. That’s right, a corn cannon!
Find a Fall Hike
Name a more satisfying sound than the crunch of leaves under your hiking boots. We’ll wait. In the mean time, there are plenty of great hiking options from which to choose around here. Potato Creek State Park is an outdoor playground. St. Patrick’s County Park, Bendix Woods and Rum Village are among the most popular.
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Family Fun at the Zoo
Indiana’s first zoo sits in the heart of South Bend. It’s home to more than 400 animals — including lions, tigers, rhinos and more — and hosts a series of special events throughout the fall. Plans are still in place to hold Brew at the Zoo (Sept. 26) and other fall events with coronavirus-related restrictions in place.
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Walking the South Bend Farmers Market
Fall isn’t called harvest time for nothing. Stroll the aisles at the South Bend Farmers Market and see for yourself. Local farmers bring all sorts of produce to the market specific to the season — fresh apples, sweet corn, pumpkins, gourds and more. Don’t forget the handmade crafts, delicious sweets and local coffee. Odds are you’ll smell it before you see it.
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Spooky Season Scares
Halloween isn’t complete without a scare or two. Fear Itself at Legend Park in Mishawaka is one of the largest scream parks in the country. With five terrifying attractions, you will be jumping right out of your shoes. Many locals consider the Niles Scream Park a must-visit for some frightful entertainment. It’s spread across 44 acres with multiple attractions, including a “Hooded” experience that’s not for that faint of heart.
Rum Village Aerial Adventure Park
What better way to experience fall foliage than by getting up into their natural habitat? This aerial park at Rum Village consists of five treetop trails that range from 16-70 feet in the air. There are more than 60 different obstacles, plus zip lines through the trees. It’s a fun, adrenaline-packed way to experience beauty of Rum Village Park. The five trails range in difficulty from an easy course to a course that is fit for a dare devil.
Beer and Wine Tasting
Exploring The Bend’s local breweries, wineries and distilleries is a great tip of the cap to harvest season. Lagers, ambers and some Oktoberfest styles usher in fall at our breweries. If you’re into wine, head to Ironhand Vineyard’s tasting room (situated right on the St. Joseph River) for a tour of their recent vintages.
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Head to the Golf Course
There are few better places to take in fall foliage than our area golf courses, which are both championship caliber and wildly approachable. Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame hosted the 2019 U.S. Senior Open and is considered one of the best courses you can play in Indiana. Blackthorn Golf Club is a Symetra Tour stop ever year and Elbel Golf Course shows of some of the area’s finest natural areas.
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Visit the Museum District
Want to talk a walk down memory lane? Studebaker National Museum and The History Museum each tell unique stories about The Bend’s history, whether it’s through classic cars or the rise of local manufacturing or via a 38-room mansion. Each have unique exhibits that tell time honored, interesting stories.
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