19 Best Things to Do in South Bend, Indiana

South Bend, Indiana, is a vibrant city with a rich history, a thriving arts scene, and plenty of attractions for visitors of all ages. Located on the banks of the St. Joseph River, South Bend is home to the prestigious University of Notre Dame, which draws thousands of tourists each year. But there’s much more to explore in this exciting city, from the Studebaker National Museum showcasing the automotive history of the region to the beautiful Potawatomi Zoo and the scenic East Water.

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1. Studebaker National Museum

Studebaker National Museum

The Studebaker National Museum in South Bend is a must-see for car enthusiasts and history aficionados. It presents the storied legacy of the Studebaker automobile company, which called South Bend home for over a century.

A diverse collection of Studebaker vehicles, ranging from cars and trucks to wagons, is on display, along with captivating exhibits. The museum offers guided tours, educational programs, and special events year-round, making it an engaging destination for both classic car devotees and those seeking an enriching experience.

2. Raft East Race Waterway

Raft East Race Waterway

Raft down the East Race Waterway, North America has first artificial whitewater course, for an exhilarating experience. Take a stroll through the South Bend Farmer’s Market to savor fresh produce and artisanal goods. Don’t miss the chance to see a show at the historic Morris Performing Arts Center, known for hosting world-class performances.

Explore the iconic Studebaker National Museum, offering a captivating journey through the history of the renowned car brand. Experience the diverse wildlife at Potawatomi Zoo, home to over 400 animals from around the globe. Tour the University of Notre Dame and discover the beauty of its famous campus.

3. Enjoy a sweet tour of the chocolate factory

Enjoy a sweet tour of the chocolate factory

Take a tour of the renowned South Bend Chocolate Company factory to gain insights into their chocolate-making process. Explore the captivating exhibitions at the South Bend Museum of Art and marvel at the famous landmarks of the University of Notre Dame, including the Golden Dome and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

Blend leisure with nature as you hike or bike through the picturesque St. Patrick’s County Park, and savor a live performance at the Morris Performing Arts Center. Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the city at the Northern Indiana Center for History.

4. Try the river rafting challenge

Try the river rafting challenge

Embark on a picturesque stroll along the St. Joseph Riverwalk and explore the iconic landmarks at the University of Notre Dame. Dive into the history of South Bend at the South Bend History Museum and then brace yourself for the exhilarating river rafting challenge with South Bend Adventure Sports. Afterward, revel in the beauty of nature at the Potawatomi Zoo and immerse yourself in the local art scene at the South Bend Museum of Art.

5. Enjoy the sights, sounds, and activities at Howard Park

Enjoy the sights, sounds, and activities at Howard Park

Experience the stunning architecture of the University of Notre Dame campus, followed by a journey through the history of the iconic car brand at the Studebaker National Museum. Enjoy a serene walk or bike ride along the scenic Riverwalk on the St. Joseph River, and immerse yourself in the culture and art at the South Bend Museum of Art. Finally, indulge in the various activities at Howard Park, including ice skating, playgrounds, and a refreshing splash pad.

6. Tour the University of Notre Dame Campus

Tour the University of Notre Dame Campus

Explore the Studebaker National Museum for a glimpse of vintage cars and the Studebaker company’s history. Discover over 400 animals at Potawatomi Zoo from around the world. Take a scenic walk or bike ride along the Riverwalk by the St. Joseph River.

Indulge in the fun at the South Bend Chocolate Factory with tours and delectable chocolates. Attend live performances at the Morris Performing Arts Center. Embark on a tour of the University of Notre Dame campus, including the iconic Golden Dome and Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

7. Indulge in the food and coffee scene

Indulge in the food and coffee scene

Visit the vibrant South Bend Farmers Market to savor local produce and baked goods. Delight in the renowned burgers at LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern or indulge your sweet tooth with luxurious desserts at the Chocolate Cafe. Enjoy a cup of coffee at the stylish Zen Cafe or experience live music and hearty dishes at Fiddler’s Hearth, an authentic Irish pub. For an elegant dining experience, head to Cafe Navarre for a memorable culinary journey.

8. Go to a South Bend Cubs baseball game!

Go to a South Bend Cubs baseball game!

Experience the energy at a South Bend Cubs baseball game! Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and root for the home team. Enhance your visit with a trip to the University of Notre Dame to admire the famous Golden Dome.

Explore the South Bend Museum of Art’s captivating exhibits, and take a stroll through the picturesque Potawatomi Zoo. For an adventurous experience, kayak or raft at the East Race Waterway. Lastly, dive into South Bend’s rich history at the Studebaker National Museum and catch a show at the Morris Performing Arts Center.

9. Visit Potawatomi Zoo

Visit Potawatomi Zoo

The oldest zoo in Indiana, Potawatomi Zoo, is home to over 400 animals from around the world. Visitors can witness a variety of animals, including tigers, lions, kangaroos, and penguins. The zoo features a petting area where visitors can interact with farm animals.

It offers educational programs, summer camps, animal encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours for both children and adults. Throughout the year, the zoo hosts special events such as Boo at the Zoo during Halloween and Zoo Brew, an adult-only event featuring local craft beer and food.

10. Mere Mortals by David Ives

Mere Mortals by David Ives

Explore the stunning Georgian-Revival architecture of the historic Oliver Mansion and enjoy a performance at the beautifully restored Morris Performing Arts Center.

Walk along the scenic St. Joseph River, visit the South Bend Museum of Art showcasing local artwork, and take a guided tour of the Potawatomi Zoo, home to over 500 animals. Visit the University of Notre Dame campus to marvel at its beautiful architecture without repeating any information or reintroducing the topic.

11. South Bend Record Show

South Bend Record Show

Music enthusiasts flock to the biannual South Bend Record Show, hosted at the Comfort Suites hotel. With vendors offering a diverse array of vinyl records and CDs, attendees can unearth rare finds, classic hits, and new releases across all genres.

This event provides an excellent networking platform for collectors and fellow music aficionados. At just around $3 per person, this experience is not only affordable but also a treasure trove for music lovers visiting South Bend.

12. Arts, Entertainment & Culture

Arts, Entertainment & Culture

Explore a variety of art experiences at the South Bend Museum of Art, showcasing regional and national artists. Attend captivating live performances at the Morris Performing Arts Center, the esteemed home of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. Immerse yourself in history at the Morris Theater, now refurbished to host films, concerts, and theatrical productions.

Engage with unique sculptures and installations at the interactive public art display of South Bend River Lights. Discover the iconic Golden Dome and Basilica of the Sacred Heart on a tour of the University of Notre Dame’s campus. Delight in the classic cars at the Studebaker National Museum, a must-visit for automobile enthusiasts.

13. The Cost-of-Living Diaries

The Cost-of-Living Diaries

Explore the timeless charm of the iconic University of Notre Dame and its stunning campus. Immerse yourself in the rich history of transportation in America at the Studebaker National Museum. Take a stroll or bike ride along the scenic East Race Waterway downtown.

Delight in a rejuvenating day at Potawatomi Zoo, home to over 400 animals from across the globe. Immerse yourself in the local history and culture at the South Bend Museum of Art. Catch an exciting game or event at either the Notre Dame Stadium or the Morris Performing Arts Center.

14. Lecture – Monsters & Myths

Lecture - Monsters & Myths

Explore the University of Notre Dame campus, including a tour of the famous football stadium. Delve into the city’s automotive history at the historic Studebaker National Museum. Admire local and national artists at the Indiana University South Bend Art Gallery.

Experience the beauty of over 400 animals at Potawatomi Zoo. Attend a performance or event at the stunningly restored Morris Performing Arts Center. Indulge in a sweet treat and factory tour at the South Bend Chocolate Company.

15. The History Museum

The History Museum

Located in downtown South Bend, The History Museum offers a captivating showcase of the region’s rich heritage. With its mix of permanent and rotating exhibits, including interactive displays, visitors can delve into the Native American cultures, early European settlers, and industrial growth of the area.

The museum also features a meticulously restored 19th-century farmhouse and a fascinating collection of vintage vehicles. Throughout the year, the museum hosts a range of events, from art exhibitions to lectures and festivals, creating an enriching experience for all.

16. Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes

Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes

The serene Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes, situated on the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, was meticulously constructed in 1896 as a faithful replica of the original grotto in Lourdes, France. Visitors are welcome to light candles and offer prayers at this peaceful religious site, which is open year-round and admission-free. It provides a tranquil retreat for contemplation and spiritual reflection.

17. South Bend Chocolate Factory

South Bend Chocolate Factory

The South Bend Chocolate Factory invites guests to witness the chocolate-making process on engaging tours. A retail store offers a variety of chocolates and sweets. Operating since 1991, it has become a beloved South Bend attraction. The company collaborates with local businesses to craft unique chocolate products. Visitors can indulge in chocolate samples and learn about its rich history during the tour.

18. Snite Museum of Art

Snite Museum of Art

Located on the University of Notre Dame campus, the Snite Museum of Art houses a vast collection of over 29,000 works from around the world. Visitors can explore various exhibitions, including contemporary art, photography, and sculpture, with free admission for all.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, offering extended hours on Thursdays, providing ample opportunity for everyone to immerse themselves in artistic beauty and cultural appreciation.

19. Annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival

Annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival

Take in the University of Notre Dame campus, featuring the iconic Golden Dome and Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Explore the Studebaker National Museum to delve into South Bend’s history as a manufacturing hub for cars and wagons. Attend a game or event at the Notre Dame Stadium or the Century Center. Take in the stunning views at the Potawatomi Zoo or the East Race Waterway.

Indulge in a meal at one of South Bend’s exceptional restaurants, such as LaSalle Grill or Cafe Navarre. Enjoy a stroll through downtown South Bend’s historic district and admire the captivating architecture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some of the top tourist attractions in South Bend, Indiana?

Things to do in South Bend Indiana, Some of the top tourist attractions in South Bend, Indiana include the University of Notre Dame, Studebaker National Museum, South Bend River Lights, Potawatomi Zoo, Morris Performing Arts Center, and South Bend Chocolate Company.

Are there any hidden gems or lesser-known spots to visit in South Bend?

Things to do in South Bend Indiana, Some hidden gems in South Bend include the East Race Waterway for whitewater rafting, the overlooked Studebaker National Museum, the Indiana Whiskey Company for tours and tastings, and the free Snite Museum of Art at Notre Dame University.

What are some family-friendly activities to do in South Bend?

Things to do in South Bend Indiana, Looking for family-friendly activities in South Bend? Visit the Potawatomi Zoo with over 400 animals, take a tour of the University of Notre Dame’s campus, explore the Studebaker National Museum to learn about automobiles, and don’t miss the South Bend Chocolate Factory for a chocolate-making workshop.

Are there any unique events or festivals that take place in South Bend throughout the year?

Things to do in South Bend Indiana, Throughout the year, South Bend hosts a variety of unique events and festivals. Experience the vibrant South Bend Farmers Market, immerse yourself in the Art Beat Festival, or enjoy live music at the Riverlights Music Festival. Don’t miss the excitement of game day weekends during Notre Dame football season. Check local event calendars for upcoming highlights.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Things to do in South Bend Indiana, South Bend, Indiana offers a wide range of attractions and activities for visitors of all ages. From exploring the Studebaker National Museum and indulging in the city’s food and coffee scene to enjoying river rafting at East Race Waterway and touring the University of Notre Dame Campus, there is something for everyone in this vibrant city.

Don’t forget to visit the South Bend Chocolate Factory, the Grotto of Our Lady Lourdes, and the Snite Museum of Art for a truly enriching experience. Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, art lover, or history buff, South Bend has it all. Plan your trip today and discover the best that South Bend, Indiana has to offer.

 

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