Top 10 Things to Do in South Bend

Author: Lauren Love

By Lauren Fleck, assistant director of admissions

My husband and I moved to South Bend nearly three years ago after he received a promotion at work. I’ll spare you the gory details, but we learned about our move to South Bend on the very day movers were supposed to arrive to at our St. Louis apartment and pack all of our belongings for West Virginia. We boarded a plane for South Bend that very afternoon while rerouting the movers. As a habitual planner this was far outside of my comfort zone. I started in the Office of Admissions at Notre Dame Law School just a month after relocating to South Bend. As a native of St. Louis and a displaced Cardinals fan now living in Cubs country, I was surprised at how quickly we acclimated to our new life in South Bend.

I think you will enjoy South Bend as well! Here is a top-10 list of my favorite things about living in South Bend and being a member of the Notre Dame community:

  1. An opportunity to embrace and be embraced by a community steeped in tradition and pride. The Notre Dame community, both within the Law School and throughout campus, truly sets this institution apart from others. Neither my husband nor I have ties to South Bend or the University yet we have been accepted with open arms. Not only does Notre Dame offer a strong tradition of academic excellence, but there are many traditions across campus that tie students, staff, faculty, and alumni together.
  2. You probably saw this one coming: Great sports! My husband and I are both huge sports fans. The ability to attend high-caliber sporting events is a lot of fun and serves as an additional bonding agent within the community. The past few years we’ve enjoyed living close enough to campus that we can walk on game days. We especially love a great football tailgate and attending hockey games at the new Compton Arena.
  3. South Bend is the cultural hub and economic center of St. Joseph county. Notre Dame offers a lot of cultural activities but so does the city of South Bend. Whether you are visiting the Studebaker National Museum, the South Bend Museum of Art, touring the South Bend Chocolate Company (make sure you have room to taste a chocolate spoon!), taking in a South Bend Cubs baseball game, or catching a play at the Morris Performing Arts Center, there is always something to do. In addition to the many activities available in the community there is ample shopping available. From the big box stores to specialty boutiques (my favorite is Ali on the Boulevard!), South Bend has everything you need.
  4. You can live where you work. When we were living in St. Louis my husband and I each commuted 40 minutes in opposite directions. With an average commute time of 20 minutes, it is easy to get around South Bend. I can’t begin to add up all the money we save on gas. Plus, spending less time in the car and more time as a family is definitely an added benefit! Most students live on or around campus and are able to be on campus within minutes of stepping out their front door. And the low housing costs: wow.
  5. We have been seriously impressed with the food. We are self-proclaimed foodies and love to try new restaurants and cuisines. We love that we can enjoy fresh sushi, traditional Irish fare, and everything in between. Chain restaurants are plenty but so are locally owned options – with many restaurants offering farm-to-table style dining. Some of our favorites include: Fiddler’s Hearth, Corndance Tavern, Barnaby’s Pizza, Bowl of Pho, and Rise’n Roll Bakery (you need a cinnamon caramel donut. Trust me).
  6. South Bend boasts one of the best farmers markets – and it is open all year! Still open on the days established when it was founded in 1911 – Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday – the market offers fresh produce, meats, dairy products, eggs, coffee, spices, and baked goods, maple syrup and jam, as well as home goods, plants, and jewelry. While visiting, be sure to stop by the cafe, located at the center of the market. The Farmer’s Market café prepares excellent meals from seasonal produce and fresh market meats and cheeses found at the market.
  7. Craft breweries and wineries have been popping up around the Michiana community for the past few years. These brew pubs offer excellent beers, yummy food, and a friendly atmosphere. Our favorites include Round Barn winery, distillery, brewery (yes – all three!), Greenbush Brewery, Bare Hands Brewery, Evil Czech Brewery Public House and Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House. I would also recommend that you take a trip down the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail. There are more than a dozen wineries within a short drive of each other.
  8. We knew when relocation was on the table that we wanted to remain in the Midwest for two reasons (1) proximity to our families and (2) the seasons. I love that living in South Bend affords me the opportunity to experience all four seasons – summers at Lake Michigan, apple picking during the fall, snow tubing in the winter, and blooming spring. Each season highlights unique activities and experiences that our community offers.
  9. Michiana offers outdoor activities for all seasons! Here you are a short drive away from the beaches of Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes. You can run on the Mishawaka Riverwalk, bike the South Bend Bikeway, or kayak the East Race Waterway. Some of my favorites include visiting Silver Beach along the shore of Lake Michigan, blueberry picking at Organic Blueberry Ranch (the duke variety is my absolute favorite!), attending Downtown South Bend First Friday activities, and visiting the amur leopard cubs at the Potawatomi Zoo.
  10. Transportation. Hear me out. South Bend is conveniently located and you can easily travel domestic and internationally from South Bend. One of the benefits of Midwest living is that you are literally in the middle can easily drive to many locations throughout the U.S. With the second busiest airport in Indiana, South Bend International Airport is easy to navigate and is the only airport in the United States to offer air, rail and bus service. Not only can you catch a flight, but you can also take the South Shore train line into Chicago for a day or weekend trip for about $20 roundtrip.

The South Bend and University communities quickly exceeded our expectations. As you evaluate where you will earn your legal education, I would encourage you to consider the greater community you will become a part of and the quality of life you hope to achieve. Welcome home.