Living in South Bend

Students At The LauberLaw students enjoy a night out in downtown South Bend.

The University of Notre Dame is located right next to South Bend, Indiana — a diverse city that’s big enough to provide everything you need without the traffic and high costs of a major metropolitan area.

Notre Dame offers on-campus housing for graduate students that is a 10- to 15-minute walk from the Law School. Many off-campus housing options are available nearby in South Bend and the surrounding community. Living close to campus and to each other makes it easy for law students to spend time together, whether that time is spent studying or having fun.

Downtown South Bend and several other city neighborhoods have been undergoing a renaissance in recent years. Private developers have renovated several historic buildings, adding more restaurants and hundreds of apartments to the city center. The city is also directing more attention to the St. Joseph River by investing in a riverside trail system and upgrading waterfront parks.

The Morris Performing Arts Center in downtown South Bend complements Notre Dame’s DeBartolo Performing Arts Center by hosting concerts, comedians, and Broadway touring shows. The downtown area is also home to several museums, including the South Bend Museum of Art and the Studebaker National Museum, which preserves and displays the Studebaker vehicles that were once manufactured in South Bend. 

Lake Michigan beaches and sand dunes, as well as southwest Michigan’s wine country, aren’t far from campus either. And, when students do need a taste of a bigger city, Chicago is just a 90-minute drive away and an easy destination for a day trip.

This guide is designed to help you start exploring.

Where to live

Several housing options, both on campus and off campus, are available to Notre Dame Law students. Visit the Notre Dame Office of Residential Life's website for more information.

Fischergraduateresidences2008Fischer Graduate Residences

  • On-campus housing: The Fischer Graduate Residences are home to more than 400 graduate and professional students from across the United States and 45 countries. It takes 10 to 15 minutes to walk from these apartments to the Law School.
  • Off-campus housing: Notre Dame's guide to off-campus living,, is available to help students make housing decisions.
    Overlook at Notre Dame, located immediately east of campus and a 15- to 20-minute walk from the Law School, is a University-related development that was designed specifically for graduate and professional students.

Another option, available to second- and third-year law students, is living and working in an undergraduate residence hall.

  • Hall staff: In a typical academic year, several dozen second- and third-year Notre Dame Law students serve as assistant rectors in undergraduate residence halls. Assistant rectors receive compensation and free room and board while supplying additional layers of pastoral care for hall residents.

Where to eat

Notre Dame's Campus Dining serves more than 15,000 students, faculty, staff, and visitors daily through nearly 30 eating establishments, including large-scale dining halls, full-service restaurants, and quick-service cafes.

Fiddlershearth08Fiddler's Hearth in downtown South Bend

  • On-campus dining: Read about offerings, meal plans, and more at

South Bend's restaurant scene includes traditional sports pubs and modern American bistros as well as a growing diversity of ethnic restaurants, including Korean, Lebanese, Venezuelan, and more.

  • Off-campus diningVisit South Bend Mishawaka has a searchable guide to the area's restaurants, bakeries, coffeehouses, breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Eddy Street Commons, located across Angela Boulevard from Notre Dame, has a dozen restaurants.

The South Bend area has many large chain grocery stores — Aldi, Costco, Kroger, Meijer, Sam's Club, Target, Walmart, etc. — as well as chains such as Fresh Thyme, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods that offer a wider selection of organic and specialty foods.

  • Local favoriteMartin's Super Markets, a local chain based in South Bend, has several locations that provide great options for takeout food in addition to a full selection of groceries.
  • Farm fresh: For locally produced food, check out the South Bend Farmers Market and Purple Porch Co-op.
  • Specialties: The South Bend area also supports numerous specialty grocery stores that stock foods from particular culinary traditions, including Asian, Indian, Italian, Mexican, and Polish.

Where to worship

The University of Notre Dame is both Catholic and catholic. When capitalized, the word refers to the Catholic Church and the faith that drives Notre Dame's mission to be a force for good in the world. The lowercase word means universal and describes how Notre Dame, as a great university, embraces and includes people of all backgrounds, faiths, and viewpoints.

Basilica05Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Resources are available on campus and in the larger South Bend community to enable students of all faiths to grow spiritually during their time at Notre Dame.

  • Campus Ministry encourages participation in the sacramental and liturgical life of the Catholic Church, supports other forms of worship and personal prayer, and provides opportunities for community service, retreats, and pilgrimages. Campus Ministry designs some of its programs specifically for graduate students.
  • Student organizations at Notre Dame Law School include the Christian Legal Society, Jewish Law Students Society, J. Reuben Clark Law Society, and St. Thomas More Society.

Where to shop

A few miles east of campus, you’ll find a large shopping district in the neighboring city of Mishawaka, Indiana. The area includes several big-box retailers and shopping centers.

Eddystreet11Eddy Street Commons

  • University Park Mall is a regional mall with more than 120 stores, including Apple, Barnes & Noble, J. Crew, Sephora, and Macy's.
  • Heritage Square is an open-air "lifestyle center" that includes a variety of stores, salons, and restaurants.

An outlet mall is located in Michigan City, Indiana, which is a 45-minute drive west of campus.

There are some boutiques and smaller stores near campus and in downtown South Bend.

  • Eddy Street Commons — located across Angela Boulevard from Notre Dame — has a few retail stores, including Urban Outfitters.
  • Downtown South Bend and the nearby East Bank Village neighborhood are home to several boutiques and unique shops. Check out Circa Arts for art and antiques, and Ali on the Boulevard for women's clothing and accessories.

What to do for fun

Exercise and play outside

The University of Notre Dame's campus and the greater South Bend region provide plenty of ways to get exercise and fresh air during all four seasons.

On campus, RecSports manages facilities for virtually every kind of recreation — from swimming to cross-country skiing and rock climbing to sailing — as well as a wide variety of fitness classes and club sports. You can even rent equipment for a camping trip.

Eastrace2009East Race Waterway in South Bend

Compton Family Ice Arena is the home of the Fighting Irish hockey team. The ice is also open to the public for skating and other ice sports such as curling.

With more than 30 miles of trails, Notre Dame's campus is a haven for running, walking, and biking. The trail around St. Joseph's Lake and St. Mary's Lake is a popular route.

South Bend and Mishawaka also have an extensive riverside trail system that is great for long-distance running, walking, and biking.

The East Race Waterway in South Bend is the nation's first man-made whitewater course. Located near downtown, it's open to the public for whitewater rafting and kayaking.

Look at Visit South Bend Mishawaka's guide to recreation in the area to see more descriptions of St. Joseph County's parks, golf courses, and other sports facilities.

Cyclists can find bike routes and related information on Bike Michiana's website and at Visit South Bend Mishawaka.

Go to a museum

Studebakermuseum2015Studebaker National Museum

  • On Notre Dame's campus, the Snite Museum of Art houses a collection of nearly 28,000 works that represent many of the principal cultures and periods of world art history. It's considered to be one of the finest university art museums in America. In 2017, the Snite opened the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park. A new campus art museum, the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, is under construction.
  • The South Bend Museum of Art, located downtown, features a full spectrum of historical and contemporary art in five galleries. The museum is inside Century Center, which is a work of art in itself. The building was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee — two of modern architecture's most influential names. (Burgee is also a Notre Dame grad.)
  • The Studebaker National Museum tells the story of the South Bend company that produced some of the most stylish cars of the 20th century. Studebaker started out making wagons in 1852 and continued to operate in South Bend until 1963. The museum houses a fascinating collection of vehicles, from presidential carriages to early automobiles to 1960s muscle cars.
  • The History Museum preserves the South Bend region's heritage and educates the public through collections, exhibits, and programs. The museum is connected to the Oliver Mansion — an ornate Gilded Age home built in 1895 for the family of South Bend industrialist J.D. Oliver.
  • The South Bend Chocolate Company offers tours of its factory and chocolate museum on the city's west side. The museum is home to one of the world's largest collections of chocolate memorabilia. The collection includes a 1,300-year-old Mayan chocolate pot. 

Watch a show

  • On campus, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center welcomes more than 100,000 patrons annually for musical and theatrical performances as well as foreign, independent, and classic films.
  • The Morris Performing Arts Center is a 2,500-seat theater in downtown South Bend that hosts a variety of events, including touring Broadway performances, musical acts, and comedians.
  • South Bend Civic Theatre is the oldest continuously operating community theater company in the South Bend-Mishawaka area.
  • The South Bend Symphony Orchestra is a world-class professional symphony orchestra. Founded in 1932, the South Bend Symphony performs 20 concerts annually.

Cheer on the Fighting Irish

It's well-known that Fighting Irish football games are a big deal, as more than 80,000 fans fill Notre Dame Stadium on fall Saturdays. The Law School's students have guaranteed access to football tickets and cram into the student section with other graduate students and undergrads.

But there's more than football here. Notre Dame has 20 varsity sports to watch.

Both the men's and women's basketball teams play in front of sold-out crowds at Purcell Pavilion. Compton Family Ice Arena has also become a hot ticket with the success of the Fighting Irish hockey team.