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Established as a fur trading post in the early 19th century, South Bend today represents the economic and cultural center of Northern Indiana. Best known as the home of Studebaker automobiles and the prestigious University of Notre Dame, the city combines an industrial past with a powerful presence in academia. Visitors to Indiana's fourth-largest city will find a rich variety of things to see and do, from world-class museums around downtown to outdoor recreation on the St. Joseph River. See for yourself why South Bend is a Midwest destination full of can’t-miss activities and attractions.
South Bend has plenty of close by fun experiences for you and your kids. Our family friendly experiences will keep everyone entertained for days.
South Bend receives its name from its position on the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River, and the city has unfurled from its historic center on the waterfront. Downtown remains the cultural heart of the city, while the University District pulses with the energy of the University of Notre Dame.
Bustling with shops, restaurants, art galleries, and entertainment venues, Downtown South Bend is always full of life. Howard Park and Leeper Park draw locals for outdoor recreation by the river, and attractions such as the South Bend Museum of Art and the Morris Performing Arts Center contribute to the area's vibrant culture.
As the home of the University of Notre Dame, the University District hosts a thriving student community. Beautiful campus landmarks like the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes reflect the university's Catholic identity, and the adjacent Eddy Street Commons—built to be a "college town" next door—abounds with shopping and dining options.
Technically, Mishawaka is the next town over from South Bend, but the city has its fair share of sights and landmarks, among them the Bodine State Fish Hatchery, the Shiojiri Niwa Japanese Garden, and the campus of Bethel College.
South Bend's sights range from the historic to the artistic. As you stroll around the picturesque University of Notre Dame campus, set aside time to peruse the Snite Museum of Art, which houses an impressive collection ranging from Italian Renaissance paintings to Mesoamerican treasures. Gear heads can immerse themselves in the city's industrial past at the Studebaker National Museum, a tribute to the 150-year history of the famous automobile manufacturer. Here, you can wander among well-preserved cars, wagons, and carriages from the 19th and 20th centuries, including the very carriage used by Abraham Lincoln. Next door, The History Museum offers an illuminating look at the heritage of the St. Joseph River Valley region, as well as the historic Oliver Mansion.
Take advantage of a wealth of things to do in South Bend for all types of travelers. If you're an avid sports fan, join thousands of alumni at Notre Dame Stadium as you cheer on the Fighting Irish, or catch some minor-league baseball action with a South Bend Cubs game at Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium. If hockey's your jam, make sure to visit South Bend in winter, when the Fighting Irish race around the rink at Compton Family Ice Arena. For a more active experience, get your adrenaline pumping with a wet-and-wild rafting or kayaking adventure on North America's first artificial whitewater waterway, the East Race Waterway. After the sun sets over the city, check out the nightly art display known as River Lights, in which sculptures illuminate the St. Joseph River with brilliant bursts of color. Seeking family-friendly fun? Devote an afternoon to the Potawatomi Zoo, where you can get up-close to over 400 animals, including big cats, primates, and a variety of Australian critters. Or, for a taste of South Bend's culinary scene, tantalize your taste buds at the South Bend Farmer's Market, or sip-on Indiana-made spirits during a tour of the Indiana Whiskey Company.
They say the best things in life are free. Discover the following around South Bend:
Coquillard Park - You can't go past this attraction if you're eager to loosen up and have some fun.
East Race Waterway - Head here for an invigorating dip and let your inner water baby swim free.
City Cemetery - You'll feel like you've stepped back in time while learning the secrets of this historic attraction.
Century Center Convention Center - If you'd like to explore some of the more important or unique places in the community, start here.
Basilica of the Sacred Heart - Throw a bit of spirituality into your getaway with a visit to this religious sanctuary.
Howard Park - Grab your picnic blanket, throw together a few snacks and find a shady area to relish Mother Nature.
Give yourself plenty of time to explore major attractions like University of Notre Dame and Notre Dame Stadium.
You'll barely have time to grab your wallet out of your backpack with so many wonderful free things to do: