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You might have heard of South Bend, IN if you are familiar with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Just about an hour and a half away from Chicago, it is located in Northern Indiana and near Lake Michigan, it is the fourth largest city in Indiana. Former hometown of heavy industries like Studebaker, a major car manufacturer. Its former days evident in the historical residences and buildings that once made this city an industrial hub.
While all of this exist in the city of a 100,000, you’ll also find a city rich in the arts, outdoor adventures, history, and innovation. The city is also redeveloping itself from the old industry remnants to an up-and-coming technology hub alongside its main industries of health care, education, and small businesses.
If you find yourself driving through South Bend and the surrounding areas collectively known as Michiana, we got you covered with activities your entire family will enjoy.
What to Eat in South Bend and Michiana
Before you go on exploring South Bend, start your day right with a yummy fulfilling breakfast. Located downtown is crowd favorite Pegg’s, where you can grab some coffee and a hearty French toast or short stack for $5.00.
If you’re looking for a new take on the typical American breakfast fare, head over to Javier’s Bistro. Chef-owner Javier blends in flavor from his Puerto Rican heritage to your conventional American menu like the mojito or picadillo omelets served with sazon rice for $10.00.
Sorin’s is another early dining option located at the historic Morris Inn inside the University of Notre Dame campus. Classic French cuisine awaits after a morning stroll in the campus or after attending Mass in the Basilica. Try the avocado toast for $11.00.
Fancy a meal in the former Studebaker’s Mansion at Tippecanoe Place. With meals like duck, steak or prime rib and burgers, you get an elegant casual meal starting at $9.00 to $18.00.
If you’re in the mood for sushi and sake, you should head to Woochi Japanese Fusion and Bar. More than just sushi, you can get your favorite Asian grubs starting at $7.00 during lunch hours. We recommend trying their Coconut Shrimp or one of their bento boxes.
Steak knife? Psh. How about a sword? Corndance Tavern serves a creative take on familiar and not-so-familiar eats like burgers, pastas, lamb chops, steaks, and alligator. The menu is dynamic but is consistently tasty. Take the family here for something different like the Sword of John Adams.
Pizza lovers would be happy to know that there’s quite a few pizzerias in town to satisfy your appetite for the pie. Some of the local favorites are Barnaby’s, Bruno’s, or Starlite Pizza. Barnaby’s and Brunos both serve huge pizzas that are perfect for sharing. Starlite Pizza is known for their “sweeter pizza sauce”.
Things to Do in South Bend and Michiana
Michiana has plenty of indoor and outdoor options that young and old alike will enjoy. Here are some of our suggestions to get you started.
Take a walking tour of the campus in the University of Notre Dame. Visit the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the Grotto. Say a prayer. Even if you are not religious, the campus grounds does have plenty of picturesque areas that makes it one of the most beautiful universities in the country.
Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest zoo in Indiana and you can find it in South Bend. Pet and feed the animals in the Zoo Farm. Tour around the zoo on board the train. Ride a shark on the Endangered Species Carousel. Learn about your favorite animals here.
Play a classic game of mini-golf with the kids at Putt-Putt in Mishawaka, IN. Offering 3 different courses, you can choose to play competitively in a tricky set or have plain fun in an easier round. When you’re done, you can step inside to play some arcade games too. And if you’re looking to practice your swing and get some quality tee time, Blackthorn Golf Club in South Bend, IN is a highly rated course in the state.
At the Rum Village Park in South Bend, kids and adults from 8 years and up can take up challenges for a more adventurous experience. Edge Adventure Parks lets you take on thrilling obstacle courses like crossing suspended logs and soaring zip lines from tree tops.
Feeling more daring? Teens and adults can dominate the first man-made white water rafting course in North America. East Race Rafting is set in downtown South Bend! And if you’d rather enjoy a leisurely day of strolling with the younger kids, the East Race is part of Indiana University’s river walk park where you can bike or jog with your kids or canine friends.
If being outside left you a little chilly in the winter or too hot during summer, South Bend still has some indoor fun for you.
Chocolate lovers, this one is for you. You can tap your inner Willy Wonka by going to the South Bend Chocolate Factory Tour. This tour currently costs $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for kids. Spanning 58,000 sqft., the museum is also home to a large collection of artifacts and memorabilia relating to the history of chocolate making. You also get a special treat in the end!
The nearby city of Elkhart is home to the Hall of Heroes Museum. It’s the largest superhero collection in the world. From comic books, toys, to movie props, this is the perfect place to bring the geeks and nerds of the clan. Even so, it houses a lot of pop culture history, the rest of the family will surely enjoy it too.
For those with older children, ages 6 to 17, you can test your problem solving skills and teamwork with the Escape Room Experience in Mishawaka, IN called Locked Up. With different themes to choose from, find your way out before time runs out. It usually costs $28.00 per person and is best to reserve a slot for your group of family or friends.
There are several exciting places to see and experience in the area. Next time you go here either for a game or just passing through with your road trip, find time to visit some of these.
What other family activities have you done during your visit to South Bend and Michiana? Share in the comments below.
Where to Stay in South Bend, IN