59 Fun Things To Do Around Town

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

Farmersmarketlechlitner Photo by Ali Lechlitner | Visit South Bend Mishawaka

Start your day with a good breakfast. Try PEGGS, Jeannie’s, Chico’s, the Yellow Cat, Sunrise, American Pancake House, Original Pancake House or the L Street Kitchen. 

Shop for fruits, veggies, crafts, meats, flowers and more on a Saturday at the South Bend Farmers Market.

Take in a South Bend Cubs baseball game at Four Winds Field.

Rent skates and glide along Howard Park’s 16,000-square-foot ice trail and pond, which debuted in November 2019.

Try out the new Studebaker Grill and Brewing Company inside the old Studebaker mansion, long time home of the former Tippecanoe Place Restaurant.

Make friends at Potawatomi Zoo, the oldest zoo in Indiana — its 500-plus animals are close enough for kids to enjoy. 

Photo by Barbara Johnston

Tour Copshaholm, the circa 1895 Oliver family mansion at The History Museum.

Make the quick drive up to Three Oaks, Michigan, to see a live performance by nationally touring artists in The Acorn’s intimate, acoustically pleasing theater, or catch an art house movie at the Vickers.

Ride the East Race Waterway, the whitewater rafting course in downtown South Bend.

Photo by Barbara Johnston

Check out classic cars, presidential carriages and transportation history at the Studebaker National Museum.

Sample locally produced beers at South Bend Brew Werks, Evil Czech Brewery and Public House, Bare Hands Brewery or Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House.

Visit the perennial gardens, bridges and graceful water flow of Mishawaka’s Beutter Park, built on the site of the former Uniroyal plant.

Take the South Shore Line from South Bend Regional Airport to Chicago’s Loop in 2 1/2 hours. Trains include free Wi-Fi.

Nighttime: Check out the changing colors of the “South Bend River Lights” sculpture near the dam downtown or the reborn Studebaker Electric Fountain in Leeper Park.

Rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddle board for an outing on the St. Joseph River.

Attend a play, musical performance, art exhibit or workshop at LangLab, a multiuse creative facility inside a 33,000-square-foot brick warehouse at 1302 High Street.

Visit Shiojiri Niwa, the 1.3-acre Japanese garden on East Mishawaka Avenue that commemorates the sister-city relationship between Mishawaka and Shiojiri, Japan.

Take the whole family to nearby Plymouth, where the Tri-Way Drive-In Theatre plays current-release movies on four screens.

Make a reservation at Café Navarre, LaSalle Grill, the Carriage House Dining Room & Gardens or Render Kitchen & Bar.

Relive your college years at Corby’s Irish Pub, 441 East LaSalle Avenue. (This is the “new” Corby’s, renamed after it served in a scene in the 1993 film, Rudy. The original Corby Tavern, which stood at the now-vanished Five Points intersection south of campus, is long gone.)

Learn a new craft — jewelry making, stained glass, printing, pottery and more — at Make South Bend.

Dine at Sunny Italy Café, which has been serving up traditional Italian meals since Rockne was head coach.

Check out the latest exhibit at the South Bend Museum of Art or the Snite Museum of Art — or both.

Drive by South Bend’s two Frank Lloyd Wright houses, both privately owned: the 1906 K.C. DeRhodes house on West Washington Street and the 1948 Herman T. Mossberg residence in Twyckenham Hills.

Attend a professional performance at the Morris Performing Arts Center (the restored historic Palace Theater) downtown or DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at Notre Dame.

Try a board-gaming adventure at the Griffon Bookstore’s Game Room on West Colfax Avenue downtown, open until midnight on Fridays throughout the year.

Stroll the sidewalks of Eddy Street Commons, the “live-work-play” community just south of campus.

Kielbasa, chicken and noodles: Enjoy a traditional Polish meal family style at one of the local Catholic parish halls or a Polish fraternal hall.

Spend a leisurely Saturday sampling Harbor Country antique shops, art galleries, bistros and bars along Michigan’s Red Arrow Highway.

Enjoy artists, musicians and activities during “First Friday,” an evening of entertainment held each month in downtown South Bend.

Follow the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail in southwestern Michigan, touring and tasting at a few of the 15 wineries in the region. 

Run — or walk — the streets of the city in the Sunburst Races, a half-marathon, 10K and 5K now in their 37th year and raising money for Beacon Children’s Hospital.

Enjoy the pizza and welcoming atmosphere at Rocco’s Restaurant at 537 North St. Louis Boulevard.

Photo by Matt Cashore ’94

Cross-country ski through pine trees that spell “ST. PATRICKS” from above at St. Patrick’s County Park.

Take a sweet tour of the South Bend Chocolate Company factory and Chocolate Museum at 3300 West Sample Street.

Visit the Civil Rights Heritage Center on West Washington Street, converted from the city’s once-segregated city natatorium into a learning center that explores civil rights struggles of the past and present.

Lose yourself in the stacks and fall in love with some rare find at Erasmus Books, the classic, cottage-style used bookstore that’s especially strong in pretty much every genre and easy to miss at 1027 East Wayne Street.

Listen to authentic Irish music and raise a pint at Fiddler’s Hearth downtown.

Fly down the snowy, steep slopes of Mishawaka’s George Wilson Park on an inner tube, and cozy up to the indoor fireplace when fingers and feet go numb.  

Step into Indiana’s farmland past with a hearty breakfast at Lakeville’s Hilltop Restaurant, then continue the excursion with a trek through nearby Potato Creek State Park.

Learn sculpture, pottery or jewelry making at Fire Arts Inc. on the east bank of the St. Joseph River.

Walk or bike the Indiana Michigan River Valley Trail, a 17-mile path along the banks of the St. Joe from Niles, Michigan, to downtown Mishawaka.

Drive 45 minutes to Lake Michigan beaches.


Head east into Amish country to shop for quilts and handmade furniture, and be sure to check out the antique and livestock auctions on Wednesdays in Shipshewana. But watch out for the horse-drawn buggies.

Listen to tomorrow’s finest musicians at the Fischoff, the nation’s largest and longest-running chamber music competition, which typically draws 125 ensembles representing some two dozen nations.

Browse Art Beat, an annual festival of performing, visual and culinary artists that fills the streets downtown for a full day in mid-August, drawing more than 15,000 visitors.

Check out livestock barns, eat elephant ears and fried butter, then ride the roller coaster at the St. Joseph County 4-H Fair.

Grab your binoculars for a closer look at South Bend’s pair of peregrine falcons as they soar over the city. In the spring and early summer, watch online as they raise their latest batch of chicks.

Join in a trivia game and grab a snack, coffee or adult beverage at the Chicory Café downtown.

Stop and smell the roses (and lilies and daffodils) at the Leeper Park Rose Garden, recently restored by volunteers after years of neglect . . . and restored again after the historic flooding of February 2018. Then cross Michigan Street for a turn about the new Lavender Labyrinth.

Pick a bushel of your favorite plump, organic variety from July to mid-August at Mishawaka’s
Blueberry Ranch

Jostle, bump and settle into the straw on a moonlit, Halloween hayride through Bendix Woods County Park.

Stroll the undulating landscapes of Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in Buchanan, Michigan, with its 105 acres of lovely gardens, prairie, creeks, ponds and wooded hillsides dropping down to the St. Joseph River. 

Head out Western Avenue for some authentic Mexican food at Taqueria Chicago, then cross the street for dessert at Paleteria y Neveria La Rosita, serving Mexican ice cream spiced with chamoy and Tajín.

Photo by Barbara Johnston

Attend Idea Week, a new regional festival sponsored by Notre Dame’s Idea Center that brings nationally known musicians, comedians and speakers to the area each April.

Shop and eat at the Purple Porch Food Co-op’s Café to support local farmers and savor the area’s farm-to-table experience.

Quiz yourself on South Bend history and the silver-screen celebrities that muralist Chris Stackowicz ’99 has lined up along Ernie’s Alley, the back-door access to LaSalle Kitchen & Tavern and the Morris Performing Arts Center off West Colfax Avenue.

Party with the locals on Dyngus Day, the day-after-Easter Polish holiday that features beer, sausages, polka music and politicians working the crowd for votes in     Indiana’s primary election.

And bring your late-night day to a close at Nick’s Patio, a favorite stopping spot.