Blake Walsh

25 Best Things to Do in South Bend, IN

  • Published 2022/07/04

South Bend is a beautiful metropolitan city in Indiana, United States.

The city is full of art and architecture and is home to a great variety of flora and fauna.

That said, it’s the ideal destination for any traveler, whether you’re interested in visiting natural attractions or exploring museums and entertainment centers.

There are a number of fascinating historic sites and tourist attractions that visitors will surely enjoy.

In fact, some of South Bend’s historic sites are considered among the most famous tourist attractions in the entire country.

What’s more, the city is situated just minutes away from other popular destinations in Indiana, such as the Notre Dame Golden Dome and Kamm Island Park in Mishawaka.

Are you interested in finding out what else South Bend and its surrounding areas have to offer?

Here are the best things to do in South Bend, Indiana:

Meet the Animals at the Potawatomi Zoo

Entrance of Potawotami Zoo

Skadiseven, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This nature and wildlife preserve in Indiana is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna.

With over a hundred species of birds and animals, the Potawatomi Zoo is the oldest zoo in South Bend.

The zoo is well-maintained and clean.

Tigers playing with each other at Potawatomi Zoo

Dakota Connell-Ledwon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The animals in this zoo are all healthy and look very happy.

You can get a chance to view some wild animals like lions and tigers or meet cute little bears and pandas in this zoo.

Promising visitors an interactive experience, the zoo allows you to feed the giraffe some lettuce leaves or pet some cute pandas.

You can also photograph all the different species that call the Potawatomi Zoo their home.

Kangaroos eating lettuce and fruits at Potawatomi Zoo

Manjithkaini, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This zoo is a great place to teach your kids about the importance of local wildlife and give them an authentic experience of these friendly and cute animals.

There is also a cute gift shop in the zoo where you can buy souvenirs for your friends and family.

This zoo is the perfect place to visit if you want to have a peaceful experience of the local wildlife.

Check Out Vintage Automobiles at the Studebaker National Museum

Display of a stylish white car at Studebaker national museum

Steven Heim /

This automobile museum in Indiana is one of South Bend’s biggest tourist attractions.

The Studebaker National Museum is housed in a three-story building with various exhibits on each level.

One of the most exquisite and interesting exhibitions is the vintage car display, which is most loved by those who visit the museum.

A carriage styled Electric Coupe at Studebaker National Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This museum is a great and interesting place to learn about the city’s history.

It is very informative and has very cool objects on display.

Moreover, some of its exhibits spread awareness about women’s voting rights.

Vintage Land Cruiser at Studebaker National Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find a lot of vintage automobile exhibits in this museum and loads of other things, all for a very pocket-friendly price.

So, do pay a visit to this historic automobile museum and learn new things about classic vintage articles.

Go Boating and Camping at St. Patrick’s County Park

St. Patrick’s County Park is a very beautiful, clean, and well-maintained park in the city.

The park is usually sunny, bright, and warm in the summer and is an excellent place for lakeside camping.

You can have a picnic during the day and go stargazing and camping at night.

Plus points for animal lovers: you may even get the chance to spot wildlife at this riverfront park.

You can go boating in the beautiful, crystal clear river located within the park.

St. Patrick’s County Park is filled with different well-marked trails that visitors are welcome to hike.

It is the perfect place to go if one feels the need to reconnect with nature, whether by yourself or with your loved ones.

Try Your Luck at Four Winds Casino

This is for all the people who love partying, clubbing and spending their nights outside of their hotel rooms.

Four Winds Casino in South Bend is a fantastic casino where you can go and drink your woes away at night.

It is the best place to go for some fun and gambling if you are in town.

The whole vibe of this casino is dark, chill, and fun, making it the perfect place to go to when one wants to enjoy the nightlife.

The food and games here are all amazing, and the buffet boasts delicious food for a very pocket-friendly price.

Remember to spend carefully while you are at the casino.

Overall, Four Winds Casino is a great place with amazing games, slots, and food.

It’s the perfect spot to go if you are visiting South Bend with your friends and want to have some fun.

Watch the Fireworks Display at River Lights Plaza

River Lights Plaza is truly an unmissable place if you are in South Bend.

It is the most beautiful place to visit at night when the whole river is lit up, and the view makes for an extremely gorgeous sight.

The venue puts on a fireworks display at the end of every day, which will surely be the highlight of your visit.

The river is massive and beautiful, with crystal blue waters.

At night, it gets colored with different lights like red, purple, green, and blue along with beautiful fireworks up above in the sky, making it the most wholesome experience for whoever is visiting.

Take the Kids to Kennedy Water Park

This adventure water park in South Bend is the perfect place to visit with your family and kids.

Kennedy Water Park caters to the needs of visitors of all ages, as fun has no age limit.

You can swim around in the pool, which is shallow and warm enough for kids to have fun comfortably.

Kids can also slide into the water and enjoy the waves.

Meanwhile, adults can dip their legs in the water, grab snacks, or have picnics around the area.

The water park has splash pads, as well as simple and easy rides for kids to enjoy.

Kennedy Water Park is a great place where the whole family can spend some quality time together.

Explore the Hiking Trails at Rum Village Nature Center

This nature center in South Bend is a great place to go for a lovely stroll.

Rum Village Nature Center is full of well-marked trails where you can go hiking as well.

It is the perfect place to have a day picnic with a view.

The sunset here is truly breathtaking and is definitely worth a watch.

You can get the chance to experience the local animals in this nature center.

The whole area is full of greenery and colorful flowers.

There are activity courses, golf pits, and many fun activities for you to enjoy when you are in this park.

Learn How to Ice Skate at the Ice Box Skating Rink

Ice box skating Rink in South Bend

Nagel Photography /

This skating park in South Bend is a very fun place to visit.

The Ice Box Skating Rink is filled with ice and gives you an experience of real-life ice skating.

You can visit with your friends or family and have fun and quality time together.

The ring is big enough for multiple people to skate at the same time.

The professionals are always available to help and teach you how to skate.

They also have a spectator stand for people who do not want to indulge but still want to experience the fun of ice skating.

It is definitely a spot that you must visit if you are in South Bend.

Take a Sightseeing Tour at St. Joseph County Fairgrounds

At South Bend, Indiana’s Ironwood Drive, you’ll find St. Joseph County Fairgrounds.

The St. Joseph County Fairgrounds is an amazing place to be and boasts some of the freshest, tastiest food vendors you’ll ever see.

From Mexican finger food such as tacos to Thai entrees featuring fresh veggies, their menus are so diverse that they’re practically a lot more vast than a lot of other outdoor events around this area.

There are plenty of booths where people can play games and win prizes, along with more than enough activities for the entire family.

There’s free parking even on the fourth of July when the fireworks will have everyone in awe.

With awesome music, you might also find yourself humming a few tunes without even realizing it.

The St. Joseph County Fairgrounds puts out a lovely drive-thru light show and decorations every Christmas season.

In addition to the festive light displays, they are accepting donations so that they can continue putting on this fantastic show next year.

Pop in for a Show at South Bend Civic Theatre

South Bend Civic Theatre is an organization that aims to bring its audiences entertainment and education.

It was founded in 1957 by two graduates of Notre Dame University, who wanted to share their love for the art of theater with other people too.

Most of their early performances were held in people’s homes, but hotels and various locations at the school among others.

Since then, many great shows have been staged at the Firehouse (a local historical landmark), located in South Bend’s Near Northwest neighborhood.

In 2000, South Bend Contemporary Theater began putting on larger performances and explored options for a new location.

In January 2007, the company celebrated the opening of its new permanent home, which was inside the former First Church of Christ Scientist.

The historic building is an architectural wonder and encloses all its theatrics for safe keeping.

Visit The Oliver Mansion

Stone architecture of The Oliver Mansion

Jmenard48, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Oliver Mansion is an elegant 38-room mansion where the J.D. Oliver family used to reside.

It’s one of The History Museum’s three historic houses.

As is the case with most heritage homes, there are quite a couple of steps, and the views from both floors are stunning!

The mansion’s dining room is a bright and colorful space that reflects the warm, inviting personality of the Oliver family.

The space features five mahogany pillars running up the ceiling and an elegant tapestry on the wall.

This room has a bay window that allows for stunning views to be enjoyed through its hand-painted leaded glass windows.

The Library comes with a hand-carved mahogany fireplace, mahogany built-in bookcases, and an oak floor with a parquet border.

While the number of people permitted on tour is limited, everyone can get a glimpse at this majestic house from the outside.

Catch a Baseball Game at the Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium

Welcome sign of Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium

IH Havens, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Home to the MLB team South Bend Cubs who plays in the Midwest League, the Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium hosts many ballgames since its inception in 1987.

It can seat up to 5,000 fans and also hosts concerts and other live shows.

While in South Bend, you can check if there’s any ballgame going on at the stadium to catch one of its local teams, or even catch the Cubs play.

The stadium was named for Hall of Famer pitcher Stanley Coveleski who resided in South Bend.

After its partnership with the Four Winds Casino, it was then named the Four Winds Field at Coveleski Stadium.

Buy Fresh Produce at the South Bend Farmer’s Market

Fresh produce at South Bend Farmer’s Market

Erin Cessna /

Try the local and fresh produce at the South Bend Farmer’s Market, which gathers all local vendors and farmers in the area to sell their goods.

There are fresh fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, herbs, meat, seafood, dairy, jams & jellies, honey, coffee, tea, baked goods, spices, CBD products, and many more.

If you love handcrafted artisanal products, there are soaps, candles, jewelry, and many unique trinkets for gifts and souvenirs.

Fresh food here made by local restaurants is also a must-try.

Established in 1924, the South Bend Farmer’s Market only opens on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and some Fridays during the holiday season.

It’s located off Northside Boulevard.

Go On Rafting Adventure at East Race Waterway

People rafting at East Race Waterway

Michael J. Lane, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s another adventure in the city right in the heart of downtown South Bend that’s perfect for traveling families and friends!

Go on whitewater rafting at East Race Waterway, which features an artificial whitewater course that can produce waves up to 6 feet or even higher.

You only have to book a ride pass to do this challenging activity.

If you want kayaking, East Race Waterway also offers both Day Pass and Season Pass.

You can find it at South Niles Avenue.

Go on a Tour and Bourbon Tasting at The Indiana Whiskey Company

If you love bourbon, spend some time at The Indiana Whiskey Company.

You can tour the site and learn the mashing, distilling, and bottling process of the distillery and the use of its copper pot.

After the tour, a bartender will assist you with your bourbon tasting at the tasting room.

All ingredients used in its whiskeys are grown and produced only in Indiana.

The Indiana Whiskey Company was established in 2011 and is located at West Sample Street.

Get Your Cup of Coffee at Chicory Cafe

Sit and relax in the warm atmosphere of Chicory Cafe, which serves New Orleans-style fare and delicious, fresh cups of coffee.

Try its house lattes or other house coffee specials like espresso, mocha, cappuccino, drip coffee, and Americano, among others.

And while you’re enjoying your coffee, pair it with its popular NOLA style bites, including its beignets, po’boy, jambalaya, mac & cheese, muffulettas, and more.

There’s also live music, karaoke nights, and many other entertainments for the community.

Drop by Chicory Cafe at Jefferson Center.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Admire the Stunning Displays at the Snite Museum of Art

Entrance of the Snite museum of art in South Bend

Arthur LeBon, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Art museums hold such beauty in them that no other historical places can.

The impressive Snite Museum of Art is located in Notre Dame, just 10 minutes away from South Bend.

This museum displays various exhibits, from old classic art to newer modern abstract art.

It is situated on the University of Notre Dame campus and displays various works of art made by the school’s art and design students.

The aesthetics of this museum are truly beautiful and mesmerizing.

The Snite Museum of Art boasts a collection of artwork from all around the world.

Among the museum’s highlights are the beautiful abstract paintings that evoke varying feelings in different people.

The museum holds various events, lectures, programs, exhibitions, and workshops that people from all around the city come to attend.

It is a very fascinating art museum to visit in the city.

Do get an experience of this beautiful site whenever you are in or around Notre Dame.

The South Bend Museum of Art is another amazing art museum in the vicinity, and it isn’t any different from the Snite Museum of Art; both are equally beautiful and creative must-visit sites.

Say a Prayer at the Tranquil Basilica of Sacred Jesus

Beautifully painted glasses at Basilica of Sacred Jesus

Wirestock Creators /

Located less than 10 minutes away from South Bend, the Basilica of Sacred Jesus is described as one of the most beautiful and impressive churches in the United States.

This church in Notre Dame is one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions, and people from all around the US come to visit this beautiful site at least once in their lifetime.

The art and architecture of this church are extremely beautiful to gaze at.

People feel very peaceful just by being here.

Painting at Basilica of Sacred Jesus

Nheyob, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The whole church is filled with creative and beautiful paintings and other works of art.

You can attend a Sunday mass at this church or simply visit to adore its magnificence.

Do pay a visit to this classic tourist attraction and experience the beauty of this church for yourself.

Lay Your Eyes on the Magnificent Notre Dame Golden Dome

Notre Dame Golden Dome

Scott K Baker /

The Notre Dame Golden Dome is a historic landmark situated on the University of Notre Dame campus.

It is the university’s Main Administration Building.

The Golden Dome sparkles when sunlight hits its surface, and the view is absolutely gorgeous to look at.

Aerial view of Notre Dame Golden Dome

Grindstone Media Group /

It is so magnificent that it has been described as “have a personality of its own.”

Its art and architecture will surely blow you away.

The whole place is filled with beautiful and colorful flowers, making it a very peaceful and calming place.

Golden statue of virgin mary at Notre Dame Golden Dome

Jonathan Weiss /

The University of Notre Dame campus is clean and well-maintained, allowing visitors to have an amazing experience of the dome.

The Golden Dome is filled with various artworks, paintings, and sculptures made both by university students and artists from around the world.

Both the outside and inside of the Golden Dome are equally beautiful and definitely worth a visit.

Have a Quiet Moment of Peace at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

Night view of Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes

Know1one1, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This magnificent and peaceful shrine in Notre Dame is a popular Indiana tourist attraction and one of the area’s gems.

It is the perfect place to go when one does not feel at ease and would like to attain some peace.

The best time to visit this shrine is at dawn, for the lights of all the candles add immense beauty to this place and make it totally worth a visit.

The shrine is very powerful and very peaceful, all at once.

It is truly worth visiting if you are in or around Notre Dame.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors at Kamm Island Park

This island park in Mishawaka is a beautiful place to go fishing near South Bend.

Kamm Island Park is clean, well-maintained, has many well-marked trails, and is filled with sapphire blue water.

The whole scenery of the place is very beautiful and amazing.

You can have a look at geese, ducks, and turtles when you are around.

The island also holds many events all around the year, making it an enjoyable and interesting spot to visit.

Final Thoughts

In South Bend, you’ll find that there’s something to do for everyone.

Whether it’s active or relaxing, adventurous or educational, some choices range from white water rafting to leisurely strolls in quirky art galleries.

So whatever your mood and budget, you’re sure to find something guaranteed to entertain anyone.

Recently South Bend has come alive with a diverse array of options for all walks of life, so be sure to use this list when planning your itinerary!

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