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12 Best Places to Visit in South Bend, Indiana In 2023

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A Cook, Software analyst & Blogger.
South Bend, US
5:14 pm, September 23, 2023
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Best Places to Visit in South Bend: Nestled along St. Joseph River’s southern bend, South Bend is a charming city with a rich history and culture. The Midwest city is popular for being home to the University of Notre Dame and its Fighting Irish football team. 

It was also known for its flourishing manufacturing industry around the turn of the century.

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From fascinating museums to impressive art galleries, charming restaurants, and beautiful parks, the city has it all. 

No wonder it draws many tourists to explore its rich history, culture, and stunning natural attractions.

Planning a trip to this vibrant metropolis?

Let’s help you curate the perfect itinerary with our list of the best places to visit in South Bend, Indiana: – 

Potawatomi Zoo #1

How about feeding alpacas and witnessing stunning wild creatures?

Head to Potawatomi Zoo located on the city’s eastern edge. Established in 1921, it is one of the oldest zoos in the state and houses over 500 animals, birds, and reptiles. The place is popular amongst families.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend
Best Places to Visit in South Bend

You can hop on a train, explore various exhibits, get around one of the numerous endangered species carousels, and even feed goats, alpacas, and donkeys in their petting zoo.

From alligators and white rhinoceroses to Amur tigers, you’ll find a wide variety of animal species here in the various exhibits ranging from African and Asian to Australian and more. 

University of Notre Dame #2

One of the most popular spots in the city, the University of Notre Dame has a beautiful campus.

Established in 1842, the university features many historical halls, libraries, and residence buildings that feature impressive architecture. Couple that with beautiful green areas.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

If you get a chance, make sure you watch the popular Fighting Irish football team play.

Other notable attractions include the Snite Museum of Art, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Touchdown Jesus mural, and the Compton Family Ice Arena. 

Studebaker National Museum #3

With three floors featuring old vintage vehicles and classic cars, Studebaker National Museum will transport you back in time to soak in the history of the automobile company.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

It made buggies, gasoline-fuelled vehicles, and electric cars from 1852 to 1963 in ‘Wagon City’.

From historic photographs to different models, the museum has it all.

You’ll also find Presidential carriages used by Abraham Lincoln and WWI and WWII military vehicles here.

Some of the exhibits also cover the development of the automobile industry and its economic effect on the city. It is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in South Bend, Indiana. 

Basilica of the Sacred Heart #4

Perched near the northern end of the University of Notre Dame, this is one of the most exquisite structures in the city.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

It features Gothic Revival architecture with stained glass windows and impressive frescoes. Its towering 230-foot tall bell tower built in the 19th century is a sight to behold.

As you move inside, you’ll notice countless golden stars on its azure ceilings.

What’s more?

There’s even a museum inside with displays of ancient icons and many other fascinating items. While you’re there, do attend the mass wherein a giant organ is used to accompany the chorus.

You can also visit the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes on the grounds outside. It is a shrine constructed from the boulders of the nearby farms. 

Morris Performing Arts Center #5

How about enjoying a great stage performance?

Located on North Michigan Street, the Morris Performing Arts Center hosts a variety of shows from musicals and dance performances to theatre shows.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

Originally a vaudeville house in 1922, it became a performing arts center later on. It features beautiful Spanish Renaissance Revival-style architecture and is registered as a National Historic Landmark.

Its concert hall is impressive with the colour theme of rose, blue, and cream colours.

Check out the schedule beforehand to choose from the wide variety of performances hosted here. Whether you like stand-up comedy shows or ballets, Broadway shows and musicals, this place won’t disappoint. 

The History Museum #6

Soak in the rich history of the state at this impressive museum. You’ll find many informative exhibits here that depict the stories of the state.

From learning about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League to the development of the University of Notre Dame, there is a lot to know about the city and the state here.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

What’s more?

You’ll also find a collection of ornate miniature lamps and seven full-length dioramas that showcase the history of the people of the St. Joseph River. 

Visiting with kids?

There is also Kidsfirst Children’s Museum here.

If you have some more time on your hands, you can also visit the Oliver mansion and Oliver Gardens on the property. The 38-room mansion from 1895 features period pieces and exquisite artwork. 

Notre Dame Stadium #7

If you’re a sports enthusiast, this is a must-have on your itinerary. You can watch the university’s Fighting Irish Team play here.

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

Opened in 1930, the stadium is modelled on the huge Michigan Stadium and is home to Touchdown Jesus, a 134-foot-long mural.

Apart from sports events, the venue is also used for concerts. 

Compton Family Ice Arena #8

How about watching an exhilarating game of ice hockey?

Head to Compton Family Ice Arena. The university’s Fighting Irish hockey teams play here.

The stadium usually fills to its capacity during game nights when hundreds of fans cheer for their favourite team. 

In case there’s no match happening when you visit, you can enjoy ice skating here as the arena is usually open to the public during afternoons. 

Snite Museum of Art #9

Located on the University of Notre Dame campus, this is an art lover’s paradise. Founded in 1980, it houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, pictures, and prints from all around the globe.

From Mesoamerican objects to Italian Renaissance paintings, there are more than 30,000 artworks and installations here to admire.

You can find works by many famous artists here including the likes of Francois Boucher, Joan Miro, and Georgia O’Keeffe amongst others.

There’s even a super sculpture park that you can explore. 

South Bend Chocolate Factory #10

If you’re a chocolate lover, this place is sure to delight. The company produces around 500 different types of chocolate and sweets. It was established by Mark Tarner in 1991.

The building also includes a museum and a gift shop, perfect to take some tasty delights home.

From taking a tour of the factory to learning about the history of chocolate and relishing some sweet delights, the entire experience is enjoyable.

The museum here is known to house one of the largest collections of chocolate memorabilia in the world. 

 East Race Waterway #11

How about going down some powerful rapids right into downtown?

Best Places to Visit in South Bend

Established in 1984, it is the first man-made white-water course in North America. Set along the East Race Canal, it draws many kayakers and rafters to enjoy a thrilling experience as they tackle its various obstacles and drops.

You’ll be provided with all the required equipment as you traverse the 1,900 feet long course. With lifeguards and staff around, you won’t have to worry about safety here. 

Potawatomi Park #12

Love spending time amidst nature?

Head to this beautiful park located on the eastern side of the city. Apart from cultural attractions, this sprawling park features lush trees that offer ample shade.

The beautiful green space makes it a great spot to unwind and enjoy a picnic. You’ll also find a splash pad, playground equipment, and a performing arts stage here. 

So, start with the one that attracts you the most and get ready for an unforgettable holiday. 

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Q. What is South Bend famous for?

The city is known for being home to the renowned University of Notre Dame and the famous Studebaker Corporation which greatly impacted the city’s economy. 

Q. Is South Bend Indiana a nice place?

With many beautiful parks, excellent schools, and fascinating historical and cultural attractions, South Bend is a great place to live. 

Q. Is South Bend a big city?

It is the fourth largest city in Indiana. 

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