48 Hours in South Bend, Indiana
You may only know South Bend as the city that houses the University of Notre Dame, and that's okay. The beautiful campus is a sight to behold. But look beyond the school, and you'll find a city seeking a renaissance, clawing its way out of a decades-long economic downturn. The region's factory beginnings are embedded in the architecture and culture of the city, but the post-Studebaker South Bend is looking for a new identity that combines its industrial roots with revitalization.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: South Bend Travel Guide
Day 1: Evening
Craving shepherd's pie? Or perhaps fish and chips - steaming pieces of deep-fried cod wrapped in the local newspaper? Fiddler's Hearth, in the center of downtown, offers traditional Celtic cuisine as well as a killer burger. The Irish pub is filled with large wooden tables where diners seat themselves, intermingling with other parties in the spirit of a true public house. After dinner, stay for drinks and live music. The pub features local bands most weekend nights and an extensive beer list that combines Irish and Scottish brews with some local flair. Try the Alpha King from Three Floyds Brewing Co., a popular northern Indiana microbrewery. Visit the website to check out the band lineups and beer list.
Day 2: Morning
Continue the Irish theme with a visit to the home of the Fighting Irish. Steeped in history and legend, the University of Notre Dame is a mile north of the city center. Those interested can take tours of Notre Dame Stadium for $10 per person and find details about timing and availability on their website. Be sure to tap the famous "Play Like a Champion Today" sign, the one the players touch just before bursting through the tunnel onto the football field to play before 80,000 fans. Walk slowly through campus, taking it all in - the Golden Dome, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Walk to the Grotto, west of the dome, and light a candle. Finish with lunch amid football memorabilia at Legends of Notre Dame. The restaurant features pretty typical pub food, but Notre Dame trivia, photographs and history line the walls, creating an engaging dining experience.
Day 2: Afternoon and Evening
Perhaps nothing is more entrenched in the story of South Bend than Studebaker. The automobile company turned the city into a thriving metropolis until it went under in the 1960s, devastating the local economy. Visit the Studebaker National Museum near downtown to learn about the company that built South Bend. Car buffs will especially enjoy this outing.
Then venture a short walk into downtown, taking note of the industrial architecture with classic touches. Stroll along the St. Joseph River. Old South Bend is melding with the new as warehouses and old buildings are repurposed in the name of revitalizing downtown. Speaking of which, it's dinnertime, so check out Café Navarre on Michigan Street. The upscale restaurant opened in what used to be a historic bank building. The dining room has old-fashioned touches, and the food is top-notch. Surrounded by large, ornate windows and a lot of natural light, customers turn to a menu with a mix of seafood, meats and stews. A jam-packed wine list boasts anything from a $7 glass to a $1400 bottle. The mussels are a particular favorite. Steamed in a tomato and garlic wine sauce, they are as delicious as they are simple. Get extra bread to soak up the rich sauce.
Day 3: Morning
A farmers' market in the center of South Bend anchored the commerce of the area in the 1900s, a gathering spot for local merchants and farmers. Today, it still teems with vendors selling locally grown fruits and vegetables, specialty cheeses and handmade crafts. Located on the St. Joe River, southeast of downtown, the South Bend Farmer's Market has remained in the same spot since the late 1920s. The produce is easily among the freshest in town. Look for apples in the fall or sweet corn in the late summer. The market also features baked goods, herbs, plants, soap and handmade jewelry. Finally, the café there is perfect for a last breakfast in town. The menu features dishes made from farm-fresh eggs and seasonal produce.