What are the best activities in South Bend?

Caroline Patek

While Notre Dame is technically its own unincorporated community, largely composed of the university's campus as well as the adjacent Saint Mary's College and Holy Cross College campuses, in most visitors’ minds the school and South Bend are one and the same. Taking the time to separate the two and explore both the university and the city offers an enriching experience.

Founded in 1842 by Father Edward Sorin, Notre Dame has long held a special place in the hearts and imaginations of many Americans. The campus, featuring some of the most well-known structures in the country, does not disappoint. During football weekends in the fall, Notre Dame's population swells and the area is alive with activity. It's an experience not to be missed.

Another one is at the Studebaker National Museum and Mansion. The defunct car company was once a leading producer of automobiles in the United States. Prior to that, it was the world's largest manufacturer of wagons. The museum pays tribute to both parts of the company's heritage and includes the last car to come off of the assembly line in South Bend. The mansion of the Studebaker family has been restored to its original opulence and sits in tribute to a bygone era.

Part of the local parks department, the East Race Waterway offers a short white-water rafting course using the St. Joseph River during the summer. Kayaks are also available for rent and walkways branch out along the river for a splendid stroll.

Built in 1921, the Morris Performing Arts Center once housed live vaudeville shows, as well as the world premiere of Knute Rockne: All-American, the classic Ronald Reagan film about the Notre Dame football legend. Listed on the National Register for Historic Places, the theatre is now home to the South Bend Symphony and hosts touring productions of Broadway shows, as well as live music and comedy acts.

Speaking of Knute, across the street from the campus he once roamed and tucked away from the road, St. Mary’s College, an all-female institution, has its own beautiful, tree-lined property. At one time the sister school to Notre Dame before women were admitted, the campus is also home to the Sisters of the Holy Cross.