The fourth-largest city in Indiana, South Bend is a unique Midwestern city that offers visitors a range of things to see and do, including museums, outdoor attractions, sports games and performing arts.
Best things to do in South Bend, Indiana, with kids include the South Bend Chocolate Factory and Museum Tours, HealthWorks Kids' Museum and the Potawatomi Zoo.
1. South Bend Museum of Art
© South Bend Museum of Art
Founded in 1947, the South Bend Museum of Art is a fine arts museum located on South St. Joseph Street in downtown South Bend. Housed in the Century Center designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee, the museum features pieces of local and regional artwork. The contemporary and historical art is exhibited in five galleries.
The permanent collection is displayed in the Carmichael Gallery while the Warner Gallery showcases national traveling exhibits. The Jerome J. Crowley Community Gallery features works by local artists, and the Art League Gallery exhibits works by artists from the Midwest.
Century Center, 120 S St. Joseph Street, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-235-9102
2. River Lights
© River Lights
River Lights is a light display on the St. Joseph River near Century Center Island and Seitz Park in the heart of downtown South Bend. Several interactive light sculptures create colorful light displays that are thematically based and add to the festive atmosphere of holidays and special events. From sunset until midnight, motion sensors prompt the light display; when people walk by the interactive sensors, the colors and patterns of the lights change.
After midnight, the interactive feature stops and the lights remain a natural color. Designed by Rob Shakespeare, River Lights celebrates its 150th anniversary of its induction into the city of South Bend.
217 South Michigan Street, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-282-1110
3. Potawatomi Zoo
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The Potawatomi Zoo is a 23-acre zoo located on South Greenlawn Avenue in South Bend. It is the oldest zoo in Indiana, and it originally opened as a duck pond called the “outh Bend Zoo in 1902. The farm-style barn that was added in 1949 still stands today, and it serves as part of the petting zoo. Although owned by the city, the zoo is maintained and operated by the Potawatomi Zoological Society.
If you are wondering what to do in South Bend with kids, this is a great place to visit. The zoo contains more than 400 animals and features animals from Australia as well as several primates and large cats. In addition to the petting zoo, children can learn about the animals through classes and programs like ZooCamps.
500 South Greenlawn Avenue, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-235-9800
4. South Bend Chocolate Factory and Museum Tours
© South Bend Chocolate Factory and Museum Tours
Located on West Sample Street, the South Bend Chocolate Factory and Museum Tours offers tours of its facilities from Monday to Saturday. The company offers two tours: the 45-minute tour Inside Scoop Tour and the 20-minute Basic Tour. Private guided tours for groups of ten or more people are available.
The South Bend Chocolate Company was founded in 1991, and the facility is 60,000 square feet in size. In addition to producing a large variety of chocolates, the company also sells other products such as coffee, fruits, nuts, and gift bags.
3300 West Sample Street #110, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-233-2577
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5. Howard Park
© Howard Park
Families of every age can find loads to do at Howard Park. Children can splash around the park’s interactive water fountains or play in the 13,000-square-foot playground featuring state-of-the-art playground equipment. Skate rentals are also available for those wanting to ice skate during the winter months. And for those who would simply like to walk around and take in the fresh air, Howard Park is home to a vast lawn along with several trails, ponds, memorials, and fire pits to enjoy. For food, park-goers can find the Chocolate Café To-Go stand as well as Howard Park Public House, which serves year-round breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be sure to check out the park’s event calendar before your visit to see their monthly offerings of free and paid events like children’s dance classes and outdoor yoga.
219 S. St. Louis Boulevard, South Bend, Indiana 46617, Phone: 574-299-4765
6. The Snite Museum of Art
© The Snite Museum of Art
Located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, the Snite Museum of Art is an art museum that contains more than 23,000 works of art. Although the collection represents art from all over the world and from many periods, its primary focus is on Western art. Its examples of Italian Renaissance paintings and its Mesoamerican art objects are especially popular features.
Opened in 1980, the museum contains works by notable artists such as Boucher, Corot, Courbet, and O’Keeffe. The museum offers an extensive education outreach programs for children, including after-school programs, summer camps, and camps for at-risk children.
University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-631-5466
7. Studebaker National Museum
© Studebaker National Museum
Located on Chapin Street, the Studebaker National Museum features a collection of Studebaker cars, carriages, wagons, and military vehicles as well as other objects related to U.S. history. The three-story museum is connected to and shares an entrance with the History Museum.
The main floor displays Studebaker cars from the 1800s up until 1934, and it showcases the history of the Studebaker and the Oliver families. Cars from after that year are exhibited on the upper floor, while the lower level is devoted to military equipment and vehicles. Group tours are available.
201 Chapin Street, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-235-9714
More Indiana destinations: 25 Best Things to Do in Indianapolis.
8. Notre Dame Stadium
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The Notre Dame Stadium is an outdoor football stadium located on Moose Krause Circle in Notre Dame just north of South Bend. Modeled after Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame Stadium is the home playing field of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
When the stadium opened in 1930, the playing surface was natural grass and the stadium had 60,000 seats. After renovations carried out in 1997 and 2014, there are now more than 80,000 seats, and the playing surface is made of FieldTurf, an artificial surface. Guided public tours as well as private tours are available, and they allow visitors to learn about the history of the stadium and visit the locker room and the field.
Moose Krause Circle, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-631-7356
9. Morris Performing Arts Center
© Morris Performing Arts Center
The Morris Performing Arts Center is a concert hall located on North Michigan Street in South Bend. Built in 1921 as a vaudeville house, the building later became a movie house. It was slated for demolition in 1959, but it was saved and remodeled and restored between 1998 and 2000.
Originally called the Palace Theater and then the Morris Civic Auditorium, the center contains 2,564 seats and retains its original European architectural style and color scheme of blue, cream, and rose. In addition to hosting concerts, Broadway shows, and other special events, the center is the home of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. The center is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
211 North Michigan Street, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-235-9190
More Indiana places to visit: 16 Best Romantic Weekend Getaways in Indiana.
10. South Bend Brew Werks
© South Bend Brew Werks
Located on South Michigan Street, the South Bend Brew Werks is the only brewpub in the downtown area of South Bend. The pub features five house brews: Amber, Black IPA, Oatmeal Stout, Smoked Porter, and Wheat. They also offer five rotating brews.
The decor of the pub consists of of reclaimed items such as chairs, stools, and tabletops, all of which were found locally. The pub’s delicious food also uses locally sourced produce and ingredients. Local artists created the eye-catching artwork displayed on the walls of the pub. The displays change monthly and the art is for sale.
321 S Main St Suite 105B, South Bend, IN 46601, Phone: 574-334-0356
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11. The Indiana Whiskey Company
© The Indiana Whiskey Company
The Indiana Whiskey Company is a veteran owned and operated whiskey distillery located on West Sample Street in South Bend. Founded by war veteran Charles Florance in 2011, the company uses Indiana grains such as barley, corn, and wheat as well as equipment made in Indiana. Some of the company’s whiskeys include Just Whiskey, Silver Sweet Corn Whiskey, and Straight Cardinal Red Whiskey.
In addition to whiskey, the company sells bottles and glassware, and they offer tours of the distillery Monday through Friday. Their tasting room is open on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Indiana Whiskey is sold in 120 retail stores around the state of Indiana.
1115 West Sample Street, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-855-3453
12. South Bend Farmer's Market
© South Bend Farmer's Market
Located on Northside Boulevard, the South Bend Farmer’s Market has a long history, as it was first established in 1924. The Colfax Street Bridge served as the market’s first site from 1911 to 1923, when it outgrew its location. Eventually, it moved to its current location. In 1971, a fire destroyed part of the market, and a new building opened in 1972.
The vendors at the market offer fresh local and homegrown dairy products, eggs, flowers, fruit, meat, poultry, and vegetables. Other items for sale include art, handicrafts, jewelry, and more. The market is open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. It is also open on Friday from May through September.
1105 Northside Boulevard, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-282-1259
13. East Race Waterway
© East Race Waterway
The East Race Waterway is a white water rafting course whose facilities are located on North Niles Avenue in downtown South Bend. The 1,900-feet waterway took two years to build and opened in 1984. It is appropriate for both beginners and advanced users. Equipment for rafting is supplied, but kayakers must supply their own kayaks. A ride on the waterway course takes about five minutes.
In addition to the waterway course, there are over three miles of walkways, an amphitheater, picnic tables, and restrooms. Along the paths, visitors can watch the competitions to which the waterway plays host. The waterway is open on Saturday and Sunday from June to August.
109 S Niles Ave, South Bend, IN 46617, 574-299-4765
14. The History Museum
© The History Museum
The History Museum exhibits objects related to the local history of the South Bend region. Exhibits display documents, drawings, photographs, records, and much more. Originally called the Northern Indiana Historical Society in 1867, the museum changed its name and moved to its new facility in the West Washington Street historic district in 1994.
Exhibits include Pieces of South Bend, The Masks of Lincoln, On the Move: Transportation through the Ages, and more. The museum is open every day, and guided tours of the Oliver Mansion and the Worker’s Home are offered from Monday through Saturday. The Kidsfirst Children’s Museum is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
808 West Washington Street, South Bend, IN 46601, Tel. 574-235-9664
15. Compton Family Ice Arena
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Located on the campus of the University of Notre Dame south of the Joyce Center, the Compton Family Ice Arena is a 5,022-seat ice arena. Opened in 2011, the ice arena features two rinks, one of which is Olympic sized, and is used by the University of Notre Dame’s Irish men’s hockey team.
The 200 feet by 90 feet ice rink is named after the hockey program’s first coach, Charles W. “Lefty” Smith, Jr. The facility also includes locker rooms, several offices, and a weight room. In addition to the hockey team, other members of the campus and the community are permitted to use the ice arena.
100 Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-631-1166
More places to visit: 25 Best Things to Do in Indianapolis.
16. Kennedy Park
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Every age, from explorative toddlers to active adults, will have a blast at Kennedy Park. Sporty park-goers can play on the full-sized basketball courts or hit a home run at the baseball diamond, while playful kids will love the newly renovated playground. The park is also home to Kennedy Water Playground—a zero-entry water park with slides and water features suitable for toddlers to elementary students. Each year, on the closing day of Kennedy Water Playground, families can even enjoy the water park with their furry pups at the Drool in the Pool event. Concession stands are available inside the water playground, but families may also bring outside food and drinks, with the exception of alcoholic and glass-enclosed beverages.
2700 Westmoor Street, South Bend, Indiana 46628, Phone: 574-235-9407
17. Potawatomi Conservatories
© Potawatomi Conservatories
Located within Potawatomi Park, visitors can marvel at the beautiful and tranquil gardens in the Potawatomi Conservatories. Explore numerous paths lined with lush greenery, colorful flowers, and succulent plants, or simply enjoy the surroundings with a good book and some quiet reflection. The conservatories were built in the 1960s and gifted to South Bend by the Muessel-Ellison Foundation. Since then, the conservatory has been welcoming the public to enjoy the serene structures while also acting as a botanical education center for students of various ages. Students can learn about botany, gardening, and plant care with different classes offered throughout the year.
2105 Mishawaka Avenue, South Bend, Indiana, Phone: 574-235-9442
18. Rum Village Nature Center
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Rum Village Nature Center continues to grow in popularity amongst locals thanks to its beautiful sights and a long list of activities. Home to 160 acres of woodlands, nature-lovers will love exploring the park grounds along with the diverse wildlife within it. See foxes, deer, reptiles, and more than 100 species of birds nested throughout. Numerous trails can also be traversed including more than five miles of mountain biking trails and three miles of winding hiking trails. Other activities are also available within the greater Rum Village Park such as disc golf, a treetop ropes course, playgrounds, and several picnic facilities.
2626 S Gertrude Street, South Bend, Indiana 46614, Phone: 574-235-9455
19. Four Winds Casino South Bend
© Four Winds Casino South Bend
Come test your luck at Four Winds Casino. Known as one of the top entertainment destinations in South Bend, this casino has a lot to offer every guest walking through its doors. Find over 1,000 games on the casino floor including various slots with progressive jackpots and 12 live poker tables. Players also have the chance to win some of the largest jackpots in Indiana. Four Winds also offers multiple dining options such as Copper Rock Steakhouse, which serves 42-day dry-aged steaks cooked to perfection, grilled lobster, and award-winning wines to name a few. For a more casual dining experience, visitors can go to Kankakee Grille and enjoy wood-fired pizza and a selection of craft beers.
3000 Prairie Avenue, South Bend, Indiana 46614, Phone: 866-494-6371
20. The Drop Comedy Club
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Adult guests are in for a night full of laughter at this premier comedy club. Located in the Aloft Hotel in downtown South Bend, The Drop Comedy Club hosts some of the best comics in the country from well-established touring comedians to rising stars. The comedy club also hosts a free open mic night where guests can see if they have what it takes to do stand-up. Whether heading out for a date or simply looking for good times with friends, The Drop promises lots of fun, good food, some of the most affordable drinks in town, and most importantly—great laughs.
111 N Main Street, South Bend, Indiana 46601, Phone: 574-222-2639
21. South Bend Civic Theater
© South Bend Civic Theater
Catch amazing theatrical performances and witness some of the best local talents at South Bend Civic Center. After years of performing in different hotels and Notre Dame locations, the local theater made the historic downtown landmark formerly belonging to the First Church of Christ Scientist its new home. The beautiful, domed building with Greek architectural elements perfectly reflects the importance the theater holds as a pillar within the local art community. South Bend Civic Center puts out a number of productions throughout the year from lesser-known titles to popular stories like West Wide Story. The Center also offers educational programs for community members of all ages.
403 N Main Street, South Bend, Indiana 46601, Phone: 574-234-1112
22. Edge Adventures South Bend - Rum Village Park
Adventure seekers can find their next exciting activity right in the heart of the city. Located in Rum Village Park, Edge Adventures South Bend offers treetop aerial courses while surrounded by over 100 acres of woodland forests and wildlife. Adventurers can choose between a 3-hour pass or an all-day pass to accomplish as many of the courses as their heart desires. The park has several obstacle courses ranging in height and difficulty, combining a number of fun challenges and exciting zip lines along the way. Edge Adventure is the perfect place for friends, families, and even companies looking to build up their teamwork and communication skills.
2626 S Gertrude Street, South Bend, Indiana 46614, Phone: 800-590-8347
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