A Weekend in South Bend

Introduction to South Bend

South Bend, Indiana is a city steeped in history and culture, with a vibrant downtown and a rich industrial heritage. During a recent visit, I had the opportunity to explore some of the city’s many attractions, and was impressed by the warm welcome I received from its friendly residents. From the stunning architecture of the Studebaker National Museum to the tranquil beauty of the Potawatomi Conservatories, there was no shortage of things to see and do. In this travel blog post, I will share my experiences from a weekend spent in South Bend, providing recommendations for anyone considering a visit to this fascinating Midwestern destination.

Check out a list of hotels near Notre Dame Stadium

Where is South Bend?

South Bend is a city in the U.S. state of Indiana. It is the capital of St. Joseph County and is near the farthest southern bend of the eponymous river. At the time of the 2020 census, there were 103,453 people living in the city. The city is just south of the state line between Indiana and Michigan.

Early in the 19th century, fur traders moved into the area. In 1865, the area became a city. Up until the middle of the 20th century, the St. Joseph River was a big part of South Bend’s economy. Access to the river helped the growth of big businesses like the Studebaker Corporation, the Oliver Chilled Plow Company, and other big companies.

South Bend’s demographics

63.1% of the people in South Bend are white, 26.4% are black, 14.4% are Hispanic, and 1.4% are Asian, according to the Census. 4.2% of the population is made up of people who are two or more races, and 1% of the population is made up of all other races.

Claim to fame

Even though the University of Notre Dame is technically north of the city in an unincorporated area with the same name, most people think of South Bend as the home of the school and its 13,700 students and faculty.

What are its main industries?

Health care, education, small business, and tourism are the largest industries of South Bend today. Crowe, Honeywell, and AM General are the only remaining major corporations in the region. The adjacent University of Notre Dame influences the city’s business and lifestyle.

According to South Bend Area Economic Development, the top five employers in the city are the University of Notre Dame, Beacon Health System, South Bend Community Schools, St. Joseph Health System, and Indiana University South Bend.

AM General, which manufactures automobiles, and Honeywell Aerospace, which manufactures airplane parts, are both major corporations in South Bend.

The Four Winds casino is operated by the Potawatomi, an indigenous American tribe. The casino generates millions of dollars annually for the city.

What about South Bend sports teams?

Today, health care, education, small business, and tourism are South Bend’s biggest industries. Crowe, Honeywell, and AM General are the only big companies left in the area. The nearby University of Notre Dame has an effect on the city’s economy and way of life.

South Bend Region Economic Development says that the University of Notre Dame, Beacon Health System, South Bend Community Schools, St. Joseph Health System, and Indiana University South Bend are the top five employers in the city.

AM General, which makes cars, and Honeywell Aerospace, which makes parts for airplanes, are both big companies in South Bend.

The Four Winds casino along the highway is run by the Potawatomi, a Native American tribe. Each year, the casino brings in millions of dollars for the city.

Which celebrities come from South Bend?

Skylar Diggins-Smith (basketball), Schuyler Colfax (17th Vice President), Vivica A. Fox (actress), Dean Norris (actor), Ally Hardesty (YouTuber), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (actor), and Craig Counsell (baseball) are just a few of the renowned people that were born in South Bend.

Attractions in South Bend

In The Bend, you’ll find activities and entertainment suitable for any taste. See the National Studebaker museum, the South Bend Chocolate Factory, the murals, and Notre Dame’s campus on your own with the self-guided walking tour.

While we didn’t have time to do everything on this list, we were able to do a good chunk of it. We braved the summer heat and humidity to do some exploring of the Notre Dame campus on foot. The Fighting Irish call their private, Catholic alma mater home, which was established in 1842. Both the golden dome and a mural known as “Touchdown Jesus” are instantly recognizable landmarks on campus.

The South Bend Chocolate Company

This tour was also fun, especially if you like sweets. We learned about the whole process of making chocolate, from picking the beans to putting them in boxes. We also got to try some candies and popcorn and dip our own spoons in chocolate. This tour lasts about an hour and takes place at the top of every hour, Monday through Saturday. At the end of the factory tour, there is also a small chocolate museum.

Exciting rafting adventure

And if you like to try new things, you’ll LOVE the East Race Waterway! My first time rafting was way harder than I thought it would be. The course is the first one in the Midwest that was made by people. It takes about 10 minutes to get down the river, and you can do it in kayaks for two people or bigger rafts that can fit more people. It’s also not too expensive, and you can buy a season pass. You’ll have everything you need, and you’ll get wet. There are no changing rooms, so bring a towel and be ready to change in your car if you don’t want to walk home in wet clothes. Free parking is available in a lot and on the street.

The South Bend River Lights

It is an interactive light sculpture installed along the St. Joseph River in downtown South Bend, Indiana. The sculpture consists of twenty-four LED light towers that change color and patterns, creating a dynamic and mesmerizing display that illuminates the riverfront and attracts visitors from all over.

The installation was created by Rob Shakespeare, a local artist and founder of Shakespeare Machine, a design and fabrication company. The project was commissioned by the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County and was unveiled in 2015.

Each light tower is equipped with sensors that detect the movement of the river, changing the color and pattern of the lights in response. Visitors can also interact with the sculpture using a mobile app, which allows them to choose the colors and patterns of the lights in real-time.

The South Bend River Lights has become a popular attraction in the city, drawing both locals and tourists to the riverfront. The installation has been featured in numerous publications and has won several awards, including the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Illumination Award of Merit in 2016.


In conclusion, South Bend, Indiana is a hidden gem that offers a wide range of experiences for visitors. From the picturesque River Lights to the world-renowned Notre Dame campus, this city has a unique charm that is sure to leave a lasting impression. So, if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, plan a trip to South Bend and discover all that this wonderful city has to offer.


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