9+ Unusual Things to Do in South Bend

Venture down Tutt Street where South Bend's history whispers secrets, but it's what happens after dusk that truly... Will you dare to discover?
Date Published
March 8, 2024

Table of Contents

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Ever wonder what hidden gems are tucked away in the cozy corners of America's heartland? Well folks, let me tell you, South Bend, Indiana, is bursting with more surprises than a magician's hat! Before you brush it off as just another spot on the map, ask yourself: when was the last time you strolled down a historic street that felt like a time capsule, or cheered so hard at a local theater that you left with a brand-new set of friends? South Bend isn't just a city—it's a treasure trove of experiences where every alleyway and river bend whispers its own story.

Imagine paddling the rippling St. Joseph River as it mingles with the amber sunset, or stumbling upon a kaleidoscope of murals that transform an ordinary scavenger hunt into an artistic odyssey. From the rustic charm of Tutt Street to the clandestine delights awaiting you at Purple Porch Co-op, you're in for a whirlwind of good old Hoosier hospitality mixed with unexpected adventures that'll make your heart race faster than a collegiate football game. Ready to dive into a one-of-a-kind journey?

Hold onto your hats, because I'm about to whisk you away on a whirlwind tour of South Bend that'll have you booking the next ticket to this Midwestern marvel. Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a connoisseur of the quirky and quaint, this city's got

Uncover the Charm of Historic Tutt Street

Picture yourself taking a leisurely stroll down a street where the past meets the present; that's Historic Tutt Street for you. Tucked away in the heart of South Bend, this quaint lane whispers stories of bygone days with its well-preserved buildings and timeless appeal. It's the perfect spot for anyone who appreciates a good blend of architectural beauty and historical allure.

As you amble along, you'll notice the intricate facades that continue to stand proud—a testament to South Bend's rich heritage. With each step, you'll be retracing the paths once wandered by the locals of yesteryears. Tutt Street isn't just a walk, it's a time machine that requires no ticket, just your sense of wonder.

You'll want to set aside a good hour or two here to really soak it all in. And whether you're flying solo, hand-in-hand with your better half, or wrangling a gaggle of kiddos trying to burn off that never-ending energy, Tutt Street's got something to charm everyone.

But what about the social scene, you ask? Trust me, Tutt Street is more than just old buildings. You'll find cozy coffee shops where the barista knows everyone's name, local boutiques that offer more character than a Dr. Seuss book, and art galleries where you can stare at a painting for ninety-three minutes and still find new details.

Whether you're a history buff, an architectural enthusiast, or simply someone searching for a new adventure, the historic Tutt Street area welcomes you with open arms, inviting you to uncover its unique charms. And if you think this sounds good, just wait until you see it for yourself—it's even better. Trust me, your Instagram followers won’t know what hit ‘em when you start posting pics that scream 'look at this hidden historical haven I just discovered!'

So come on down, spend some time, and let Historic Tutt Street show you what makes South Bend such a special place.

Catch a Show at the South Bend Civic Theatre

Picture this. You're sitting in a cozy seat, the lights dim, the curtain rises, and you're about to be whisked away to another world without even leaving your seat. Welcome to a night out at the South Bend Civic Theatre. This isn't your average movie night, oh no. It's a night where stories unfold right before your eyes with a magic that only live theater can conjure.

South Bend is proud of its vibrant arts scene, and a big part of that pride comes from the outstanding performances put on by the South Bend local theater community. And guess what? The South Bend Civic Theatre is one of the stars of that show. Not just any old playhouse, but a place where the community gathers to celebrate talent, creativity, and the magic of storytelling.

You're in for a treat, whether you're a hopeless romantic who loves a good drama or a comedy fanatic who wants to laugh until your cheeks hurt. This place has got it all – from heart-wrenching plays to knee-slapping musicals. Trust me, these folks can act.

But hey, it's not just about what's on stage. Steeped in local culture, this South Bend community theater stands as a testament to the love and support for the arts within the city. It's a space where local talent shines, where the next generation of performers take their first timid steps into the spotlight, and where seasoned pros come home to roost.

Got kiddos? Here's the scoop – they'll be entertained, engaged, and might even get that spark to join a youth workshop. Yup, they encourage that future star power. Going solo or with your squad? Perfect. There's something about the intimacy of local theater that connects us all a little closer together.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out their calendar, pick a show that tickles your fancy, and make it an evening to remember. Just a tip, grab a bite at one of the nearby cafes before the show to round out the perfect artsy night in South Bend. Because between you and me, life's too short to miss out on a good show, especially when it's this good!

Kayak Along the St. Joseph River

Imagine yourself gliding along the St. Joseph River, the sunlight dappling through the leaves, casting a dance of shadows and light across your path. Kayaking on this historic river isn’t just some regular paddle-in-the-pond routine; it’s an outdoor adventure that adds splash to your South Bend visit. And guess what? You don't need to be an expert to enjoy the river. Whether you're a rookie paddler or a seasoned navigator, the St. Joseph River welcomes all.

South Bend has got your outdoor escapades covered with the serene and scenic kayaking expeditions offered on the St. Joseph River. Here's a little scoop for you – the St. Joseph River is more than a passing waterway; it's a living corridor teeming with wildlife and framed by lush greenery that's been a backdrop to the city's history.

So, who's this ideal for? Well, kayaking here is a perfect South Bend outdoor adventure for families, friends, or even if you’re flying solo! Paddling down the river, you might forget you're in the city because it’s so peaceful you can hear the chorus of birds and the gentle flow of the water. Connect with nature, spot some local fauna, and if you're lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a deer having a sip along the banks.

If you're someone who thrives on adrenaline, don't you worry, the St. Joseph River has got some zones that will get your heart pumping a bit faster. But overall, it’s smooth sailing, great for a leisurely day out. Plan to spend a few hours on the river to truly soak it in – bring a picnic, maybe? And hey, it’s perfect for any kind of vibe you're going for – whether you're looking to bond with your kids, hunting for a novel date idea, or just craving some me-time.

Oh, and let’s not forget, when you’re done paddling your heart out, there's plenty nearby to explore – pop into one of South Bend’s eateries to refuel or just relax and watch the river roll by. Adrenaline junkie or peace seeker, solo explorer or squad member, the St. Joseph River awaits you. Don’t just take my word for it; grab a kayak and live the adventure!

Participate in a South Bend Mural Scavenger Hunt

You heard that right, art lovers and detective enthusiasts; South Bend's streets are your canvas, and boy, do we have a treasure trove for you! Get your sneakers on, because we're going on a mural scavenger hunt!

First things first, South Bend public art is not just art – it's a vibrant story told through colorful murals that spice up the city walls. You're not just looking at pretty pictures; you're piecing together the soul of South Bend one masterpiece at a time!

For an epic solo adventure or a blast with friends, this scavenger hunt is perfect. Everyone's welcome – families, couples, and even your artsy poodle (okay, maybe not the poodle). From giant blooming flowers that seem to sniff you back to powerful historic statements that make your heart hum, these murals are as diverse as the folks who walk the city streets.

Grab your clue list and snap a photo with each mural, because this is one game you'll want to remember. Roaming around will also help you explore South Bend like a local; you'll stumble upon cafes where baristas know your life story by the time your latte is done, and quirky boutiques that seduce your wallet every single time.

You'll want to carve out a good half-day for this quest, especially if you're up for indulging in random pitstops. There's no need to rush – this is all about savoring the sights and sounds of the city!

And the best part? It's a completely different ride each time! Whether it's your first scavenger hunt or your fiftieth, the murals keep the experience fresh, fun, and full of surprises. So, what are you waiting for? The streets are calling your name – are you ready to answer?

Can't wait to start your hunt? Grab your guide and dive into the vibrant South Bend public art scene!

Attend a Hidden Festival in Leeper Park

Picture this: dappled sunlight filtering through the trees, the hum of laughter and music... You're at one of South Bend's best-kept secrets! Leeper Park really turns it up when the local festivals swing into town.

Each year, you'll find an array of unique events that'll offer you a taste of that hometown pride. So, whip out that South Bend events calendar and let’s make some plans! Count on a boutique experience with these festivals—small enough to feel intimate but vibrant enough to buzz with energy. It's not just about the good tunes and tasty eats; you're part of something bigger, a gathering that thrums with community spirit!

With a diverse lineup throughout the year, there's always something for everyone. From chill tunes at the jazz fest to the avant-garde performances that might just blow your mind. And you know what? Festivals here cater to the whole family! So yes, bring those kiddos, or just your own fun-loving self—there's room for all.

But where is Leeper Park, you ask? Nestled right in the heart of South Bend, it's a green oasis where the fun finds you. Expect to spend a whole day here—there's enough to see and do. Art, food, maybe a little craft beer tasting (if that's your jam), the park is a playground for the senses. Check out some local festivals and plot your festival quest!

Locals will tell you, after the festivities simmer down, linger a while in Leeper Park. It's got this cool, calm vibe that's perfect for winding down. Have a picnic, take a walk, or just sit on a bench and watch the river flow. It's like South Bend hugs you back and whispers, "Stay just a little longer."

So next time you're wondering where the party's at, remember Leeper Park. It's where South Bend's heart beats loudest, and the good times roll quiet, like a secret only you know.

Imagine strolling through the heart of South Bend - you've got to pop into the Indiana Rug Co. & Art Gallery. This place isn't just your grandma's rug shop. No, it's a wonderland where fabrics and textures meet creativity and community. You'll find one-of-a-kind art pieces here that'll make your friends say, "Wow, where did you get that?"

Brush shoulders with local artists and pick their brains about their masterpieces. It's a unique experience you won't find just anywhere. Not only do you get to see some seriously cool art, but maybe you even leave with a soft treasure for your floor back home.

If you're looking to sprinkle a little culture onto your South Bend visit, you can't skip out on the city's booming downtown art scene. This gallery is at the heart of it, and here's the secret sauce: every piece you find is infused with a touch of Indiana. Talk about taking home a slice of the place, huh?

Spend an hour maybe two. Feel the vibes, let the colors wash over you. Good for singles, art enthusiasts, or couples looking for a quieter but enriching day out. It's chill, it's inspiring, and it's oh-so South Bend.

After absorbing all that creativity, remember, you're right downtown. That means you're just a hop, skip, and a jump away from a foodie adventure or a casual stroll by the river. So, why not make a day of it? Explore the gallery, then let downtown South Bend whisk you away to what's next on your agenda.

Now, you're thinking 'hey, where is this place?' and I'm all, let's get you there, my friend. Check it out, and maybe that next cozy little spot on your living room floor could feature a piece of South Bend artistry. Go ahead, make those toes happy. They deserve it too!

Savor a Secret Supper at Purple Porch Co-op

Your taste buds are about to stage a revolution once they hit up the Purple Porch Co-op. This isn't your grandma's potluck, my friend. It's a South Bend dining guide highlight and the epitome of culinary delights in South Bend. Think fresh, think local, and oh boy, you better believe it's delicious.

Imagine walking into a place that's got community written all over it. The Purple Porch Co-op isn't just about grubbing down; it's about bringing folks together. They've got this 'know your farmer, know your food' vibe that turns a meal into an experience. You're not just gnawing on carrot sticks; you're tasting the cream of the crop, the primo stuff grown right in South Bend's backyard. And here's the secret sauce – they do these communal dinners that'll have you rubbing elbows with local foodies while diving fork-first into farm-to-table freshness.

  • Feast on meals forged from the freshest, locally-sourced ingredients. Yes, we're talking farm-table freshness that'll spoil your supermarket habits for good.
  • Mingle with kindred culinary spirits. This is where South Bend's food lovers unite!
  • Dig into the educational side. Learn where your food comes from and how it's lovingly grown.

And who's it perfect for? Well, if you're even slightly into food (come on, who isn't?), you're gonna fit right in. It's a family-friendly atmosphere, with a side of education for the kiddos, and a heaping helping of delights for the adults.So, right after you take your first bite, why not chat up some South Bend locals? Who knows what tips you might snag for your next food adventure? Or better yet, walk off that full belly with a casual stroll around the neighborhood, 'cause let's face it, you'll need to save room for dessert.Trust me, save an evening for Purple Porch Co-op; it's not just a meal, it's a melody of flavors that serenades your senses and wraps you up in the warm embrace of community spirit. You can expect to spend a magical evening here, making your South Bend visit truly unforgettable.

Explore the Trails at Lydick Bog Nature Preserve

You want to breathe in the fresh air and get your nature fix? Head to Lydick Bog Nature Preserve. It's a hidden gem where the symphony of birdsong and rustling leaves welcomes you like an old friend. Let's get those legs moving and your heart pumping on one of Michiana's outdoor adventures, folks!

Imagine winding through a diverse ecosystem, where each step takes you deeper into a sanctuary that's not just beautiful—it's buzzing with life. The Lydick Bog Nature Preserve is one of those South Bend nature reserves where you can lose track of time; it's so peaceful, you might just forget you're minutes away from the city hustle.

Here's what makes it special: unique wetland, lush woodlands, and a bog that's over 10,000 years old! Yep, you're walking through ancient history. This place is perfect for singles, families, and even your contemplative Gran who loves a good plant identification challenge. Grab your best hiking boots, pack some snacks, and don't forget your binoculars. You'll want a close-up view of what Mother Nature's got to show off here.

So, who should come? Nature enthusiasts, bird watchers, or anyone looking to chill out from the daily grind—this is your happy place. Spend a couple of hours or a whole day; it's all up to how you want to vibe with nature.

Plan to linger longer because there's plenty to explore nearby—hiking trails, picnic spots, you name it. This is the spot for that deep breath of fresh air you've been craving. So come on, it's time to lace up and immerse yourself in the serene escape that is Lydick Bog Nature Preserve. Don't just take my word for it—see for yourself and make some leafy memories!

Discover the Charm of Mishawaka Riverwalk

Let's get this show on the road and talk about the heart and soul of Mishawaka! It's the Riverwalk, folks, where you can strut your stuff along the banks of the lovely St. Joseph River. And, let me tell ya, it's not just a walk in the park; it's a full-on experience that'll make your heart sing!

As you waltz along this gorgeous trail, you've got prime views of the water, not to mention the lush green parks that hug its path. And here's a little insider scoop – make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the plethora of Mishawaka attractions lining the route. We're talking parks perfect for a family-picnic showdown, playgrounds where the kiddos can swing to the moon, and enough serene spots for lovebirds looking for a swoon-worthy backdrop.

Now, if you're thinking this is just a daytime delight, think again! When the sun dips down, the Riverwalk doesn't skip a beat. With the glow from the bridges and pathway lights, it becomes a magical twilight zone. Perfect for an after-dinner stroll, or, let’s be real, to walk off that extra slice of pie you couldn't resist.

Picture it: you've spent your day exploring Mishawaka, and your steps have led you right here. That's the moment - right when the breeze from the river finds you and the sound of gently flowing water fills the air. So, how long should you spend here? Honestly, it’s the spot where time can just pause. But if the world keeps spinning, as it tends to do, I'd say give it at least an hour or two.

Whether you're a solo adventurer, a family with energizer-bunny toddlers, or a couple that adores the outdoors, the Riverwalk is your jam. It's that slice of exploration pie that fits every taste, and with the town’s charm just steps away, you won’t miss a beat. So, pull up your fanciest walking shoes and get ready to embark on a riverfront rendezvous that's oh-so Mishawaka!

Ready to take on the Mishawaka Riverwalk and make some memories? Lace-up and let’s go explore Mishawaka!

Indulge in Handcrafted Confections at The Vintage Candy Shop

Imagine stepping into a world kissed by nostalgia, where the sweetest memories of your childhood await to dance on your tastebuds. Yes, you've found one of South Bend's hidden gems—The Vintage Candy Shop. This quaint little treasure trove is your ticket to sugar paradise, boasting shelves lined with the most delectable handcrafted confections that will make you feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

So, what's the vibe? Picture glass jars filled to the brim with colorful candies, the air perfumed with the rich scent of chocolate, and the walls adorned with vintage décor that takes you back in time. It's a cozy spot that's perfect for anyone who craves a sprinkle of sweetness—families, couples, and singles alike. Here's where you can let loose and become a kid again, even if it's just for an afternoon.

As for what to expect? Your sweet tooth will meet its match, from artisanal chocolates that melt in your mouth to hand-spun cotton candy that's as fluffy as clouds. You'll need at least a good hour to explore the variety, probably more if you're serious about your sweets. And look, if you're not buzzing with a sugar rush by the time you leave, you're doing it wrong, friend!

Let's talk location. The Vintage Candy Shop is nestled comfortably within strolling distance from other South Bend dessert shops, making it the perfect pit stop on a dessert hop adventure. Gather the gang, or fly solo and cherish the art of indulgence.

Now, throw your diet out the window just this once and beeline for The Vintage Candy Shop. It's a corner of South Bend that's as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the sweet tooth. Come, let yourself relish in the simple pleasure of a candy-coated experience that's uniquely South Bend!

Enjoy Moonlight Paddle on East Race Waterway

Imagine gliding on the water as the moon casts its silver glow on the East Race Waterway, the rhythmic dip of your paddle syncing with the gentle lull of the river. Welcome to your moonlight paddle adventure, a truly unusual and enchanting experience right in South Bend!

Rowing under the stars, you'll see the city in a way that's exclusive to those bold enough to embrace the night from a kayak or canoe. Here's why you and your friends—yep, perfect for a group outing—should make this a must-do:

  • It's Uniquely South Bend: The East Race Waterway isn't just a body of water; it's a historic man-made marvel of South Bend, transforming the city's industrial past into a hub for outdoor fun.
  • No Experience Needed: Worried about your paddling prowess? Fear not. South Bend offers guided tours that cater to all skill levels, meaning beginners and seasoned paddlers alike can enjoy the waterway safely.
  • Serene and Social: Glide beside old and new friends, as the calm waters create an almost Zen-like peace, juxtaposed with the potential for laughter and conversation.

You'll want to set aside at least an hour or two for this aquatic escapade. It's suitable for the single adventure seeker or a date night with a difference, though it tends to be a hit with the more adult crowd—perfect after a long week of work.

The East Race Waterway is whispering your name. Answer the call and take part in a moonlit journey that melds history, nature, and the thrill of nighttime navigation. Are you ready to add a little sparkle to your night? Check out the guided tours and take your South Bend escapade to the next level.

Master Glassblowing at the South Bend Glassworks

Imagine stepping into a world where the art of fire meets creativity, and you're the artist. That's right, at South Bend Glassworks, you will not only witness the mesmerizing art of glassblowing, but you'll also get hands-on experience. It's a unique and fiery dance that'll make you feel like both an observer and a performer in a vibrant creative workshop.

South Bend Glassworks offers creative workshops that invite you to twist, turn, and shape molten glass into your very own masterpiece. Here's what you can expect:

  • Personal Guidance: Skilled artisans will guide you step by step, ensuring your safety and helping you coax vibrant colors and shapes out of the glowing material.
  • Unique Creations: Whether you choose to make a dazzling ornament, a stylish paperweight, or a glass flower, your creation will be as unique as you are.

The process is almost magical and is a prime example of South Bend unique experiences. As you use the blowing pipe, there's a moment where the glass seems to come alive, and, voila! Your breath has birthed something extraordinary — a memory solidified in glass.

While glassblowing might seem intimidating at first with its intense heat and the deft movements required, rest assured. It's a safe, structured, and insanely cool activity suitable for everyone, whether you're flying solo, on a romantic escapade, or looking for a different kind of family fun. Expect to spend about 2 hours here, time that will fly by as you create and watch others create.

Nearby, South Bend's vibrant scene beckons, but that glass piece you made? It's not just an object; it's a story, a piece of your heart, a piece of South Bend that you'll cherish forever. Perfect for singles, couples, and families with older kids wanting to get a taste of the city's creative side, it's an adrenaline rush for your inner fire-breathing artist!

So, come on over. Get that glass glowing and your heart pumping at South Bend Glassworks. Let the embers of creativity spark a fire you'll remember every time the light catches your glass creation just right.

FAQ

Q: What things are there to do in South Bend today?

A: If you're hunting for action in South Bend, swing by the Studebaker National Museum or catch an event at the Century Center.

Q: What can I do in South Bend this weekend?

A: This weekend in South Bend? Check out a game at Notre Dame, or maybe hit up the South Bend Farmers Market for local goodies.

Q: What are some activities in South Bend for adults?

A: Adults in South Bend can sip on craft brews at local breweries, get cultured at the Snite Museum of Art, or jam at a live music venue.

Q: What's there to do in Mishawaka?

A: Mishawaka's bustling with fun! Shop till you drop at the University Park Mall or meander through the scenic Central Park.

Q: What can kids do in South Bend?

A: South Bend's got your kiddos covered—visit the Potawatomi Zoo, or have a blast at the HealthWorks Kids' Museum.

Q: What are some unique things to do in South Bend?

A: For something different, dive into history at the Oliver Mansion or cheer on the South Bend Cubs at a home game.

Q: Is South Bend worth a visit?

A: Totally! South Bend's brimming with history, sports, and culture—it's a highlight in Indiana you shouldn't miss.

Q: What is South Bend known for?

A: South Bend's famous for the University of Notre Dame, its historical landmarks, and the Studebaker cars.

Q: What county is Mishawaka in?

A: Mishawaka's snuggled in St. Joseph County—just cozying up next to South Bend.

Q: What county is South Bend in?

A: South Bend shines in St. Joseph County, Michigan—right on the northern edge of Indiana.

Final Words

So there you have it, your whirlwind tour of South Bend's must-sees and hidden treasures. From the charm of Tutt Street, the energy of local theater, to kayaking adventures, and secret suppers, you've got a glimpse of something thrilling for every taste. And don't forget the serenity of Lydick Bog or the sweetness of those Vintage Candy Shop treats!

Your take-home thought? There's an unexpected vibrancy to South Bend, a chance at every corner to make memories. Whether you're into arts, food, nature, or uncovering history, this slice of Indiana won't disappoint. So go ahead, tick these things to do in South Bend off your list and let the good times roll!

Meet the Author
Aria Ohlsson
Aria Ohlsson, the Instagram storyteller extraordinaire, takes you on adventures through her enchanting narratives. An avid hiker, she scales peaks and weaves tales of mountaintop triumphs. When she's not conquering trails, you'll find her immersed in classic novels, finding inspiration for her next tale.
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