One of the original four townships of St. Joseph County, South Bend was established in 1831 with 128 residents. Now a thriving college town, it boasts many delightful shopping and dining opportunities, as well as attractive parks for enjoying the outdoors. If you’re looking for an Indiana town with charm, good food, and a little local history, South Bend is the place for you!
The Best Restaurants in South Bend, IN
1. Café Navarre
If you’re looking for the luxury experience in South Bend, IN, then Café Navarre is the place for you. With appetizers like Italian beef tartare and arancini, you know their food is fit for a king. Enjoy such entrees as Faroe Island salmon and Galbi short rib for your main course and decadent chocolate ganache or citrus creme brulee for dessert. Classy drinks? They’ve got those too!
2. Parisi’s Ristotante Italiano
Is fine Italian cuisine what you’re craving? Then check out Parisi’s Ristotante Italiano. They have all the Italian classics such as Caprese, Mama’s lasagna, carbonara, and spaghetti Pomodoro. Their constantly changing dessert menu sometimes includes tiramisu, gelato, and various coffees and teas. Add to that their stunning drinks menu of beer, wine, and cocktails, and you have a chef’s kiss of an evening in store.
3. The Yellow Cat Cafe
This family-owned diner-style restaurant named after the family cat serves breakfast and lunch all day. Check out the Yellow Cat Cafe if you’re on the hunt for a tasty and affordable meal. Omelets, biscuits, toast, sandwiches, chicken, salad, burgers, and fries–all the breakfast and lunch staples can be found here.
4. Pinellia Vegan
Fortunately, restaurants that cater to the vegan lifestyle and other dietary restrictions are more and more common these days. But it’s always good to scope out the territory ahead of time to make sure there will be a good option for you when you arrive. The Pinellia Vegan restaurant in South Bend caters to vegans in an Asian style. Seaweed salad, spring rolls, and grilled eggplant are just a few of the Asian vegan cuisine items on their healthy menu.
5. Barnaby’s South Bend
Barnaby’s South Bend bids ye and ye family welcome to their humble pizza pub. Barnaby’s has been serving delicious pizza and sandwiches to families since 1969 and received a South Bend Tribune Readers’ Choice Award in 2020. To this day, they’re still in their original location with their original owners. This is a family-friendly restaurant, but they do also have a beer and wine list.
6. Fiddler’s Hearth
An Irish Pub true to its name, Fiddler’s Hearth even features live Irish music every Monday night. They’ve got all the classic Irish dishes, from fish and chips to bangers and mash, as well as shepherd’s pie. With a full beer list, this is the perfect place to go if you’re in the mood for some Irish food in South Bend, IN.
7. Woochi Japanese Fusion Bar
If you’re in the mood for some Japanese food, though, then look no further than the Woochi Japanese Fusion Bar. Whether you’re looking for sashimi, nigiri, sushi rolls, teriyaki, hibachi, or a rice or noodle dish, they’ve got the best quality Japanese cuisine around. They also offer business lunch specials for catering groups.
8. The Bucket
With a name like “The Bucket,” you know they’re serving good old classic American grub. Burgers and fries, chicken wings, a club sandwich–all of those kinds of food items. They have outdoor seating on two decks on the river, a tiki bar, live music, and a gorgeous riverside view. The Bucket is the premier location for classic American grub in South Bend Indiana.
Interesting Natural and Historical Sites in South Bend, IN
9. Seitz Park
A gorgeous area for strolling or sitting, Seitz Park features an indoor and outdoor lounge and plenty of seating on stairs and around the large waterway. This park is lovely during the day, but even more fascinating at night when the RiverLights Light Forest comes to life.
10. Rum Villiage Nature Park
The Rum Villiage Nature Park covers over 160 acres of rolling hills and woodlands. Home to foxes, deer, reptiles, amphibians, and birds of all kinds, the nature park is the perfect place to go for some time in nature. The nature center has lots of interesting historical information about the area, and the disc golf course out back is an experience you can’t miss. With a dog park, mountain bike trails, and hiking trails, there’s something here for every nature lover to enjoy.
11. The History Museum
Opened in 1867, this history museum is the second oldest museum in all of Indiana. With exhibits featuring the University of Notre Dame, the St. Joseph’s River, a local family’s World War One story, and the unseen treasures of that local family’s mansion, there’s no end to the interesting things about South Bend you could learn from stopping by The History Museum. This museum is also the national archives for the All-American Girls Profesional Baseball League.
12. The Oliver Mansion
Featuring thirty-eight rooms, the Oliver Mansion is one of three historic homes owned by The History Museum. The formal dining room is on display and includes a beautiful bay window and five massive mahogany beams. The library features an enormous carved mahogany fireplace and several book shelves. All of the Olivers’ original books are still on the shelves. The kitchen is also open to guests for viewing and includes a ten-door refrigerator. That’s right–ten doors!
13. The Studebaker National Museum
Not only does the Studebaker National Museum have lots of classic Studebaker cars on exhibit, they also have the carriage that President Lincoln rode to the theater in the night that he was assassinated. The museum is in possession of six other items considered “National Treasures.” If you want to learn more about the history of electric vehicles, check out their upcoming exhibit.
The Best Places to Shop ‘Til You Drop in South Bend, IN
14. Just Goods
This green-focused fair-trade business supplies organic, recycled, and sustainably produced goods for the home and for families. Childrens’ toys and books are some of the products they have to offer, as well as jewelry, blankets, candles, scarves, mittens, socks, purses, mugs, journals, and essential oils, just to name a few. Just Goods is one of those awesome small businesses you really want to support!
15. Inspire Me Women’s Boutique
This woman’s fashion boutique located in South Bend, IN, carries items for women, children, and babies. They offer refined clothing, shoes, and jewelry from European and American designers alike. Located on South Bend’s east bank village, the Boutique’s storefront is a beautiful, 3600 square-foot old-fashioned building with a bright exterior design.
16. Eddy Street Commons
Eddy Street Commons is a shopping center with a little bit of everything. Several restaurants including Noodles and Company, Bru Burger, and Jimmy John’s, are accompanied by a Pure Barre workout complex, a Purely Pressed organic coffee and juice store, and a Hammes Bookstore and Cafe. With so many great shopping and eating options, there’s sure to be something for everyone at the Eddy Street Commons.
Exciting Things for Kids to Do in South Bend, IN
17. Children’s Museum of South Bend
A labor of love started in response to a tragedy, the Children’s Museum of South Bend is now a 501C3 non-profit organization focused on fostering enriching parent-child interactions. Exhibits include a lego-building station, a town where kids can pretend to be people in various different professions, a camping nook where kids can interact with pretend animals, a play veterinarian office with stuffed animals and an x-ray table, and a train station sensory zone. With so many exciting play areas, there’s sure to be something fun for all of your young kids to enjoy.
18. Potawatomi Zoo
The Potawatomi Zoo features over 400 animals spread across twenty-three acres. Species include lions, servals, African painted dogs, cotton-top tamarins, otters, anteaters, tortoises, alligators, geckos, snakes, flamingos, owls, ostriches, and many more. This zoo has events for birthday parties, summer camps, and even homeschool field trips. Don’t take your kids to South Bend without checking out the Potawatomi Zoo!
19. Build a Bear Workshop
What kid doesn’t love their own stuffed animal that they made themselves? With tons of animals to choose from (plenty of others besides bears) a child can choose whatever type of animal they want. After filling the animal with stuffing, they can then choose their own outfit, shoes, and hat! Some stuffed animals also come with extra toys and accessories like fishing rods and umbrellas. The nearby Build a Bear Workshop is a great place to take the kids to burn off some energy and build a friend to play with on the drive home.
Time to Visit South Bend!
With so many great things to see and do in this city, it’s no wonder South Bend is such a popular tourist area. Are you going to visit South Bend next? Let us know what you’re most excited about in the comments!
And if you’re looking for other fun places to visit in the great state of Indiana, check out all there is to do in Fort Wayne.