South Bend, Indiana was not on the top of my travel bucket list, but when the opportunity arose for me to visit this Midwestern college town, I took it. After all, South Bend is famous for being home to the “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame, and I didn’t want to pass up the chance to explore this college town like a local.
Since my South Bend trip was a spur-of-the-moment getaway, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a last-minute hotel in South Bend. Luckily, I was able to book a hotel room in just a few minutes on HotelTonight’s app, so I didn’t have to stress or worry about finding suitable last-minute accommodations. For someone like me who likes to plan spontaneous adventures to new cities, HotelTonight is one of the best travel services you can have on your side.
When I arrived in South Bend, I made a point of asking locals what they would recommend I do during my short visit. Several locals pointed me toward the East Race Waterway, which is a Civil War-era waterway that has recently been converted into a white water river course that cuts through the heart of the city. Once I learned a bit about the waterway, I was instantly sold. I rented some rafting gear and hopped into the water, and I can definitively say that was the first time I had gone white water rafting through the middle of a city. The thrill and adrenaline rush of this fun outdoor activity made me love South Bend from the very start, and I was eager to see what other surprises the city had for me.
I have a theory that every great city has a good farmer’s market, which is why I was excited to hear that South Bend has an exceptionally large farmer’s market. Since it was established in 1924, the South Bend Farmer’s Market has been a staple of the local community, and for good reason – it has a great, diverse selection of vendors. I wandered through all of the stalls at the Farmer’s Market and picked out fresh fruits, vegetables, bread and cheese for my picnic lunch, and I was certainly impressed with the large selection of fresh food as well as artwork, jewelry and artisanal products. The best part about this beloved farmer’s market is that it’s open more than one day a week – the South Bend Farmer’s Market is open four days a week during the summer months.
After my picnic lunch, I made my way to my hotel in downtown South Bend, a charming, walkable city center that still has a small-town community feel. This neighborhood offers plenty of great dining and nightlife options, and it also features several great walking trails, such as the one along the river. At night, I headed to the river to check out the River Lights, an interactive light display in the heart of downtown. The River Lights display goes from sunset to midnight every night, and from what locals have told me, the light displays change based on various holidays throughout the year.
The next morning, I headed to South Bend’s most famous area – the campus of the University of Notre Dame. I’ve been on a fair amount of college campuses in my life, but Notre Dame is certainly one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen. This expansive campus is home to the stunning Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes and, of course, the famed Fighting Irish football stadium. If there’s one thing that these South Bend locals take more seriously than anything, it’s football. Unfortunately, I wasn’t visiting South Bend during football season, but I could still sense the fervor and excitement for the upcoming season during my time on campus. Even if you’re only in South Bend for a day or two, I’d strongly recommend checking out Notre Dame, as it’s definitely one of the most impressive campuses I’ve had the chance to visit.
My time in South Bend, Indiana was gone in a flash. Even though it was a short, spontaneous getaway, I felt that I was really able to make the most of my limited time. When I visit new places, I aim to get the true feel and flavor of the town by exploring the city like a local. During this trip, I made sure to ask plenty of locals for their recommendations, and thus I was able to have an authentic South Bend experience. I definitely now have quite a soft spot in my heart for the charming Midwestern college town. For anybody who has the chance to take an impromptu trip to South Bend, I’d definitely recommend it – and don’t forget, HotelTonight can make planning spontaneous trips a breeze thanks to its great selection of last-minute hotel deals.