If you haven’t visited South Bend, Indiana in a while or believe the only main attraction is Notre Dame—you better plan a visit asap. Over the past few years, The Bend has truly burst into a vibrant Midwest destination. A revitalized downtown area, parks, theater, sports, and of course, craft beer are all reasons you shouldn’t be sleeping on this lively northwest Indiana town.
Where to Stay:
Courtyard South Bend Downtown
If you’re looking for the best spot to be in the middle of the action, the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown is perfect. There’s a TON of great places within walking distance (hello, South Bend Brew Werks!). I recommend the 1 bedroom suite for anyone spending a few days—super spacious (GIANT bathroom with separate shower & a tub) plus a sitting room complete with couch, wet bar, microwave, & mini fridge to keep your to-go beer chilled. Tip: Parking is valet but when you arrive ask for other options—some nearby spots aren’t regulated after certain hours/days & a free garage is just across the street.
Where to Drink:
Bare Hands Brewery
This small batch brewery might be on the city outskirts, but it’s definitely not one to be overlooked. You’ll feel like a local once you step foot into the cozy taproom. All brewing is done on-site and you can really tell their dedication to quality is top-notch. With rotating taps, a wide range of beer styles, and limited distribution, you just need to come check out this place for yourself. And be sure to get a 4-pack or two to go.
Evil Czech Brewery
The Evil Czech Public House & Brewery is a local hot spot for sure—bustling with all kinds of people, offering an extensive food menu, and with a metalhead-meets-Viking-industrial type vibe (if that’s a thing lol). An elevated stage right behind the bar lets you know they like to have fun. The beer options are out of this world too—I had a hard time deciding which beer in my flight I wanted in cans to take home. Final result: I couldn’t resist the Bigsby White Stout.
South Bend Brew Werks
Located right in the heart of downtown, this family-owned small-batch brewery takes their love of beer & community to another level. All the brewing is done in the basement underneath the taproom and can be likened to a scientist’s laboratory. They often produce experimental varieties with unique ingredients. You can get a first-hand look if you take one of their immersive brewery tours, overseeing & even taking part in the brewing process followed by a well-earned flight upstairs. Drinking here makes you feel good too—$.50 from every pint sold goes to local community causes.
Studebaker Brewing Co.
Craving some hops with a side of history? Visit this hidden gem on the second floor of the grand Studebaker mansion, now Tippecanoe Place Restaurant. Picture: dark wood, lavish staircases, lush furnishings. The beer is first class all the way. Get a flight to try them all or a pint with their prime rib sandwich and french onion soup. I could lounge at their bar all day…and very nearly did!
Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House
This gastro-brewery truly elevates the beer + food experience. Located right on the St. Joseph River, you can enjoy scenic views along with their small-batch, thoughtfully-produced brews and creative food menu. I highly recommend coming for their Sunday Brunch—and make it boozy with some beer flights. The vibe is rustic/cool but not pretentious in any way. Bartenders & servers are super-friendly, knowledgable, and make you feel right at home. Actually….that’s an idea, can I live here?
things to do:
The South Bend Chocolate Company Cafe
Visit the South Bend Chocolate Company Cafe downtown for a decadent hot chocolate (seriously the best!) and a slice of cake from the bakery case. There’s also candy & chocolates of all sorts that make perfect gifts or take-home treats. This location stays open late too and often has local musicians perform jam sessions for a laid-back place to hang.
The city’s newly-renovated Howard Park has many features to be enjoyed in any season, including riverwalk trails, a playground, fountains, cafe, patio, and festival lawn overlooking the St. Joseph River. If visiting in winter, their outdoor ice skating trail is a must. Fire pits and lounge areas create a welcoming environment for the community and visitors to gather.
Notre Dame is known for their more-than-century-old football program, but there are sporting events of all kinds taking place on campus year-round. On my visit, I attended a Notre Dame Hockey game & loved the “Fighting Irish” college atmosphere.
The Morris Performing Arts Center
The Morris, originally the Palace Theatre, was built in 1922 and showcases many new performances & events throughout the year, ranging from Broadway to ballet, and even the 2020 South Bend Brewfest!
If you’re brewery hopping, take advantage of the plentiful Uber drivers. While staying downtown, many spots are walkable and close by as well. Be safe!
This trip was sponsored by Visit South Bend. Please reach out if you want any more info or recommendations. I love supporting our local tourism & small businesses!
This makes me want to go to Indiana for my next getaway. Thanks for sharing!