1) South Bend River Lights This innovative project (pictured below) uses light sculptures to transform the St. Joseph River into “a canvas of living art.” The sculptures, equipped with motion sensors, change colors and project different shapes based on nearby movement. For the best view, head to Seitz Park, Island Park or the Colfax Bridge.
Photo courtesy of Gary Riggs Photography
2) South Bend Chocolate Company This fast-growing confectioner boasts Chocolate Cafe locations across the Midwest, but only in its hometown can you tour the factory. Free tours of the chocolate-making equipment last about 20 minutes. Afterward, browse the outlet store for deals on truffles, toffees and caramels—or chocolate Rocknes (truffles with cherry flavoring, coconuts and almonds) named in honor of legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne.
3) Morris Performing Arts Center A local philanthropist saved this former vaudeville theater from the wrecking ball, and it got a complete overhaul between 1998 and 2000 that restored the interior to its original 1921 palette of rose and cream. Highlights include performances by the South Bend Symphony Orchestra.
4) Studebaker National Museum Founded in South Bend in 1852, the Studebaker Corporation made buggies and wagons before transitioning into auto manufacturing. The museum, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2015, chronicles the company’s history and houses more than 120 vehicles.
5) Oliver Mansion This Romanesque Queen Anne home, also known as Copshaholm, contains 38 rooms of original furnishings, intricate woodwork and leaded-glass windows. Built by industrialist J.D. Oliver in 1896 on the city’s mansion row, the home offers tours coordinated by The History Museum.
6) Oliver Inn Just two blocks from Copshaholm, this 1886 mansion built by J.D. Oliver’s sister, Josephine, is home to a romantic bed-and-breakfast. Most of the nine rooms include fireplaces, and some come with claw-foot tubs and private porches.
7) Tippecanoe Place Restaurant Continue your tour of South Bend’s mansion row at the Tippecanoe Place restaurant. The massive stone building (40 rooms and 20 fireplaces) was once home of the Studebaker family. Now you can bask in the elegant surroundings of exposed wooden ceilings and crystal chandeliers as you dine on classic fare like shrimp cocktail, prime rib, roasted salmon and stuffed chicken. Reservations are highly recommended, especially for the popular Sunday brunch.
8) Rocky River Tap and Table Hungry for a more contemporary dining experience? Try this farm-to-fork restaurant in nearby Granger. Seasonal entrees, like barbecue nachos with smoked Indiana duck, keep diners coming back for more. Bonus: Most of the 30 beers on tap are brewed in Indiana and neighboring Michigan.
Photos courtesy of Visit South Bend Mishawaka