Posted on January 8, 2022 by Dina Miller
A sophisticated city vibe meets sunny outdoor adventures in St. Joseph and Marshall Counties, where you can dine in one of Indiana’s top-rated city restaurants one day, and dive into the state’s second largest lake the next. Explore The University of Notre Dame’s world-class art and architecture, and then travel country roads where huge quilt designs embellish barns. We’ve created an itinerary that fills your weekend with golf, boating, museum-hopping and stays in historic homes and waterside resorts
It’s easy to spend a day or more in this community, best known as the home of The University of Notre Dame. You’ll find amazing museums, fine dining, and unique places to stay. The vibe is definitely upscale, but also friendly and welcoming.
Tour the Notre Dame campus: You’ll find plenty of nods to the Fighting Irish on The University of Notre Dame campus, but don’t miss the quiet, sacred places too. Start your visit at the Eck Visitors Center, which is also home to the Hammes Bookstore, loaded with Notre Dame paraphernalia along with Irish-made clothing, china and Galway crystal. A walking tour is a great way to experience the campus’s incredible architecture. Don’t miss the Snite Museum of Art with more than 29,000 works
Discover the Past: Pioneer roots run deep in South Bend, and the city’s History Museum traces them. The complex includes Copshaholm, a 38-room mansion, plus a 1930s immigrant worker’s home. The Kidsfirst Children’s Museum gives youngsters a peek at living in a cabin and attending a one-room schoolhouse. Right next door, the stunning Studebaker National Museum showcases shiny vintage cars, plus a Conestoga wagon and the carriage that took Abraham Lincoln to Ford’s Theatre on his last night.
Chocolate Galore: The city is known for fabulously delicious creations from the South Bend Chocolate Company. On the south side of town, you can tour the South Bend Chocolate Factory and load up on sweet treats in all shapes and sizes. .
Catch a show: The Morris Performing Arts Center, the largest historic theater in the region, presents Broadway touring shows, concerts, symphony, comedians and other entertainment. Dinner packages are available for most shows.
View the River Lights: The South Bend River Lights, where color splashes from two interactive light sculptures on either side of the river, amplifying the majestic cascade of water, joined with a third sculpture highlighting the exquisite “Keeper of the Fire” statue.
The Oliver Inn Bed & Breakfast, South Bend: Step back in time in this elegant 1886 Queen Anne mansion close to downtown. Ten antique-filled rooms greet guests, who are also treated to a candlelit breakfast featuring scrumptious fare.
The Morris Inn, South Bend: Located in the heart of the Notre Dame campus, this 150-room hotel features upscale rooms and lots of amenities. Dine in style at the inn’s Sorin’s restaurant, or relax with casual food and drink in Rohr’s Irish Pub.
LaSalle Grill, South Bend: You’ll know exactly why this upscale bistro is Indiana’s only restaurant to receive a four-diamond rating for 20 years in a row when you take your first bite of a juicy wood-fired steak. Soft lighting, an extensive wine list, and fabulous freshly-sourced food make for a wonderful evening.
Rocco’s Restaurant, South Bend: Ummmm! The aroma of old Italy greets you at this longtime favorite that’s kept diners coming back for more than 60 years. Try Rocco’s signature pizza or opt for a pasta specialty.
The outdoors is calling! The St. Joseph County communities of Mishawaka, right next door to South Bend, and Elkhart a few miles east, let you experience nature in urban settings. Then, we’ll head south to Marshall County, where the towns of Plymouth and Culver hold more surprises.
Go on a Nature Walk: Time to get in touch with fresh air and sunshine! You might even grab some coffee and donuts for a morning breakfast at lovely Battell Park, which hugs the St. Joseph River in South Bend’s sister community of Mishawaka. The park is on the city’s Riverwalk and features a beautiful terraced rock garden, splashpad, picnic tables and playground equipment. In the summer, you can enjoy theatrical productions and concerts in the historic bandshell.
Walk, Dine and Shop: Head over to the city of Elkhart for a RiverWalk that passes parks along with trendy shops and restaurants. Strollers can’t resist stopping along the way. Nearby, explore Wellfield Botanic Gardens, a 36-acre oasis filled with lush flowers and plantings, sculpture and serene ponds.
Tee Off: Ready for a round? Go a few miles south to Marshall County, where golfers know there’s always a course waiting. Experts and novices alike flock to Swan Lake, home of the United States Golf Academy and Indiana National Golf Club, just outside the community of Plymouth.
Pedal the Countryside (and Lakeside!): Bicycle routes, ranging from 10 to 63 miles, feature great scenery, including a trip around giant Lake Maxinkuckee, along lesser-traveled roads. All start at Webster School in Plymouth.
Drive the Marshall County Barn Quilt Trail: Here’s an interesting way to connect with the region’s rich quilting heritage.. Local residents bent on celebrating that culture and saving vintage barns created this unique 150-mile driving trail, where more than 70 barns display brilliantly painted quilt patterns.
Artisan, Elkhart: Elegant and imaginative Midwestern cuisine draws raves from diners at stylish Artisan. The restaurant takes pride in classics with an upscale twist made from farm-fresh ingredients.
Peggs, South Bend: A favorite downtown breakfast spot featuring traditional fare plus some inventive recipes with new spins.
Swan Lake Resort, Plymouth: The options are numerous at this upscale resort. Choose from rooms in the swanky lodge, villas overlooking the golf course or luxurious cottages. Enjoy the pool, full-service spa, and restaurants on the grounds.
Ev and Jayne’s Irish Inn, Plymouth: Perfect for a romantic getaway, Biddle Point Inn claims a lovely setting and 14 elegant rooms with fireplaces and whirlpools. Breakfast is included.
Often called “The Cape Cod of the Midwest,” Culver is definitely for lake lovers who head to the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee, affectionately known as “Lake Max.” for days of beaching it and heading out on the water. Some funky restaurants add to the charm.
Water Fun: The pristine public beach in Culver is a great place to spend the day sunning and swimming. But the lake boasts other pleasures too. Fishing is popular, along with sailing and boating. Marinas rent watercraft.
Visit Culver Academies: Roam the manicured grounds past venerable buildings at this world-renowned co-ed boarding school, known best or its legendary Black Horse Troop, which has marched in Presidential inaugural parades since 1913. See them in action during Sunday afternoon parades.
Original Root Beer Stand, Culver: Terrific root beer, floats, burgers, hot dogs and all the fixings served by carhops. It’s right across the street from the public beach.
Lakehouse Grille, Culver: Quirky and fun, with a sailboat hanging from the ceiling and nautical decor. Enjoy delicious steaks and burgers in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere.
Culver Cove Lakeside Condominiums, Culver: Enjoy condo lodging along the shore of Lake Maxinkuckee. The resort features two private beaches and a private dock..
There’s a lot more to see and do in these two counties than you can fit in to one weekend, but this should give you a great starting point for creating your own City/Country adventure in Indiana’s Cool North.