South Bend, IN
Located on the southernmost bend of the St. Joseph River, South Bend is the county seat of St. Joseph County. The northern Indiana city is the fourth-largest city in the state, and is home to the University of Notre Dame and its twin religions of Roman Catholicism and football (ask anyone at Notre Dame about Touchdown Jesus and First Down John the Baptist). Originally settled by fur traders in the early 19th Century, the city was established in 1865.
Must See/Do in South Bend
An absolute must for people of all religious traditions is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a breathtaking shrine in the middle of the University of Notre Dame campus — don't forget to check out the grotto. The relics of St. Marcellus, a third-century centurion who was martyred after refusing combat duty on grounds that it was incompatible with his Christian beliefs, are underneath the altar. In the altar are relics of St. Stephen and St. Sebastian, also from that time period.
Automotive enthusiasts will love the Studebaker Museum, which features a vehicle used in The Muppet Movie, a Conestoga wagon, military vehicles, and several presidential carriages.
If you like Polish paczkis, you won't want to miss Fat Tuesday celebrations. Paczkis are a pastry similar to doughnuts, and are a staple food in the city on Fat Tuesday. According to Wikipedia, medieval Poles created the dish to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs, and fruit before beginning the Lenten fast.
Where to Stay in South Bend
The Oliver Inn Bed and Breakfast is a Victorian manor that was home to the prominent Oliver family for more than 100 years. Shadowed by more than 20 maple trees and home of a grand porte cochere, the building has 25 rooms. Reservations are recommended.
Also worth checking out is the Innisfree, a Celtic-themed Bed and Breakfast. The house is an 1890 Queen Anne-style with period antiques filling the rooms. Innisfree is located within walking distance of the Studebaker Museum and two and a half miles from the University of Notre Dame.
Finally, try the Cushing Manor Inn Bed and Breakfast, which is located within walking distance of the Studebaker museum and almost three miles from the University of Notre Dame. Breakfast is served in an English-style tea room.
Best and Worst Time to Visit South Bend
Easter is a popular time to visit South Bend, as is Fat Tuesday. The South Bend Reggae Festival is in the summer, and the World Pulse Festival, a celebration of contemporary Christian music, is held annually — this brings around 50,000 people to the city.
If you don't know what "lake effect" means, you will if you visit South Bend in the winter. During the winter cold temperatures and heavy snowfall are common.
Where to Get Lost in South Bend
South Bend is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country, with plans for a South Bend Bikeway network made up of 116 miles of trails. According to Wikipedia, almost 67 miles of trail had been built as of late 2014. 17.4 miles worth of trail are separate from streets, while there are 17 miles of marked bike routes and 32.4 miles of other, on-street routes.
The Best Deal in South Bend
Yesterday's Food and Spirits in nearby Granger is known for its excellent seafood — yes, it's possible to get good seafood in the Midwest. Also worth visiting is the South Bend Chocolate Company, which makes its hot chocolate from melted candy bars.
Getting in from the Airport
A bus line connects the South Bend International Airport to Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports. An electric commuter railroad known as the South Shore Line connects the airport to Millennium Station in downtown Chicago. The airport is located just off U.S. 31 and the Indiana Toll Road, in the northwest corner of the city.
Local Tip for Visitors to South Bend
While the river has influenced city roads, most of the city is based on a grid pattern.
Author's bio: Becky Oberg is a professional writer based in Indianapolis. She enjoys acting, reading, writing, singing, and playing video games. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.