Road Trips: South Bend

Visiting the Fighting Irish

South Bend is less than two hours from the Tech Alumni epicenters of Chicago, Ill. and Grand Rapids, Mich. With MTU fans having a loud presence at away arenas this year, it is likely many MTU fans will undoubtedly want to make the trip to Notre Dame. The MTU Alumni Event this weekend has already sold all their tickets, so there are presumably already a lot of MTU fans going to the series. I'll just say it here upfront: if you're interested in going to the games this weekend, pause on reading this and click here or call the Notre Dame Ticket Line A.S.A.P. at (574) 631-7356, then come back and read what you should do in town.

Like many other big football towns, don't expect too many fans to understand there is a hockey series going on (The Tech series isn't even on the South Bend Tourism Board event calendar). South Bend is typically a driving city, with a sprawl common to many midwest towns. The proximity of Chicago, and resultant influx of Chicagoans, has brought a lot of the big-city amenities. The city boasts a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Uber is a common means of getting around, for example. Downtown South Bend is about 5 miles away from the arena, about a $10 Uber, and has some places that are worth the trip, but watch where you go at night. Without scaring you too much, it is important to note that downtown South Bend is not as safe as downtown Houghton.

So you're travelling with: Family

If you don't do anything else in South Bend, make sure to bundle up and take a stroll to each quad on campus. There are often guided tours of campus and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.  Admission to the Basilica and attached museum are free. As Notre Dame is known first and foremost as a football town, the football stadium definitely a sight to see; be sure and get a photo with "Touchdown Jesus" next to the stadium.

Legends of Notre Dame on campus or Rocco’s Restaurant are good places to take the family before the game. Legends is on campus and features many athletic jerseys on the walls; try "Golic’s ND Day Sub" (named for Mike Golic of ESPN fame) or a local pint on Saturday for $4. Rocco's has affordable pizza and a nice homey atmosphere, perfect for lunch or an early dinner before a hockey game with a family.

If you're looking to spend your day out of the cold at a museum, drop by the Studebaker Museum, or on campus at the Snite Art Museum or at Compton Arena and look around the Notre Dame Hockey History wall (see if you can find both photos of my uncle, Tom Heiden). Both the Snite Art Museum and Compton Arena are free to visit. To really get out of the cold and to jump around, head to the Mishawaka Sky Zone Trampoline Park. For $15/person, the whole family can go jump around for an hour. 

"Touchdown Jesus" is visible from inside Notre Dame Stadium (Photo from public domain courtesy Wikipedia user Fuhreeus).

"Touchdown Jesus" is visible from inside Notre Dame Stadium (Photo from public domain courtesy Wikipedia user Fuhreeus).

If you haven't already signed up for tickets through the Alumni Association event, still head over to meet up with fellow MTU fans at O'Rouke's Public House. O'Rouke's is right off campus on Eddy's Street, which is a common Notre Dame hangout street. On football weekends it gets really crowded, but shouldn't be too bad now that bowl season is over. 

So you're travelling with: Old friends

If you're meeting up with some friends in South Bend this weekend, you have numerous options for a good brew. Skip the South Bend Beer Works and head over to Evil Czech Brewery. Evil Czech has 15 homemade beers on tap, delicious food and hosts a delicious Sunday Hangover Brunch in case you celebrated the MTU sweep (fingers crossed) a little too hard. The Crooked Ewe is a little pricier, but very much embraces the classy brewpub atmosphere, the beer is good and the bar has a great view. Someone please go there, try the "Peggy Lee Brown Porter" and let me know how it is, ok? Thanks. 

For a fancy date night dinner, check out Corndance Tavern or Cafe Navarre and please that special someone. Or, if you're looking to call an audible (sorry to sneak in a football reference) on the typical Irish Pub fare you'd expect from the home of the Fighting Irish, check out JW Chen’s for excellent service and Chinese food. JW Chen's is the kind of family-run place where the owner will often sit down and make sure you’re getting exactly what you’ll like. The Alumni Event on Saturday night at O'Rouke's Public House will be your best bet to find other MTU fans and fans of college hockey. There is a cash bar at the event, so no RSVP is necessary. If you're interest in getting tickets to the game, make sure to click here or call the Notre Dame Ticket Line asap at (574)631-7356. 

So you're travelling with: Fellow MTU students

School doesn't start again until Monday, so why not spend your last few days of lake effect freedom in the (relatively) southern city of South Bend? Notre Dame has over 12,000 undergrad students, but the bars and restaurants in town are designed for an influx of 80,000 every home football game. There is a good Uber network in town, so no drinking and driving. Be sure to have safe travels back and forth from drinking. Bars like Corby’sthe bar from Rudy, and The Linebacker are Notre Dame bar staples and are good to check off your South Bend list. There are a handful of bars on Eddy's Street just south of Campus, but be prepared to pay significantly more for a beverage than you would in Houghton.  

Fiddler’s Hearth is a real-deal Irish pub, typically with live music in the evenings. At Fiddler's you'll end up sitting on a bench with a bunch of people you don’t know—some people love it, others hate it. Madison Oyster Bar is next to Fiddler's and is the bar for those turning 21 this weekend; it is a dive bar to say the least, but it's not like you'll get stabbed. It is important to note that most of the negative reviews of bars in South Bend are due to the profuse smell of smoke, which was legal in restaurants until this week. South Bend just enacted a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants effective Jan 2, 2017, but that doesn't mean some bars won't still be smoke filled. 

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip to South Bend and, as always, "Go Huskies!"

If you have a suggestion for a destination in an away city, please feel free to reach out to us through the form on the About page. We'd love to hear your recommendations!