The best trips I've taken always involve some sort of adventure. Hiking, biking, snorkeling, helicopter tours - I've had the chance to do some pretty memorable activities over the years. So when I learned that South Bend, Indiana offered two adventures I had never tried before (and a few of my favorite pastimes), I was all in! Located only 30 minutes from southwest Michigan, South Bend is most well known as home to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. But who knew the city also offered so many other ways to get your adrenaline racing!
I teamed up with Visit South Bend to put together an adventure seeker's guide to the city. With only one night in the city we didn't waste any time packing in as much excitement and thrill as possible in just 24 hours. Read more to discover four adventures you'll want to add to your bucket list ASAP.
Disclaimer: I partnered with Visit South Bend for this trip. They hosted us for an overnight stay at Hilton Garden Inn and provided complimentary activities. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Adventure #1: White Water Rafting
We started the weekend by checking something new off our bucket list - white water rafting! East Race Waterway located along the St. Joseph River is the first artificial white water course in North America. But don't worry - there's nothing artificial about the waves! The water level is controlled by three head gates and a number of obstacles throughout the course resulting in a total fall around 12 feet and waves that can reach up to six feet or higher along the 2,000 foot long course. And you might be surprised to discover that you don't have to travel outside the city to hit the rapids.
I honestly wasn't sure what to expect as I'd never done anything like this before but it ended up being the highlight of the trip. It was such a thrill throughout the whole course (and a great workout)! We went down the river twice with each ride lasting around 10 minutes. Once you get to the end you drop off your boat and walk back up the paved path along river to the start of the course and grab a new boat to head down again. The course can get a bit intense in some areas, but don't worry, if you do end up tipping or falling out, there are trained professionals stationed along the river who are able to rescue both you and your boat.
It's also an extremely affordable option for the whole family with one ride costing $6, two for $10, or three for $15/per person. Tickets can be purchased online or at the trailer located on site. You only have to be 54 inches tall to ride and children under 16 need to be accompanied by an adult. The boats range from two to five riders and they provide all the equipment (helmets, life jackets and paddles) you need.
A few things to keep in mind: Rubber soled shoes with heel strap are required - we wore water shoes and they worked out great. Flip flops and sharp jewelry/objects are not permitted. You will get wet so bring an extra set of clothes and towels. There aren't changing rooms or storage facilities located on site so we ended up leaving our towels in the car and just walking back to dry off. The East Race is open weekend hours from June through mid-September.
Adventure #2: Craft Brewery Tour
After getting a good workout in (and drying off) we were ready for some good food and good beer. I love checking out new breweries whenever we visit a new city and South Bend certainly didn't disappoint. Our first stop of the night was Crooked Ewe Brewery and Ale House - located on the scenic St. Joseph River and across from the South Bend Farmer's Market if you're in search of another adventure. We started by ordering a flight which allowed us to sample five different beers on tap. A few of my favorites were the Gleek Goes - a crisp, tart summer seasonal ale - and Monday Pale Ale with tropical fruit and citrus notes. In addition to their unique brews, you won't want to miss out on their insanely delicious menu options. Compared to your typical bar food, the Crooked Ewe menu was a pleasant surprise featuring a number of healthy and vegan options. I chose the Ewe Tso tempura cauliflower with kimchi fried rice and it was a game changer. Seriously if you haven't tried tempura cauliflower before stop everything you're doing and go now! My husband ordered the Korean Hot Chicken sandwich and we went with the smoked pear for dessert. Yum all around!
Next up was another popular brewery in the heart of downtown. Family owned and operated, South Bend Brew Werks offers both outdoor patio seating (which is dog-friendly) and an indoor space with 20 rotating brews on tap and a full pub menu featuring gourmet grilled cheeses, pastas and flatbread pizzas. I also chose a flight here (served on an Insta-worthy board) because let's be honest I can't choose just one beer. My hands-down favorite was the Lone Radler - a raspberry lemonade shandy. They also have an amazing #Beer4Good program where customers get to choose where their donation will go. You get a beer cap for each drink you order and then on your way out get to place them in one of three charities which rotate each month. We finished up our beers just in time to head to adventure #3..
Adventure #3: South Bend Cubs Game
Go Cubs go! Baseball games are easily one of my favorite summer pastimes. Our family (including our mini golden doodle Wrigley) are Cubs fans and we try to make to to at least one game each summer in Chicago. However, when we don't have time to make the trip we have the next best thing practically in our backyard - the South Bend Cubs! Formerly the South Bend Silver Hawks, the South Bend Cubs became the Chicago affiliate and changed their name in 2014. Since then, the stadium has seen a number of improvements and attracts fans of all ages all summer long.
Four Winds Field is located in downtown but doesn't come with any of the hassles you'll sometimes find when attending a major league game. Parking is only $7 and located directly across the street from the stadium. Helpful hint:iIf you get there early enough you can often find free street parking as well. Tickets are extremely affordable ranging from $11 to $13 depending on where you sit (and trust me there isn't a bad seat in the house). They also host various promotional events throughout the season including Dog Day Mondays, flat screen TV giveaways, and Thirsty Thursdays.
One of the best parts of any baseball game is the food and if you don't plan to eat dinner before you'll have your choice of some delicious rotating menu options in addition to your standard stadium snacks. You'll also find craft beer and wine options throughout the park. The little ones will have access to the free splash pad, which is great for those hot summer days, as well as an inflatable zone ($). We went on a Saturday night and the game was followed by one of the best fireworks shows I've seen in a long time!
Adventure #4: Treetop Ropes Course
This is one adventure you'll be talking about for months to come! Edge Adventures at Rum Village Park offers five self-guided challenge courses perched high in the trees. You'll climb over and through various obstacles and soar across the sky on zip lines. Each of the courses increases in difficulty as you go along. Kids as young as eight can climb away if they are accompanied by an adult and those over 14 can go on all five courses solo.
Once you arrive and at Edge Adventures you can choose from a two or three hour adventure. We went on the two hour adventure and ran out of time to conquer the most difficult course. However, it all depends on how fast you move through the obstacles and how busy the park is as you can't start the next obstacle until the person if front of you finishes. Once you've grabbed the necessary gear (helmet, gloves and harness) you'll go through a short training course with an instructor who explains how the equipment works and lets you do a test run to get a feel for it all. Then you're off to the trees! We started with the two yellow courses which are considered "easy" and give you a feel for the different types of obstacles you'll encounter along the way. All five courses start from the same platform and end with either a zip line or a cargo net.
You're free to go at your own pace throughout each course and there are staff members on site to help if you do end up slipping and aren't able to pull yourself up. I don't have an issue with heights but I definitely wouldn't recommend this activity to someone who does. However, the harnesses are very secure and if you do end up falling off an obstacle you'll only go a couple feet before your harness catches you underneath. This was such a fun way to get outdoors and work up a sweat at the same time! If you haven't had enough adventure once you're done with the course, Rum Village Park is 160-acres and features mountain bike and hiking trails, disc golf, a playground, and a nature center for you to explore.
Where to Stay: Hilton Garden Inn
As home to both the University of Notre Dame and South Bend International Airport, the city offers a wide array of lodging options ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to boutique and commercial hotels. During our trip we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn near Notre Dame. If you have extra time during your weekend the hotel is in the perfect location to take a walking tour around the campus and discover some of it's many iconic sites including Touchdown Jesus, the Golden Dome and the Grotto. Hilton Garden Inn is also home to Bistro 933 which offers breakfast. lunch and dinner. We fueled up with their breakfast buffet on Sunday morning before heading to the aerial adventure park. In addition to a full hot/cold buffet, they also offer made to order options including an omelet bar and a daily special which was a mouthwatering blueberry French toast bake during our stay. Click here to discover other great lodging options within the city.
I love creating detailed travel guides to ensure you get the most out of your time. On this blog I'll be sharing some of my past trips in hopes that it helps you plan your next adventure. Pack your suitcase you never know where I'll be heading next!
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