South Bend + Mishawaka City Guide



For the past few months, Culture Keeper's founder and creative director has been full of so much enthusiasm about all the good things that are happening in his hometown. We decided it was time for him to spread that love beyond Facebook. So here in a special two-part article are some of the vibrant things happening in an Indiana town that doesn't make the headlines all too often. Culture Keeper readers, read on and then think of letting us know what's great about your hometown!



Over in Part 1 of today's article, Jonathan Grant told us why his hometown of South Bend/Mishawaka is more happening right now than many a more famous world city. 

Here in Part 2, he offers us a guide to some of the South Bend/Mishawaka's best-ofs, a few of his favorite places and things. 


+ West End Bakery - The best doughnuts around. A fave of high schoolers skipping class. Also a Belgian-Town staple. 

+ Battell Park - The most beautiful park in the region. It sits on a bluff above the river and has great views of Mishawaka. Lovely Civilian Conservation Corps architecture.  

+ Our Lady of The Road - A drop-in center that is open to all. A space for under-served persons to do laundry and eat breakfast. OLTR also hosts concerts, musicals, and a monthly Mass/Diner/Lecture. Come hang with some radical priests and a crew of the most lovely barefoot hippies you have ever met. 

+ Mishawaka High School - I am biased here too (I'm a third generation grad), but this school has some old-timey coed charm. This is one of the most architecturally-significant civic buildings left in the region. Even the football matches are adorable. Take a stroll around. The theater is a particular favorite spot. The school also has a fab collection of late 19th-century art on loan to The South Bend Museum of Art. 

+ The University of Notre Dame - Duh. This campus is gorgeous. I recommend taking a stroll around the lakes, visiting the grotto, and checking out the Snite Museum (I'm obsessed with their pre-Columbian collection). Don't miss the Symbols of Christ encircling the Hesburgh Library. 

+ South Bend Museum of Art - A fantastic permanent collection, rotating exhibitions, and some of the best art-making facilities in the region (especially for pottery). The museum lives within the Century Center, a Phillip Johnson building on the river. It is the most architecturally significant work in Northern Indiana. Go explore. 

+ Circa Arts - An Arts and Crafts/Prairie-style gallery with wabi-sabi vibes. Go meet Zoe the cat. 

+ Purple Porch Co-Op - Food, y'all. This spot is a great gathering space for the whole community and has been a vital force in combatting food deserts and inequality in our community. 

+ Tower Hill (Warren Dunes State Park) - The closest beach, with amazing dunes. I also recommend the slightly less touristed Grand Mere State Park just to the north. 

+ Morris Civic Auditorium - It is gorgeous. Do not miss this. Go see a show. Or... just watch the Bergamot + Fischer Dance performance from last year. 

+ Lasalle Hotel signage - When a renovation goes above and beyond, I take note. The neon signs on the exterior of this renovated old hotel are two of my favorite new additions to our city. 

+ The South Bend Symphony Orchestra - One of my fave pastimes from childhood is still a magical experience. The orchestra performs at the Morris Civic. Currently stoked to meet their new conductor. 

+ River swimming - There are lots of good spots. My family seems to frequent the boat house by the Farmer's Market. We float down to Howard Park and then walk back barefoot along the walking path. This is also a great place to launch a canoe or kayak. 

+ The Birdsell Project - A group of artists who host pop-up guerrilla shows in abandoned mansions and factories. They also host a paid summer residency program for artists from around the world. 

+ Langlab - Abandoned laboratory/factory repurposed to house a chocolate company, coffee roaster, yoga studio, dance space, bar, artists studios, print shop, pottery studio, and gallery. 

+ The Local Cup - The cafe of a non-profit neigborhood center, it has become a gathering space for the community and a major catayst for problem-solving and community re-development. (Even Mark Zuckerburg hangs out here.) 

+ Fiddler's Hearth - Local, Celtic Pub. It is the coziest spot in town. Also has great food. 

+ Violi Shoes - My family has been coming here for years, and you won't find a better spot for shoe repair. 

+ The Res - Boy Scout nature preserve. A good portion of my childhood was spent camping and hiking here. 

+ St. Peter Claver Catholic Worker - Houses of hospitality. Bring a dish to share, and join them for dinner. 

+ South Bend Farmer's Market - The place to see and be seen. 

+ Make South Bend - Come to take group classes in all sorts of creative arts. This space also hosts a shop, artist studios, and a maker space.

+ Leeper Park - A stately park along the river with beautiful views and a lovely island. There are also fun events like art fairs and pioneer days.

+ St. Mary's College - The most beautiful college campus in the region. I particularly adore the mini-Lincoln Center vibes of the Moreau Center. Be sure to check out the Charlot frescoes.

+ DeBartolo Center - Foreign and Art films, along with plays and concerts. Most events have amazing panel discussions lending amazing insight to the work being viewed. 

+ The Copshaholm - My favorite garden/museum/historical home in the city. When my brother and I were little, we went often enough we could recite the tour. Sometimes I throw summer picnics in the garden there. 

+ Check out this promo by Chuck Fry!




Jonathan Randall Grant is always exploring the intersection of aesthetics, culture, and theology… and he can’t stop traveling. He splits his time between South Bend and Paris. Jonathan paints for churches, writes books for children, advocates for his friends on the front lines of peace-building, directs photo shoots, and goes swimming every chance he gets. Diana Vreeland is his spirit-animal. He’s on Instagram here.