South Bend is the apex of college football. The Fighting Irish have been dominating college football for the better part of 125 years way up in northern Indiana. The town and the entire Catholic community rally around their athletics programs. Like it or not, the school and the city have a rich history full of tradition and fun activities. Oddly enough, my girlfriend is a resident of South Bend, and I have had the good fortune of visiting the city many times. Although I have only been to one football game (This year’s matchup vs Stanford) at Notre Dame Stadium, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the places to go when visiting for a football game. Of course I am enlisting the help of my beautiful girlfriend to make sure I don’t lead you all astray.
I’ve tried to compile the names and websites of many cool places to visit. This includes bars and pubs, upscale and moderately priced restaurants, things to do in the city, and of course…Notre Dame’s campus and it’s many weekend football festivities. Here we go!
I know many of you will be staying in Chicago as part of the Wake Forest trip to South Bend which includes a train ride over in the morning with a Wake Forest tailgate already set up. This information is for anyone, but I guess it pertains more to those who will be staying in South Bend before or after the game; or both!
If you are staying in South Bend there are a few things you absolutely MUST DO!(If you have time)
- Take time to visit the Notre Dame Campus. The architecture and historic feel of campus are truly awe inspiring, not to mention the football stadium right in the heart of campus with Touchdown Jesus within walking distance behind it. Touchdown Jesus is actually Hesburgh Library. You should absolutely take the time to go on a walk around campus or if you have more time there are walking tours on campus on Fridays from (10am-4pm) That is your best bet to find out about all things Notre Dame. They will show you the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the Grotto of our Lady of Lourdes, the Main Building (Golden Dome) and much more. Here is a full link to all of the buildings on campus for you. Campus Tour locations
- Stop in at any South Bend Chocolate Company. There is a restaurant and
coffee shop located downtown as well as many other small locations around town and in the local mall. They have the best chocolate around and their hot chocolate literally tastes like pure chocolate and is sure to warm you up in the cold weather. Any of their chocolate covered goodies will hit the spot as well; I prefer the chocolate covered Michigan cherries!
- Visit the College Football Hall of Fame. This is the last year that all of college football’s glory will be showcased in South Bend, Indiana. At the end of December the Hall of Fame will be closing its doors and relocating to Atlanta, Georgia. Quite a stinker if you ask me, but this is a place well worth visiting if you have time. Tours are affordable and the last time I was there Aaron Curry’s jersey was on display! It’s located in the heart of downtown and conveniently right next to the South Bend Chocolate Factory. They are open until 8 p.m. on Friday and they open up at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
- Notre Dame Football pep rally – The team will have a pep rally on Friday evening before the game at 5 p.m. at Purcell Pavillion in the Joyce Center. This is a first come first serve event and once they fill up the doors will close. I believe this is free to the public, but you may need a ticket.
- Friday Tunnel Tour 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. on Football Fridays (except during team walk-throughs) Here is the Video of my own tunnel tour (after an Irish victory against Stanford) There is also information about how to do a stadium tour, I have never done one so I figured I would let the Notre Dame site tell you all of the information.
Since 1931, every Notre Dame football team has walked down the same tunnel, to the same field before every home football game. On Fridays of football weekends, Game Day Operations and Athletics is proud to give every Irish fan the opportunity to walk the same fabled walk every Irish player has taken for the past 80 years. Come experience the North Tunnel of Notre Dame Stadium, take pictures with the field in the background, and feel the echoes waiting to be awoke. Free and open to the public.
Notre Dame Stadium Tours
Tours run Tuesday-Friday on home football weeks.
Tuesday and Wednesday: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. (1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. tours do not include tour of locker room)
Friday: 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. (do not include tour of locker room or game field)
All fans can now get an insider look at one of the most historic, tradition laden and iconic venues in athletics with a tour of Notre Dame Stadium. Listen to ushers tell the history of the stadium as you walk the concourse. Take in the expansive campus view from the press box. Walk the Notre Dame locker room, touch the Play Like a Champion sign, and step on the field! Enjoy the hour long tour for only $10.00 per person.
Purchase tickets at the Murnane Family Ticket Office located inside the main entrance of Purcell Pavilion 8:30 a.m. – 1:45 p.m. Tickets must be purchased on the day of the tour. Future tour dates not available for purchase. Tours limited to a maximum of 25 people. Children 2 & under do not require a ticket.
For any questions please call the ticket office at 574-631-7356.
6. Midnight Drummer’s Circle. For 45 minutes starting at midnight on Friday the Notre Dame Drum Line will be playing outside of the Golden Dome. This is a really neat tradition and if you are up this late it is definitely worth seeing. The Deacs don’t kick off until 3:30 on Saturday.
We all need to eat right? Of course South Bend has all the chain restaurants you can think of, but here is a list of authentic restaurants throughout the city. I’ll break it up into two categories: casual and upscale.
CJ’s Pub- This is the home of all the great bar food you can think of. If you are looking to grub out and drink some beers this the right place for you. The food is delicious and affordably priced.
Fiddler’s Hearth – Located in downtown this is a great Irish Pub with authentic Irish cuisine. You can grab some Bangers and Mash for lunch or if you want to go for dinner you might try the Irish stew. Great atmosphere and affordable as well. Soccer fans love this place when games are on. MENU
Brother’s Bar and Grill – Mainly known for it’s nightlife scene(Which we will talk about later), this bar also has more american grill items. Brother’s is conveniently located in the Eddy Street Commons located directly across from campus. Great for lunch before a campus tour. MENU
O’Rourke’s Public House - This is another bar more known for it’s nightlife, but it is on the opposite corner of Brother’s and the two restaurants constantly compete for business. They have prime locations and good food. Either place would be a good pic for the hungry visitor.
The Mark – Another restaurant located in the Eddy Street Commons, The Mark offers a wide variety of options. Visitors can choose to build their own burger, choose from one of many delicious sandwiches, or go big and order up southern-style buttermilk chicken. There are plenty of options to choose from here as well. If you are around campus and looking for food, stopping at the Eddy Street commons is a good idea as they have these three restaurants and a couple more chain restaurants. MENU
Legends of Notre Dame - This restaurant is located right on campus in the parking lot of the football stadium; literally 100 yards from the stadium. The food is good and the restaurant is owned by Notre Dame so all proceeds go to support Notre Dame social functions. Because of this, students are able to enjoy free live entertainment and night club dancing every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night during the school year. If you are 100% against supporting the Irish because you are die-hard Deacs fans then this isn’t the place for you. They also have a $7 dollar pre-game party for football games that runs from 8:00 a.m. until kickoff. MENU
For those of you looking to have a nice sit down dinner on Friday night before the game I recommend the following restaurants. They all have great food so you can’t go wrong at any one of them, but you will probably need a reservation.
LaSalle Grill - Located in downtown South Bend this restaurant is one of the best in the city. It used to be a restaurant and cigar club, but the cigar bar is now smoke free. They still have three floors of dining. The top level is known as Club LaSalle. This is the cigar parlor and major bar area of the restaurant. Patrons can still order from the full restaurant menu, but this floor provides a more intimate atmosphere with night life to follow. Adjacent to the first floor dining room is another cozy dining area. This is called the Barroom. They specialize on classic cocktails with a strong passion for Martinis and Manhattans. This is more for the single diner, but also great for drinks before you reservation. The food at LaSalle is hard to beat and the service is top notch. If you feel like opening up the wallet a little bit, this would be my choice. You must call for a reservation at LaSalle on football weekends. MENU
Cafe Navarre - This cafe has outstanding food to go along with a very cool environment. The restaurant set up and atmosphere give it that big city feel. Navarre is owned by a local chef, whom I have had the pleasure meeting, and he is constantly changing the menu to bring in the freshest ingredients. He strives to
give his patrons something unique at his restaurant. They have fish dinners, pastas, steaks, and even quail. This is another place that will require a reservation, but it is well worth the money. MENU
Trio’s - For an evening of dining accompanied with some jazz music Trio’s is the spot for you. Randy Marsh and the Big Organ Trio will be playing this Friday night. The cuisine is styled after the two American jazz cities of New Orleans and Kansas City. If you want Creole they’ve got it, but if you want some good ole BBQ ribs you can get that too. Trio’s is a little more reasonably priced than the previous restaurants, but it is still great food and the entertainment is an added bonus. MENU
Now it’s time for the nightlife. Hopefully the Deacs can pull off a major upset and us Wake Forest folks can go out for a night on the town in South Bend to celebrate. There are plenty of watering holes in South Bend as it is a true college football town, but there are a few classics that I recommend.
The Linebacker- Affectionately known by the locals as “The Backer,” this small bar is located right around the corner from campus and is always filled to capacity. They are known for their small size and great environment. Every Notre Dame fan has stopped in at the Backer before. Even if you go during the day this bar is worth stopping in. Don’t be surprised if you see a line out the door in the evenings despite the cold weather…that tells you how much people love this place.
Corby’s- If you have ever seen the movie Rudy, then you have seen Corby’s. Remember the scene where Rudy Ruettiger is sitting alone at the bar when he sees his crush. In his drunken stupor he admits that he is not a student at Notre Dame, effectively kicking him out of the booster club. That scene takes place inside the legendary Corby’s. This bar isn’t as close to campus as the rest, but the atmosphere is unbeatable. The bar is huge and there is an area filled with pool tables. Students come here frequently despite the distance from campus.
O’Rourkes- I listed this bar as a place to eat during the daytime hours, but at night it becomes a full blown hot spot. Coming to O’Rourkes or Brothers is never a bad choice if you are looking to have a good time. As I mentioned earlier, they are both on the same street so if you don’t like one it is a short walk to the other. This is another spacious bar and they always have great drink specials.
Brothers- The other Eddy Street bar. This bar has more of a sports feel to it with more televisions covering sporting events. Again, this is a huge bar that is always packed with people. Brothers and O’Rourkes are probably more for the younger crowd but if you want to experience Notre Dame night life the bars on this list are where you want to go. Drink specials are always happening and my personal philosophy goes like this: “It’s not the bar you go to, it’s the people you go with that make the night fun.”
Club LaSalle- I mentioned this bar earlier as well. This is a classier bar with a cigar parlor. This is the place to go if you are looking for a nice relaxing evening with some friends with a bottle of win.
The Notre Dame fans take their tailgating very seriously. The parking lot surrounding the stadium will be full of huge tailgates with tents everywhere. Most people even have their own flag so you know its them. The best tailgating is in those parking lots, but as long as you have food and drink it will be a fun tailgate no matter what. If you have no plans for a tailgate, but want to do one you can find scalpers selling parking passes on the streets just outside of campus. They usually come out in the afternoons on Friday’s to sell the passes.
If you do have a parking pass for the stadium lot, I would advise getting there early to claim your spot. I’m fairly certain it is free for all parking and most people get there early to claim a spot. The parking lot opens at 6 am so if you have two cars you can always drop one off to stake your claim. Otherwise, fans will start showing up between 9-10 a.m. for a 3:30 game.
I hope you all have a great time visiting the city and hopefully the Deacs can come away with a huge upset. There is plenty to do no matter what your interests are. I hope you found this helpful for navigating the city and finding entertainment while you are there. I know my first Notre Dame game was an absolute blast so I expect you all to have fun too. I will see you all in South Bend!
LET’S HOPE WE SEE PLENTY OF THESE ON SATURDAY