Traveler: South Bend for Sports-Lovers

The Hoosier city scores with history sports fans will love.

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'Touchdown Jesus" at Notre Dame
‘Touchdown Jesus” at Notre Dame

Courtesy South Bend Mishawaka CVB

There’s no crying in baseball, but you’re allowed to feel a lump in your throat at South Bend’s recently renamed History Museum (808 W. Washington St., 574-235-9664). The facility holds the official repository for the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, made famous in A League of Their Own. The collection “Polished in Public, Fierce on the Field” includes uniforms, equipment, scrapbooks, and other artifacts from the league’s 1940s era. On August 7, former players will convene to offer autographs and photo ops.

While you’re there, you’ll want to go to a Notre Dame football game to watch the school’s “Oldest Band in the Land,” formed in 1846 and led onto the field by the Irish Guard precision marchers. Home contests sell out, but the opposing team often returns tickets as game day approaches, so check with the box office. You can also experience the Fighting Irish’s storied culture on campus. Take a photo by the “Touchdown Jesus” mural at the Hesburgh Library, and join the blue-and-gold throngs praying for a win at the stunning Basilica of the Sacred Heart (1 Holy Cross Dr.) or the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, just behind the church. The Basilica is home to North America’s oldest carillon (a type of bell tower, like the one at Butler).

To see nature at the top of its game, head an hour west along I-80 to Indiana Dunes State Park (1600 N. 25 East, Chesterton, 219-926-1952). On the evening of August 8, visitors can take in the annual Perseid meteor shower from the shoreline. There’s even an organized sleepover—the one night of the year you can camp out on the beach without being accused of vagrancy.­

South Bend History Museum
South Bend History Museum

Courtesy South Bend Mishawaka CVB

Drive time: 2.5 hours

Stay: The cozy and classy Morris Inn is considered the “living room of Notre Dame” (from $179; 1399 N. Notre Dame Ave., 574-631-2000).

See: Presidential carriages at the Studebaker National Museum (201 Chapin St., 574-235-9714).

Eat: Newspaper-wrapped fish and chips at Fiddler’s Hearth Public House (127 N. Main St., 574-232-2853).

Info: visitsouthbend.com

This article appeared in the August 2015 issue.

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