Local Natural Sites to See

Here are just a few of the local places to get off campus and spend some time outside. Many of these sites have activities and events year-round, such as ice skating in the winter and hiking in the spring and fall. It’s always a great time to explore!

Howard Park 

As South Bend’s first and oldest park, Howard Park is a convenient place to get off campus and enjoy the outdoors for a few hours. Take a walk along the St. Joseph River, or grab a bite to eat at the recently opened Howard Park Public House (outdoor seating available). The park also organizes group events, such as zumba classes, yoga, and ice skating in the winter. Check out their website for the schedule. https://visithowardpark.com/ 

Rum Village Park & Nature Center

Rum Village is located near the south side of South Bend. The park contains 160 acres of woodlands, hiking and mountain biking trails, and picnic areas, and the nature center can show you all kinds of plant and animal life from northern Indiana. It’s a beautiful place for a hike. For those feeling adventurous, the park also hosts an aerial ropes course, Edge Adventures. The ropes course is situated through treetop trails ranging from 16-60 feet in the air. Participants choose their own self-guided course and engage in a combination of obstacles and zip lines as they maneuver their way through different trails with a progressive degree of challenges.

Fernwood Botanical Garden

Located in Niles, Michigan along the St. Joseph River, Fernwood Botanical Garden contains at least 10 different ecosystems. Walk through a reconstructed prairie, an arboretum, an herb garden, and other gardens and spaces for all nature-lovers.

Potato Creek State Park

This state park is only 12 miles from South Bend, and features a wide variety of outdoor attractions and activities year-round. Potato Creek is well-known for its hiking trails and camping facilities, but there are also playgrounds, a fishing pier, and ice skating and skiing in the colder months. 

Lydick Bog

Lydick Bog is a dedicated Indiana state nature preserve located in South Bend, and protects one of the last remaining sphagnum bog habitats in Indiana. Many interesting plant species characteristic of bogs have been identified, including winterberry, tamarack, large cranberry, and carnivorous species like round-leaved sundew and pitcher plants. Other wetland types here include marsh, a large riparian corridor, and several kettle hole wetlands – glacier-carved depressions that collect water from the surrounding hills.

Indiana Dunes National Park

Over 2,000 acres of beautiful, beachy landscape await the curious visitor to Indiana Dunes State Park. The largest and oldest sand dunes formed over thousands of years, and provide habitat for a wide variety of Indiana’s plants and animals.