Mega-Find: Mini-Golf

Did you know that when you enjoy a tasty DQ treat at the State Line Dairy Queen, it includes a free round of miniature golf at their course conveniently located right behind the restaurant??! Me neither! But now you do.

If you would like to do something quick, fun and cheap…here’s your fix – for the young and the old!

Just hand the cashier your drivers license after ordering and she will hand you clubs and balls. Easy peasy.

We just found our new favorite spot. Ice cream & Mini Golf, a two-for-one deal. You can’t beat that!



Watermark Brewing Company & a Southwest Michigan Beer Tour

img_1024-2Watermark Brewing Company is one of the newest additions to the region’s craft beer scene and it’s pretty awesome. Located in downtown Stevensville, MI, about a 45 minute drive north of South Bend, it may be my new favorite place to hang out and drink a beer. It has a modern industrial vibe, the folks who work there are super friendly, and the beer is creative and tasty. It also has a huge outdoor beer garden with fire pits, bistro lights and comfy patio furniture, which will be great in the warmer months. I love the ambiance, and wish it was closer to South Bend!

My friend Colleen and I ordered two flights so we could try out most of the beer on their menu. I really loved the Professor Botanicus Peanut Butter IPA. I’m not a huge IPA fan, but this was more like a peanut butter stout. We also enjoyed trying the saisons, Lemon Drop Ugly Face and Marzell Dunkelweizen.


Watermark’s Patio in the winter

The craft beer scene has exploded in Southwest Michigan recently, and you can now make a full day trip just out of beer tasting. I haven’t yet tried all of the locations below, but I’ve heard great things about many of them. Here are some of the other breweries in the area to add to your Southwest Michigan Craft Beer Tour:

* Breweries I’ve visited and can tell you they’re good.

If you take an epic beer tour, start with brunch at the Mason Jar Cafe in Benton Harbor. You can have lunch while sampling beer at Greenbush or Round Barn Public House. Head to Cafe Guilistan, Wheatberry or Staymaker for dinner.



Beer at Greenbush

The History Museum (featuring Downton Abbey costumes!)


Copshaholm (Image courtesy of History Museum website)

Happy Holidays, Benders! If you’re looking for a fun and informative way to spend a day off between Christmas and New Year’s,  West Washington Street is one of South Bend’s many gems and, in my opinion, the J.D. Oliver House is the Crown Jewel. The J.D. Oliver mansion, also known as Copshaholm, is part of the South Bend History Museum complex, located at the corner of Washington and Chapin.

As the name suggests, the History Museum focuses on the history of South Bend and includes a variety of photos and galleries that showcase historical artifacts from the city as well as photos of the city’s decline and development. Currently, the museum is hosting a special exhibit of costumes from the BBC series Downton Abbey -“Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times.” If you have any interest in historical clothing, or are a fan of the show, this exhibit shouldn’t be missed. The costumes are stunning.

fullsizeoutput_12e9Copshaholm is a 38-room Romanesque Queen Anne mansion once owned by J.D. Oliver, the president of Oliver Chilled Plow Works, and his family. The home was built from 1895-1896 by famous New York Architect Alonso Rich. What makes the home unique is that the family donated all the original furnishings and belongings with the home. Even the family’s safe was filled with silver upon donation. The home tour transports visitors back in time to when the Oliver’s lived there. Right now, the mansion is decorated with some original clothing from the time period to complement the Downton Abbey exhibit.

Three tours of Copshaholm are offered Monday-Saturday at 11 am, 1 pm and 2 pm. On Sunday the tours are offered at 1 pm and 2:30 pm. The tours last about two hours, and also include a visit to the Worker’s Home and the Carriage House. Since space on the tours is limited, I would highly recommend calling in advance of your visit to make a reservation for the home tour. The other exhibits don’t require a reservation.

The History Museum is connected to the Studebaker National Museum, so you can choose to visit one or both museums. The History Museum is $14 for adults, and includes the tour of Copshaholm as well as the special exhibit. If you’d like to visit the Studebaker National Museum as well, it’s only $4 more.

Looking for a full day of fun?

For a full day of South Bend history tour fun, grab brunch, lunch or dinner at Tippecanoe Place, located in the former Studebaker mansion, stroll the West Washington Neighborhood, tour the History Museum and the connecting Studebaker National Museum and then head over to the Civil Rights Heritage Center. Currently, Tippecanoe Place is hosting themed Downton Abbey lunches and teas on certain days. Check their website for the schedule and pricing.


Erasmus Books

On Saturday, my friend Kris was in town from Syracuse.  He did some of his own research on South Bend before arriving, and asked if we could go to a cool used book store called Erasmus.  I’d never been — honestly I had no idea where it was. But I am always game for adventure.  After pulling it up on Google maps, I realized it is right down the street from my house…

Erasmus Books is a nondescript house on East Wayne Street in Sunnymede.  Inside IMG_5065.JPGthere are miles of well-curated used books on narrow shelves.  We lingered in the philosophy section, where Kris stocked up on some rare finds.  They have a great selection and most of the books were in fantastic shape. Discovering Erasmus is a bit like discovering South Bend’s secret library.

Erasmus takes cash or check, and it has a laid back, family-run vibe.  Worth tracking down for some shelf-wandering and personal library development.


‘Tis the Season…

‘Tis the season for holiday fun. There are a variety of events coming up in and around downtown South Bend within the coming weeks where you’ll be able to celebrate the season (and buy some Christmas presents). Here are a few ideas to get you in the holiday spirit:

  • The theme of this month’s First Friday in South Bend, which will take place on

    Christmas decor at Tippecanoe Place

    December 2, is Downtown for the Holidays and the city and area shops will have a plethora of Christmas-themed activities lined up for the whole family, including the arrival of Santa, a tree lighting and sleigh rides. A full lineup of activities can be found on their website.

  • St. Joseph will Light Up the Bluff with Christmas lights this Friday, December 2, at 6:30 p.m.
  • The Howard Park Ice Rink will be the home of a Holiday Bazaar for the next three Saturdays (Dec 3, 10, and 17). Vendors will sell crafts and gifts.
  • Make South Bend is hosting an Urban Artisan Market this Friday and Saturday (December 2 & 3) at the J.C. Lauber Building at 504 E LaSalle in South Bend. Friday is a preview; Saturday is the full event featuring music, coffee and a variety of local artisans. If you’re in need of holiday gifts, you could also sign up for one of Make South Bend’s many craft classes and make homemade Christmas presents.
  • St. Joseph’s annual Reindog Holiday Parade is this Saturday from 4-5 p.m., beginning at Elm and State Streets in downtown St. Joe. Where else can you watch Santa being ushered in on his sleigh by dogs dressed up as reindeer? Seriously, it’s the greatest. If you want your dog to participate, judging for the costume contest will take place from 2:30-3:45 pm.
  • On Sunday, December 4, Downtown South Bend will be hosting its annual Historic Holiday Walking Tour from 1-5 p.m., where you’ll be able to explore the West Washington National Historic District. The best part about this tour is that you can see the interiors of many historic homes and businesses that typically aren’t open to the public. I went on this tour last year and highly recommend it. Read about last year’s tour here.
  • 5cab31ec-e8c5-43ee-8c4f-a48853186cf7

    A random pic of my dog (although the sweater was purchased at the Reindog Parade)

    The Morris Performing Arts Center will be hosting the Nutcracker Ballet on December 10 and 11.

  • Enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner at Tippecanoe Place and see the beautiful Christmas decorations throughout the former Studebaker Mansion.
  • The Toboggan Runs at Pokagon State Park are officially open and they’re AWESOME (and refrigerated so you don’t have to worry about there not being any snow). The hour and 15 minute drive to Angola is definitely worth it.
  • There’s an ice skating rink at University Park Mall this year. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own skates if possible. If not, there will be a limited number of skates available to borrow for free.
  • You can also take the South Shore Line to Chicago to see the lights on Michigan Avenue, visit Christkindlmarket, and see the giant Christmas tree at Macy’s on State Street.



Arabesk Palace

Arabesk Palace

Kufta Kebab

Kufta Kebab and Shawarma

A Middle Eastern restaurant, hookah bar, and nightclub recently opened on Ironwood Road in South Bend. Naturally, Meg, my husband Bob, and I had to check it out. Arabesk Palace is a restaurant and bar during the week. It transforms into a nightclub with either a live DJ or musician (and belly dancers!) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The interior of Arabesk Palace is impressive. The entire place is covered in Moroccan tiles and Middle Eastern light fixtures hang from the tall ceilings. On one side of the restaurant there’s a stage with a large area for dancing. The other side has tables, couches, and a bar.

We went on a Tuesday night for dinner and enjoyed a giant feast.  Our waiter brought us a lengthy cocktail menu and a beer binder, which included descriptions for their huge beer selection. I ordered a Moroccan Mule – a twist on the classic Moscow Mule – which was yummy.

For dinner, we started with a sampling of dips and pita, falafel and the wings entrée (which we ate as an appetizer). Everything was delicious. Marinated in olive oil, lemon and garlic, the wings were extremely juicy and cooked to perfection. I’m usually not a fan of wings, but these were so good I’d definitely order them again. The side of buffalo sauce was completely unnecessary since they were already so flavorful. After the appetizers, we moved on to our main courses. I had the Kufta Kebab, Meg had the Shish Kebab, and Bob had Shawarma. The portions were huge and all of the entrees were very good. By the end of dinner, we pretty much had to be rolled out of the place we ate so much.

img_0558As I mentioned above, Arabesk Palace turns into a nightclub with live entertainment and special events on the weekends. This Friday, there will be a live musician and belly dancing show beginning at 10 pm. On Saturday, they’re hosting a masquerade ball. If you like to dance, you should definitely add this place to your list for a classy nightclub experience. Check their Facebook page for information about upcoming events and covers.

Arabesk Palace is always 21 and over, so don’t bring the kids. It’s located at 1701 North Ironwood Drive, next to Cre-Asian.



The most-attended public art event on the planet, ArtPrize, takes place only two hours north of South Bend. More than 170 venues – including museums, parks, restaurants, hotels, parking lots and bars – located within three square miles in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, open up their doors to the public to display nearly 1,500 pieces of artwork. Artwork can take the form of a simple photograph to a huge art installation spanning a bridge across the river. This is the last week of ArtPrize Eight. It began on September 14 and will end this weekend, October 9.

Why do so many artists want to participate in ArtPrize? Two winners,  which are chosen by public vote and a jury of experts, win grand prizes of $200,000 each. Eight other winners will receive smaller awards. Prizes total $500,000.

ArtPrize is a great way to explore the city of Grand Rapids on foot, while viewing some amazing pieces of artwork. So how do you tackle an event like this? Before you go, I’d suggest doing your research. What are some of the most popular exhibitions? What do you want to see? What venues are hosting the most artwork? You can do the majority of this planning on the ArtPrize website. Since it’s the last week of the event, the first round of voting has already occurred and the top twenty pieces have already been announced, which makes it a bit easier to plan what to see. Once you arrive in Grand Rapids, grab a map at one of ArtPrize’s eight neighborhood HUBs or the main headquarters/HUB, located at 41 Sheldon Boulevard.

As you may know, Grand Rapids has been voted best craft beer city in the United States multiple times, so while you’re there, stop by one of the many delicious breweries or restaurants featuring great beers, such as Founders Brewery, Brewery VivantThe Green Well or Hop Cat.

Here’s a video of last year’s event so you can get a sense of the fun:

ArtPrize Seven from ArtPrize on Vimeo.

Here are a few of my photos from a few years back:

In my opinion, ArtPrize is one of the greatest public art events in the country, which is probably why The New York Times included it in its list of 52 Places to Go in 2016. Take advantage of living so close and head up there this weekend!


Zoo Brew

What’s better than beer and Takins?

One of the best events of the year is taking place in South Bend tonight – Zoo Brew! Zoo Brew is an annual fundraiser for the Potawatomi Zoo. This year’s event will feature thirty-four craft breweries, primarily from the Midwest Region. The event is all you can drink and vendors are located through the zoo. As you wander from exhibit to exhibit looking at the animals, you can fill up your four-ounce commemorative glass with samples of delicious craft beers. It’s a great event to enjoy with your friends.

In addition to beer, there will also be food samples and live music. The event will take place tonight, October 1, from 7-10 pm. I would recommend getting there when it opens to beat some of the lines. It typically sells out, so be sure to buy tickets in advance. Tickets are $40 for non-members. 


Notre Dame Game Day

Football season has begun! Whether we like it or not, Notre Dame football is a huge part of the local community. Today marks the first home game of the season, with Notre Dame taking on Nevada at 3:30 pm at Notre Dame Stadium. Streets are blocked off, crowds have ascended on the town, tailgating is underway, people are already starting to stumble down Angela Blvd., and the air has a certain electricity that’s only present on a football weekend. Game day is officially here.

For many of us, tailgating is an annual tradition. It’s a great way to meet up with friends for great food and drinks. Jane wrote about tailgating last fall, which you can read about here.

As locals, we sometimes forget about all of the fun and free activities that happen outside of the parking lots. The University of Notre Dame schedules a full weekend of activities on campus that are great to take family and visitors to, even if you don’t plan on going to a game.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Trumpets Under the Dome – Football weekends kick-off on campus with the Marching Band trumpets playing under the Golden Dome in the Main Building each Friday at 4 pm. Due to the acoustics in the building, the sound has an incredibly full quality and always attracts a large crowd. If you miss the Friday performance, there’s also a performance at 2:30 pm on Saturday.

Midnight Drummers Circle – At 11:59 p.m. on Friday night, the Drumline holds a drummer’s circle in front of the Main Building. While I’ve never been to this event, I’ve heard it’s a very cool experience.

Bagpipe Band Performance – I love bagpipes and the bagpipe band is great. Today’s performances will take place at 11:30 am and 1:15 pm on the front steps of the Main Building.

Cook Outs – Campus clubs host cook outs across campus as fundraisers. Between events grab a burger and chips from one of the cook-outs or visit the the Knights of Columbus’ booth for pork tenderloins.

Concert on the Steps – One of the biggest Game Day traditions is watching the Marching Band perform on the steps of Bond Hall at 2:00 pm on Saturday. If you’re not going to the game, this is a great way to see the Marching Band perform.

Inspection of the Guard – Immediately following the concert on the steps, the members of the Irish Guard prepare for the march out to the stadium by performing a very regimented uniform inspection. The concert, inspection of the guard, and march out are my favorite Saturday events to attend.

Marching Band March Out – The Marching Band, cheerleaders, and leprechaun lead a procession from  the steps of the Main Building to the stadium at 2:40 p.m.

For a full schedule of weekend events, visit

Go Irish!


West Side LOVE

by Jane

So, confession time. McK and I might have a serious, serious taco problem. We’re obsessed with great taco places, and finding the best place in South Bend.

Here’s a serious contender: Taqueria Chicago.

I tried this little family restaurant a couple of weeks ago, and it was SO, SO good! I got a carne asada taco and a carnitas taco. Sam had the Pastor and the Cesina tacos. All four were really great.


The carne asada was my favorite, the flavor reminded me of the carne asada made by my brother-in-law’s aunt Mary Karmen. She’s a legendary cook in Antonio’s family and this carne asada was almost as good as hers. The carnitas was also done really nicely, not too dry or crispy, as can easily happen when you fry pork. The cesina was something I’d never had anywhere else. It was good, kind of a pickled flavor to it, and the meat was tender and juicy. Sam ate the pastor so fast I didn’t even get to taste that one, so I’m guessing it was delicious! 😉

Chicago also serves bottles of homemade red or green hot sauce with your order, to go with the tacos. Both are spicier than the salsa. I really loved the red sauce because I like super spicy things, but the green also had a nice kick and was a perfect complement to the carnitas with a squeeze of lime.

This restaurant is pretty simple inside. They’re all about delicious food and great prices. There were lots of customers coming in for carry-out orders as well as dine in when we were there.

After tacos, we headed across the street to one of the best ice cream places in South Bend. La Rosita is newly renovated, and it’s amazing! I’ve never been in here without waiting in a long line of customers ordering fantastic treats. They have tons of ice cream flavors, ranging anywhere from typical chocolate and vanilla to more exotic creations like pine nut (surprisingly awesome), Mexican Hot Chocolate, or  coconut.

La Rosita also serves street food, fruit bars, sorbets, and Mexican treats.


My favorite thing  is a Chamoyada. It comes with frozen Mango, Strawberry, and Pineapple fruit and ice cream and sorbet, chamoy, and tajin. It’s sweet, sour, and spicy and so satisfying. There isn’t much better in the world than Chamoyada. (I kind of dream about it!)


The Chamoyada at La Rosita is my favorite summer treat.

At some point, I will also work up the courage to try the Vampiro—a Mango shaved ice with hot sauce and peppers, and a tamarind candy straw. Sounds amazing, and weird. I can’t wait to try it.

McK and I are talking about getting together for a crazy all-day taco tour of South Bend, and writing about it on the blog as our October Bender, so look for that in the future! It’s sure to be an adventure!