What It's Like Living In Notre Dame Country

What It's Like Living In Notre Dame Country

Being born and raised in South Bend, Indiana, Notre Dame has always been a part of my life. When I was in elementary school we lived only a few blocks from the University campus. I remember walking to campus on game days and hearing the marching band practicing from my window. Notre Dame is know for it's rich traditions and famous football team.

This is what it is like to live in South Bend, Indiana AKA Notre Dame Country

Hometown Loyalty
In South Bend, you will find the locals who dislike Notre Dame and those who are the most die-hard fans around. There's not very much grey area. 

Most of the people who grew up in the town are big fans. They know the best spots to hit on game day, where everything is on campus, and how to set up a killer tailgate. These loyal fans are usually tailgating at every home game and debate over the college football rankings every Monday.

 Everyone in my family had a Notre Dame onesie gifted to them before they were born. We were the ones who were dipped into pot of the blue and gold confetti on our birthdays. (Figuratively of course). 

Notre Dame Traditions
Every city, town, and yes even school, has their own set of traditions. They may seem strange to outsiders, but for those who grow up in it, without those traditions life would be a little more boring. Traditions tie us to the places we come from and for visitors who know the traditions can have a far better visit and feel more connected to a place. Notre Dame is no exception to this rule.

The Leprechaun – Every team needs a mascot. Most mascots consist of a sweaty person in an enormous animal outfit attempting to rile up the crowd. Notre Dame has wisely done away with the standard mascot in favor of something far less gaudy. Each year one lucky student becomes the leprechaun dressed in green and leading all the cheers.

The Band – Most college football teams have a band, however most bands are not part of any traditions. Notre Dame involves the band in not only the half time show, but also the pregame show in which the final formation spells out the word, “Irish.” They also end each game by playing the alma mater, “Notre Dame Our Mother.

Mass Before the Game – In the world of today religion is often diminished by society, yet at Notre Dame it is alive in at least one tradition. Each Saturday before the game the team can be seen at a pre-game mass across from the school at Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Standing Room Only – Sitting through the game is overrated in Notre Dame. It is tradition for all students to stand for the duration of the game and dance an Irish jig any time they hear the band play, “Ranks of Mallow.” For every touchdown, students and die-hard fans do push-ups on top of the crowd. 

Unique Features of South Bend, Indiana

Center of Arts – As with most cities, South Bend features activities for the artsy type in all of us. However South Bend is a city that looks to embrace its arts and cultural citizens by housing both the largest and the oldest theaters in the state. The oldest being the Morris Performing Arts Center built in 1922 and the largest theater being The South Bend Civic Theater. 

Old Fashioned Venues – Within the city there are multiple historic homes and buildings. These venues are great tourist attractions and are often top spots for weddings and receptions. Some of the historic buildings include the Oliver Mansion, The Beiger Mansion, The State Theater, and Tippecanoe Place.

Sports Mecca – Everyone knows that a great time can be had watching a game at Notre Dame, however for many people watching is simply not enough. South Bend is stocked full of sports activities for the entire family. They offer great golf as well as cross country skiing, but the number one reason this city is a sports mecca is because you do not even have to leave the city to enjoy the great outdoors. Within a short driving distance there are multiple parks with hiking trails, mountain biking trails, Geocaches, snow tubing, fishing and downhill skiing. 
Water sports are by far one of the largest growing sports on the planet. In most places you have to travel usually to remote area to enjoy water rafting and kayaking right in the middle of it all. East Race Waterway flows right through downtown South Bend making fantastic watersports accessible to everyone.

Fine Dining – One of the main draws to any city is their ability feed their visitors. Run of the mill restaurants simply do not cut it in South Bend. For true elegance in fine dining in style the city has some great places including Tippecanoe Place.  The history of this restored mansion from 1888 will bring you back to a time where dining was not merely about having a great meal, but to see and be seen.

Tips for Visiting South Bend / Notre Dame

Visiting a new city is an exciting event. You never know what is around the next corner and everything you encounter offers a new experience. However, when visiting a town that is known for a particular team it is best to know a few things. One of the most important aspects of visiting is to know the colors of the team as well as the colors of the rival team. Notre Dame is gold and blue. Their main rival is USC. Their colors are gold and red.

Also it is important to track the team’s home games should you want to visit. Simply showing up and expecting a hotel on a home game will leave you residing in your car. Hotels book fast for home games and special school events so book early or schedule your trip around these events. A good option is AirBnb if you are traveling with a group. Towns and cities surrounding South Bend include Granger, Mishawaka, and Elkhart. It's a great idea to look into lodging in one of these cities for more options and possibly less expensive rooms.