You can scarcely speak of South Bend, Indiana, without immediately mentioning that it is home of the highly respected University of Notre Dame. The city and campus are synonymous, and that’s just fine with the staff of Visit South Bend Mishawaka, the local convention and visitors bureau.
“When it comes to destinations, Notre Dame, in general, is our calling card,” said executive director Rob DeCleene. “It’s internationally known and we’re fortunate to have such a close association. Besides Notre Dame, we’re home to four other colleges, and they too have significant offerings.” DeCleene said South Bend is considered the cultural, arts, museum and dining center of the region.
South Bend, and its neighboring city, Mishawaka, are located in St. Joseph County in North Central Indiana, 10 miles from the Michigan border. Locals say you can’t even tell when you cross the city limits of the two cities. The county’s population is 265,000.
South Bend and Mishawaka boast a strategic location in the Midwest and enjoy the convenience of cross-country interstates 80 and 90. The area is about 90 miles east of Chicago, part of a triangle that includes the Windy City, Indianapolis and Detroit.
South Bend International Airport, the second largest in Indiana, services the region. But many visitors also take the South Shore Line, an electric interurban commuter railroad operating between the airport in South Bend and downtown Chicago.
“With the interstate and airport, we have proximity to a nice chunk of the population,” said DeCleene.
South Bend’s primary convention center in the downtown area will host the Small Market Meetings Conference in 2017. There are also fine conference centers at Notre Dame and at its neighbor across the street, Saint Mary’s College.
Where to Meet
The Downtown South Bend Convention District is anchored by the Century Center, which has 75,000 square feet of meeting space, two theaters and outdoor space. Located along the rapids of the St. Joseph River, it’s quite scenic, and the center’s 23-foot glass walls overlook the water. The Morris Performing Arts Center, built in 1922, is a 2,500-seat, fully-restored grand theater. The Palais Royale Ballroom is part of the Morris complex and is a premier banquet and event center.
The Notre Dame Conference Center has 20,000 square feet of meeting space in a dozen conference rooms. The auditorium seats 375 and even has equipment to translate 14 foreign languages simultaneously.
Saint Mary’s College has the Gillespie Conference and Special Events Center, with 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.