Summer in South Bend: The End of Summer

This summer blog series began by arguing that leisure is an indispensable part of living a human life. Now, the school-year is upon us, when we’ll find ourselves hemmed in by a perpetually growing list of obligations, always haunted by the sense that we should be doing more. The more we accomplish, the longer our resumes; the longer our resumes, the better our job prospects. We are constantly looking to the next step in our careers, the next project, the next thing to do. Meanwhile, our work becomes toil as we do it more and more for the sake of what we’d rather be doing instead.

Leisure is different than toil. Toil labors for the future; leisure awakens us to the present. Leisure is about delight and contemplation, about thanksgiving and rejoicing. When we enjoy something, it directs our gaze to what is present, toward our companions and neighbors, to the things and events unfolding before us. How rarely do we rest like this, receiving what exists as a gift!

The goodness of the world, which we recognize in leisure, is indeed a gift, for nothing good exists of necessity. We may need food, but food does not have to be delicious. Every person, both friend and neighbor, exists as we know them in large part due to a contingent series of choices made by them and by other people. Parks, books, movies, bicycles, restaurants, beaches, board games, and basketballs: none of them had to be. Nudge our Earth a little closer to the Sun, tilt its axis a smidgen, make a change ever so slight in the chaotic discs of rock and gas that formed our solar system, and none of them would exist. Nothing in the universe is so unlikely as our living world and the people within it.

Yet there they are before us, all the things we enjoy and all the people we love. Against all odds, some deep root within the world keeps springing up, bearing delightful and nourishing fruit. Despite the wickedness of our bedraggled human race, the sun and stars still shine, rain falls on the ground and on our faces, and the earth brings forth our food. Exploited, ignored, cursed, our world still feeds us in body and in soul.

Only love could be this generous, giving good things without measure to both the deserving and the undeserving. Love is the living energy that hums and crackles in the fabric of the cosmos. It is the mover of what moves, the sower of what blooms, the being of what is. Love makes the world. God poured forth the ever-given light, and having made all that exists, he called it good. He loved the world.

Leisure is also, in the end, about love. When we set aside our anxious and busy thoughts to look around, to enjoy what exists, and to have compassion on our neighbors, we affirm those words of God. We also call the world good. We give thanks, and we learn, once more, to love.

Summer in South Bend: The Big City

The perks of living in South Bend are many, and one is our proximity to the city of Chicago. One of the biggest cities in the United States, Chicago has something for everyone: museums, theaters, city parks, restaurants, and all manner of opportunity for adventure. If you are looking for food, music, or a just a stroll around the bustling downtown, the city is only a couple of hours away.

Getting to Chicago

The first step is to get to the city, a task not as easy as it may seem. The time it takes to travel to downtown Chicago by car from South Bend can vary from a low of 1 hour and 45 minutes to a high of 3 hours, depending on the time of day and the amount of traffic you encounter. If possible, you will want to avoid entering or leaving the city during the morning and afternoon rush hours, though you could hit traffic at just about any time of day. There are two major routes to Chicago from South Bend: the I-90/I-80 toll road and the I-94 interstate. Taking the toll road may save you some time, though probably not very much, and it will cost you a few dollars. Usually, taking the toll road is a better option for those who need to travel through the city to another destination.

If you are driving to the city, you’ll also need to locate a place to park. Be prepared to pay at least a few dollars though, since free parking is non-existent in downtown and other tourist-heavy areas. While there are numerous parking lots and garages near to many of the main attractions, some can be quite expensive. The best way to find an affordable and conveniently located parking spot is to use an app or website ahead of time (SpotHero and Parkwhiz are two popular options), so that you know where you are going and what you’ll be paying to park.

If you would rather avoid the headache of negotiating potentially heavy traffic and finding a spot to park, you can also take public transit from South Bend to Chicago. The most cost-effective and convenient option is the South Shore Line, an electric commuter train that runs from the South Bend airport all the way to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. The trip takes between one and two hours, and a one-way ticket will cost you $13.50 (less if you plan to get off before Millennium Park). At many stations in the city, you will be able to make an easy transfer to a bus or to the metro. Given that the cost of parking downtown for a whole day can easily exceed $20, taking the train is not a bad option. By transferring to the metro from the Van Buren or Millennium Park stations, you can also get to either of Chicago’s major airports. (If you are just looking for transportation to the airport, you might also consider the Airport Super Saver bus service, which runs at all hours from South Bend to both of Chicago’s major airports)

Once you have made it into the big city, getting around is not difficult. You can always drive in the city, though traffic and Chicago drivers can make things a little crazy. On the other hand, downtown Chicago is very walkable, and for locations in other neighborhoods, you can also take a bus or the metro. Check out current schedules, routes, and fares on the Chicago Transit Authority’s website. Various bike rental services are also available, including Divvy, the city’s official bike rental system. They have numerous docking stations throughout the city where you can rent a bike for 30 minutes at a time with your credit card, or you can buy a day pass online before you go.

Things to Do

There is no end of things to do in Chicago, and any claim to an exhaustive list would be spurious. Below are a few suggestions for major attractions, but if you look around, you will be able to find just about anything you could want to do.

Museums and Zoos

Museum of Science and Industry

Field Museum

Adler Planetarium

Children’s Museum (free admission Thursday evenings, first Sundays)

Chicago History Museum

Shedd Aquarium

Lincoln Park Zoo (free admission)

Since tickets to these museums and to the Shedd’s Aquarium can be expensive, and since only the Field Museum offers student tickets, the most cost-efficient way to see multiple museums is to purchase a CityPASS (about $100 for adults), which gives you admission to five attractions in the city over the course of nine days, often with add-ons included. The pass includes admission to Shedd’s Aquarium, the Field Museum, the Chicago Skydeck, and your choice of either the Planetarium or the Art Institute and either 360 Chicago or the Museum of Science and Industry.

Arts and Culture

The Art Institute of Chicago (small discount for students)

The Newberry Research Library

Lyric Opera of Chicago ($20 student tickets, discounts for ages 21-45, rush tickets)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra ($15 student tickets)

Chicago Shakespeare Theater ($20 tickets for students and young professionals)

The Chicago Theatre

Food

Chicago, like every big city, has great food. Although the city is best known for deep-dish pizza (with Lou Malnati’s, Giordano’s, Pequod’s, and others all contending for the title of best) and hot dogs, you can find any other type of food imaginable if you are willing to look for it. For example, you might check out Cafe Ba-ba-reeba! for tapas or visit one of several Glazed & Infused locations for specialty donuts. If you are into coffeehouses, try Big Shoulders or The Wormhole. Pubs, cocktail lounges, and bars abound, as do restaurants serving Mexican, Korean, BBQ, Mexican-Korean BBQ, and foods that don’t belong to any category at all.  With dozens of “best of” lists available from far more knowledgeable sources, providing yet another list here would be a futile exercise at best.

Other things to do

Check out one of the numerous independent bookstores in the city, go to a Cubs or White Sox game, walk along the lake-shore, visit some of the city’s many neighborhoods, take an architecture tour, do a Big City Scavenger Hunt, or check out one of the city’s many bars and pubs, where you can hear the blues, watch some improv, or get a tropical tiki cocktail. In short, you’re not going to run out of things to do while visiting the big city of Chicago.

Summer in South Bend: To the Library!

One of the great achievements of American culture is, undoubtedly, the public library. Many of us have childhood memories of checking out books from our own local library (or bookmobile!), picking out a video to watch at home, or participating in a summer reading challenge. When I was growing up, libraries still stamped due dates on book covers, audio-books were called “books on tape,” and only the morally corrupt didn’t rewind their movies before returning them. These days, the American tradition of public libraries is still strong, though they now offer the use of computers, Wi-Fi, DVDs, and even online streaming. Libraries still serve as a shared space in which worlds of knowledge and culture are open to all who come in the door, where anyone with a card can enjoy a small space of quiet delight in something for its own sake.

St. Joseph County Public Libraries

South Bend’s public library fully lives up to this great tradition. Ranked in the top ten libraries in the nation for medium-sized towns, the St. Joseph County Public Library is the product of a great deal of care and investment on the part of the community. There are ten branches throughout St. Joseph County, eight of which are in the city of South Bend, including the Main Library downtown (304 S. Main Street). All of the locations have numerous books and other materials, but the Main Library is the branch with the most extensive collection. Here, there are three floors of books and magazines of all sorts, housed in a quiet and pleasant facility with plenty of space for sitting and a large room devoted to children’s books, where you can also check out toys and games.

Movies and Videos

You’ll find, however, that books are only the beginning of this library’s resources. On the third floor of the Main Library, there is a collection of audio-books, movies, and video games, as well as a small sitting area with a television for viewing DVDs. The collection of movies at this library is impressive: there are numerous copies of most new releases and a plenitude of movies from all eras of cinema. All of these can be checked out for only 50 cents a day, a combination of price and selection that cannot be beat by any rental service in town (or online, for that matter!). Many films and videos of all genres are also freely available for check-out via online streaming.

Museum and Park Passes

But that’s not all. The library also has passes available for check-out that provide free admission to local museums, such as the Studebaker National Museum, the Oliver Mansion and History Museum, and the Wellfield Botanical Gardens in Elkhart. These passes can be checked out for free for a week at a time. Additionally, you can check out (also for a week) an Indiana State Parks Pass, which will waive the entry fee at all Indiana state parks, including the nearby Potato Creek State Park and Indiana Dunes State Park.

Audio-Visual Equipment

At the Main Library, teenagers and adults over the age of 14 can also utilize Studio 304, where all manner of equipment for print, audio, and video projects is available, including recording rooms, printers and scanners, an assortment of high-tech cameras, and computers with design software. For 10 cents per gram, you can even use the library’s own 3-D printer.

Events

As if all this were not enough, the library also hosts exhibits and events for all ages, including LEGO building sessions, story-times and activities for children and toddlers, monthly game tournaments for teens and adults, a summer reading challenge for all ages, and various other free events. In August, for instance, they will have an exhibit on Alexander Hamilton, an Intro to Tea, and a viewing party for the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21. The library also has many online resources and databases, including access to Consumer Reports online, guides to home improvement and legal forms, and resources for researching local history and family ancestry. Many of these can be accessed at home through a library account and all can be used on one of the many library computers, laptops, and iPads available for check-out.

How to Get a Card

All of this is made available free of cost to those with a library card. Notre Dame students can get their own library card at the Hesburgh Library circulation desk and can have books from the public library delivered there for pick-up. Family members will need to visit one of the St. Joseph Public Library locations in order to receive their cards. Note that, at the public library, you will need to present a photo ID and proof of residency in St. Joseph County. But where else can you get all this for free?

All of which only confirms what we were taught years ago:

Summer in South Bend: Sun, Water, and Sand

If you are looking for a way to escape the heat of summer without shutting yourself indoors, South Bend and the surrounding area have a number of beaches and pools where you can go to enjoy the sun (while it lasts!) and cool off in the water. Here are a few of the options:

Lake Michigan

The beach might not be the first destination that comes to mind when looking for things to do near South Bend, but Notre Dame sits less than an hour away from the shores of Lake Michigan. Complete with soft sand, rolling waves, mild water, and warm sun, it’s almost as good as a trip to the ocean itself! The lake shore can be accessed at several locations for a small fee or for free.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Forty-five minutes west of South Bend, the National Lakeshore has several pleasant beaches. The most popular is West Beach, which has showers, restrooms, lockers, lifeguards, and a large parking lot that only fills up on the busiest days. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there is a $6 parking fee per vehicle. Further east, you can choose between Porter Beach, Kemil Beach, and Lake View Beach, all of which have restrooms and all of which can be accessed for free. Note that the latter beaches have smaller parking lots, however, so plan to arrive earlier in the day before they fill up.

Finally, if you are willing to hike a few miles to get to an isolated beach, the Cowles Bog Trail leads to a stretch of Lake Michigan with a beach just as soft and pleasant as the others, but without the crowds. But don’t expect a relaxing stroll!

Indiana Dunes State Park

For the standard Indiana state park entrance fee ($7 for in-state vehicles; $9 for out-of-state), you can access the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park, nestled within the National Lakeshore. There is a parking lot at the beach, a bath house, lifeguards, and a nearby creek. Both the National Lakeshore and the State Park are also excellent spots for hiking, fishing, biking, camping, and birding, and they feature a unique terrain of sand dunes, bogs, and woodland. See my earlier post on Getting Outdoors for more ideas in this vein.

Warren Dunes State Park (Michigan)

To the north, in the state of Michigan, there are a few state parks along the lakeshore. One of them is Warren Dunes, with three miles of beach and a number of hiking trails. With plenty of parking, restrooms, and a bathhouse available, Warren Dunes is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon. Daily park passes for Michigan state parks are $9 for those from out-of-state.

Silver Beach Park (St. Joseph, MI)

Silver Beach, popular among beach-goers, is located in the charming lakeside town of St. Joseph, Michigan, just over half an hour northwest of South Bend. The beach is staffed with lifeguards and there are showers, a playground, picnic areas, beach volleyball courts, a carousel, and boat rentals nearby. While you are in town, you can visit the numerous shops, restaurants, and parks in downtown St. Joseph, or take a stroll on the piers or through one of the town’s many beautiful neighborhoods.

Small Lakes, Pools, and Water Playgrounds

Soldiers Memorial Park Beach (La Porte, IN)

Those seeking to avoid the large numbers of beach-goers on the shores of Lake Michigan might consider visiting Soldiers Park in La Porte, Indiana, home to a small beach on Stone Lake. This beach has a bath house, picnic areas, and volleyball courts. The lake is also host to an annual power-boat racing competition, and the town features a number of other parks, as well as bike trails, restaurants, and a couple of small museums.

Rockne Memorial and St. Joseph Beach (Notre Dame)

Not to be forgotten are two facilities on Notre Dame’s own campus! The first is the beach on St. Joseph Lake, where you can get in the water, get some sun, and rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, or paddleboard. Indoors, at Rockne Memorial, there is a 25-yard swimming pool, open to students and to their families. Check the RecSports website for the latest pool and beach hours, including family hours at Rockne Memorial.

Potawatomi Park Pool and Kennedy Water Playground (South Bend)

Next to the Potawatomi Zoo, Potawatomi City Park, in addition to a splash-pad and a playground, contains an outdoor pool, featuring a water slide and a wading pool for small children. Children up to two years old get in for free, older kids for $4, and adults (18 or over) for $5.

The water playground in Kennedy Park, with slides, swings, and plenty of water, is designed for children to be able to play outdoors and get wet without having to swim. Children up to 3 get in for free, kids up to 10 for $4, and older children for $5. On Sundays, admission is reduced to $2. For those who plan on frequenting either location, a reward card is available that waives the entry fee for every sixth paid entry into either the Potawatomi Pool or the Kennedy Water Playground.

The Kroc Community Center (South Bend)

The Kroc Center, run by the Salvation Army, is home to a variety of athletic and community activities. One of these is an indoor pool area with a water-slide, a lazy river, and a splash pad for small children. The Center also offers swimming lessons, lifeguard certification, fitness classes, and a swim club for adults. In order to use the pool, you must either purchase one of the Center’s several membership options for individuals and families or pay for a day pass. A membership will also give you admission into any other Kroc Center in the nation. For those in financial need, scholarships are available to cover or defray the cost of memberships or youth camps.

East Race Waterway (South Bend)

Finally, South Bend is home to an artificial white water rapids on the St. Joseph River near downtown. Open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, the Waterway offers various raft sizes for rent and allows kayak owners to take their own boats down the rapids. Riders must be 54 inches or taller and groups may receive a discount when reserving their rafts.

Summer in South Bend: Food, Seasons, and Local Produce

Food is a truly beautiful thing. If ever there was a good valued by all, it is delicious food. Good food, like leisure, has its value not primarily from utility, but from delight. And significantly, like leisure, food is often found at the very heart of authentic community. In eating together, we don’t simply savor aromas and tastes. Food, used well, strengthens us to take joy in one another’s company, serving as a catalyst for the formation and renewal of friendship. Examples are not far to find: the family supper, the dinner date, the summer barbecue, the coffee-shop chat.

More wonderful still, every season on earth brings with it its own fruits and flavors, the old cycle of sun, earth, and water that has shaped all cultures and human lives. Summer in Michiana is no exception. It brings with it berries and cherries, cookouts and picnics, all in their time. Nowadays, the seasons notwithstanding, we can purchase whatever foods we want at the supermarkets all year round. Still, it is both edifying and enjoyable to take some time to peruse the seasonal produce of the region in which we Domers live. Here are a couple of ideas.

The South Bend Farmer’s Market
1105 Northside Blvd.
South Bend, IN 46615

The South Bend Farmer’s Market opened for the first time in 1911 on the Colfax Avenue bridge. As it grew in size and popularity, it moved in 1928 to its current location on Northside Boulevard. Although the market has since been rebuilt several times, it still opens on the same days as it always has for over 100 years: Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday (with the addition of Fridays during the summer). Join other shoppers here to browse all manner of local fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products, as well as jellies, honeys, pastries, herbs, cheeses, and all sorts of handcrafted and locally-made goods. Even if you aren’t buying, take a look around, strike up a conversation with the producers at their stands, or stop by the café at the center of the market, which serves a full menu for both breakfast and lunch.

U-Pick farms and orchards
Indiana and Michigan

Indiana and Michigan are filled with farms. Leave the urban sprawl of South Bend and Mishawaka, and you’ll soon find yourself amidst corn fields and stock pastures. One of the benefits of South Bend’s proximity to the rural countryside is the large number of orchards, vineyards, and farms nearby that are open to the public. Several farms and orchards open their fields during harvest-time to allow customers to pick their own fruit. In the summer, you can pick cherries, berries, peaches, and vegetables; return in the fall, and you can amble amongst the apple trees and pumpkin vines. Farms in St. Joseph County include Blueberry Ranch, Beech Road Blueberry Farm, and The Apple Patch. Across the border in Michigan, there are countless more: Lehman’s Orchards, Tree-Mendus Fruit, Eckler Farms, and dozens of others. Call ahead or take a look at the farm websites for information on what they are currently harvesting. For more farms, check out the listings under Cass and Berrien counties in Southwest Michigan on Pick Your Own, a website that keeps a list of U-Pick farms located across the nation.

Purple Porch Co-op
123 N. Hill St.
South Bend, IN 46617

Purple Porch Co-op sells local, organic, and bulk food items and household goods. They run a grocery store and a café, both open throughout the week, as well as a farmer’s market on Wednesday evenings, where you can meet, converse with, and buy from many of the local producers who sell their goods through Purple Porch. In anticipation of the farmer’s market, you can even pre-order items on Purple Porch’s website in order to help producers avoid wasting un-purchased food. All products sold at Purple Porch were grown or made within a 300-mile radius of South Bend, while all of the participating producers at the Wednesday farmer’s market come from less than 60 miles away.

Summer in South Bend: Baseball and the Zoo

Looking for a way to get some leisurely time outdoors this summer? Make a visit to the Potawatomi Zoo or to Four Winds Field, two of Michiana’s foremost attractions.

The Potawatomi Zoo
500 S. Greenlawn Ave.
South Bend, IN 46615
Open daily 10 AM-5 PM

The Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend is an excellent way to spend a summer morning or afternoon. The zoo is small, but well-kept. It takes between two and three hours to see all of the exhibits, which include leopards, lions, buffalo, tortoises, and otters, among many other animals. The establishment is complete with a petting zoo, an old-style carousel, and a miniature train that circles the zoo. The manageable size of the zoo makes it a great choice for families, especially since children two and under get in for free. For a large group, the price of admission can start to add up: tickets are $10 for each person over the age of fourteen and $8 for kids between 3 and 14. Families may be interested to know, however, that the zoo sells family memberships for $72.50. While that might seem like a lot up front, it gets in the whole family, including two adults and up to six kids, for an entire year. Plus, you’ll get discounted admission to the Zoo’s educational programs, many of which are designed for parents and their children. Note that individual student-priced memberships are also available.

The South Bend Cubs at Four Winds Field
501 W. South Street
South Bend, IN 46601

The Cubs are South Bend’s own Class-A Minor League affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. They play games most weeks of the summer, and tickets are relatively inexpensive. Their home, Four Winds Field, hosts a variety of concession stands as well as a small water-playground and bouncy castles for children. Every game is interspersed with contests and giveaways for the fans. Standard stadium seats sell for $11 each; alternatively, you can purchase a ticket to sit on the Lawn for $9, though you’ll have to bring your own blankets or cushions.

Summer in South Bend: Getting Outdoors

Summers in South Bend can be hot. Humidity and the summer sun may push the temperatures as high as 90 degrees or more, especially in July and August. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t get outdoors! Even in the dog days of summer, mornings are often pleasant, and even the hottest weeks are broken up by days of mild weather. Besides, you’ll want to soak up that sunlight before the ‘perma-cloud’ settles in for the winter. Here are some ideas.

South Bend City Parks

Michiana, like many regions of the Midwest, is gifted with a large number of city parks, which have the distinct attraction of being free. Many of these parks have playgrounds, making them an excellent choice for families with children. In addition to parks, you can take a bike-ride or go for a run on the East Bank Trail, which extends from Central Park in Mishawaka to Holy Cross College, or the Riverside Trail, which begins at the corner of Angela Blvd. and Riverside Dr. and goes to Wheelock Park. Alternatively, you can ride a raft on the East Race Waterway, South Bend’s own artificial whitewater rapids course, for $5. From softball fields to golf courses, canoeing to water playgrounds, fishing to picnicking, South Bend city parks are a staple of summer leisure. Check out the official guide to summer activities at South Bend parks, including classes, competitions, and camps for adults and children alike, many of them available for free or at low cost.

St. Joseph County Parks

Around South Bend are also a number of parks maintained by the county. These too are free on most days of the year, except for weekends and holidays, when they charge a small gate fee. These parks are typically larger than the city parks, affording more opportunities for hiking and biking. Bendix Woods, for instance, does have a playground, but also contains a 6.5-mile trail for mountain bikes, as well as a few trails for hiking. In the fall, they offer hayrides; in the winter, there is a sledding hill. Ferrettie and Baugo Creek Park has an 18-hole disc golf course. St. Patrick’s Park features hiking trails and rents canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks during the summer; in the winter, they offer cross-country skiing and inner-tubing. Spicer Lake Nature Preserve has a lengthy boardwalk through its wetlands, where many types of animals can be seen year-round. The parks also offer many activities, classes, and camps for adults and children alike. Check out their events calendar for the latest information.

Potato Creek State Park

About twenty minutes south of town is Potato Creek, the nearest Indiana state park. The scenery is beautiful and varied, ranging from woods to wetlands to prairies, and you can take it in by bike, on horseback, or on foot. The park also feature various campsites and cabins for rent. The lake is open for swimming and fishing in the summer and for ice-fishing in the winter. Entrance fees are $7 per vehicle with an Indiana license plate and $9 for vehicles with out-of-state plates. Campsites will, of course cost more, depending on the type of site you reserve.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park

Forty-five minutes to the west is the scenic Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and nested within the Lakeshore is the Indiana Dunes State Park. Both parks preserve part of a unique system of sand dunes on the shores of Lake Michigan. The National Lakeshore is free to enter for the day, except for the West Beach during the summer, a popular spot for Lake Michigan beach-goers. You’ll be surprised how much a day on Lake Michigan’s beach feels like a day on the beach at the ocean. Besides the beach, however, the Lakeshore also has a number of hiking trails through the unique dunes, woodlands, and wetlands in the park. Inside the State Park, on the other hand, which charges the same gate fees as Potato Creek, are more hiking trails, numerous campsites, a swimming beach, and a nature center.

Summer in South Bend: Books

Reading a book is one of the great forms of leisure. Reading for enjoyment is an activity that has little tangible utility. It adds nothing to your resume nor does it impress admissions committees, and, unless you are very fortunate, no one will pay you to read a book for the delight of it. But of course, that’s not what leisure is about anyway. Reading feeds the soul and the mind. Good stories tell the truth about human beings and the world in which they live. They hold up a mirror in which we glimpse our own selves.

Now, if there’s one thing that is sure to attract a swarm of graduate students, it’s good prices on good books. Nowadays, most of us purchase our books online. But for the literary at heart, there is still no place like a comfortable, creaky local bookshop for whiling away those summer hours. Check out the impressive array of titles, new and used, available at these shops in South Bend.

Griffon Bookstore
121 W. Colfax Ave
South Bend, IN 46601

Located in downtown South Bend, Griffon’s is a bookstore like no other. They sell books, of course: new books on the ground floor, ranging from paperbacks to leather-bound and illustrated classics, and used books in the basement. Their selections include literature, philosophy, history, and poetry, not to mention a discounted paperback section. But their specialty, broadly speaking, is leisure. Along with books, Griffon’s sells a wide selection of card and board games, especially of the strategy, fantasy, and history varieties. On their shelves, you’ll find such popular titles as Settlers of Catan and Seven Wonders, as well as full lines from small game manufacturers like Fantasy Flight and Days of Wonder. Many of their games are less commonly available in larger retail stores, and a number have received game of the year awards from around the world. The establishment also maintains several gaming rooms available for reservation over the weekends, free of charge, and for those who are interested, they host regular gaming events throughout the year.

Not a gamer? Not a problem. They also sell used vinyl records, paper dolls, and all sorts of plastic models. Ask the proprietor to show you around.

Idle Hours Bookstore
212 S. Michigan St.
South Bend, IN 46601

This little bookstore is also located downtown, two blocks south of Griffon’s, and it is worthy of a place on a cobbled street in Europe. Idle Hours carries an excellent collection of used literature, including classics and children’s, as well as theology, history, poetry, and biography. For those who are curious, they even have a section on local history. The store may be small, but the books they keep in stock are well worth perusing. If you are searching for one title in particular, you may not find it here, but ask the owners what sort of book you are looking for, and they will be sure to show you something worth your time.

Erasmus Books
1027 E. Wayne St.
South Bend, IN 46617

On the other side of the river, you’ll find Erasmus Books, located in an old house and established by an emeritus professor of theology at Notre Dame. Once again, you will find used books of nearly any sort here, though the selections in theology, philosophy, and literature are especially extensive. The house is quiet and charming, and, although it is packed full of books, it’s not difficult to find your way around. If you are a bookworm, then this is the bookshop you’ve been looking for. Note that the store is only open Thursday through Sunday in the afternoons.

 

Finally, don’t forget about South Bend’s St. Joseph County Public Library! Check their website for family events and drop in to get your free library card and peruse their collection.

Summer in South Bend: The Movies

Who among us doesn’t enjoy a good summer film? The smell of fresh popcorn and the cool, dark theater; the mindless action flick or the compelling, heartfelt drama: what better way to spend a few hours on a lazy summer day? As we all know, however, there is something a little gut-wrenching about forking over $40 for a pair of tickets and concessions to boot. Suddenly, being a member of the cinema cognoscenti seems much less appealing.

But, fortunately for you, going out to the movies in South Bend need not be so pricey. Here are some options to consider:

Cinemark Movies 14
910 W. Edison Rd.
Mishawaka, IN 46545

If you prefer to watch your movies in a milieu of opulence, then look no further than Cinemark 14. Here, every seat is a first-class luxury recliner, and with plenty of leg room in every row, this theater sets the standard for comfort among Michiana film-goers. But added amenity need not entail added cost! Here, a regular, full-price movie ticket will cost you $8.25. Attend a matinee for a dollar less, or, if you’re an early bird, see the first show of the day for a mere $5.40. Buy any ticket at the theater and show the cashier your student ID, and you’ll pay $6.80 (unless, of course, you splurge for 3-D). The best news? Tuesday is discount day: all day long, regular tickets are $5.25. Not bad for the most comfortable cinematic experience in the South Bend area. Check their website for special screenings of classic films and live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

Wonderland Cinema
402 N. Front St.
Niles, MI 49120

If you don’t hesitate to sacrifice a little convenience for the sake of saving a lot of cash (and at graduate school, you’re in good company!), then Wonderland Cinema, just across the Michigan border, is the theater for you. Located in charming downtown Niles, about 20 minutes north of Notre Dame, this theater may not win points for architectural beauty or interior design, but it does sell tickets at rock-bottom prices. Evening tickets are only $5.00 apiece, and between noon and 5 pm, that price drops to $4.00. But come to a show before noon, and you will pay a mere $2.50 for your seat (though 3-D, as always, will be slightly more expensive). Most concessions, moreover, including corn dogs, pretzels, and candy, sell for less than $3.00. Better still, the theater sells large, refillable popcorn buckets. You’ll pay $3.00 for the bucket and the initial fill; then, Monday through Wednesday, you can refill it for only $0.50, while on Thursday, refills are free (no buckets allowed on Friday through Sunday). With the exception of Redbox, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper cinematic experience anywhere else in the country.

DeBartolo Performing Arts Center

Not to be forgotten is Notre Dame’s own Performing Arts Center, complete with a comfortable THX-certified cinema. Be on the lookout for regular showings of classic, recent, and independent films, live broadcasts from the Metropolitan Opera and the National Theatre in London, documentaries, and other fare. Log in with your NetID to access student ticket prices as low as $4.00 for most movie screenings (note that non-movie screenings may be more costly). Don’t forget that the DPAC also hosts various musical events and dramatic productions, including the annual Shakespeare Festival in August. Check their events calendar at the beginning of each month for an updated list of shows, starting in July.

Summer in South Bend: Relaxation and Leisure

Many graduate students find themselves in South Bend for all or part of the summer. Campus is relatively quiet and sparsely populated, providing the opportunity for hours of undisturbed research and writing in the library or in the office, as well as time to tackle that to-do list that piled up over the course of the school year.

Yet the calm of summer allows space for more than uninterrupted academic work. It is also an ideal time to relax from the tensions of the school-year, to unwind and prepare oneself for the next cycle of classes, research, and teaching. One of the great thinkers of the late Roman Empire, Augustine of Hippo, wrote, “I pray thee, spare thyself at times; for it becomes a wise person to relax the high pressure of attention to work.” (De musica ii, 15) Few better exemplars of scholarly productivity and acumen exist in history: Augustine’s surviving body of work, which remains profoundly influential, consists of more than 100 books, over 200 letters, and nearly 400 sermons, many of which he composed while serving as a bishop, a position that involved numerous religious and civil responsibilities. Yet he also believed in the need for leisure.

Indeed, leisure is one of the most human of activities. A requisite for flourishing as a person, leisure affirms that human life has worth apart from productivity. In other words, we need not always be “accomplishing,” whatever the social or professional pressures we experience, nor feel guilty about using time to do what has no clear utility. To work without ceasing saps the vitality of joy, which is the heart of the good life. As another ancient teacher once wrote, “Of the making of many books there is no end, and in much study there is weariness for the flesh.” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 NABRE)

This being so, Ask the Salmon will feature various activities and opportunities for fun throughout the months of June and July with graduate students in mind. Check back regularly for new posts and, as always, feel free to Ask the Salmon questions about Notre Dame or graduate student life by e-mailing gradlife@nd.edu.