Mishawaka is more than South Bend's neighbor up the river. It's an integral piece of The Bend's fabric, a place with plenty to offer visitors during their stay.

Turn your next visit to the “Princess City” into an all-day exploration of parks, shopping, dining and more. Here are some tips on how to uncover the best Mishawaka has to offer.

Go to the Green Spaces

Take a break from The Bend’s cityscapes without leaving the city.

Mishawaka’s parks — there are 26 total — are an oasis. They offer everything from walking paths along the St. Joseph River to snow sports during winter.

A downtown Mishawaka centerpiece, Central Park sits right on the river. It includes a fitness court, playground equipment, lighted tennis court and basketball court, five pavilions, a splash pad and fishing access.

Three more parks — Battell, Kamm Island and Beutter — join Central near the St. Joseph River. Beutter and Kamm Island (home to Kamm Island Fest every summer) lie on the south side of the river. Battell, like Central, is on the north bank.

All these parks are connected by the Mishawaka Riverwalk Trail, a 2.5-mile loop that encompasses both sides of the river. It’s a perfect setting to walk, run or bike.

One of The Bend’s gems is back up river: Shiojiri Niwa Japanese Garden.

Shiojiri packs overwhelming beauty into just 1.3 acres. Located adjacent to Merrifield and Crawford parks (both of which offer river access), Shiojiri is a Japanese strolling garden. It symbolizes the sister city relationship between Mishawaka and Shiojiri, a city in central Japan.

Blossoms on the trees inside Shiojiri are a sure sign summer is on the way in The Bend. The park contains four small bridges, some 20 different large plant varieties, over 200 large boulders and a tea house pavilion.

For the best view, head to the tea house pavilion. It offers a panorama of the whole park.

Take the Adventure Inside

Exploration doesn’t have to take place only outdoors.

Family fun awaits at Sky Zone, an indoor trampoline park. Sky Zone features wall-to-wall trampolines, ultimate dodgeball, a slam dunk zone and foam pit. Strikes & Spares Entertainment Center is another go-to spot for families. Bowling is the focal point of this entertainment center. But it also boasts glow-in-the-dark mini golf, go-karts and arcade games.

Both are part of the perfect family weekend in The Bend.

Shop 'Til You Drop

Perhaps a seemingly endless array of locally-owned boutiques, retail outlets and fresh markets are more your style. Mishawaka has that covered.

You’ll be hard-pressed to travel down a street in Mishawaka that doesn’t have a retail shop. University Park Mall is a shopaholic's wonderland with over 120 specialty shops, from large department stores to high-end boutiques.

Odds are a trip to the mall that started with visiting one or two stores will turn into more. You might even work up an appetite, especially if you’ve also toured parks and driven go-karts too.

Feed Your Inner Foodie

Evil Czech Brewery and Public House is one of The Bend’s craft beer destinations. Not only does it serve up local brews, its menu is among the best we have to offer. And don’t forget, Evil Czech is home to one of The Bend’s best patios for those perfect summer evenings.

Rocky River Tap & Table is another Mishawaka dining spot that’s not to be missed. Rocky River’s menu leans on locally sourced ingredients in a casual atmosphere.

If you’re looking for fine dining, some of The Bend’s top options are in Mishawaka — Corndance Tavern, Main Street Grille and Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

Insider tip: One of The Bend’s newest restaurants blends history with re-imagined use. Jesus Latin Grill & Tequila Bar, which specializes in Latin American cuisine, resides in a former Carnegie Library. The building dates to 1916.