There's a truth to travel and tourism that we all know, yet rarely acknowledge — it's much more than concepts like economic impact. It's a lived experience.

Never has that been more obvious than now. Coronavirus-related travel restrictions and guidelines have kept us from the physical experiences. Yet there are still ways to connect with our favorite places. That's why we're introducing Experience The Bend Month.

Stay with us throughout the month of May for stories from around The Bend and things to do now or later, if you're looking for some travel inspiration.

National Travel + Tourism Week

In conjunction with U.S. Travel and destinations around the country, we're celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week from May 3-9 by highlighting virtual and physical experiences in The Bend.

Coronavirus-related guidelines mean these experiences might look a little different, but we can embrace them differently now and keep some as inspiration for later.

Experience the Outdoors

Even with social distancing in place, getting outside is an essential part of our lives. Vibrant parks are also one of The Bend's strengths. We have a wildly popular state park, a wonderful county park system and dozens of parks in South Bend and Mishawaka. Some coronavirus-related guidelines and facility restrictions are in place, but the parks await.

Shop Small Online

We're big believers in the shop small slogan as a way to support local shops. Even if they're not open yet, there are other ways to help: look up your favorite retailer to see their online store, buy a gift card for later or simply leave a positive review on their Facebook page.

RELATED CONTENT: Shop Around The Bend

Order Takeout from a Local Restaurant

Among the hardest hit by coronavirus, restaurants have been hustling over the last several weeks to bring customers great carryout and delivery options. Their creativity hasn't gone unnoticed. Pick one (or more!) to support this week as they work toward hosting customers in restaurants again in the near future.

Share Your Favorite Photo

Travel is all about making memories. Every year we see hundreds of photos from around The Bend and share them on our community page. Do you have a photo capturing a great moment here? We'd love for you to share it with us. You can upload one below or use the hashtag #OnlyinTheBend on social media.

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Raise a (Local) Glass

Among our many local artisans, brewers, distillers and wine makers are among the most revered. We know locals and visitors love to visit these places when they're open, and many have continued to do so even for takeout. We'd like to raise a glass to these places all month.

RELATED CONTENT: Drink Local in The Bend

The Bend-Themed Giveaway

A giveaway? You bet. Stay tuned for details.

Take to the Trails

May is National Bike Month, and we have good reason to celebrate. The League of American Bicyclists named South Bend a Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community thanks to its plentiful trails and ample space on streets for riders.

Elsewhere you'll find miles of trails in parks and other areas of the county. As spring settles in, there's no better time to visit the trails on your bike. And if that's not your preferred mode of transportation, remember these trails are great for walking, running and hiking too.

RELATED CONTENT: Best Bike Trails in The Bend

What Travel Means: A Meaningful Impact

Traveling for many is a favorite past time. It's also an important piece of the local and national economy. Here are some facts:

  • Around 4.8 million visitors make their way to The Bend in a typical year.
  • They spend approximately $621.9 million total.
  • Spending during a Notre Dame home football weekend is around $17 million.
  • Tourism supports over 7,000 local jobs.

As coronavirus has swept the nation and travel paused, the economics of tourism have been upended. We can't wait support our hospitality community again when the time is right.