Planning vacation doesn’t have to mean leaving a part of the family back at home.

Isn’t it extra special having your pet (or pets!) along for the ride? There’s a sense of excitement when they hop in the car and poke their head out the window. But there also needs to be a dog-friendly destination at the end of that ride.

The Bend is just that. Our assortment of bars, restaurants and parks are a dog’s paradise. They can join you on a run along the St. Joseph River then unwind at one of our local breweries. And that’s just the beginning.

First things first, though. You’ll need a place to stay.

Outdoor Activities

Is your dog always eager to head outside? Perfect. There’s no shortage of trails around The Bend.

You can start by exploring the University of Notre Dame. There are two landmarks that often inspire people to take photos of their pets: The Golden Dome and the “Word of Life” mural, commonly known as Touchdown Jesus. You could also line your visit up with a South Bend Cubs game. A Class-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, these Cubs host dog friendly nights every Monday throughout the season.

Area parks offer endless outdoor opportunities.

Bendix Woods and St. Patrick’s County parks are local favorites for dogs. Downtown Mishawaka features multiple parks – Battell, Kamm Island, Beutter, Central, Merrifield – that run along the St. Joseph River. Rum Village Park in South Bend woodsy, although it sits within the city limits.

If you’re looking for something a little more secluded, Potato Creek State Park is a gem. It features the 327-acre Worster Lake and a wide variety of trails.

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Party at the Dog Park

The Bend has several areas where your dog can take off without a leash. A few stand out in particular: Niles Avenue (South Bend), Rum Village (South Bend) and Prickett Park (Mishawaka).

Niles Avenue was South Bend’s first dog park and is just off the East Bank Trail, a popular running route. Rum Village is newer and features a larger small pet area, as do the other parks. Prickett Park is along the St. Joseph River next to the Bodine State Fish Hatchery.

Dining with Your Dog

After all that activity, you might need a bite to eat. Several area bars and restaurants are open for dogs, particularly during patio season.

Popular spots include South Bend Brew Werks, Chicory Café, Peggs, Brothers Bar & Grill, The Hammer & Quill, Tony Sacco’s, Uptown Kitchen, Villa Macri and Fiddler’s Hearth. That’s just a partial list. Call ahead to any area restaurant to ask about bringing your pup along.

Pamper Your Pup at One of Our Hotels

The Bend is home to many hotels that accommodate pets and they are spread around the area, meaning it's all but certain you'll find one that fits your itinerary.

Staying in downtown South Bend? Check out Aloft South Bend or the nearby Residence Inn South Bend. If you’re near Notre Dame, the Inn at Saint Mary’s and Morris Inn at Notre Dame are ideal options. Perhaps your trip takes you toward Mishawaka. There you’ll find the Candlewood Suites, Home2 Suites by Hilton and Hyatt Place among your top options.

Below is a full list of The Bend’s pet friendly hotels.

South Bend: Aloft, Candlewood Suites, Comfort Suites University Area, Inn at Saint Mary’s, La Quinta Inn & Suites, Morris Inn at Notre Dame, Motel 6 Roseland, Quality Inn & Suites, Quality Inn, Residence Inn, Sleep Inn, Staybridge Suites, Suburban Extended Stay

Mishawaka: Baymont Inn & Suites, Best Western Plus, Candlewood Suites, Country Inn & Suites, Home2 Suites by Hilton, Hyatt Place, Residence Inn.

If you have questions about fees or accommodations, it's best to contact hotels directly. Now that you have a place to stay, it's time to explore with your dog.