We love our road trip stops especially if it’s free. On our summer Ohio roadtrip to Cleveland, we stopped to stretch our legs at Howard Park in South Bend. South Bend is known for Notre Dame, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time do that. (Next time!) We just wanted to stretch our legs and get a treat.

Howard Park is simply awesome.

Imagine Chicago’s Maggie Daley Park but on a smaller scale but a little easier to keep track of the kids.

Getting started at Howard Park

We exited I-90 (Exit 77) and continued to the park for about 10 minutes. Parking was easy to find on a late Friday afternoon. We parked in the free parking area. They also have street parking on St. Louis Blvd but you have to park backwards at an angle.

Fun playground

Wow! Just WOW! This playground is just awesome! Howard Park is an ADA accessible playground at over 13,000 feet. So plenty of fun in store for all! There are two main areas. The main level has the majority of the features including ropes structure, a bridge, swing, merry-go-round, 4 person see saw, and so much more.

The bottom (with the murals) has the advanced rock climbing wavy structure and long slides. There is a steep drop off so watch out for little ones. My kids loved this area and basically went up and down the hill.

Looking down one area of Howard Park. It’s HUGE!


Absolutely love how bright and colorful the murals are. And you know we love our butterfly/angel wings!

Splash area

Cool off in the splash pad/sprinklers. Looks like they are lit up so that would be fun at night!


If you need a treat a stop at the South Bend Chocolate CafeĀ  is a must. Since it was a steamy day, we opted for ice cream. They also have coffee and smoothies. If you’re looking for a sit-down restaurant with drinks there is Howard Park Public House for you.

Other things to do

If you come during the winter, they have an ice skating rink and ribbon. People were actually rollerblading and rollerskating on it. We also saw fire pits and these fun spinning tops. (We’ve seen these at the City Museum in St. Louis.)


We found clean indoor bathrooms close to the Chocolate Shop.

How long to stay here?

We easily spent an hour and a half here. But if we weren’t in such a rush we could have stayed longer and even enjoyed some food and drinks at Howard Park Public House.

Nitty Gritty

Website: https://visithowardpark.com/
Address: 219 S. St. Louis Blvd., South Bend, IN
Cost: FREE