#49: The Niles Haunted House Scream Park

I am well aware that Halloween (officially) ends in approximately two hours. That's not going to stop me from writing about one of the most beloved local Halloween traditions. I'm not talking about carving pumpkins, apple-picking, or even trick-or-treating. No, I'm talking about talking the 20 minute drive up to Niles, Michigan to hit up one of the best Haunted Houses in the country.

Boasting Zach's Zombie Motel, the Legend of Pirate's Cove, and a Field of Screams as well as a proud membership in the International Association of Haunted Attractions, Niles' Scream Park is the place to be. Sadly, the two hours left of Halloween means that the Park will soon be closed for this year. That just means you can mark your calendars a full year ahead for when it opens up in the middle of September 2011.

If you've been to the Niles Haunted House this past year, feel free to let us know about your experience in the comments, and if you're unfamiliar check out their website here.  Even though Halloween's not over yet, it's never too early to start planning your costume for next year!

#48: The Kitchenette

When you're coming back from a roadtrip, I find there are few things more welcoming than a 24-hour diner where you can collapse and recount your adventures, filling your face with greasy food and bad coffee.  The Kitchenette can be that place.

It's located on the main drag of Michigan Street, just a bit south of the downtown activity.  They serve breakfast all day and all night, as well as sandwiches and burgers.  The food is good, but typical diner fare.  We had fun flipping through the tabletop jukebox, perusing the country and top-hits offerings.   (I had forgotten about Christina Milian. Thanks Now 8!!!)  The clientele was eclectic, as it should be, as well as the decor.  All in all, the Kitchenette is the paradigmatic diner for South Bend, and I am incredibly grateful for this welcoming spot to go to when you want to feel like you've made it home.

Where: 2221 S Michigan St
When to go: ANY TIME YOU WANT! (that's the glory of this place)
Tip: Check out their five breakfast meals for under $5.  Also, late at night, it's cash only and pay first, but there's an ATM right across the street.

#47: The Goshen Theater

Every once in a while, a spontaneous roadtrip is in order.  This need to get outta town can be caused by a great weather for the beach/snow, a desire to see someone/get away from someone, or in our case, a favorite band whose closest stop was Goshen, Indiana.  Thus, we found ourselves on Route 33, with no tickets in hand, rushing to get to a place we'd never been, while the opening act was likely performing.

However, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to pull off our last minute decision, and I strongly encourage you to test your spontaneity with a roadrip to Goshen, especially for a show at their theater.

The Goshen Theater is a wonderfully restored, century-old theater that seats 442 people (717 if you include the balcony!), so it provides a close setting for an intimate concert.  It's not only used for music shows -- there's also theatrical productions and church gatherings that occur frequently.  While we attended a benefit concert featuring Over the Rhine last Friday, there are "five-and-dime" shows --concerts that cost $5.10--a gimmick I find utterly charming.  Check out the events listing here.  A lot of the events are heavy on the folk and bluegrass, but hey, that's alright with me.  (There's Generic and the Wander Inn for other musical tastes, but we'll get to those later...)  The small venue is just the right size to enjoy the strings and vocals.

Where: 216 S. Main St., Goshen, IN
To get to Goshen, head south through downtown until you hit 33, and take it east to Goshen.  The town of Goshen has some fun looking shops and eateries, although most were closed after the show.  Come to town a little early to enjoy The Electric Brew, a coffeeshop across the street from the theater.

#46: Animal Farm, The Musical

I read George Orwell's Animal Farm when I was in high school.  All I remind about it is its scathing critique of Russian communism through the use of barnyard animals.  So when I heard that IUSB was staging a performance of this book, I was intrigued. 

Indeed, it is not even a play, but a musical.  Famed British director Peter Hall crafted this "communist dream converted into a nightmare" for the stage in 1984.  (Don't worry, I wikipedia-ed this.)  But IUSB is taking this novella to the next level with a 40-person cast with creepy animal costumes, designed with Tim Burton in mind.

The blurb on the website reads, "See this literary classic come to life as the farm animals sing their way toward a new societal hierarchy."  Sure sounds like a suitable activity for a Halloween weekend.  It may even inspire a costume idea...

Where: Campus Auditorium, Northside Hall
When to go: 8 pm October 28-30; 2 pm October 31
Cost: $5-$9 (free for IUSB students)

#45: 91.1 The Globe

It's not technically in South Bend, but I think it counts that Goshen College's radio station (based in, you guessed it, Goshen, Indiana) comes in loud and clear here in this part of St. Joseph County.  I discovered this gem of a radio station only this summer (thanks to a friend), and it's been set at #1 (in my ancient car) ever since.  The Globe has been around for more than 50 years and bills itself as a radio station that "features a fresh and eclectic mix of Americana, alternative acoustic, folk, singer-songwriters and world beat music." I personally can't think of a better line-up.

Some of the shows are imported from NPR while many are DJ'ed by the volunteer student staff of Goshen College or other local DJ's.  My favorite NPR import is 'World Cafe', on every day from 5-7 with recent featured artists such as Robert Plant, Ray LaMontagne, MGMT, Local Natives, and Suzanne Vega. Some of the great local shows include 'Could Lead to Dancing' on Sundays from 7-9 and the 'Folk Revival' on Mondays from 7-9.

I can't recommend this radio station enough. Listen in your car or online, but whichever you choose, you should tune in now.

Check out the website (and online player) here

Check out a program guide here

#44: St. Pat's Park

One of the many trails
As I write this, the area is under a pretty severe weather warning. That notwithstanding, one of my favorite things to do in the previously nice fall weather, has been to take a hike at St. Patrick’s County Park (affectionately called St. Pat’s). It’s one of the many parks in the St. Joseph County Park System, and with its location just off of 933 past Roseland, it’s easily accessible for anyone in the area. 
An almost tree-house
The 398 acres of trails, playgrounds, ponds, and river frontage are beautiful in the fall. Plan a picnic or take a spontaneous hike. There’s even a disc-golf course if you’re interested. They also occasionally host concerts (at the Fischgrund Center for the Performing Arts) and events, one of them being the canoe races mentioned on here earlier.
The big red barn at the entrance to the park

Check out the website here.

And a map of the hiking trails here.

Tip: It does cost $3.00 (in-county) or $4.00 (out-of-county) to park.

Fun fact: You might not realize it but you’ll probably cross into Michigan on your hike. 

#43: Urban Garden Market

A fortuitous turn while killing time before an airport ticket led me to discover the Urban Garden Market on Bendix Road.  I'm driving along, and all of a sudden, open truck beds filled with pumpkins and a few pop-up tents flash by on my right.  One u-turn later, and I'm at what looks like a Notre Dame tailgate without the booze, bagpipes and kelly green.
The Urban Garden Market is not a large, extensive market like its big brother on Northside Boulevard.  It's not year-round (it's open air); most of the food or products are locally grown.  The products were limited since it's the end of the season, but there was still squash & potatoes, honey & jam, fresh cookies & croissants to enjoy, all at affordable prices.

What I love about this market was its focus on the community.  When an elderly woman misplaced her keys, everyone, shoppers and sellers both, stopped to assist her in her search.  When she found her keys ten minutes later in a bag of corn that she had bought, we all clapped and cheered.  Indeed, this market is for the people, by the people, organized to combat the food desert on the west side of South Bend.  Some people can't make the twenty minute drive to other farmer's markets, and the closest supermarket is fifteen minutes away.
The search for the lost keys....

Hate to say this but this market just closed for the season, but will open in April.  Stay tuned for a reminder post!

Where: 1025 N. Bendix
When: Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm 
Tip: Be aware of speakers who visit the market, such as Phil and Edie, who gave advice on how to prepare your garden for winter and use in-season vegetables

#42: The Futon Factory (that's not a factory)

Aren't futons SO college?  What better way to showcase one's ability to nap at any time of the day by this versatile piece of furniture?  If you choose to argue for futons for all, come to the Futon Factory, conveniently located near Lula's, The Backer, and of course, Notre Dame.

But this ain't yo bro's futon shop.  And 'factory' is probably the most misleading name for this unique store.  Yes, they sell high-end furniture....with a socially-conscious twist.  We're talking fair trade hardwood frames, local suppliers, and a plethora of additional goods you would not expect.  Recycled silk purses, organic tees, bamboo plants.  A water cooler to refill that Sigg or Nalgene you've been toting around.  A different perspective from the big box stores only a few roads down.

Where: Edison Plaza, at the corner of 23 and Angela
When: Mon-Fri, 10 am - 6pm; Sat 10 am - 5pm; Sun 12 - 5 pm
Tip: Check out their website for ideas about how to tastefully decorate your room

#41: FTT Talks: Rolin Jones

There are many events, lectures, talks, symposiums, etc. that happen daily on Notre Dame's campus.  I'm highlighting this one, sponsored by the Department of Film, Television, and Theater, for a personal reason.  The speaker is a television writer.  But not just any television writer, he was a writer for both Weeds and, here's the personal bias, Friday Night Lights (one of my favorite shows on television currently). Both shows, however, have been reviewed incredibly well, and Mr. Jones promises to shed light on the writing process and more specifically the writing process for television.  Whether you love creative writing or just Thursday night comedies, this talk should be informative and entertaining.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

Where:  University of Notre Dame, 162 Mendoza School of Business
When: 6:00pm

#40: South Bend Symphony Pops with James Dapogny's Chicago Jazz Band

As part of their 78th season, the South Bend Symphony will be performing tonight at the Morris Performing Arts Center.  If you haven't yet attended a performance, you should make it your first.  Playing in collaboration with an internationally renowned jazz band (that have appeared many times on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion), the performance is bound to be entertaining.  My last experience with the Symphony, at their outdoor concert at the Chris Wilson Pavilion, was incredibly enjoyable and I'm looking forward to hearing them again.

Where: Morris Performing Arts Center
When: 8:00pm

For more information about tonight's performance, upcoming performances, and the South Bend Symphony in general, visit their website: www.southbendsymphony.com.

#39: Unity Gardens Nutrition Workshop

In a previous post, we've mentioned the Unity Gardens that are flourishing around the city. If you want a reminder check out our post here and their website here.  However, the Unity Gardens group does much more than just weed and plant as demonstrated by this class they're hosting at the LaSalle Branch of the Public Library.  Held to promote "healthy eating, cooking, and living" the nutrition class will show participants how to use their gardens to promote healthier and more sustainable lifestyles.  Check it out.

Where: Meeting Room in the LaSalle Branch Library
When: 6:00pm-7:00pm

For more information call: 574-282-4633

#38: 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist' at the St. Joseph County Public Library

I like film screenings.  I really like film screenings of good movies at the public library.  Tonight the St. Joe County Public Library is hosting a screening of "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" as part of their Teen Read Week. I've seen the movie, and while its appeal might be somewhat limited to the teen/young adult crowd, I thought it was a refreshingly funny and honest little film about the adventures of one night in New York City.  Check out the New York Times review of the film here. They describe it as a "fleeting" movie, and that's probably the truth, but sometimes something fun and small is just right. Plus it has a great soundtrack.

Where: St. Joe County Public Library, Colfax Auditorium
When: 5:30pm

NOTE: For reasons too lengthy to disclose here, your friendly bloggers are out of state (or out of country) and the posts might be somewhat less frequent this week. We're sorry and we promise to come back with full force next week!

#37: Sidewalk Sales & Yardsales

When the weather's nice and you want to be outside (but aren't really one of those "outdoor" types), try your hand at outdoor shopping.

While other places of the country (shout-out to Short Pump, VA!) may have open-air malls, South Bend's delightful winters aren't as accommodating.  However, that does not mean residents of the 574 have to miss out on this experience.  Fall yardsales and sidewalk sales provide the perfect opportunity to get some fresh air and a great deal.

This past weekend, the row of local shops along East Jefferson Ave. (incl. Marigold's, Just Goods) held a sidewalk sale that featured 30 percent off merchandise I had been eyeing a week before.  Another vendor was selling a bevey of books, from "Marketing for Dummies" to the latest pyscho-thriller, for a dollar each.

And the yardsales!  Nothing is more rewarding than buying that piece of junk that you don't really need and won't ever use because it doesn't work but it was such a good deal that...except for those items that you DO find that become indispensable. My five-dollar pine coffee table, I'm looking at you.  The best place to find the weekend's yardsales is either on Craigslist or in the South Bend Tribune's classifieds on Saturdays.

Happy shopping!

#36: The Riverside Trail

This trail is a newcomer to the South Bend trail system, but the SB Parks Dept. did it right.  You can tell by the variety of activities that this trail supports: fishing, canoeing, biking, walking, running, skateboarding, dog-walking, meandering, sitting and watching the river go by, picnicking, shooting photography, ad infinitum.

On good days, it seems like everyone is out (as well as their kid and dog) but the trail never seems crowded.  The asphalt path is broad enough for at least three people across, and it's set far enough away from the road that you don't feel like you're just on a sidewalk.  The benches, 1/2 mile markers, and decorative railings are extra touches that make the experience even more pleasant.  

Where: Darden Road to Angela Blvd., on the east side of the river
When to go: Because of the high traffic, this past isn't terrible to walk/run on in the snow, but the best time is definitely fall -- the reflections of the colorful trees in the river are breath-taking
Tip: To those living on the northside of Notre Dame, use this path to access downtown (or Notre Dame itself) on gamedays.  ND is right up Angela, and downtown is straight ahead.

#35: Oaken Bucket

These last days of warm sun call for as much time spent outside as possible, which will dictate our next few posts.  Best place to unwind after a long day?  The deck of Hensell's Oaken Bucket.

You feel like you're sitting on a dock on the St. Joe River, which probably explains why the Notre Dame crew team loves this place.  The beer is cheap, and the bar food is quite good, as far as bar food goes.  Their homemade 'chips' -- more like flattened French fries than anything -- are a must-try.  The wire patio chairs evoke memories of summer barbeques and family reunions, and in the same line, the large outdoor space is a perfect place for a large group to gather.

Mellow, relaxed, utterly unpretentious... take advantage while you can.

Where: 1212 S Ironwood Dr
When to go: Monday - Saturday, 11am - 12am
Special thing I love: the frosted mugs beer their beers come in

#34: History's Haunts: An After-Dark Tour of Notre Dame's Cedar Grove Cemetery

So if you think the title of this event sounds cool, well, that's because it is.  As part of the National Endowment for the Arts' The Big Read program celebrating the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe, a local historian will guide you through one of the city's oldest cemeteries. The tour will be led with hurricane-lamps and will feature histories of some of the earliest South Bend residents. I can't imagine a better way to ring in October, prep for Halloween, and support the arts.

Location: Cedar Grove Cemetery, University of Notre Dame
Time: 8:00pm

For more information about The Big Read program in South Bend and upcoming events (I would imagine some of them would even be feature on this blog) visit the website: http://www.nd.edu/~wsnd/content/Big%20Read%20Website/Homepage.html

#33: Marigold's

South Bend is now graced with Marigold's, which offers "uncommon home and garden decor, vintage items and fresh flowers".  In other words, Midwest chic.

I was consistently impressed with the quality and range of merchandise found here.  Each person who comes in here seems to discover something special, from a familiar children's book or "I-would-have-never-thought-of-that!" goods (eg. a salad bowl with built-in tongs).  There's also a lot of "I-don't-need-it-but-I'm-getting-it-because-it's-too-cool-not-to-buy" (eg. white tapered candles that drip red "blood" wax) or their gorgeous flower arrangements.

These goods are spread out over three rooms in an old house, which lends to its welcoming atmosphere, and the kind and knowledgeable owners make shopping here personal and special, just like any upscale boutique.  For example, my friend was interested in whether a certain bowl was microwaveable, and the owner went to great lengths to answer her question so that she would be happy with the product.

Marigolds is part of burgeoning high-quality, locally-owned retail stores on Jefferson Avenue.  It's neighbors with Just Goods and just around the corner from Junk Evolution.   They all complement each other's offerings, and together, these stores present a unique shopping experience that's helping to define a developing South Bend style.

Where: 722 E. Jefferson Avenue
When to go: Tuesday-Friday, 10:00am - 6:00pm; Saturdays, 9:00am - 3:00pm
Tip: The owner also prepares phenomenal snacks for First Fridays.  I strongly encourage you to stop by on these nights, if only to eat and shoot the breeze with the lovely owners.

#32: Jonathan Kozol at Saint Mary's College

After the typo that made national news, South Bend Public Schools would perhaps appreciate a serious, academic look at their education system.

Jonathan Kozol is an internationally-renowned writer and advocate for education.  He is also appearing in South Bend today for a talk at Saint Mary's College.  Kozol's work has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and he himself has been called by the Chicago Sun Times, "the most eloquent spokesman for America's disenfranchised."

The event will be held tonight at the O'Laughlin Auditorium on Saint Mary's Campus from 7:00pm-8:30pm.  Not every day does a national speaker come to South Bend, so take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about our education system and what that means for South Bend.

When to go: 7:00 - 8:30 pm
Where: O'Laughlin Auditorium, Saint Mary's College