Potawatomi Park & Zoo

Potawatomi Park & Zoo

Just a quick 2.5-mile hop from the University of Notre Dame, you’ll find the natural wonderland and wildlife excitement that is Potawatomi Park & Zoo. It’s like South Bend’s hidden gem, showcasing the city’s dedication to giving everyone, no matter the age, a mix of diverse and awesome experiences.

In the heart of Potawatomi Park, there’s this outdoor Performance Arts Pavilion that’s not just scenic—it’s the spot for cultural events, performances, and all sorts of gatherings. If you’re thinking of throwing a big bash, the park’s got rentable pavilions that can handle anything from family reunions to community blowouts. Even university students looking for a unique outdoor class setup can get in on the action.

Right next door is the Potawatomi Zoo, a local fave that’s the second-oldest zoo in Indiana. It’s been the go-to spot for community engagement and wildlife education for decades. Covering over 23 acres, the zoo’s home to around 500 animals, representing a whole bunch of species. From exotic creatures to local wildlife, it’s a wild journey through the animal kingdom.

What makes Potawatomi Zoo stand out is its commitment to keep getting better and bigger. They’re working on a slick 6,000-square-foot café and events space right now, overlooking a brand-new black bear habitat. So, not only will it be a culinary treat, but you’ll also get a killer view of these majestic bears.

While you’re exploring the zoo, you’ve already got food and drink spots scattered around. But with the new café and events space, it’s gonna take the whole experience up a notch. Picture this: chilling, socializing, and taking in epic views of the black bear habitat—total win.

Potawatomi Zoo does close down from November to March, but they open for select evenings throughout the winter. On their Winter Days, the zoo is beautifully decorated for the holiday season making it the perfect spot for Instagram-worthy pictures with friends or a romantic date night. Worried about the cold weather? The zoo always offers locally-crafted beer and wine for purchase, but on Winter Days specialty vendors of mulled wine and other hot beverages are there to make sure your visit is cozy and comfortable.

But it’s not just about fun and games; Potawatomi Zoo is all about education too. If you’re a student geeking out over zoology and wildlife conservation, they’ve got college internships up for grabs. It’s a chance to turn your passion for animals and conservation into real-world experience while contributing to the zoo’s mission.

Potawatomi Park & Zoo is like a triple threat—natural beauty, cultural spaces, and wildlife wonders all rolled into one. Whether you’re a student wanting a break from the books, a family up for a weekend adventure, or an event planner hunting for a unique venue, Potawatomi Park & Zoo is calling you to dive into the diverse offerings that make this place a true South Bend treasure. It’s more than just a zoo—it’s an experience waiting to happen!