Monday, November 28, 2011

The Ultimate Notre Dame Weekend

Volvo's Biggest Fan of the Big East Contest has presented us with our second challenge, and this one is truly a dream blog post for me. "Pick 5 or more things that you HAVE to do when you return to your Alma Mater ... places to see, best bars, best food, cool places on campus, etc." Yup, anyone who knows me, knows this is RIGHT up my alley.

Since I graduated from Notre Dame, there has not been a year when I have not made it back to campus at least once, if not more. We usually make it back for at least one or two sporting event weekends, and then often times head back for conferences or reunions. Being back on Notre Dame's campus reminds me that you really can go home, and so I cannot get back there often enough!

Here is my "Ultimate Notre Dame Weekend" list of places to go, things to do and people to see! Fasten your seat belt in that shiny Volvo S60 (see photo above!!) ... it's gonna be a wild ride!

Let's start out with food. A weekend at Notre Dame typically includes food at the following two establishments ... CJ's and Tippecanoe Place. CJ's is our Friday night dinner place. CJ's is known for their great pub burgers, and has been a student favorite since 1984. When I was in school, CJ's was just a hole in the wall. They recently had a fire and had to rebuild. The new CJ's is bigger and better than ever! Now we not only include CJ's in our Friday night dinner plans ... but also for a little dancing on Saturday night as well, as they now have a dance floor! Go figure!

The second "ultimate weekend" food stop is brunch at Tippecanoe Place. Tippecanoe Place is the former Studebaker mansion. It is one of the premiere landmarks in the heart of South Bend's historic district, and the mansion is teeming with the charm and grace of yesteryear. The gracious spirit of the past still thrives in the mansion's 40 rooms with their wealth of fine antiques, 20 gorgeous fireplaces, and hand-crafted woods. This is definitely a must see experience during a trip to Notre Dame!

Moving on to nightlife, there are two spots that just can't be missed on a weekend to Notre Dame ... The Linebacker Lounge and Corby's.

The Linebacker Lounge is a favorite of students and alumni alike! The Linebacker Lounge was founded in 1962 by former Notre Dame football player Myron Pontios, and local businessman Stan Pisek. They converted the building which had been an old drive inn into the now famous bar. The Linebacker has been featured on the Travel Channel, "College Towns", and in October 2006 was the remote location for the television broadcast of ESPN's "Mike and Mike in the morning" show. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be on a Notre Dame weekend than at the 'Backer singing "Oh What a Night!"

Corby's Irish Pub would be the next "ultimate weekend" nightlife stop on a weekend at Notre Dame. Corby's Irish Pub is a famous Notre Dame bar. The pub was established in 1990, and the movie "Rudy" was filmed at this location, which sealed the pub's popularity. Corby's is a very spirited Irish establishment and is the perfect place to be on football weekends when droves of alumni flock back to reconnect and relive their glory days!

As far as things that must be seen on campus, the list is long. For starters, no trip to Notre Dame would be complete without a "get your photo taken in front of the famous landmarks" on campus tour. Touchdown Jesus, Fair-Catch Corby, and First Down Moses are definitely must see campus landmarks.

The large mural on the wall of the Hesburgh Library which faces Notre Dame Stadium is lovingly nicknamed “Touchdown Jesus,” because it mirrors the raised arms of a referee signifying a touchdown. The mural is officially titled, “The World of Life,” and was created by Millard Sheets in 1964, and depicts the resurrected Jesus. It is absolutely a must see stop for any visit to campus, and can also be seen from inside the stadium! TOUCHDOWN!!

The next must see place on campus is the Grotto. From the day Rev. Edward F. Sorin, the founder of Notre Dame du Lac, embarked from Le Havre, France, bound for his mission in the New World, Mary, the Mother of God, was his guiding star. The culmination of this early Marian devotion can be seen today in Notre Dame's stone grotto, designed to closely replicate the grotto in Lourdes, France where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette. The Grotto has since become a favorite devotional spot on campus. People of all faiths have found rest and peace in this place of quiet reflection. The beauty of its natural setting, the soft candle glow, bestow a feeling of warmth and welcome upon it's visitors. No tour of Notre Dame would be complete without a visit to this peaceful shrine nestled among the trees in the shadow of the Golden Dome, to light a candle and say a prayer. (Spring at the grotto photo, courtesy of Kathleen Souder)

After your stop at the grotto, take a walk around one of the two lakes on campus, and then continue the spiritual part of your weekend by visiting Badin's Log Cabin Chapel and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Badin's Log Cabin Chapel is one of the oldest landmarks on campus, and it is a must see for any visitor to Notre Dame, new or old.

The one-and-one-half story log chapel-cabin was built by Badin in 1830 and when Sorin arrived a decade later it served as living quarters (ground floor) and a house of worship (attic space) for several months until a larger log house was constructed. With the completion of this second structure (located east of Badin's building), Badin's chapel assumed two secular functions. The first floor was a carpentry shop, while the second story became a crowded dormitory for the brothers who, by 1843, numbered 18 men. Religious services were then held in a chapel in the larger log structure. (Log cabin history taken from: A Spire of Faith: The University of Notre Dame's Sacred Heart Church, by Thomas J. Schlereth. Sunlight over the Badin Log Cabin photo, courtesy of Kathleen Souder)

Your next stop is the Sacred Heart Basilica, which stands in sharp contrast to the simplicity of the Log Cabin chapel. It's majestic blue and gold will literally take your breath away. Our favorite Mass at the Sacred Heart Basilica is the 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning Mass. We have affectionately nicknamed it "Smells and Bells" because you get a healthy dose of incense, and the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir provides the beautiful music.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Notre Dame, Indiana, is the largest Catholic Church on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. It also serves as the mother church of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States. The neo-gothic church features 44 large stained glass windows and majestic murals which were completed over a 17 year period by Vatican painter Luigi Gregori. The basilica bell tower stands 218 feet (66 m) high. The current basilica was preceded by a smaller structure erected in 1848 by Father Edward Sorin, CSC. The current neo-gothic church was begun in 1870 and consecrated by Bishop Joseph Dwenger on August 15, 1888.

Situated right next to the Sacred Heart Basilica, one of the most well known campus sights is The University of Notre Dame's Main Administration Building (known as the Main Building or the "Golden Dome"). The Dome houses various administrative offices, including the Office of the President. Construction of the Main Building began in 1864 and was finished in 1865. The building stood for 14 years before being destroyed by fire in the spring of 1879.

Father Edward Sorin’s unbreakable will was best demonstrated in 1879 after the disastrous fire destroyed the Main Building, which housed virtually the entire University. Father Sorin willed Notre Dame to rebuild the Main Building and continue its growth. "I came here as a young man and dreamed of building a great university in honor of Our Lady," he said. "But I built it too small, and she had to burn it to the ground to make the point. So, tomorrow, as soon as the bricks cool, we will rebuild it, bigger and better than ever."

Immediately after the fire, the University took action, selecting a new design by Willoughby J. Edbrooke and began construction. The current Main Building was completed before the fall semester of 1879. The Golden Dome that caps the Main Building was a gift from the sisters of the adjacent Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame's sister school. The Golden Dome stands 206 feet above ground level, and 125 feet above the roof of the Administration Building. The Dome, gilded in gold leaf, is 139 feet in circumference at its base and is topped by a statue of the Blessed Virgin which is nineteen feet high.

One other tidbit about the Dome, if you happen to be on campus for a football weekend, a must see event at the Dome is "Trumpets Under the Dome." The trumpet section of the University of Notre Dame Marching Band Band gathers inside the Administration Building and plays the Fight Song and the Alma Mater under the Dome. It is definitely something not to be missed! Here is a video so that you can check it out!

Trumpets Under the Dome:

There are two more things that round out my "Ultimate Notre Dame Weekend" list. One is a trip to the bookstore. No matter how many times we head back to campus, a trip to the bookstore to buy more Notre Dame stuff is something that always happens. It's not as though I don't already have an entire closet full of Notre Dame t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and more ... but there is no way I can go home empty handed after a trip to Notre Dame.

And last but not least ,in the people to see category ... look for famous people! Both as a student and an alum, my friends and I have seen, run into, and met many famous people at Notre Dame. Some of the people we have crossed paths with along the way include: Regis Philbin, Dick Vitale (his two daughters lived in my dorm!), Digger Phelps, Lou Holtz, Rudy, Julia Roberts, Vince Vaughn, Selena Gomez and Taylor Swift. However, the most notorious sighting remains O.J. Simpson, sitting three rows in front of us at the 1993 Notre Dame/Florida State game, with Marcus Allen!

I think that list is about as comprehensive as any list you're going to find! My best friend from college and I took four newbies to Notre Dame this fall for a football game. After a jam-packed football weekend at Notre Dame, I was told that I am the "Mayor of Notre Dame" because apparently all I did all weekend, between running them from must-see-stop to must-see-stop, was shake hands and kiss babies!

So there it is ... my "Ultimate Notre Dame Weekend" list. The only thing that I can think of that would make a weekend at Notre Dame even better would be riding around in a new Volvo S60! Well, one can dream at least!!

Hey, if you haven't stopped by my Biggest Fan of the Big East profile page yet, please stop by and show your support and cast your vote for me. I would greatly appreciate it!



  1. This is an AWESOME article Lisa!! I have yet to see and/or experience everything you mentioned. My favorite place though, by far, is the Grotto. I have been there many times and it's always been a moving experience.

    I think ND should use portions of your article to advertise and promote the University :)

    This by far is one of the BEST ND articles you or anyone else has ever written. GREAT job!! GO IRISH!! And good luck in your Biggest Fan Of The Big East quest. You have my vote :))

  2. The article is great! I would have to agree with you about your favorite things about Notre Dame: the Grotto, Basilica, the Golden Dome, and all the people you meet at Notre Dame. I am going to have to check out Corby's the next time I am in South Bend.

    The atmosphere at University of Notre Dame is really like no other university in the nation. It is an experience.

    Thank you for sharing your article with us!

  3. You also never know who you'll see on campus for a game. Jon Bon Jovi directed the band during a game break. Chicago performed with the marching band at halftime. Mike Golic returns to his alma mater frequently. Rudy and Regis are regular visitors. Muhammad Ali shadowboxed from the press box for the crowd.

  4. I *may* substitute Yesterday's in Granger for Tippecanoe on the strength of their desserts alone, but a solid list.

    Possibly outside the scope of your article: the people. No 2 football weekends are alike, but the gathering of old classmates, friends, and new faces makes each pilgrimage worthwhile.

  5. Wow Lisa - you make me feel really bummed for not going this year. Great list of must-do items. I'm going to have to get up for a hockey game or something. You really made me wanna be on campus... I agree with Garrett - the people are the best of any campus I've visited. You really painted a great picture (and great sounds too)!

  6. Lisa,

    I am not a graduate of ND, but have been there several times. I never made it to a game or to the places you listed, I wish I would have.

    If you need a travel buddy, I would like to get a personal tour of these college haunts.

    Very nice read, sure makes the interest in returning that much greater.


  7. Great article! This brings back so many great memories, and I can't wait until I'm out there again! Go Irish! :)

  8. Lisa! What is the only way to START the game weekend? You better be at that Friday night pep rally! You NEVER know who you're going to see there or how pumped a short simple speech can get a group of people going :)

  9. Made my first visit to Mecca this year. The Grotto. The Golden Dome. The Hall of Fame. Touchdown Jesus. The tunnel walk. It was really a spiritual experience and I plan to make atleast an annual visit now. This article is a great Points of Interest source!

  10. Great post Lisa. This should be published in to a travel guide book. I've been there twice for games and have done most of this. Great memories and need to get back there again soon.

    Go Irish........Bryan

  11. As expected, you have crafted an informative & well thought out list of highlights for any Notre Dame visit! I have to admit that I am spoiled by living here in town and having ready access to everything that the campus and city have to offer and it was refreshing seeing what I take for granted through the eyes of someone who is not so blessed.

    As a Band Alum., I would have to add our biggest hangout, Parnaby's on Grape Rd. in Mishawaka as a must visit place for food. I am a bit hurt though, that you didn't list stopping by to visit me over by the Special RV lot on a football Saturday as a must see campus point of interest! :-D

    Good Luck! Go Irish!

  12. Oops, nice typo! That would be Barnaby's...

  13. Thanks, guys & gals, for all of the wonderful comments.

    Garrett ... I'll definitely have to try Yesterday's. I've never been there!

    And yes, Pat, Barnaby's is awesome!!

    Leanor ... I was just trying to make this more about a Notre Dame weekend in general, and not football specific ... but yes, on a football weekend the Pep Rally Friday night, and the player walk Saturday morning are must-see events!!

    Cheers all!

  14. Fantastic post! Full of information, points of interest, and an obvious love for Notre Dame. I just want to jump in my car and go visit now!

  15. Randy (ND_IRISH_FAN)December 3, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Great information on ND and fun things to do while visiting. My family makes a visit to ND at least twice a year from the Denver area, with one being for a football game. Each and every year it its a treat. However, I've never made it to Tippecanoe Place. Gonna have to try that for a brunch. Thanks for the great breakdown!

  16. hello
    Great info.
    My first visit was the past weekend. WOW! what a place. My son played a hockey tourney in the new Compton Family Arena. The students, staff, and faculty of ND are incredible. Mass at the Basilica is something I will remember for a life time. We visited many of the places you mentioned, but missed Badin's cabin.
    Must return.
    Go IRISH
    F. O'Connor