This is a place where legends live, so tackle the University of Notre Dame campus first to pay tribute to trailblazing football coach Knute Rockne and his Four Horsemen. Notre Dame's Gothic-style buildings and the spiraling Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the largest collection of 19th-century French stained-glass in the world, seduce you into lingering longer. But you'll want to venture off campus where more history runs deep, from the early automobiles at the Studebaker National Museum to the more than century-old Jefferson Boulevard Bridge, newly illuminated with a colored interactive light sculpture.
Candy Crush: Yes, you can even unwrap history of the sugary kind here with South Bend Chocolate Co.'s 38,000-square-foot factory and museum. Indulge in one of the largest collections of chocolate memorabilia in the world, including a 1,300-year-old Mayan chocolate pot, once used by Midwest chocolate makers. Take advantage of the outlet prices and stock up on the Old Fashion Toffee, layers of toffee covered by a rich milk chocolate studded with nuts. 3300 W. Sample St., South Bend, 574-233-2577, sbchocolate.com
Bench Filler: Designed to promote our connection to nature, Shiojiri Niwa, one of Indiana's few Japanese Gardens, has serene bridges, statuary, flowers, waterways, trees and stones often grouped in fives representing the universal elements of earth, water, fire, wind and sky. With its contemplative beauty and unique features such as the Japanese Teahouse Pavilion, this Chisen-Kaiyushiki, or strolling garden, helps us achieve peace. 1000 E. Mishawaka Ave., Mishawaka, 574-258-1664, mishawaka.in.gov/shiojiriniwa
Paddle Boat: The rushing East Race Waterway lets kayakers and rafters cascade through level 2 rapids at 450 to 500 cubic feet per second. So these rapids are swift enough that children under 16 can't go without an adult, but mild enough to travel without a guide. Just be prepared to get drenched — but, hey, that's part of the fun, right? Open June-August, 126 S. Niles Ave., South Bend, 574-233-6121, sbpark.org/parks/east-race-waterway
on trackLeave the driving to Amtrak by catching a train from the Cleveland Lakefront Station (coach starting at $36) for a quick, nearly five-hour ride to South Bend. "If you want the more private experience, or if you want to just hop on the train and take a nap, you can get a roomette," explains Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari. The bedroom with meals and bathroom options starts at $165. // Stephanie Grauer
app we love: tripomatic
It's easy to forget everything you want to do on a trip, so this app helps you organize your vacation with recommended attractions, landmarks and activities. Pull up contact info for each activity and a map plots the distances of your to-dos. Still stuck? Popular activities are listed by category on the home page. //Madeline Sweeney