Experiences abound for anyone visiting The Bend, no matter the time of year. Seeing all of them in one trip, however, is a tall order. If you want to take a deeper dive (we encourage this!), it's probably time to consider booking a hotel room to extend your stay.

Whether looking for a starting point to plan a longer visit or looking to hit the high points during a short stay, how do you prioritize the things you have to see? We're here to help. We've narrowed the list to five things any visitor must do during their trip.

Tour the University of Notre Dame

One of the world’s most beautiful college campuses features landmark after landmark. Photo opportunities await in front of the Main Building, with the famous Golden Dome on top, and “The Word of Life” mural, better known as Touchdown Jesus. Free, guided walking tours are available from the Eck Visitors Center. You can also schedule a tour of Notre Dame Stadium, one of the country’s most historic college sports venues, via the athletics website.

Keep It Kid Friendly

Several kid friendly attractions make The Bend a destination everyone can enjoy. Potawatomi Zoo is home to nearly 500 animals, plus a Zoo Farm and Zoo Train. Then there’s a playground and splash pad at nearby Potawatomi Park. Four Winds Field, home to the South Bend Cubs, features a Fun Zone in the outfield and a splash pad of its own. If you’re looking to head indoors, Strikes and Spares Entertainment Center and SkyZone Trampoline Park are favorites.Both The History Museum and Studebaker National Museum have areas specific for kids. Tours of the South Bend Chocolate Co. factory are a hit, especially for those with a sweet tooth.

Splash Down the East Race

Summertime attractions don’t often come more action-packed than the East Race Waterway, which was the first man-made whitewater rafting course in North America at the time of its opening. The East Race pits rafters (or kayakers) against Class II rapids right in the heart of downtown South Bend. You’re sure to feel a rush of adrenaline, not to mention the splash of water, as you make your way down the course.

Dine Around Town

Great meals are around every corner in The Bend, whether you’re looking for casual grub or fine dining or anything in between. The editors of Midwest Living magazine chose their favorite restaurants awhile back. Café Navarre, LaSalle Grill and Fiddler’s Hearth Public House were among their top choices. You can also pick through some of our best pizza, burger, taco and breakfast spots as voted on by visitors and locals.

Take It Outside

Getting outside is a lifestyle in The Bend. There are ample parks throughout the area to explore. Potato Creek State Park, situated about 20 minutes south of South Bend, is one of the crown jewels. At its center is 327-acre Worster Lake. Many more parks run along the St. Joseph River in both South Bend and Mishawaka, offering some beautiful scenery. Shiojiri Niwa Japanese Garden is a Mishawaka gem and one of the most Instagram-worthy spots around The Bend.