When most people hear of Notre Dame, they think of its Fighting Irish football team. But Notre Dame, a premier Catholic University located by South Bend, Indiana, is a scenic place worth stopping for if traveling by car across the state. The campus highlights include the legendary Golden Dome, Hesburgh Library, Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and Notre Dame Stadium. It's a great place to stretch you legs if your long drive passes through Northern Indiana as the University is only five minutes from Indiana Toll Road exit 77.
Walk the nature trail around the two lakes on the northwest end of campus. Many old-growth trees mix with the traditional, collegiate gothic architecture. As these photos show, Notre Dame is especially beautiful in the fall when the leaves change.
A convenient place to get a bite to eat is the LaFortune Student Center between the Library and Golden Dome. Or for good soups and sandwiches try Lula's Cafe on Edison Road just a half-mile southeast of campus.
Getting tickets to a Notre Dame football game is tough enough, but what's worse is what one can expect to pay for a hotel room during those weekends. Hotels in South Bend are notorious for gouging during football weekends, often charging five times normal rates with three night minumums. You might be better off staying in Chicago which is about two hours away.