Summer Vacation: Bloomington

Your next great road trip is just a few hours away to Bloomington, Indiana. This gem (limestone, to be exact) of the Hoosier State is teeming with abundant nature escapes, history and an eclectic, international food scene. When the hustle and bustle of the Indiana University school year is over, B Town’s vibe is cool and relaxed with tons of space to roam and explore a truly welcoming and walkable city. 

Biddle Hotel

Where to Stay: 

Biddle Hotel & Conference Center

Located at Indiana Memorial Union, Biddle Hotel is truly in the heart of the IU campus and a great spot to stay and explore everything Bloomington has to offer. There’s a myriad of dining and snack shops available on-site like the Quarry Pie Co., Whitefield Grill, Union Market and The Globe, to name a few. There is also a hotel fitness center, IU bookstore, visitor information center and bowling/billiards on site. Indiana Memorial Union is the largest union in the country and features beautiful art from well-known Indiana impressionist artist T.C. Steele. 

Graduate Bloomington

Graduate Bloomington 

Graduate Hotel is located steps from Bloomington’s Courthouse Square and conveniently down the street from the IU campus. We love the pet-friendly nature and access to complimentary bikes. Graduate’s décor is a nostalgic Hoosier alum’s dream! Ask about the Stranger Things-theme suite and make sure to check out the alfresco Jack & Diana rooftop terrace, great for afternoon cocktails.

See & Do: 

Indiana University Bloomington

The campus is a gorgeous urban woodland wonderland with hearty landscaping, bridges, babbling brooks and historic 1800’s Indiana limestone buildings. It is easy to get lost among the trees and chirping birds. Wander through Dunn’s Woods or take a seat in Dunn Meadow, a large grassy gathering spot for students and residents alike. Stop by the visitor center and grab a Woodland Campus brochure, which provides a walking tour to explore the area and more than 20 notable trees on campus. Must stops? The iconic Sample Gates and idyllic Beck Chapel.  

Eskenazi Museum of Art

Located on campus, the Eskenazi Museum of Art features more than 45,000 objects for observation including pieces from all over the world, like Greek pottery, Asian treasures, panels from the Renaissance and much more. Visitors to this free museum can view paintings from Pablo Picasso, Monet and Jackson Pollock. Famed architect I.M Pei, who designed the Louvre Pyramid in Paris and Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, also designed the museum.  

Oliver Winery

Oliver Winery 

Just outside of town off of I-69 sits Oliver Winery, the oldest and largest winery in Indiana. Named for founder and former IU professor William Oliver, this sprawling and meticulously landscaped space is the perfect way to spend an afternoon relaxing in nature. Visitors can learn how Indiana limestone helps in the wine-growing process, take a tour, pair a tasting with selected cheeses or simply stop in for a glass of wine to enjoy with friends. Seating is available inside, on various levels in its extended main barn porch with a retractable roof, or at picnic tables near the property’s pond. Sip and savor an extensive list of approachable wines including traditional reds and whites or the popular line of moscato. Oliver Winery sources local farm fruit when available for its creations. Ask about any pilot project available, many with unique flavors like raspberry expresso or a Bee’s Knees wine. Oliver is open daily with reserved tastings and tours available online here.   

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) is located about a 10-minute drive from Downtown Bloomington and is dedicated to preserving and sharing the center’s culture. Explore the grounds with a self-guided walking tour, shop the on-site gift area and even stay overnight in a yurt. This space has frequently been visited by the Dalai Lama and other scholars from around the world. Tours are available Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. 

Lilly Library

Lilly Library 

Lilly Library houses IU’s principal rare books, manuscripts and special collections. Marvel at the more than 8.5 million manuscripts, 450,000 books, 150,000 pieces of sheet music and other cultural pieces. The library has rotating exhibits as well as permanent collections, most notably the first edition of The Canterbury Tales, the First Folio of William Shakespeare’s work and Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the Bill of Rights, among others. John James Audubon’s giant “Birds of America” prints are a must-see as well as the Gutenberg Bible circa 1456. Admission is free.  

Eats & Treats:

More than 100 restaurants in town represent cultures from all over the world including Turkish, Tibetan, Burmese, Thai and French, to name of few. Guests cannot go wrong with any selection, especially along 4th Street (International Row) with restaurants set up in former houses with unique vibes and food choices. It is hard to pick just one! Explore the area and let your taste buds choose.

Nick’s English Hut

A place that’s synonymous with the university, Nick’s has been serving up good old fashioned fun, drinks and food since 1927 and is truly a Bloomington staple. Decorated from head to toe and dedicated to the Hoosiers, you can get lost in memorabilia for hours. Nick’s serves a traditional pub menu but is well known for its burgers made with Fischer Farms Black Angus Premium National Beef from a 100-year-old Indiana farm as well as its delicious stromboli served with sweet pickles. Make sure to play Nick’s legendary game, Sink the Biz; someone will happily show you.

Switchyard Brewing Company

Switchyard Brewing Company

What’s a visit to a college town without hitting up a brewery? Switchyard Brewing Company, a community-based all-ages location, has a welcoming and easy-going vibe. Founded in 2014, Switchyard brews, cans and kegs all of its beer at its taproom location and offers wine, beer, ciders and NA options for sale. The passion for community, great beer, a gathering place for all and collaboration is evident at Switchyard, not only in its product but also among the staff. The brewery has about 15 rotating beers on tap, a few guest brews as well as an exclusive food partnership with Estación Del Sabor. Via the pay-it-forward card, guests can purchase a $10 card to write any message such as “for a nurse” or “for someone having a rough day” and no questions asked, another guest can take from the wall and use at the brewery.

Runcible Spoon

Just a few blocks from the IU campus, located in an old house is Runcible Spoon – the perfect place to start the day with breakfast or take a break exploring for lunch or dinner. Based on a children’s story, Runcible Spoon is quirky, cozy and whimsical. Fab favorites include the smoked salmon omelet and house-made corned beef hash. 

Hopscotch Coffee

Hopscotch Coffee

With two locations in the city (one off the B-Line trail and one adjacent to Bloomingfoods West), Hopscotch Coffee has some of the best coffee in town. Drop in for a small-batch roasted hot brew, specialty coffee, teas, smoothies, pastries and light breakfast and brunch items to start your Bloomington day. 

The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub 

The Irish Lion is a restored historical late-1880’s brick tavern reminiscent of an authentic Irish pub and serving up delicious food to match. From mussels and Celtic stew to lamb burgers and corned beef and cabbage, you will not leave hungry. Beautifully decorated with old wooden ship models, stained glass windows and a historic bar and bar back, Irish Lion is a must-stop just half a block from the downtown square. Guests can enjoy an extensive list of whiskeys including a tasting flight of four, 5-oz. pours. 

UI Auditorium

Additional B Town Fun:

-Biking around town is an easy and convenient way to see the town with bike-friendly trails available to any level. The B-Line Trail is a great way to explore the city on foot or bicycle. This paved trail traverses 3.1 miles along sections through town to outlying neighborhoods, passing by several shops and restaurants along the way.

-Check out the Bloomington Community Farmer’s Market for fresh goods and produce from local farmers. 

-Stop by the Orbit Room, a dive bar specializing in gourmet hot dogs and other classic bar snacks. Enjoy live music and work on your arcade pinball game. 

-Catch a concert, off-Broadway production or comedy show at IU Auditorium.

-Take a hike! Griffy Lake Nature Preserve offers 1,200 acres of hiking as well as fishing, kayaking and much more.  

For a full list of additional Bloomington information, visit

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