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It's that time of the year again in Bloomington. No, I'm not talking about the warm weather, blooming flowers or chirping birds. I'm talking about mushrooms - more specifically, morels. If you've never hunted, found or eaten a morel mushroom, then you're truly missing out on one of spring's most eventful and delicious fleeting mysteries.
Where to Begin
I'd recommend going morel hunting with someone who has experience in finding and identifying these fungi. If they're really nice the'll show you their secret patch (we've all got one or two). The Hoosier National Forest south of Bloomington is ideal morel territory but they can be found almost anywhere. Regardless of where you go, do make sure you have permission and bring plenty of bags just in case you stumble into a goldmine (morels in some stores can go for as much as $200 per lb.). Though they are fairly easy to recognize, there are a few lookalike mushrooms that will leave you with a bad stomach ache at best (some can be fatal), so if you're not absolutely sure it's a morel, better to leave that one in the woods.
Here's what you're looking for:
The Hunt is On
There are many theories about where to look for these elusive mushrooms. Some say to search near elm trees, others say oak trees, still others say may apples. The truth is they can be found almost anywhere; forests, fields, backyards and gardens. There is no exact science to where they grow (yet) but there are a few general rules that will get you headed in the right direction.
1. They like to pop up on warm days after spring rains (mid April - early May)
2. They like well drained, soft soil rather than marshy areas or hardened mud.
3. They like to grow near standing dead trees with decaying underground roots.
4. Early morels will grow near the edges of fields and on south-facing slopes where the sunshine is plentiful. As the season progresses they'll be found deeper in the woods.
5. Morels usually grow in groups, so cover plenty of ground and when you find one slow down and search the area thoroughly.
6. Remember the spot - it is very likely that they will come back next year (especially if you pinch off the stem of the mushroom and leave the roots undisturbed).
Bring a bottle of water and a snack, pick a sunny day and plan on doing more walking than picking. Even if you return empty-handed, it's still not a bad way to spend a warm spring afternoon. Happy Hunting!Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 22, 2014 7:56 AM by: Ryan Irvin
If you love birds, you're going to love this new addition to Bloomington's visitor options - IndiGo Birding Nature Tours is a brand-new business created by local naturalist David Rupp so he could share his love of birds and nature with visitors (and residents) in Bloomington.
Did you know that Bloomington is a birding hot spot in the Midwest? We're very lucky to have a number of fantastic birding locations right here in our area - places like Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve, Monroe Lake, Yellowwood State Forest, Leonard Springs Nature Park, the Hoosier National Forest, Goose Pond in nearby Green County and more. This allows IndiGo Birding to showcase a wide variety of birds to his clients, and he'll customize your experience based on the time you have available and what your group's specific interests and experience levels are.
A few of us on staff here at Visit Bloomington (and a couple of lucky visitors we encountered) were able to join David for a tour on the morning of April 16, 2014 and we had a fun and educational experience at Beanblossom Bottoms! We were able to see a bald eagle (and its nest) and several other varieties of birds, including more than one species of woodpecker and a beautiful, bright yellow Prothonotary Warbler!
Here are a few photos from our adventure:
Setting off with David at Beanblossom Bottoms...
As you enter the preserve, you can often see turtles sunning at the pond.
|To the left, there's a viewing platform that overlooks a bald eagle nest!||David came prepared with a fancy spotting scope to give us close-up views of the eagle and its nest.|
|The main trail at Beanblossom Bottoms is a wooden boardwalk, since it is a wetlands forest.||This is the Beanblossom creek crossing where we spotted several woodpeckers - and a muskrat!|
|David pointed out several species to us and helped us locate them with binoculars (and cameras).||A happy birding guide is one who just pointed out two red-headed woodpeckers to his group!|
|The boardwalk trail is two miles long, with periodic viewing platforms, like this one.||This is a great place to see not only woodpeckers and warblers, but also water birds!|
Need a reason to plan a visit to Bloomington this May? Well, look no further - we're already looking forward to next month, and we've put together a list of our top ten picks for things you want to get on your calendar now!
Find out more about these events, and dozens more, on our complete Event Calendar.
WonderLab's First Friday event this month features local limestone carvers! Find out more about this important part of Bloomington's past (and present) and take part in fun hands-on activities. Half off admission after 5 pm.
The Letters - May 2-18
Cardinal Stage Company presents an ordinary office interview in Stalinist Russia - is Anna being promoted or accused of a capital crime? If you like political thrillers, you'll love this on-the-edge-of-your-seat production!
Peoples Park Concerts - May 6, 13, 20, 22, 27 & 29
An annual summertime tradition in Bloomington, lunchtime concerts in Peoples Park on Kirkwood are a great way to relax and enjoy that unique B-town atmosphere. Grab lunch to go from a downtown eatery!
Strawberry Shortcake Festival - May 8
This annual Bloomington tradition involves delicious homemade shortcake topped with strawberries, whipped topping and Burster's vanilla ice cream along with live music on the courthouse lawn.
Take Apart Weekend - May 10-11
Drop by WonderLab to let your curious little ones take apart an assortment of household electronics, see the parts inside that make things work and then use those parts to create something cool to take home.
Kinsey Juried Art Show Opening Day - May 16
The 9th Annual Kinsey Juried Art Show will be on exhibit at the Grunwald Gallery on the IU campus this summer. Attend an Open House at the Kinsey Institute, meet the artists and enjoy a free evening reception. 18+ please.
GRETA - May
The Bloomington Playwrights Project presents the second draft of Kissing frogs - one of their most popular shows. Greta, now 37, is pretty, smart, about to be married and... freaking out!
WFHB Acoustic Roots Festival - May 17
The 7th Annual Acoustic Roots Festival will showcase local and regional acoustic roots artists on two stages. Held on the grounds of Upland Brew Pub, you know there will be great food and drink as well!
Limestone Comedy Festival - May 29-31
You won't want to miss this - it's a three-day comedy festival so big, it takes five venues to hold all the laughter! Headlining acts include Patton Oswalt, Jimmy Pardo and Emo Philips.
Clips Beer & Film Tour - May 30
This fun, New Belgium beer-toting, film-traveling, nonprofit-benefiting show has become a fast favorite! Featuring good beer, short films and great food at Bryan Park, benefiting Open Streets Bloomington this year.
Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 1:26 PM by: Tosha Daugherty
We're about one month away from Indiana University's graduation weekend...
and that means there are thousands of Hoosiers getting ready to graduate and leave Bloomington to begin exciting new adventures. We wish them well and hope to see them back to visit at some point, but in the meantime we've put together a list of classic only-in-Bloomington, off-campus experiences every student should be sure to have before graduation day.
Here are thirty things to add to your B-town Bucket List:
- See a local play by Cardinal Stage Co. or the BPP
- Enjoy some live music at The Bluebird
- Eat a steak at Janko's Little Zagreb
- Spend an afternoon looking for eagles at Lake Monroe
- Climb the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower (bring a camera)
- Visit the Butler Winery Vineyard location
- Walk the entire B-Line Trail
- Watch the sunset with friends from the Upland Patio
- Visit WonderLab
- Hike back to the waterfall at Cascades Park
- Go rock climbing at Hoosier Heights
- Eat a picnic in a local park
- Ice cream at the Chocolate Moose
- Take in a show at the Comedy Attic
- Participate in Downtown Gallery Walk at least once
- Eat at Hinkle's Hamburgers
- Take a selfie with Herman (and one with Hoagy, too)
- Walk the trail at Leonard Springs Nature Park
- Go to a drive-in movie
- Go to at least one restaurant on 4th Street
- Play pool or darts at the Vid
- Hike out to Steppe Cemetery in Morgan-Monroe State Forest
- Spin the prayer wheels at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center
- Dessert with drinks at Oliver Winery Downtown
- Actually go inside the Monroe County Courthouse - look up
- Attend Farmers' Market at least once
- Visit the Monroe County History Center
- Go hiking or canoeing at Lake Griffy
- Discover the Little Africa Wildlife Area a Lake Lemon...
- ...and have lunch at the Porthole Inn
- Spend the afternoon on Lake Monroe (ON, not at)
For extra credit, venture beyond Bloomington proper to explore a few our neighboring communities. Here are five day trips we highly recommend:
- Visit the Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum in nearby Solsberry
- Explore Bluespring Caverns, Spring Mill's Pioneer Village and learn about Gus Grissom in Lawrence County
- Drive over to Nashville and visit Brown County State Park (and do some shopping!)
- Go to the Art Sanctuary (and Candy Kitchen) in nearby Martinsville
- Venture as far as Columbus to visit Zaharako's and relax in Mill Race Park
Before you leave town, give us a follow on your social media platform of choice and sign up to receive our monthly emails so you can stay in the know about all the great things happening here in Bloomington. That way, you'll know exactly when to get started on planning your first Alumni visit back to B-town - and you can do that right here at www.visitbloomington.com!
Are there things you'd add to our B-town Bucket List? Leave us a comment!Posted on: Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014 8:38 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
We get a lot of questions at the visitors center, and many times, visitors want our staff recommendations. That's a tough one! There are so many great restaurants, museums, galleries, theater groups, music venues, parks, lakes... you get the idea. So I decided to start a blog series, asking our staff for their picks on certain topics. We'll try to keep it specific, so you get a helpful recommendation on something you might actually want to try.
For this first post, I asked our staff for their favorite places to have brunch. Since it's nearing Easter and Mother's Day, we're pretty much in the heart of brunch season. And brunch is not something that's served at every restaurant, so these tips should help out. This is most definitely NOT an exhaustive list of all the places to get brunch (and none of these lists will be), just our staff picks. So order up some eggs or waffles or prime rib (that's what's awesome about brunch-the variety!) at one of these locations:
Erin (group sales savant) - Lennie's: they've got chicken and waffles, plus some delicious champagne coolies.
Ryan (makes all our stuff look pretty) - The Owlery: where else can you get lentils and kale for breakfast?
Mike H (intern- got a job for him?)- Village Deli: it's not too pricey, and the portions are huge.
Laura (does a little of everything, and a lot of some things) - Sweetgrass: the cinnamon roll is killer, and the other items are unique and at a good price.
Mike M (boss man) - Uptown: great food and great service.
Tosha (online media maven) - The Tamale Cart: they're amazing, and they're at the Farmers' Market on Saturdays and Atlas Ballroom on Sunday mornings.
Marcia (pays the bills, and sends the bills) - Uptown: the crème brulee French toast is delicious!
Teal (takes care of the details)- Bobby's Colorado Steakhouse: there's so much variety, but the French toast is so good-it's battered and dipped in cereal bits!
Jordan (sports champion) - FARMbloomington: I'm a breakfast guy so I go with the Bloomington classic breakfast with over medium eggs.
Carol (keeper of all brochures) - Uptown: Popeye's omelet is the best!
Julie (marketing master) - Runciple Spoon: it's cozy, and they have the classics plus a few with an Irish twist. And the bacon is perfectly cooked.
Did we miss any? Share your faves in the comments!Posted on: Monday, Apr 7, 2014 4:54 AM by: Julie Warren
Spring is in the air in Bloomington...
All the signs are here - the first flowers on the IU campus (hello, pansies), rainy days (hi there, spring showers), and Bloomington Craft Beer Week! Yes, we're talking an entire week devoted to celebrating local, craft beer right here in Bloomington, Indiana. Beginning on April 4, events and festivities will continue through April 12, culminating in the Bloomington Craft Beer Festival at the historic Woolery Limestone Mill.
To make planning for this oh-so-important week easy for you, we've compiled a list of events for you to reference. Here's the What, When and Where of Bloomington Craft Beer Week (of course, the Who is you and your friends):
|Flat 12 Tap Takevoer||Sat., Apr. 5||Nick's English Hut|
|BBC Rooftop IPA Bottle Release||Sat., Apr. 5
|Big Red Liquors
|Flat 12 Sunday Funday||Sun., Apr. 6
|Yogi's Grill & Bar|
|Upland & New Belgium Collaboration Party||Mon., Apr. 7
||Yogi's Grill & Bar|
|Root Cellar Candlelight Brewery Dinner||Tues., Apr. 8
|Root Cellar Lounge|
|Cutters & BBC Tap Takeover||Wed., Apr. 9
|Sun King Tap Takeover||Wed., Apr. 9
||Yogi's Grill & Bar|
|Cutters Tap Takeover||Thurs., Apr. 10
||Nick's English Hut|
|BBC Tap Takeover||Thurs., Apr. 10
|Yogi's Grill & Bar|
|Upland & Oskar Blues Featured||Thurs., Apr. 10
|Upland Vinyl Tap Release Party||Fri., Apr. 11
|Upland Brewing Co.|
|BBC & New Albanian Tap Takeover||Fr., Apr. 11
|Nick's English Hut|
|Bloomington Craft Beer Festival||Sat., Apr. 12
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 3, 2014 7:05 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
So, what happens when you ask Visit Bloomington a question? Well, you get great answers, that's what! Here's a recent example from Twitter (we're @VisitBtown there):
So, the next time you have a question about Bloomington - just ask! Whether you're looking for general information about the area, or personalized recommendations for your next visit, we've got your answers (or we'll find them for you)! On Twitter, follow @VisitBtown, or use the #AskBtown hashtag, and don't forget to give us a like on Facebook as well, where you can post your questions to our Timeline, or send us a private message.Posted on: Wednesday, Apr 2, 2014 6:24 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Looking ahead to April, we've identified 10 don't-miss events that you'll want to add to your calendar next month. We've tried to include a variety of event types, so you'll see whether you're looking for the perfect weekend for the kids, craft beer lovers, athletes or IU alumni, you'll find it here. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of upcoming events in Bloomington - be sure to check our full calendar listings for dozens more awesome reasons to plan a quick trip to B-town!
Hoosier Half Marathon & 5K, April 5
This race is challenging and rewarding - the hills are a challenge; the scenic views of Bloomington and the IU campus are rewarding, as are the incredible post-race dining options available to you! Make it a weekend and enjoy the beauty of springtime in Bloomington. more...
Bloomington Craft Beer Week & Festival, April 5-12
A week-long celebration of craft beer in Bloomington culminates with the 4th Annual Bloomington Craft Beer Festival at the historic Woolery Stone Mill. The event features dozens of Indiana craft breweries, live music and a unique and awe-inspiring atmosphere! more...
Nano! A Big Weekend for Small Science, April 5-6
Take part in a national festival at WonderLab and explore this cutting edge area in the sciences. Join in the fun at multiple activity stations exploring nanoscience concepts, including helping to build a giant two-story balloon sculpture as a model of a carbon nanotube! Free with museum admission. more...
Mad Gravity, April 4-19
The Bloomington Playwrights Project introduces you to Archie and Eudora, who have a live studio audience in their living room to help them lead an honest and honorable life. Things get a little awkward when some important visitors have a massive case of stage fright and an asteroid may be headed cataclysmically toward the Earth... more...
The Combine, April 11-13
You won't want to miss Bloomington's own technology conference. Join some of the nation's top thinkers and doers for The Combine, April 11-13. Featured speakers include keynote presenter Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, the world's most loved space cat Lil BUB, lead singer for the band Murder By Death Adam Turla and many more. more...
Guys and Dolls, April 18-26
You won't be able to resist the streetwise charms of a couple of lovable gangsters as they bet on their futures - romantic and otherwise! IU Theatre presents this popular musical set on the streets of New York City. Who's willing to take a gamble on love? Roll the dice, reserve your tickets and see! more...
West Side Story, April 22-23
From the first note to the final breath, West Side Story is one of the most memorable musicals and greatest love stories of all time. What happens when idealistic Polish-American Tony and innocent Puerto Rican Maria fall in love amidst the turf warfare of their rival ethnic gangs? more...
Hammer and Nail, April 23-24
This annual collaboration between IU Contemporary Dance and the Jacob's School of Music's Student Composer Association teams up student dancers and musicians to create breathtaking performances. Admission is free, but donations to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank are appreciated. more...
IU Little 500 Weekend, April 25-26
Often called the Greatest Collegiate Weekend, the Little 500 is the largest collegiate bicycle race in the country, and an Indiana University tradition. Join the more than 25,000 fans that gather to watch these cyclists ride for glory on the quarter-mile cinder track of Armstrong Stadium. more...
Trashion Refashion Runway Show, April 27
This annual community fashion event seeks to increase awareness of sustainable design practices. The runway show will showcase designs created from upcycled clothing and discarded materials. Live music, aerial performers, the Hudsucker Possee, Trashion-off competition and the sale of upcycled clothing and accessories round out the evening. more...
Posted on: Tuesday, Mar 11, 2014 8:13 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
The recent brief warm-up was oh-so-welcome, but now that the weather's turned cold and wintry again it almost seems worse than ever, and if that darn groundhog was right we've still got three whole weeks to go until spring. (Coincidentally, that's what the calendar says, too since spring officially begins on March 20.)
Never fear - if you're feeling a bit under the weather, so to speak, we've got the cure. Get out of the house and enjoy one (or more) of these great special events! Here's our list of 10 fabulously fun upcoming events to get your whole family through the last of the winter doldrum and into springtime:
- Pippi Longstocking
Cardinal For Kids presents everyone's favorite free-spirited little redhead!
- Bayou Boogie
Join BIRA in a celebration of Mardi Gras with a shrimp and crawfish boil.
- A Red Carpet Affair at the Buskirk-Chumley.
You're going to watch the Oscars anyway, right? Might as well do it in style!
- Mathers Museum Family Craft Day: Carnival
Learn about the stories behind the traditions of Mardi Gras and Carnival.
- Indiana Heritage Quilt Show & affiliated community exhibits.
These aren't your grandma's quilts. We promise - your whole family will enjoy it!
- First Friday Science of Art
Don't miss the University Players present this fun Children's Theater event at WonderLab!
- TV Technology with PBS Kids
Learn the tricks of the TV trade with the experts from WTIU at WonderLab.
- Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Be mezmerized by a performance from America's foremost modern dance ensemble.
- Flight of the Falcon: A Live Animal Show
Meet live falcons and learn about the amazing speed and physical features of this raptor.
- Make a Mini Death Star
Explore how geometry can help you create a Star Wars "death star" for your room!
Posted on: Monday, Feb 24, 2014 8:05 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Grab your family - kids, parents and grandparents included - it's Indiana Heritage Quilt Show time in Bloomington, Indiana! It's the perfect excuse to bring a couple of generations together to appreciate the artistic beauty of this time-honored tradition and share all the fun and excitement of a Bloomington getaway.
Historically, quilting has long been a catalyst for bonding among friends and families through shared experiences, quilting bees and the passing down of skills and knowledge from one generation to the next. Let the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show become the catalyst for some family bonding among your loved ones! The show takes place March 6-8 at the Bloomington Covnention Center and will feature an amazing variety of quilted works on display, on-site vendors, quilting workshops and several unique exhibits at attractions located throughout the community.
The show itself features several categories of quilts vying for more than $12,000 in cash and prizes. In addition, there will be a special exhibition of works by artist Nysha Oren Nelson, who will also be serving as an artist in residence throughout the show to provide live quilting demonstrations and answer questions.
Additional quilt related exhibitions and events in the Bloomington community can be found at the following attractions:
Farmer House Museum will host an exhibit exploring how textile arts have impacted family life in Monroe County and been passed down as family traditions.
Monroe County History Center will present "Cracking the Code: Quilts from the Mid-19th Century," exploring how quilts were once believed to have been used to aid travelers on the Underground Railroad. The exhibit will examine different patterns and their purported meanings across different regions.
Mathers Museum of World Cultures will present a special event on Sat., March 8, at 1 pm. Native American quilts will be highlighted in a "bed turning," a traditional event in which quilters would gather to share their work. As each quilt was shown and discussed, it would be "turned' so the next could be seen.
Old National Bank Gallery will display an exhibit featuring the Art Quilters of Bloomington. The exhibit will highlight a variety of art quilting styles.
WonderLab presents "Art Quilts by Beth Schnellenberger," a collection of ten original quilts designed, pieced and hand-quilted by Beth Schnellenberger from Jasper, Indiana. The heavily stitched, contemporary pieces of fiber art feature strong geometric shapes, high contrast and bold colors.
Wylie House Museum will exhibit several quilts from the Wylie House collection, as well as others borrowed from friends of the museum. Both 19th and 20th Century quilts will be on display and all will be traditional patters, pieced and quilted by hand.Posted on: Thursday, Feb 20, 2014 1:42 PM by: Tosha Daugherty