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10 Sure Bets in B-town for August, 2014

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

We're more than halfway through July, which means August and back-to-school time are just around the corner!  Bloomington still has plenty of fun events happening, so you can soak up every last drop of summer before it disappears.  

 Even more great events can be found on our full calendar.  


First Friday/Gallery Walk - August 1

Downtown Bloomington is celebrating First Friday & Gallery Walk! Check out all the participating galleries to see special exhibits, entertainment, & food.  Even the little ones can get in on the action with special exhibits and demonstrations at Wonderlab. 

2014 uncork

4th Annual Uncork the Uplands - August 2

Uncork the Uplands celebrates the new American Viticulture Area, the Indiana Uplands AVA.  For one night you get to enjoy tastings of all nine south-central Indiana Upland Wine Trail wineries in one beautiful location at Oliver Winery's Creekbend Vineyard!


Wonder Wonka Food Factory - August 3

Get your golden ticket to the Wonder Wonka Food Factory!  Enjoy such magical edible chemistry activities like making "aerobic ice cream", frozen cheese puff "dragon's breath", fizzy fruit soda, and much more.

comedy fest

The 6th Annual Bloomington Comedy Festival - July 15-August 27

40 Comedians.  11 Weeks.  39 Frowny Emoticons.  1 Champion.  With almost all sold out shows, the best audiences of the year, and the ability to decide the winner, the Bloomington Comedy Festival returns for the 6th year.  Wednesday nights, all summer long!


2014 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour - August 22-23

Showcasing a wide variety of story and style, the Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour is a 94-minute theatrical program of eight short films from the 2014 edition of the January Festival.  

creekbend blues bash

Creekbend Bluegrass Bash - August 23 / Grant St. Jazz Festival - August 23

The Creekbend Bluegrass Bash is $20/car and allows you to enjoy wine tasting, food trucks, self-guided vineyard tours, and live bluegrass music! Don't forget to hit up the Grant St. Jazz Festival while you're in town as well to hear some of Bloomington's finest jazz talent.

hillbilly haiku

Hillbilly Haiku - August 29     

Come listen to some live music at Upland's Brew Pub and enjoy some of their great food and beer!  The lineup includes headliner Murder by Death, Lydia Loveless, and the Kopecky Family Band.     

IU Football

IU Football vs. Indiana State - August 30

Indiana, our Indiana!  Help kick off the first game of the IU football season. Bring your friends and family for some tailgating and hit up the Hoosier Village before the game starts!   


Makevention - August 30

Local and regional makers of all kinds will be here showing off the things they've made.  This is a family-friendly event for all ages and a fun way to get involved in the Maker movement.     

4th St. festival

4th St. Festival of the Arts & Crafts - August 30-31

Exhibitors display their fine arts and crafts on the beautiful tree-lined section of 4th St. in Bloomington, close to downtown and Indiana University.  The festival attracts artisans and craftsmen from all over the country to exhibit, but regional talent is well represented as well.


Staff Picks: Summer Swimming

Posted in: Family Fun Comments

July in Indiana means scorching hot days with humidity high enough to be visible by the naked eye.  I'm sweating just thinking about it.  So what does one do to keep cool during these unbearably hot days?  Go swimming, of course!  We're lucky, around here there are plenty of places to go swimming, each with their own unique assets.  So our staff has provided their favorite places to cool off during the summer months.

  • Mike- The spillway on Monroe Lake is my favorite place to go swimming.  It's free, easy to access, not a lot of people are around, and you can take your dog with you. 
  • Jordan- Lake Monroe of course!  The side west of the causeway is great for wakeboarding and tubing, and the east side is good if you want to relax a bit, since it's the idle zone and a little more quiet.  (Jordan's answer hinges on having access to a boat-but if you don't own one, there are several boat rental places at the lake! Also, the official name is Monroe Lake, but most people reverse it, like Jordan.)
  • Splash PadJulie- The splash pad at Karst Farm Park is fantastic for families.  It's not so much a swimming hole (there's no pool, or even pooling of water) but the sprayers are great for cooling off and young kids can take part, which is awesome.  They have a playground right next to it as well, so kids can get wet then dry off zooming down the slides.  And maybe best of all, it's free!
  • Laura- Hardin Ridge Recreation Area at Monroe Lake is my favorite.  It's a little bit further away, but there is a good mix of sunny and shady areas, and places for kids to play.  There are also trails nearby for hiking, and camping sites too.
  • Teal- I LOVE the IU Outdoor Pool!  I have great memories of the one summer of college I worked as a lifeguard and taught swim lessons. They have lap swimming in the mornings and then open it up for recreational swimming in the afternoon, and have a separate shallow pool for the little ones.  My favorite part is the diving well.  They usually open up the 1, 3 and 5 meter platforms for jumping...it's the only pool in town where you can jump off a board that high!
  • Ryan- I like to go to Grubb Ridge trail head in Deam Wilderness and hike off-trail (north) to Monroe lake.  There are countless "private beaches" along the shoreline.
  • Erin- The IU Outdoor Pool is my favorite.  It's got a great pool deck with lots of chairs to layout out and good music over the PA system!
Fairfax Beach

So many options!  There are several other public swimming pools and beaches worth checking out, including Bryan Park pool (an excellent family option with water slides and zero-depth kiddie pool), Jellystone Park (they have a cool new splash zone) and Riddle Point Park at Lake Lemon (an excellent beach with less traffic than the Monroe Lake options.)  So the question is, where do you like to splash around?

10 Sure Bets in B-town for July, 2014

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

It's the middle of June, which means two things -

1) summer is really, officially here (well, as of the 21st anyway), and 
2) it's time to plan your July getaway to Bloomington! 
Here's a quick list of 10 awesome events happening in July. Trust us - there's something here you really want to experience! From family fun to grown-up comedy, Bloomington is ready and waiting for your summer fun. Even more great events can be found on our full calendar.  

School House Rock Live!

School House Rock Live! - through July 12

You remember Conjunction Junction, right? See it live on stage as part of the IU Summer Festival of the Arts! Get your friends from school together for a weekend, and be sure to bring the kids so they can experience it, too! 

Maria Bamford

Maria Bamford - July 2 & 3

Fresh from being named "Best Club Comic" at the 2014 American Comedy Awards, Maria Bamford comes bck to Bloomington for two performances at The Comedy Attic. Show time is 8 pm - you might want to get those tickets in advance...

4th of July Parade

4th of July & First Friday - July 4

Everyone loves a parade! Come downtown for the annual 4th of July Parade and live music, then stick around to celebrate First Friday at a variety of downtown businesses and attractions. 

Creatures of the Night

Creatures of the Night - July 5

Enjoy an interactive live animal show, presented by Indiana Wild. Presentations will be at 1:30 and 3:30 pm, focusing on the special survival adaptations of a variety of noctural species. Cost is $3 per ticket, plus museum admission.

Jazz in July

Jazz in July - July 6-25 

Join the IU Art Museum on four dates in July as they feature free Jazz performances outdoors on the sculpture terrace. Refreshmans are availble and the special exhibits gallery will be open from 5:3o-8:30 pm.  

Heritage Days

Paynetown Heritage Days - July 11-13

Take a peek into the past at Paynetown SRA's Heritage Days. The highlight of the event is Heritage Village, where reenactors portray time periods from 1745-1890s. As you wander, you may see a craftsman twisting a rope, try throwing a tomahawk, or step into a trader's tent.

The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz - July 13 

Grab the whole family and head for the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre to see this classic, beloved family film starring Judy Garland... on the big screen! A unique experience, especially for little ones who've only see it on TV.  

Creekbend Vineyard

Taste of Creekbend - July 18-19 & 25-26

You've tasted the wine... now experience Creekbend Vineyard! Explore the beautiful vineyard firsthand in this unique event featuring a walking tour, wine tasting and personal cheese plate. There are four tour times available on each date. 

Red Eye Relay

Red Eye Relay - July 19

Take your summer running routine up a notch! Put together a team to run this 100-mile relay...overnight. That's right, they run all night long (and it's sponsored by Upland Brewing Company, so you know it'll be amazing). 

Monroe County Fair

Monroe County Fair - July 27- Aug. 2

Nothing says summer like a traditional county fair, complete with carnival rides, games, 4-H projects, animals and, of course, loads and loads of yummy food vendors! 


Staff Picks: Limestone Rocks!

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

June is limestone month, a time when the communities in Monroe and Lawrence counties celebrate the limestone heritage, industry, architecture and artistry that permeates the area.  Besides enjoying the sights along the Indiana Limestone Heritage Trail (as you can do all year long), there are special events and activities that only happen in June.  There are guided tours, presentations and special exhibits that all highlight that unique geological feature that lies under our feet.  You can find a calendar of limestone events and more information on that trail at www.limestonemonth.com.  To celebrate limestone month with this month's Staff Picks blog, I asked everyone to share with me their favorite limestone experience or attraction. 

    Bloomington Banquet
  • Teal- My favorite limestone feature is located in one of my favorite spots in town where all my favorite events happen!  The Bloomington Banquet sculpture is located on the B-Line trail right behind city hall, the same spot where the Farmers' Market and Taste of Bloomington take place.  It represents all the things that the town & the community bring to the table to make Bloomington so great & unique, and it reminds me of all the great food & restaurants we have here as well!
  • Ryan- I love the natural limestone bluffs along the western most portion of the Grubb Ridge Loop in Deam Wilderness.
  • Mike- I love the Gothic styles of many of the building on Indiana University's campus.  Every time I walk through there I know I'm being watched by gargoyles, serpents, owls and bats as I've caught a couple of their eyes moving on occasion.  It's a little bit freaky but very cool.
  • Erin- My favorite limestone feature in the area is the building that my great-grandfather owned and ran his cobbler shop out of (on H Street in Bedford) that has my last name, Erdmann, carved into a limestone header at the top of the building.
  • Tosha- Touring the underground quarry at Elliott Stone Company is unique and fascinating. (Check out Tosha's previous blog about the experience here.)
  • Carol- Several years ago I had the good fortune to take a walking tour of the IU campus led by Brian Keith of the Indiana Geological Survey. While I had always admired the beauty of the limestone buildings, the expertise and enthusiasm he demonstrated led to an even greater appreciation. The raw material itself is beautiful, but to see what generations of artisans have constructed from it - both massive buildings and intricate carvings - with a most knowledgeable guide was a terrific experience.
  • Sam- I've always been intrigued by the "little Stonehenge" at the Bloomington Harley  store.   How it got there is just as puzzling as the real Stonehenge, but I bet it was just a bunch of tough bikers.
  • Marcia- I like the limestone sculpture (Red, Blonde, Black and Olive) Red, Blonde, Black & Oliveat the Miller-Showers Park as you enter town from the north.  The two faces just say welcome home!  It shows that Bloomington is an outgoing and welcoming community to everyone.
  • Laura- I think the limestone carvers are amazing artists.  That they can take this huge block of stone and turn them into works of art is pretty awesome.  The visions they have and the care in creating something (one wrong tap or cut and they have to start over) is pretty cool.  (Check out the Indiana Limestone Symposium this month to see some carvers in action, or take a hand carving class yourself!)
  • Julie- It's not very experiential, but I like seeing the old quarries along the side of the road.  They're kind of haunting; these massive piles of stone surrounding cavernous quarries now filled with water.  But they're pretty too, and reminders of the powerful industry and the unique geology of the area.

The variety of experiences you can have with limestone is expansive.  There's great artwork, amazing architecture, nature appreciation and historical appeal.  And many times, there's a local connection to the stone or the industry.  Limestone is a part of Bloomington's culture from the bedrock underground to the gargoyles high overhead.  I'd say limestone pretty much rocks!


Explore Artistic Spaces in Bloomington - June 7-8, 2014

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

"I love to explore the places where people create their art, like being privy to the laboratories of scientists with their workings, formulas, diagrams and mysterious-to-me machines on display. Just this type of opportunity to explore exists in the Bloomington Open Studios Tour on June 7 and 8th. Forty artists will open their doors to any who wish to experience the inner workings of a studio space, to meet and talk with the artists and to see their art, both in-progress and completed, and to have an opportunity to purchase a piece directly from them.

An artist's studio is full of designs and renderings and is usually strewn with curious diverse materials like oily paint, shredded plastic bags, onion-dyed textiles, or torch-cut industrial scrap. Each space varies according to the needs of the maker, sometimes being tightly organized like a Montessori classroom or another an open, retrofitted space with materials, tools, and partially completed works oozing out into the surrounding woods. Myriad tools or mechanisms that assist the artist's making are layered about such as hand-punches for leather, a wood-fired outdoor kiln, hanging from the ceiling gantry devices, a sewing machine or loom, a computer, or a laser-jet cutter.

I had just moved to Bloomington prior to last year's event and thought that this might be the perfect opportunity to check out the art-maker community of my new home. It far exceeded my expectations. Not knowing my way around the city the maps guided me on delightful tours including city walks through Bloomington's architecturally significant BEAD district, tightly knit urban neighborhoods, the outer suburban ring with glorious gardens, and beyond the city into greater Bloomington's famous cascading countryside replete with yellow fields, hilly ravines, and limestone outcroppings. Some of the artists shared work or exhibit space while others worked in complete isolation. As a visitor, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in a dialogue with an artist, to simply listen to an ongoing conversation, or to view quietly and have only an internal relationship with the works of art. I found there was simply not enough time to experience all that I wanted to given the richness of offerings.

One artist showed her narrative daily diaries that took colorful pictorial form in machine quilted collages, another showed fancifully decorative furniture, and another displayed geometric, suspended pieces that juxtaposed brightly-hued fused glass with polished, sculptural steel elements. Yet another had a magnificent vintage letter-press on which the artist printed a range of objects from broadsides and chapbooks to posters and teeshirts, taking an early 20th century technology of communication and using it both as a nostalgic device while making it still relevant. Various painters used traditional watercolor techniques, or improvisational bold gestures in oil paint, or miniature brushed egg tempera in jeweled layers to render landscapes while ceramicists used humble clay to create mugs that fit beautifully in the hand to monumental hand-built sculptures that resembled cairns. Jewelers showed studios on an almost miniature scale, displaying diverse pieces that ranged from expressive connections of found objects to meticulously crafted, hand-sawed or cast silver elements imbedded with gemstones. There was such a broad range of ideas, processes, materials, and techniques this list could go on for pages.

Inspired and amazed by this enormous outpouring of creativity in Bloomington, I determined that I would participate in the 2014 BOST. My husband and I have almost completed the build of our studio/shop and will open it to all of you on June 7th and 8th. My blacksmith and steel fabrication shop is close to completion where I would love to show you some of my wares and sculpture, the glass shop isn't quite up and running yet but examples of torchworked jewelry are here, and another artist who paints birds and landscapes principally with watercolor and sumi ink in the manner of a Chinese brush painting will be displaying her work in our classroom/gallery. Many such duo showings are happening on this year's tour and in addition, some artists will be demonstrating their techniques.

This year's BOST has 40 artists who each will be delighted to talk with you about how their work unfolds, share with you their discoveries, and will value the fresh eyes that you bring to their process. And not so incidentally, there will be treats including the famous thumb-print jelly cookies of one of our artists!"

Open Studios Tour - Luna Song Designs  Michal Ann Carley - Luna Song Designs

Special thanks to our guest blogger, and BOST participant, Michal Ann Carley. With an impressive background painting, working for art museums and as a professor of art and art history, Michal Anne recently relocated to Bloomington. Here, she and her husband mantain Luna Song Designs, which is a teaching studio specializing in forging and fabrication, glass and woodworking. 

Fourth IU Summer Festival of the Arts offers something for everyone!

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

After living in Bloomington during the summer for the first time, I learned to never underestimate the joy of easily finding a parking space on Kirkwood Avenue or quickly getting a table at the Village Deli on late Sunday mornings.

This year marks my third summer in Bloomington, and the peace and quiet that follows the end of spring semester never gets old. But I know if I ever get bored, I can visit one of several arts events offered by Indiana University Bloomington, conveniently listed on the IU Summer Festival of the Arts calendar.

Exhibits, theater productions, films, live music - the arts on campus don't stop just because the students leave town. In fact, the Summer Festival of the Arts began in 2011 with the goal of supporting the creation of new arts events for residents and tourists, as well as those attending the various camps, conferences and workshops held on campus.

Many of the arts events are free and family-friendly, like the production "School House Rock Live!" as part of the 2014 Indiana Festival Theatre, offered by IU Bloomington's Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance within the College of Arts and Sciences. And if you want to leave the kids at home, head to the IU Cinema where you can choose from a diverse lineup of foreign, drama and documentary films.

For those who are considering making a trip to Bloomington this summer, watch this Summer Festival of the Arts promotional video, which perfectly summarizes all the arts events that IU Bloomington has to offer this year: 

The fourth Summer Festival of the Arts officially kicked off on Monday, May 12, and will run through Aug. 24. Events are held at venues across campus, including the IU Art Museum, IU Cinema, Grunwald Gallery of Art, Jacobs School of Music, Kinsey Institute Gallery, Lilly Library, Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Wylie House Museum and Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center.

While a complete list of Summer Festival of the Arts activities can be found online, a few of my favorite highlights include:

Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show, opening reception 6 to 8 p.m. May 16 at the Henry Radford Hope School of Fine Arts in the Grunwald Gallery of Art, Room 110. The exhibit runs through July 12. Cost: free.

Midsummer Night at the Art Museum, Celebrating Light Totem, 7:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday, June 21, IU Art Museum. Celebrates the relighting of Rob Shakespeare's light sculpture "Light Totem," which has been in restoration for almost a year. The event will also include a photo booth, complimentary desserts, local food vendors and a cash bar. Cost: Free.

Music Inspired by Matisse's Jazz, 3 to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 25, Special Exhibitions gallery on the first floor of the IU Art Museum. Boston-based jazz pianist Christopher Bakriges and bassist Jeremy Allen, an assistant professor in the Jacobs School of Music, will perform original works inspired by Matisse's artwork with historical interpreter John Moore reading excerpts from the artist's own words.

Summer Band, Jacobs School of Music. 7 to 8 p.m. July 9 and 16, Musical Arts Center lawn. Cost: Free.

"Godspell," Wells-Metz Theatre, 7:30 p.m. June 9, June 11-14, June 17-21 and June 24-28; 2 p.m. June 15, 22 and 29. Part of Indiana Festival Theatre, hosted by IU's Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance within the College of Arts and Sciences. The two-act musical tells a story of friendship, loyalty and love. Cost: $15 to $25.

"Spiritualists, Sorcerers and Stage Magicians: Magic and the Supernatural at the Lilly Library," June 2 to Aug. 30. Lilly Library hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The exhibit offers a view of how ideas of the supernatural have persisted and transformed throughout history. Cost: Free.

About the Indiana University Summer Festival of the Arts 
The Summer Festival of the Arts began in 2011 and seeks to bring all of Indiana University Bloomington's cultural elements together, including live music, theater, dance, conferences, lectures, art openings and films. Events take place from May until August and ensure those visiting Bloomington as well as students, community members and IU faculty and staff are aware of the rich cultural offerings on campus. Calendar listings can be found on the festival website, artsfest.indiana.edu. For event updates, follow @IUArtsFest and #IUArtsFest on Twitter.

This guest blog was written by Jaclyn Lansbery, who currently helps promote the Indiana University Bloomington arts at the IU Newsroom. The IU Newsroom is the official source for news from Indiana University. To learn more about IU's creative arts community, visit Art at IU

10 Sure Bets in B-town for June, 2014

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

Classes are out for summer, at least they are at Indiana University! Elementary and high school students still have a few weeks to go, but that gives you the perfect opportunity to spend some time planning a fabulous family getaway for this summer. Here are ten great events on our June calendar here in Bloomington that will help you create summer memories that will last for decades...

Limestone Month

Limestone Month- June 1-30

Join us in celebrating the unique limestone heritage that helped to shape this area's past and present. Learn about the art and science of limestone, watch carvers at work or take a tour of the IU campus, a local cemetery or a working limestone mill!   

Classic Car & Hot Rod Show

Hot Rods and Classic Car Show - June 1

The Monroe County History Center invites you to join them for a car show, complete with great food, live entertainment and a first look at their new exhibit - Auto Indiana!  

Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park - May 30 - June 8

Join the Monroe County Civic Theater as they perform the Complete Works of William Shakespeare - that's right, all 37 plays, 1,223 roles and 835,997 words! The week-long festival is free and will culminate with a mainstage production of Hamlet.  

IU Summer Festival of the Arts

IU Summer Festival of the Arts - May 12 - August 24

Experience a summer filled with art - from one-of-a-kind exhibits and film screenings to live music and theatre productions, the variety of events will astound you!  

Science of Art: Stained Glass

Science of Art: Stained Glass - June 6

Discover connections between geometry, nanotechnology and art at Wonderlab as you watch a stained glass artist at work, then create your own art projects to take home. Admission is half price on First Fridays, 5-8:30 pm.

Open Studios Tour

Open Studios Tour - June 7-8

Tour more than 20 creative spaces and meet the artists who work there. Talk to artists, purchase amazing works of art and get an intimate look at the creative process in action throughout the Bloomington community.  

Les Miserables

Les Miserables - June 19-29

The Cardinal Stage Company presents an interpretation of Victor Hugo's impassioned tale of a benevolent thief on the run. It's epic. Heroic. Romantic. Cardinal's production of Les Mis will thrill you in a way you've never experienced!    

Arts Fair on the Square

Arts Fair on the Square - June 21

This annual juried art festival on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn brings more than 80 visual artists and craftspeople together, along with interactive arts activities for children and live entertainment! 

Taste of Bloomington

Taste of Bloomington - June 21

Arguably B-town's favorite festival, Taste of Bloomington brings the area's best restaurants together in one location with live music on three stages and fun kids' activities. It's just not summer in Bloomington until you've been to Taste! 

Summer Garden Walk

Summer Garden Walk - June 21

Bloomington's annual Summer Garden Walk is celebrating 25 years! The two-day event features tours of five outstanding private gardens, Hilltop Garden and Nature Center, and a special exhibition at the Monroe County History Center!

Bug Fest

Bug Fest - June 28

Hilltop Garden and Nature Center presents a celebration of insects! Designed to delight children of all ages, Bug Fest also educates about insect and spider biology. Highlights include butterflies, spiders, edible insects, games and more!


Birding in Bloomington? May is the Month!

Posted in: Outdoors Comments
rose-breasted grosbeak

The beauty of spring is all around us right now... flowering dogwoods, lovely gardens, and - my favorite - singing birds. Have you listened to the musical songs outside our doors each morning? The birds that flew south for the winter have returned, and the males are busy attracting mates and establishing territories, much to our listening pleasure.

The reports of rose-breasted grosbeaks visiting feeders are on the rise. This handsome bird is a favorite of many folks, but they only pass through Bloomington from late-April to mid-May on their way to their breeding grounds further north. If you aren't lucky enough to have a grosbeak visiting your feeder, listen for a sharp "chink" sound that resembles a sneaker squeaking on a gym floor, then look up high to the tree tops where they often perch, singing a quick, warbling, flute-like song.

Prothonotary Warbler

American goldfinches have regained their bright yellow plumage, bluebirds may have already laid some eggs, and indigo buntings are arriving back on their territories. But the crown jewels of May birds in Bloomington are the wood-warblers: little flashes of color and song, filling our forests with joy and life, some 36 species in all!  While half of these species are just migrating through (and some can be extremely difficult to find), the other half nest in Monroe County's forests and fields and can be observed with a little knowledge and effort.

Habitat is key to finding birds. While some species are generalists (like a cardinal), many can only be found in a certain type of place. 

Yellow-Throated Warbler

The Prothonotary warbler and the Northern waterthrush, a migrant, prefer the wooded swamps of a place like Beanblossom Bottoms, a Sycamore Land Trust property north of Ellettsville. The forested slopes of Morgan-Monroe State Forest provide nesting opportunities for the cerulean warbler and the worm-eating warbler. Pine warblers are understandably linked to stands of pine trees, which occur scattered in places throughout Hoosier National Forest

Two Bloomington parks-Griffy Lake Nature Preserve and Leonard Springs Nature Park-provide easy access to beautiful hiking trails and beautiful birds. Yellow-throated warblers and northern parulas are boisterous singers that can usually be found high in trees around Griffy Lake. Walking the trails of these parks can be especially exciting during migration, as the diversity of habitats draw in many species.

Birding Tour Group

Often it is easier to find some of these birds with a birding group or guide. There are a couple of opportunities in the month of May in Monroe County. Sycamore Land Trust offers a birding trip to The Cedars Preserve on Thursday, May 15 at 9:30 a.m.; pre-registration is required.  And, as a part of Visit Bloomington's Tourism Week, IndiGo Birding Nature Tours will host a birding walk ($5/person) at Griffy Lake on Wednesday, May 21 at 10:00 a.m.

As the owner of IndiGo Birding Nature Tours, I pride myself in providing an affordable, customized tour for my guests that exceeds their expectations. All physical abilities and knowledge levels of nature enthusiasts are welcome to contact me about a tour. The IndiGo Birding Facebook page is a great way to stay abreast of current happenings in Bloomington's more natural landscapes... like the arrival of the spring songsters!

This guest blog post was written by David Rupp. David is the owner of IndiGo Birding Nature Tours and also currently serves as President of the Sassafras Audubon Society and Outreach Event Coordinator for the Sycamore Land Trust. All bird photography in this post is by Scott Evans. WonderLab is currently hosting an exhibit of Scott's bird photography through the month of May.

Staff Picks: The Best Things About Student-Free Summers in Bloomington

Posted in: General Comments

Every May, something glorious happens to Bloomington: the students leave. Specifically, the large mass of energetic, creative, fun and sometimes overwhelming IU students. Those of us who live in Bloomington year-round take a collective deep breath that Monday in May after graduation. It's not that we dislike the students-after all, Bloomington wouldn't be Bloomington without IU and all those amazing students-but it‘s like having summer vacation as an adult. Things are just a little more chill. So I asked the Visit Bloomington staff to share their favorite things about Bloomington in the summer, and here's what they said:

  • Teal - Mother Bear's! It's so much easier to park and much less crowded once the students leave.
  • Julie - The Bluebird is great in the summer. I swear they book less cover bands, and instead get more original bands with a little more variety, and bands that are geared towards "older" people (like those of us over 25).
  • Mike - Breakfast at Village Deli on the weekends is much more relaxed (and faster, if you can believe that) in the summer, and I can drive down 10th Street any time!
  • Tosha - My favorite thing to do in Bloomington during the summer has less to do with the students being gone, and more to do with the warmer weather! Hiking at places like Little Africa, Leonard Springs, the Hoosier National Forest and Beanblossom Bottoms usually tops the list for my family - though outdoor dining is a close second (including frequent trips to the Chocolate Moose and local wineries).
  • Jordan - Sitting on the patio at Upland is something I look forward to each summer, and it's only a 10 minute wait versus the 45 minutes during the school year. It's also great to run through the beautiful IU campus and not weave in and out of students!
  • Laura - There's a 99% chance of getting outdoor seating at one of your favorite restaurants on the first try. Bloomington in general Is pretty relaxed, but in the summer, it is hard to describe the chillin' cool time to be had here!
  • Erin - I enjoy going to the IU Cinema and the Comedy Attic. Both are great places to escape the dog days of the summer and tend to be a little less busy than during the school year.
  • Ryan - Breakfast at the Runcible Spoon on a Saturday morning, a bike ride through (a quiet) campus, The Bishop Bar on a Friday night and a dog walk a the IU cross country course are my favorite summer (student-free) activities.
  • Marcia - There's no wait at restaurants...or anywhere! Everything is a little more accessible in summer.
Outdoor dining

I'm seeing some common themes here. There's definitely less waiting and less traffic, which is nice, but there's also just a serene sense of calm, which makes you want to  get out and do things more often. And there's still plenty to do in summer, so it's a nice balance of active and relaxed.  If you've ever been in Bloomington in the student-less summer time, share your favorite experiences.

 Finding a table outside is a little easier in Bloomington in the summer.       Ahhhhhh.

What is the #traveleffect?

Posted in: General Comments

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed us tweeting this week using the hashtag #traveleffect - so, what does that mean, anyway? Well, this week (May 3-11) is National Travel & Tourism Week, so destinations and other travel related businesses around the country are celebrating by talking about all of the wonderful things travel can do for you, and your community. 

Here in Bloomington, we have this little thing called Indiana University Graduation this week, so we'll actually be celebrating our own local version of Tourism Week a little later this month (May 19-23). Get all the details on our upcoming special events and deals we have planned for this year's Tourism Week, and don't forget to vote for our 2014 Tourism Awards!

In the meantime, we'd like to share some interesting facts and figures about travel and tourism in the United States, and right here in Bloomington!

  • Travel is the front door to economic development - and often, the backdoor to a better education
  • Kids that take 5 or more school trips have a 90% high school graduation rate - 60% of them go on to earn advanced degrees. 
  • The US tourism industry is bigger than the auto, insurance and chemical industries in America. Tourism has a $2 trillion economic impact nationally.
  • 1 in 9 American jobs are in the tourism industry.
  • Travel strengthens relationships, improves health, boosts productivity and creates brain resilience, which helps fight disease.
  • 40% of Americans don't use all their vacation days. Use those days for travel - even short trips are good for you and good for the economy!
  • 1.84 million visitors come to Bloomington, Indiana each year, and they add $326 million to our local economy! 
  • Bloomington's tourism industry directly supports 4,163 local jobs and $97 million in local wages in Monroe County.
  • The local tourism industry generates $45 million to Monroe County's tax base - helping to keep taxes lower for locals. 
  • Tourism is economic development - and the tourism industry is one of the top 10 employers in Indiana!

So, if you see lots of visitors in town this weekend for IU's graduation festivities, you might just want to thank them (and invite them to come back)!




Did you know...

Bloomington was voted one of the top 50 places to live by Men's Journal Magazine...more



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Bloomington, Indiana

Visit Bloomington

2855 N. Walnut Street
Bloomington, IN 47404

  • 800.800.0037
  • 812.334.8900
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