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As we get closer to back-to-school time, we've all got things on our summer must-do list that we just haven't gotten to yet... but just in case you don't, here are 10 (+1) great things to do in Bloomington to add to your list along with some Townie Tips for getting the most out of your visit to Bloomington.
The Monroe County
Fair (July 28 - Aug. 4)
Everyone loves a good county fair, right? Whether you're into the rides, games, animals or performances you'll find something you love at the Monroe County Fairgrounds! (Townie Tip: Check here for details on admission and parking. If you're bringing the family it pays to know when bracelet and carload nights are in effect!)
Community Farmers' Market
The largest in Southern Indiana, this Saturday morning tradition is a don't-miss when you're in B-town. (Townie Tip: Don't miss out if you're not in town on Saturday - a smaller version of the Bloomington Farmers' Market takes place every Tuesday from 4-7 pm at 6th and Madison Streets.)
Starlite Drive In
If you've never experienced an old-fashioned drive in movie, it's about time you did! Starlite is one of the best drive ins around, featuring two recent releases for your admission. (Townie Tip: Arrive a little early - they often sell out - and come hungry - the concession stand is very good.)
4) Karst Farm Park
Located on the west side of Bloomington, Karst Farm Park is a soccer facility, but it's hidden gem is the splash pad, providing wet summer fun for all ages and abilities! (Townie Tip: The Splash Pad is open Friday - Monday. For smaller crowds, we recommend visiting on Mondays.)
Take in a Concert (or
Movie) in a Park -
Throughout the summer, the Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department offers live musical (and theatrical) entertainment. Tuesday Lunch Concerts in People's Park, Thursday Concerts in Third Street Park, Friday Movies or Sunday Concerts at Bryan Park are all great options. (Townie Tip: Bring a lawn chair or blanket... and bug spray!)
Enjoy some Local Ice
Yes, we all love Dairy Queen Blizzards, but just this once, bypass the big-name favorites and experience locally-crafted ice cream at its finest! (Townie Tip: Here's the low-down on your three choices for locally made ice cream - The Chocolate Moose is the ultimate B-town tradition with several specialties, Jiffy Treet has multiple locations and an incredible variety of toppings and Hartzell's is the place to go if you're craving seriously unique flavors.)
Rent a Boat on Lake
Indiana's largest lake is the perfect place to cool off when the summer gets hot! Choose from Paradise Boat Rental at Fairfax SRA or Lake Monroe Boat Rental at Paynetown SRA. (Townie Tip: Yes, pontoons are fun, but if you want to see the lake -and possibly some wildlife - from a different angle, think about renting a kayak or canoe.)
Visit the Indiana
University Art Museum
One of the best collegiate art museums in the country, the building was designed by architectural legend I.M. Pei and features an incredible variety of works from some of the best known masters like Picasso and Monet. (Townie Tip: Go back after dark! One of the traditions that incoming IU freshman experience is to visit the IU Art Museum after dark and lie on the ground with their feet against the building's walls, relax and enjoy the light totem.)
9) WonderLab's Simple
WonderLab is a win no matter what time of year it is, but this summer they've got a super-cool temporary exhibit called Simple Machine Mania. Fun for all ages, it features hands on activities with pulleys, a giant biomechanical hand and more! (Townie Tip: Do not miss the giant biomechanical hand - it's very rare and a popular part of the exhibit, so be prepared for a short wait. Don't worry, it's worth it!)
10) Climb the Fire Tower
Yeah, it'll be a lot of steps... and you'll probably be hot and sweaty when you get to the top, but trust us... the view is worth it! (Townie Tip: Take your camera and go in the early morning or the evening for two reasons - first, it will be a little cooler than midday and second, watching the sun rise or set from the top of the fire tower is incredible.)
If you've been to Bloomington several times, or if you can't get here until after summer's over, here's our bonus activity that can take you through into fall:
+1 Bonus: Hunt for Brains
No, we're not talking about smart people, though there are a lot of those here in Bloomington. We're talking about the Brain Extravaganza, a public art project spearheaded by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist and IU professor who suffered a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain in 1996. The project will be on display through October 15 and aims to raise awareness about brains and brain injuries, but it also provides lots of fun! (Townie Tip: Check in with your mobile device at all 22 brains to color an image of your own brain that you can compare to famous Bloomingtonians or share with your friends on Facebook!)
Fun, family, friends, good food, charity, community, awesome entertainment-those are a few of the great things you get when you visit the Taste of Bloomington.
I love the Taste of Bloomington for all of the reasons
listed above, and especially community. This yearly event has to be the best at
bringing the Bloomington community together, from young to old, from rock-n-roll to country fans, and certainly a community that loves to taste a wide variety
of good food and enjoys a diverse group of music performances. The Taste is not just for adults, it's an
event where families can bring their children for fun activities from community
partners like WonderLab and Bloomington Park & Recreation. They have face painting, a bounce house and
of course plenty of music for kids to dance to.
One of the best things about the Taste is that it gives back to the community. A portion of the proceeds from the Taste of Bloomington will benefit the Hoosier Hills Food Bank and the Community Kitchen of Monroe County, to terrific organizations that provide food to those in need. Try good food, give good food!
You have to admit, if you live in the Bloomington area
you're spoiled with having the opportunity to experience so many great
restaurants. This yearly event gives residents
and visitors a chance to taste food from new local restaurants as well. Of course I always go back to my favorite Taste
participants that attend every year, to have their best item and try a new menu
item that they might be presenting. When
it comes to food, the Taste offers about any type of food you can think of: BBQ,
Asian, Mexican, Greek, and many others. I should also mention there are plenty
of wonderful, delicious, sweet desserts from Bloomington and Monroe County vendors.
Fun and friends go hand in hand with the Taste. Going to the Taste of Bloomington gives me a chance to catch up with friends I haven't seen for a while or some that I might have seen the night before. I love meeting new people and make new friends. You couldn't ask for a better event that does just that. New community members, families visiting IU for Freshmen Orientation, professionals for conferences, artist for the Arts Fair on the Square, you'll find them all checking out the Taste. The musical entertainment Taste offers is awesome! I enjoy dancing so the Taste gives me the chance to put on my dancing shoes and be "Gene, Gene, the Dancing Machine". Maybe dancing to a polka, doing a little two stepping or just air jamming to a local rock band, at the Taste you will definitely find your taste in music.
Wherever or whenever I visit another place and I'm asked about Bloomington, Indiana, I always tell them "Bloomington is a small town with a big town taste". It offers almost anything a major city can offer; a great and diverse community, a top notch university and schools, beautiful and breathtaking surroundings... and it offers one of the largest and best food tasting events in the state, The Taste of Bloomington. This community event is what I call "Taste'tastic!"
Special thanks to our local guest blogger, Gene Harrawood, for this great post. Gene is a long-time Bloomington resident, IU alum and member of the Taste of Bloomington Planning Committee.Posted on: Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012 5:50 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
This summer, WonderLab, Bloomington's fun science, health and technology museum for kids, is featuring a cool new exhibit called Simple Machine Mania! I'm not terribly inclined in the technology department, but in a nutshell the exhibit features levers and pulleys - thankfully for me, they are very simple. I recently took my three and half year old daughter, Ellie, to check it out and we had a lot of fun. For a toddler, the simple rope and pulley connected to a basket (for lifting teddy bears and stuffed animals of course) was a great "machine" experience. Ellie and some other kids loved hoisting and lowering animals, and throwing them from the second story of the playhouse. Sometimes the simplest machine is your own hand!
There were several really fun displays, but the coolest gadget was a (seemingly not that simple) robotic hand. This thing was like four feet tall! All the adults and older kids were clamoring to play with it, which is why I always say WonderLab is just as much fun for adults. Seriously, it is. So back to the robot hand; it looked like a giant replica of the Terminator's hand, and you could use push buttons to move the fingers in various ways. I learned that it was made in Indiana (sweet!) and that WonderLab is the only place you can play with one. At least for now, because I imagine most children's museums will be ordering one in the near future. But for now, you can only see it at WonderLab.
Of course, the rest of the museum was awesome too. Ellie climbed the grapevine climber for the first time and it was pretty nerve wracking for me and my husband, but it was great exercise and a good confidence builder for Ellie. That's probably the exact reason it was installed! The water feature is still one of our favorites, because what kid doesn't want to get soaking wet and splash mom and dad? (Plus we like to play in it too.)
Bottom line: go to WonderLab to check out the new exhibit, it's fun for
WonderLab is located in downtown Bloomington on West 4th
Street within easy walking distance of the City of Bloomington's Garage Art and
dozens of great shopping and dining opportunities.
Simple Machine Mania will be on display until September 23. The museum is closed on Mondays.
It's never too early to start planning for warm weather RV camping adventures. A place you'll want to add to your itinerary is Bloomington, Indiana, where outdoor attractions, historic sites and an exciting college town atmosphere mean you'll have plenty of places to play.
One of the best ways to get to know Bloomington is to pull into one of the area's excellent RV parks and then embrace nature. Bloomington RV campgrounds are in such beautiful settings as Lake Monroe, where tall, rocky bluffs ring Indiana's largest lake. Favorite ways RVers enjoy Lake Monroe include boating, fishing from the piers, hiking the woodland trails or swimming at one of the reservoir's two beaches.
Lake Monroe sits on the northern boundary of Hoosier National Forest, a two-hundred-thousand acre green space complete with hillside lookouts, scenic trails and an impressive collection of waterways. Nearly every kind of outdoor recreation can be enjoyed while you're here. Here's a tip for vacation photographers -- wildlife in this forest is abundant, so pack your favorite camera as you pack your motorhome.
Want to take your vacation adventures underground? Bluespring Caverns, just a short drive from Bloomington, offers RVers a trip along a mysterious subterranean river. Older kids will especially enjoy the underground snack bar and the amazing cave-dwelling creatures.
And what attracts RVers to Bloomington itself? Indiana University's Hoosiers lure loyal fans to baseball, basketball and football games, not to mention a whole host of other sporting events year-round. Imagine enjoying an RV vacation in a beautiful setting with the added bonus of first-rate collegiate sports nearby.
That's just the beginning of what you can do while in Bloomington. The BEAD (Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District) is a sixty block collection of restaurants, galleries and shopping venues sure to please everyone in your RV camping crew. Don't miss this pulsing heart in the city's center during your stay in Bloomington.
And you can't truly appreciate Bloomington without knowing a little about its history. The city features no less than thirteen walking tours that highlight vintage neighborhoods and structures. Start here to collect more information on the Showers Brothers Furniture Factory Tour, details on the Vinegar Hill Limestone District and other memorable treasures from Bloomington's fascinating past.
There you have them -- seven tips for an exciting Bloomington, Indiana RV camping vacation. Whether you're planning a long weekend of RV camping or hope to settle in for an extended stay, you won't run out of ways to play in and around Bloomington. Get ready to experience the beauty of nature, the energy of a great university and the wealth of visual history that keeps RV campers coming to Bloomington, Indiana.About the Author Posted on: Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012 8:01 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Happy Super Bowl Week! Unless you've been living under a rock, most of you know that Super Bowl 46 is taking place in Indianapolis next Sunday, Feb. 5th. Today is the official kick-off of activities in downtown Indy, including the Super Bowl Village (which opens today at 3 pm).
For our out of town (and state) visitors...welcome to Indiana and Bloomington! Indy is having a week-long celebration of special events, activities, concerts and exhibits starting today until the big event in 9 days! Many of these activities are free and family friendly. This weekend and the beginning of next week is a great time for many Indiana residents to get in on some of the action and skip some of the crowds that will be descending upon Indy next week. Make sure to visit www.indianapolissuperbowl.com for up-to-the-minute updates, parking/driving info, an events calendar and all things Super Bowl!
Bloomington is proud to be one of 20 communities designated as a Super Celebration Site for the state. What does this mean for Super Bowl fans? It means we're only 50 miles southwest of downtown Indy and still have plenty of hotel rooms for guests, plus special events and lots of great, local restaurants and shopping. Visit www.superbloomington.com for everything B-town Super Bowl and www.visitbloomington.com for everything else about town!
So what are some of our special events and when are they going on? Super Bloomington will start its celebration of Super Bowl 46 next Thursday, Feb. 2. We'll have a special info center and activities downtown at the Fountain Square Mall. The info center is there to answer any of your questions about Bloomington, Indy and the Super Bowl. Make sure to bring the kids to play some games that will be set up and sample some snickerdoodles and hot chocolate, the "official" hospitality snack of the big game!
Bloomington is also excited to be participating in the Super Cars program. Thirty-three iconic Indy cars have been made over to represent the 32 teams of the NFL and this year's game. Each Super Celebration Site, as well as many sites in Indy, are hosting Super Cars for fans to come and visit. We are proud to welcome the Arizona Cardinals Indy car to the Fountain Square Mall! It will be on display Feb. 2-4 from 10 am - 8 pm. Make sure to come visit our Super Car, take pictures, and check-in on Foursquare. Show us your Foursquare check-in at the info table for awesome prizes!
Have a Super day!
Posted on: Friday, Jan 27, 2012 12:19 PM by: Teal Betz
I was fortunate to acquire a set of tickets to last night's IU Men's Basketball game at Assembly Hall. If you've never been lucky enough to catch a home game at the Hall, here's a snapshot of what that experience is like:
It was a cold, snowy night in Bloomington...
Perfect for warming up at a local pub like Crazy Horse with some great food and a pitcher of your favorite beverage (for us on this night it was Woodchuck cider).
The venue was legendary, with five NCAA banners hanging proudly in place.
The atmosphere was incredible with a nearly packed house of cheering fans clad in IU red, the pep band, the big heads, and even a celebrity spotting or two!
Yes, the Hoosiers sadly ended up losing a close game to Minnesota, but the Hoosier Basketball experience was still an incredible way to spend the evening, and the nail-biting, heart pounding, down-to-the-wire finish reminded me that win or lose...
This is Indiana. We love the game. We love the experience.
How are you planning to usher in 2012? No plans yet? Well, look no further! We've compiled a handy list of fun New Year's weekend events to help you decide. Whether you're looking for something fun to do during the day with the family, or an adults-only evening, you'll find it in Bloomington!
Don't forget to enter to win a Bloomington New Year's Eve Getaway! One lucky winner will receive an overnight stay, tickets to the IU vs Ohio State basketball game, restaurant certificates, VIP seating at the Bluebird and an exclusive meet and greet with Reverend Peyton and the Big Damn Band. The prize will be awarded on Dec. 28, so enter now!
All Ages Events
The Cardinal Stage Company's heartwarming production of the musical Annie will have you feeling festive no matter what your age! Show times throughout the weekend.
Whoosh! Amazing Air is on the agenda at Wonderlab - learn about the fun-tastic properties of air through play. Open New Year's Eve; closed New Year's Day.
Sports fans of all ages can cheer on the IU Hoosiers as the women's basketball team eakes on Michigan State on Dec. 30 and the men's team clashes with Ohio State on Jan. 31. Tickets available at IUHoosiers.com.
Rhino's All Ages Club presents their Rockin' New Year's Eve show featuring Xenosound and 'Til Seas Run Dry, beginning at 8 pm. Admission is only $5.
The almost-local Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band will be on hand with their huge sound to ring in the New Year at The Bluebird. Show starts at 9 pm; tickets are $15.
The Players Pub will ring in the New Year with the funk, rock 'n soul of B-town based favorites The Dynamics! Show starts at 8 pm; tickets are $15.
The Bishop Bar will be throwing a Twist Party, featuring the swingin' sounds of The Vallures and DJ Bongo, plus free "cheap-o party favors." Admission is $5.
Bob and Tom Show all-star Mike MacRae will have you laughing the night away at The Comedy Attic, Dec. 29-31. Shows at 8 pm Thursday, 8 and 10:30 pm Friday and Saturday.
Enjoy the Dinner & Dance Spectacular at Eagle Pointe Golf Resort, featuring dinner at Talon's from 5-10 pm and live entertainment in the Eagle's Nest from 9 pm to 1 am. Dinner is $29.99 per person; $10 cover charge for live entertainment.
Happy New Year everyone!Posted on: Tuesday, Dec 20, 2011 8:20 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Downtown Bloomington is, well... lit up like a Christmas tree, and we're ready to start celebrating the holiday season! We've even got a gift for one lucky B-town Blog reader - two tickets to this year's performance of the Chimes of Christmas at the IU Auditorium.
A true Indiana University tradition, the Chimes features performances from incredible ensembles from the Jacobs School of Music and great holiday music, perfect for a fun holiday evening out.
So, for a chance to win two tickets to the Chimes of Christmas and a Grazie! Italian Eatery gift certificate, leave us a comment and tell us all about your most favorite thing about the holiday season in Bloomington!
We'll announce a winner on Friday. Good luck!Posted on: Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011 6:54 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
We've got two tickets to the ultimate Indiana football rivalry game - IU vs Purdue, or the Old Oaken Bucket Game and, that's right, we're giving them away! What better place is there for a Hoosier fan to celebrate the Thanksgiving weekend?
Regardless of the rest of the season, both the IU Hoosiers and the Purdue Boilermakers always up the intensity for this contest. At stake? Possession of the legendary Oaken Bucket... and statewide bragging rights! Be there for this year's historic game on November 26th.
But wait, there's more!
You know us, we just love giving away great Bloomington experiences, so here's what we're going to do: In addition to the two tickets to the game, we're also going to give our lucky winner a gift certificate to B-town Pizza for tailgate munchies... and a gift certificate to the Scholars Inn for dinner after the game! (Scholars Inn certificate can be used at either the Gourmet Cafe & Wine Bar or the Bakehouse.)
So, what do you have to do to win this fabulous prize? Nothing too complicated... just leave a comment on this blog post and share your favorite Oaken Bucket Game memory!
We'll randomly choose a winner on Friday afternoon.
It's November! As we say goodbye to ghosts, ghouls and goblins for another year, it's time to look forward to this year's upcoming holiday art and craft shows! What a great way to get the jump on your holiday shopping with locally made one-of-a-kind items, or just enjoy browsing through unique handmade items. From fiber arts to glass to holiday wreaths, you'll find it all at one of these great events.
26th Annual Fiber Art Show & Sale
Nov. 11, 5 - 9 pm & Nov. 12, 10 am - 5 pm
First United Church, 2420 E. 3rd Street
Bloomington Glass Guild Holiday Show
Nov. 11, 5-8 pm & Nov. 12, 10 am - 5 pm
University Baptist Church, 3740 E. 3rd Street
Local Clay Potters Guild Holiday Pottery Show & Sale
Nov. 11, 5-9 pm & Nov. 12, 9 am - 5 pm
St. Mark's Methodist Church, 100 N. Hwy 46 Bypass
Quilts from the Heartland
Nov. 11, 9 am - 7 pm & Nov. 12, 9 am - 5 pm
Bloomington Convention Center, 302 S. College Ave.
Bloomington Handmade Market
Nov. 12, 10 am - 5 pm
Bloomington Convention Center, 302 S. College Ave.
Nov. 12, 9 am - 5 pm
Monroe County Fairgrounds, 5700 W. Airport Road
Marlin Elementary PTO Art & Craft Show
Nov. 12, 9 am - 3 pm
Marlin Elementary School, 1655 E. Bethel Lane
Holiday House Craft & Gift Show
Nov. 17, 11 am - 7 pm; Nov. 18, 10 am - 6 pm; Nov. 19, 10 am - 3 pm
Bloomington Convention Center, 302 S. College Ave.
Nov. 26, 10 am - 3 pm
Showers City Hall, 401 N. Morton St.
Be sure to hit up some of the unique locally owned shops and boutiques in downtown Bloomington while you're in town as well. Happy holiday gift shopping!
Posted on: Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011 7:24 AM by: Tosha Daugherty