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Summer Fun: Paddleboarding!

Posted in: Family Fun Comments

There are few times that a new adventure sport shows up in the outdoor world. If you recall the mountain biking revolution of the 80's, you can begin to understand the waves being made by the twenty-first century equivalent - standup paddleboarding. With its short learning curve, versatility on flat and moving water, and peaceful workout, paddleboarding's popularity has exploded all across the country.


There are a few reasons why I've come to enjoy paddleboarding here in Monroe County. The first is our proximity to open water. Lake Lemon, Monroe Lake, and numerous smaller bodies of water lie within thirty minutes of Bloomington.


The second reason is the summer heat. As the temperature climbs, my motivation for outdoor aerobic exercise plummets. Being someone who has rarely been able to enjoy a workout with a roof over my head, summer often becomes my downtime. With paddleboarding, the low impact complete body movement of paddling while standing on an oversized surfboard is the perfect option on a hot day. Hopping on and off of a board is as easy as it gets. Paddle, dive off, swim, remount, and repeat.


Paddleboarding - Nelson

The third reason I enjoy paddleboarding is a two-year-old named Nelson. My wife and I's son, Nelson, simply loves sitting on the board, seemingly floating only inches from the water. With the board nearly 11' in length and 2.5' wide, there's plenty of buoyancy to bring along my favorite 30lb passenger.

There are a few things to know before you go:


  • On DNR and state park lakes and reservoirs, paddleboards are classified as non-motorized boats. Purchase and affix an annual non-motorized boat permit to your board.
  • You'll need a PFD at least attached to your board, if not simply worn.
  • Paddle outside of designated swimming zones.
  • Fun is mandatory. Standing up is optional. If you are more comfortable staying on your stomach or paddling from your knees, do it! In fact, paddling on your stomach is a good practice until you get into deeper water to avoid falling off into shallow water.
  • There are only a few locations that sell or rent paddleboards in southern and central Indiana. IU Outdoor Adventures, located in Eigenmann Hall on the Bloomington campus, rents a fleet of various size and shape paddleboards. This can be a safe option to understand your board preferences before taking the plunge and purchasing one. The nearest location to purchase a paddleboard is at the recently opened REI in Indianapolis.



Special thanks to our guest blogger, Dustin Smucker for enlightening us about paddleboarding opportunities in the area. Dustin is the Programs Coordinator with Indiana University Outdoor Adventures. When he's not working, you'll find this outdoor enthusiast in pursuit of local, kid-friendly adventures with his family.

2013 Fourth of July Activities and Events

Posted in: Family Fun Comments

Fourth of July weekend is coming up fast! Are you already planning for a fun long weekend? 
Bloomington is a busy place in the summer, with loads of events, performances and activities happening around town, on campus and at the lake. Of course, don't forget about all the great hiking, biking and boating opportunities available throughout the season as well! With more than 10,000 acres of water and hundreds of miles of trails, Bloomington is the perfect summertime playground. An extra-long weekend is the perfect way to pack in everything you want to see and do while here!Here's a quick run down of some specific fun activities and events scheduled between July 4-7 to help you plan your Fourth of July weekend! See our complete calendar of events for more information on these and other events. 

Bloomington 4th of July Parade & Festivities
July 4, downtown Bloomington
A traditional, small-town style parade with live music, fun floats and more!  Music starts on the courthouse lawn at 9 am; parade begins at 10 am.

Ellettsville Annual Fireworks Show 
July 4, Ellettsville
Hosted by the Ellettsville Fire Department at the Edgewood High School Football Field. Completely funded by donations. 

Jazz in July: Craig & the Crawdads
July 5, IU Art Museum
This year's annual Jazz in July music series kicks off with Craig & the Crawdads at the IU Art Museum. Music begins at 6:30 pm and the event is free. 

Rubens Quartet with Chih-Yi Chen
July 5, Auer Hall in the Simon Music Library
Relax with some classical music from the Rubens Quartet and pianist Chih-Yi Chen, part of the Summer Music Festival Series from the IU Jacobs School of Music, this concert begins at 8 pm. 

Friday Concert at Third Street Park
July 5, Third Street Park
Every Friday evening in June and July, Third Street Park is home to live music from some of the area's favorite artists beginning at 6:30 pm. The July 5 performance will feature Curtis Cantwell Jackson & Janiece Jaffe. Be sure to bring a blanket or lawn chair for seating!  

First Friday Science of Art: Hoop Dancing
July 5, WonderLab 
Watch the Hudsucker Posse use centripetal force to defy gravity during spectacular hoop dancing performances at 6 and 7 pm. Related activities include the physics of hooping, spin art and making a wooden spinning top. Museum admission is half price from 5-8:30 pm. 

Much Ado About Nothing
July 5-7, Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center
Enjoy one of Shakespeare's most famous comedies featuring mistaken identities, misheard conversations and misguided decisions from the Indiana Festival Theatre, beginning at 7:30 pm Friday and Saturday and 2 pm Sunday. 

Indiana Festival Theatre: Arnie the Doughnut
July 5-7, Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center
Grab the kids and enjoy this fun musical production about a lovable chocolate-covered doughnut... with sprinkles! Arnie hits the stage at 11 am.  

Manahem Perssler & Friends
July 6-7, Auer Hall in the Simon Music Library
Enjoy music from acclaimed musician Menahem Pressler and his friends, Simin Ganatra, Sibbi Bernhardsson and Brandon Vamos. part of the Summer Music Festival Series from the IU Jacobs School of Music, this concert begins at 8 pm on Saturday and 4 pm on Sunday.

Fireworks at Fourwinds Resort & Marina
July 6, Fairfax State Recreation Area, Lake Monroe
A fun fireworks show over the water! The show begins at 10 pm. Come early for dinner at the resort and enjoy the beauty of the lake.  

Bryan Park Concert: Bloomington Symphony Orchestra
July 7, Bryan Park
The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra kicks off this year's Bryan Park Concert Series. Catch live music in the park every Sunday through August 25, beginning at 6:30 pm. Bring a blanket or lawn chair! 

Let's Rock During Limestone Month!

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

There is no better time to "rock out" and explore the limestone heritage of Monroe and Lawrence County than in June, which is Limestone Month.  It's a time to celebrate the history, industry, artistry and architecture of limestone in our area.  This year, there are numerous activities planned to showcase the beautiful stone that permeates the region.  You can find a list of all the events on LimestoneMonth.com, but here are a few highlights I'm especially excited about. 

On Saturday, June 8th you can take a guided tour through the Victor Oolitic quarry.  Quarries are typically off-limits (no, you can't go swimming in a quarry, that's trespassing) so this is a unique opportunity to see a working quarry up close.  You have to register in advance and there is a $20 fee but it's worth it.

There's another tour, this time at the Empire Quarry, on Thursday, June 13th.  This tour is only $5, but you still have to register in advance.

The IU Campus is full of beautiful limestone architecture, and on Friday, June 14th, local limestone expert Brian Keith with the Indiana Geological Survey will take guests on a guided tour of the campus.  It's free, but you need to sign up in advance.

If you want to learn to carve stone or watch the experts, or if you just want to get all dusty, check out the Indiana Limestone Symposium, which runs from June 9th through the 29th.  They have daily hand carving sessions for beginners, or you can go during open house hours (Wednesday afternoons) to see the experts in action.

Limestone Carvine

Limestone is an integral part of our history, and it's fascinating to see it from various perspectives so log on to LimestoneMonth.com to learn more about these events and rock on!

Monroe Lake will get you fishing!

Posted in: Family Fun Comments

Indiana has a lot of great fishing spots, but one of the most popular (and the biggest!) is located just southeast of Bloomington.

With over 10,000 acres of water to explore, every angler can find their "perfect fishing spot" at Monroe Lake. Experienced anglers often aim for the lake's bass and walleye, but beginners can find lots of easy-to-catch bluegill and crappie.

Lake Monroe Sunset. Photo Credit: Noel Niehaus 

Several upcoming events at Monroe Lake's Paynetown State Recreation Area (4850 S. State Road 446, Bloomington) make it easy for new people, particularly kids, to try out the sport of fishing.

The summer recreation season at the lake kicks off with a special evening reception, "Fish, Food, and Friends," on Friday, May 24 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Activity Center, located inside Paynetown SRA.

Visitors can see which fish made the staff's "Top 5" list, view plaster fish that were hand-painted by local elementary students, pick up a copy of the 2013 Fishing Guide, and "swim" over to the snack table for special fish-themed treats - and kids can enjoy "fishy" games, crafts, and activities.

The Paynetown Activity Center staff will also highlight a new, FREE fishing equipment rental program, which will debut on Saturday, May 25. So if you don't have your own equipment, or forget to bring it with you, you can still enjoy some fishing at Monroe Lake this summer! 

Visitors fish for bluegill off the dock at Paynetown SRA. Photo Credit: Jill Vance 

The following weekend, June 1 and 2, is Free Fishing Weekend at Monroe Lake. A kids' fishing derby is scheduled at Paynetown SRA on Saturday morning, plus a variety of family-friendly fish-themed programs on both days.  

A participant in the 2012 Kids’ Fishing Derby, part of Free Fishing Weekend, shows off her catch. Photo Credit: Dave Kittaka

 While a fishing license is never required for kids under age 18, the best part of Free Fishing Weekend is that ALL Indiana residents can fish without a license - regardless of age. What a great opportunity to give fishing a try, or introduce someone new to the sport!

You can find out more information about these events, and other programs, on Monroe Lake's website and on their Facebook page.

Jill Vance is the Interpretive Naturalist for Monroe Lake, based out of the Activity Center at Paynetown State Recreation Area. She has been with the Indiana Division of State Parks and Reservoirs since 2004, previously working as the Interpretive Manager at Spring Mill State Park and as a seasonal naturalist at McCormick's Creek State Park. Jill is a 2004 (M.P.A.) and 2003 (B.S.P.A.) graduate of Indiana University - Bloomington. 

Being a Tourist in Bloomington

Posted in: Family Fun Comments

Blog contributed  by Alicia Blatz, a local resident and part of the Circle Initiative. The Circles Initiative is part of the South Central Community Action Program, and helps connect people and families living in poverty with volunteer allies. These individuals and families are called leaders, as they are leading the way to a better life. The circle of allies will provide the leader with support and guide them to resources that will help them in the quest to move out of poverty. 

Alicia is a leader within the Circles Initiative, and she was chosen to participate in the Visit Bloomington "Be a Tourist in Your Own Town" activity. She, along with her ally Jennifer, were given $350 (the approximate amount that two average visitors would spend on a trip to Bloomington) to explore the community as if they were a tourist. Below is a summary of Alicia and Jennifer's experience.


We have gotten to do so many things with $350. I didn't realize that with that amount of money you could have so much fun! 

First, we visited the WonderLab Museum with my two children. It was the first time they've been to WonderLab. My three-year old daughter's favorite part was the water activity. She got to feel the water, see how it reacts after putting different objects over the water stream that that goes shooting up in the air. There were blocks in a different stream of the water too. She learned that when you put blocks in front of a water stream, it made the water go different directions. My five year old son liked the whole place. He learned about how magnets work he liked the bubble section, all the different building areas. The WonderLab is a fun way to teach children about how things work.


Then the four of us (Jennifer, me and the kids) went to the Bloomington Bagel Company for lunch, and took it with us on the B-Line Trail. The kids liked looking at the mural and animal sculptures along the way. After lunch we played hide and seek under the big limestone table and chairs sculpture and took pictures while we tried to stay out of the way of the joggers and bicyclists.

B-Line Trail 

On another day outing, Jennifer and I ate lunch at a restaurant called Bub's. They have wonderful cheeseburgers and fries. It's right downtown so you can see all the people outside while having a great meal. After lunch, we walked around downtown Bloomington. They have lots of different specialty shops and restaurants. We browsed around at the Game Preserve and By Hand Gallery, which was fun. Then we bought souvenirs at Cactus Flower and at Global Gifts, and treats from Blu Boy Chocolates. They had amazingly tasty chocolates! It had been a long time since I was downtown and quite a few things had changed. There is a lot to see and do, and we had a great time walking around the square.

Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream 

The children got cute shirts from the Indiana Shop, and they also got quite a few toys from the WonderLab gift store. These are great toys that are fun to play with and help them learn - a bank that has optical illusions, a boat that teaches them about air, a catapult that teaches about gravity, a bear that teaches about reactions and gravity, and magnets they can build with. They are great new toys that help their minds grow. It's wonderful!

WonderLab Toys 

Our last outing started with lunch at Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack. The food was wonderful!  The kids ate for free and the environment was definitely kid friendly. Then we took the kids to Jump-N-Joeys.  It was also their first time going to this fun bounce house and arcade. It's a great place for kids to be safe and have fun. There are lots of games and prizes, great big slides and areas for little kids to jump too. We all had a blast. My son played a game and won 500 tickets! Then my daughter played the same game and also won 500 tickets! They had a hard time deciding what all to get with that many tickets. It was so exciting for me just to see them have fun.

Smokin' Jack's Rib Shack 

There are so many great places you can go in Bloomington, my hometown. I hadn't realized that you could do so much for little amounts of money. I am so glad and thankful to have the opportunity to enjoy our town!

The #VisitBtown Photo a Day Challenge

Posted in: B-town Giveaways Comments

2013 National Travel & Tourism WeekEach year in May, along with other tourism organizations around the country, we celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week. This year, that's May 4-12, but we've decided to celebrate all month long with a fun photo sharing challenge for our friends on Instagram. If you're not on Instagram, feel free to post your photos to our Facebook Timeline or send them to @VisitBtown on Twitter! 

We get to show the world our favorite things about Bloomington every day. During the month of May we'd like to see the things you love about Bloomington! The #VisitBtown Photo a Day Challenge asks residents and visitors alike to share their favorite things around Bloomington, based on a list of 31 words or phrases - one for each day of the month. Participate all month, or only the weekend you're in town - it's up to you. Photos do not have to be taken in Bloomington to be eligible to win, but they should make us think of Bloomington in some way.

We've created a fun list of words or phrases that remind us in some way of Bloomington. On the designated date for each phrase, post your photographic interpretation on Instagram using the hashtag #visitbtown and the specific word or phrase for that day.

We'll award a minimum of one prize for each day and regram those winners, based on our favorite interpretations of each word or phrase, so please be creative! 

Here's the official list. Good luck and have fun!   
May 2013 #visitbtown Photo a Day Challenge 


2013 Acoustic Roots Festival Schedule

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

The Acoustic Roots Festival is an annual live music event presented by Bloomington's community radio station, WFHB. It's held outdoors on the grounds of Upland Brewing Company and features some of the area's very best musicians in the Americana, Roots and Folk genres. This year's event will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 3-11 pm. 

Acoustic Roots Festival

This family-friendly, laid-back musical celebration is a great way to experience live music in Bloomington and sample some great food and drink from one of our local brew pubs. 

The schedule for this year's event is is below:

 Front Stage   Back Stage 
 3:00 pm   The 123s    3:30 pm  Payton-Purnell 
 4:15 pm   Lexi Minnich   4:45 pm  Merrie Sloan
 5:30 pm   The Underhills   6:00 pm  Indiana Boys
 6:45 pm   Entwyned   7:15 pm  Tim Grimm & Jan Lucas
 8:00 pm Kade Puckett   8:30 pm  White Lightning Boys
 9:15 pm Jacob Latham   10:00 pm  Jason Wilber

Tickets will be available at the gate; admission is $15 per person at the gate. Advance sale tickets are available for $10 per person at WFHB, all Bloomingfoods locations, Landlocked Music, the Buskirk-Chumley Box Office and Upland Brewing Company, beginning April 22. 

IU Basketball: A Step-by-Step Guide

Posted in: B-town Giveaways Comments

College basketball season is now well underway and the IU Hoosiers are at the top of the NCAA rankings this year, so here's your step-by-step playbook for how to enjoy an IU basketball game at Assembly Hall (you know, in case you've forgotten or something):  

1.)  The first thing you've got to do is score some tickets.

IUBB Tickets

2.) Second up - enjoy a great meal at one of B-town's incredible restaurants. For game day, I recommend Yogi'sCrazy HorseBuffaLouie's, or one of my family's favorites, Cafe Pizzaria.

Cafe Pizzaria

3.) Check out Cook Hall. If you've never been to IU's newest basketball facility, game day is the perfect time. The lobby is open to visitors and you can see some great historic IU basketball memorabilia, including a few NCAA National Championship Trophies.

Cook Hall

4.) Head over to Assembly Hall - arriving early gives you plenty of time to enjoy that legendary basketball atmosphere.

Assembly Hall 
5.) Hit up the Varsity Shop (or one of their main level displays) for some new IU gear. Here's a family friendly tip - if you're looking for kids' sizes you'll want to head straight to the main store on the lower level. 
Varsity Shop

6.) Stop for a quick photo op in front of something distinctly IU, like the trophy cases or the Hall of Fame. Post your pics on all your social media accounts to make your friends jealous.

Take a photo!

7.) Find your seats and cheer for the home team (of course!).

Find your seats!

8.) Be sure to stand up for the fight song!

IU Fight Song!

Bonus Points if you bring someone to their first-ever IU basketball game!
Young or old, the look on their face will be priceless.

First Game


So, now that you know how to enjoy a game properly, be sure to get registered to win free tickets to three upcoming games from Visit Bloomington! Each winner will receive either two or four tickets. 

Tickets are still available for the holiday series games on Dec. 19, 21 and 28. Wouldn't that be an incredible stocking-stuffer? Reserve your tickets at IUHoosiers.com or call 866-IUSPORTS.

If you go, post your pictures to our Facebook wall, tag us on Instagram or give us as shout-out on Twitter. We'd love to see your IU basketball experience!  

Calling All Parents: IU Theatre presents The God of Carnage

Posted in: Arts & Culture Comments

We know, it sounds like the last thing you want to do during the holiday season and what could something like "The God of Carnage" possibly have to do with being a parent - but trust us, this new production from IU Theatre & Drama will make you howl with laughter (and may make you feel pretty good about your own parenting skills). 

Yes, I said parenting skills...
Here's why: This production tells the story of what happens when two eleven-year-old boys have a scuffle on the playground at school, and their parents face resolving the matter on their own. Despite the best attempts at courtesy and respect, hard truths and insecurities surface along the way, pitting couple against couple, men against women, and even husband against wife. A Broadway hit and winner of the 2009 Tony® Award for Best Play, The God of Carnage takes a painfully funny look at parents behaving worse than their kids. The show will be on stage at the Lee Norvelle IU Theatre & Drama Center from Nov. 30 - Dec. 9.

God of Carnage 

Parenting sure can be stressful at times and I'm betting all you parents out there could use a break, so share your best and/or funniest parenting story with us for a chance to leave the kids at home and enjoy a night at the theatre along with a gift card to one of B-town's amazing restaurants! Simply leave a comment below, share it on your Facebook page so your friends can have a laugh as well and we'll choose a winner on Monday afternoon. Yes, grandparents and/or those without children can enter, too! 

Go Hoosiers Football!

Posted in: B-town Giveaways Comments

Congratulations to the IU Hoosiers Football team, who brought home a win last week against Illinois!

(Image courtesy of the Bloomington Herald-Times.)


IU Football

In celebration of this Big 10 Conference win, we're giving away a family pack of tickets to this weekend's game against Iowa!  I've got five tickets and a parking pass for one lucky family of Hoosier Fans - just leave a comment to tell us why your family deserves to go to this week's game on us to be entered to win. We will choose a winner on Wednesday afternoon. Winner must be able to pick up the prize at the Bloomington Visitors Center during regular hours.  

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

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