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Each year, we celebrate the impact of tourism in the Bloomington community with awards for outstanding members of the local tourism industry. As we wrap up National Travel and Tourism Week, we once again gather to recognize and reward the many professionals that make up the local tourism industry.
The Bloomington Tourism Awards celebrate the individuals, organizations and businesses that help make this a diverse, exciting and friendly community to visit (and live in). Congratulations to all of this year's Bloomington Tourism Award Winners - these individuals and organizations are a tremendous asset to Bloomington and Monroe County and we appreciate their contributions. Thank you to each and every one of the hard-working people that make up our local tourism industry!
2013 Bloomington Tourism Award Winners:
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2013 1:47 PM by: Tosha Daugherty
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!Posted on: Monday, May 6, 2013 6:39 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Each 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 speific 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!
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 18, 2013 8:17 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
Whether you're a visitor or a local, if you're looking for a restaurant that's serving a Thanksgiving Day meal, it can be a hard thing to find! Visit Bloomington has made it easy for you this year! Here's the low-down on Bloomington area restaurants that will be open for Thanksgiving Day.
FARMbloomington will be serving a Thanksgiving dinner for $35 per person ($19 for the kids). Seatings will be at Noon, 2 and 4 pm. Reservations are required, so give them a call at 812-323-0002 to reserve your spot at the table.
Chapman's Restaurant will be open from 10:30 am to 4 pm serving a special holiday meal. The cost will be $21.95 per person, $11 for children and free for the little ones (under 5 years). Call 812-337-9999 to make your reservations.
Bobby's Colorado Steak House will be serving a full Thanksgiving Day buffet from 11 am to 4 pm, for just $12.50 per person. Reservations are recommended, please call 812-332-7552.
Mother Bear's Pizza will be open from Noon to 4 pm on Thanksgiving Day, serving up their Pilgrim's Pride Pizza. No reseravtions are required.
Wherever you end up spending the holiday, Visit Bloomington wishes you a very happy Thanksgiving!Posted on: Thursday, Nov 15, 2012 12:11 PM by: Tosha Daugherty
Need a few haunting hints on how to celebrate Halloween in Bloomington? Here's a quick run-down of fun pre-Halloween (and one post-Halloween) events in the Bloomington area to get you in the mood to get dressed up and head out in search of a ghostly good time!
Haunted Hayride and Stables
Located at 8308 S. Rockport Road, these fun haunted hayrides depart from the Haunted Stable on Fridays and Saturdays between 7 and 11 pm for a spooky 15-minute jaunt filled with scary creatures, the Headless Horseman, graveyards, witches, werewolves and more! Once you're returned to the Stable, you can decide for yourself if you're brave enough to enter! Bring the kids out between 1 and 7 pm while the spooks are all sleeping.
The Great Glass Pumpkin Patch
On October 13, the Bloomington Creative Glass Center presents the 3rd Annual Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. Choose from over 250 glass pumpkins to find your own handmade blown glass creation.
7th Annual Dia de los Muertos Community Altar
From Oct. 16 to Nov. 4, visit the Mathers Museum of World Cultures to see the 7th annual Dia de los Muertos Community Altar, created with offerings from local Bloomington residents.
Dennis James Hosts Halloween
On Oct. 26, join in this classic IU Halloween tradition as a classic silent film is shown at the IU Auditorium, accompanied by the haunting organ music of Dennis James. This year's film is Faust and James will be joined by Mark Goldstein playing the theremin. The show starts at 7:30 pm.
Festival of Ghost Stories
This 30-year Bloomington tradition is presented by the Bloomington Storytellers Guild and takes place on an ink-black night with leering jack-o-lanterns and crisp cider to set the stage for an outside concert of ghastly tales told in the dark at Bryan Park. Begins at 7 pm. Free for adults and older children; not appropriate for young children.
Ghostly Gathering at Paynetown SRA
Join the naturalist at Lake Monroe for ghosts, goblins and ghouls crafting sessions, an all-ages costume contest, campground trick-or-treating, campsite decorating contest and the annual Ghostly Gathering Halloween Party! Activities take place from 2:30 to 10 pm. Please dress for the weather.
Wildcare's Night of the Creatures Halloween Event
Get dressed up in your favorite wild costume and enjoy a night hike with Wildcare on Oct. 27 where you'll encounter some real creatures of the night! Whooo knows what you might hear or what you might find. Begins at 6 pm. Please dress for the weather.
Spooky Stories in the Gallery
Join the IU Art Museum on Oct. 27 at 2 pm as members of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild share the spooky stories that inspired several Japanese prints in the museum's collection. Refreshments will be available after the program. Free; recommended for children in grades 3 and above.
On Oct. 27, join maniacal Maestro Charles Latshaw and the bloodthirsty Bloomington Symphony Orchestra in a frightfully delightful evening for the whole family. They'll be playing some of Halloween's GRAVEst hits! Make sure the kids dress to impress for the kids' costume contest! Show starts at 5 pm.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Cardinal Stage Company invites you to join them the evening of Oct. 27 for their 7th year of presenting this classic Halloween presentation of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. There will be two showings, 8 pm and Midnight, with a special "de-virginization" ritual one half hour prior to show time. Come in costume for a discount on admission!
Halloween Family Fun Fest - Day of the Dead
Venture out to the Mathers Museum of World Cultures on Oct. 28 from 2-4 pm for the museum's annual Halloween celebration that explores activities and traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead. Event is free and open to the public.
Once you've recovered from your candy-induced Halloween coma, head out to watch the pumpkins fly through the Bloomington skies! That's right, on Nov. 3 at Hilltop Garden & Nature Center, pumpkin launch creators will send pumpkins soaring through the are in competition for both accuracy and distance. A seed spitting contest, children's activities, live music and pumpkin goodies will all be part of the fun, which begins at Noon. $5 per car. Presented by Bloomington Parks & Recreation, Hilltop Nature Center and WonderLab.
We're beginning to see little spashes of color on some of the trees around Bloomington, and you know that that means... one of our favorite seasons is now underway in B-town!
Doesn't everyone just love fall? The weather cools off, but it's not too cold yet, the colors are so vibrant, there are caramel apple and pumpkin flavors to enjoy just about everywhere, and Bloomington is gorgeous! Here are a few of our favorite things in Bloomington you should add to your fall to-do list - tell us about your fall favorites in the comments below.
Orchards & Country Stores
THE best place to find the flavors of fall, orchards and country stores are where you'll find yummy things like apple cider, fudge and apple butter! You'll also often find a plethora of other items including pumpkins, fall home decor, handmade soaps, gourds and more.
Townie Tip - Our favorite country stores are Dillman Farm for apple butter and fudge, Melton's for persimmon pulp and fun outdoor decor items, and Musgrave for their award winning apple cider. Please call ahead before you visit, as this year's drought has heavily impacted apple and cider production.
Pumpin Ice Cream and well, everything else!
The mornings are crisp and cool, yet the afternoons often get warm and sunny - that means it's a perfect time to indulge in one of fall's tasty pumpkin pleasures. Hit up Soma or the Pourhouse Cafefor a pumpkin flavored latte, then head to the Chocolate Moose or Hartzell's when things heat up in the afternoon.
Townie Tip - I tried the Pumpkin Pie Latte at the Purhouse Cafe the other day - YUM! Please be aware that flavor availability can change quickly at locally owned ice cream shops, so if they're out of pumpkin be open to some of the other custom made flavors.
I recommend Moose Dream at the Chocolate Moose and Cinnamon at Hartzell's.
We're so lucky here in Bloomington that our Farmers' Market has such a long season! Having the option through the fall means you can sample the goodness of an Indiana fall through pumpkins, fresh jams and jellies, persimmons, fresh honey and more!
Townie Tip - Check the Farmers' Market website for dates and times of special apple and soup tasting events. Go early and enjoy breakfast from Feast, Sweet Claire (try the chocolate sweet roll) or the Chocolate Moose (waffles and ice cream anyone?).
Yes, Bloomington is a bicycle-crazy town in the spring during the IU Little 500, but the serious cyclists come out in the fall to ride the back roads and enjoy the city's many bicycle lanes and trails. Whether you're a beginner taking an afternoon ride on the B-Line Trail or you're an old hand at the annual Hilly Hundred Bicycle Tour, B-town is a great place to bicycle in the fall!
Townie Tip - Hit up the ride-through window for lunch to go at FARMbloomington - it's located in Oddfellows alley, just off Kirkwood Avenue, or if you're riding out by Lake Monroe, stop in at the Trailhead Market and Noshery and get the special bicyclist discount!
Take a Hike
Really, we mean it. Hiking is one of the best ways to see the splendor of fall up close and personal. Visit one the the many area parks, preserves or forests to reconnect with nature and enjoy the beautiful fall weather. Take plenty of water and a few snacks with you, because once you get started, you won't want to stop!
Townie Tip - Our favorite hiking spots include the Hickory Ridge Firetower area in the Hoosier National Forest (of course) - the views really can't be beat! Here are a few of our lesser known favorites to check out as well: Leonard Springs Nature Park,
Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Yellowwood State Forest and Little Africa Nature Preserve
at Lake Lemon.
Rent a Boat
No, we're not confused about the seasons. Renting a boat on Lake Monroe is one of the very best ways to go leaf viewing! Nothing is prettier (or makes for better photos) than the unbroken shoreline covered in trees full of color with the water in front and the beautiful blue sky above.
Townie Tip - Bring a jacket (it can be cool and windy out on the water) and your binoculars. Be on the lookout for birds and other wildlife - several bird species stop off at Lake Monroe for a rest along their annual migration routes.
The list just wouldn't be complete without mentioning the IU Hoosiers Football experience. We know the team has had its ups and downs, but nothing beats a day at the stadium with the family. The kids'll love Knothole Park and Hoosier fans are tops when it comes to tailgates!
Townie Tip - There's no need to pack your car full of coolers and food - just step into the IU Alumni Association's Hoosier Village Tailgate where you can either enjoy a buffet or sample fare from local B-town eateries like Short Stop BBQ, Opie Taylor's, PIzza X, the Chocolate Moose, Kilroy's and The Big Cheez!
Wineries & Brew Pubs
Yes, you can visit them in any season, but there's just something about sitting outside at one of our local wineries or enjoying a pint of seasonal beer at the source that screams fall to us. Expect wine tasting, beer samplers, special menu items and cellar tours!
Townie Tip - Want to take time to enjoy the local flavors, but still need to pick up a pumpkin? No worries, you can pick up a locally grown pumpkin at Oliver Winery! Both Oliver and Butler Winery are beautiful backdrops for your fall photos as well.
Dress Up and Go to a Show
Yes, there are wonderful shows on the schedule for IU Opera, Ballet and Theatre (find them on our calendar), but that's not what we mean... Nothing truly says fall like taking in a scary silent film accompanied by legendary IU alum Dennis James on the organ at the IU Auditorium or joining in a rousing viewing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Buskirk-Chumley Theatre!
Townie Tip - Arrive in costume to truly enjoy the show - there may even be a costume contest to reward your efforts!
The Great Pumpkin Launch
What could be better than watching pumpkins get launched into the air and splatter to the ground? Not much, right? Well, Hilltop Nature Center, Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Wonderlab are coming together to continue to Bloomington tradition of the Great Pumpkin Launch! On the Saturday after Halloween, pumpkins will fly - and you're invited to join in the fun!
Townie Tip - Think you can build a better pumpkin launcher? Download the requirements and give it a try! Launching devices must be registered by Oct. 26. Check the Parks and Rec website for even more Halloween and fall themed event like
the Festival of Ghost Stories!
Spring break in B-town is drawing to a close and soon we'll have thousands of students back on campus and around town sporting tans and souvenir t-shirts from their various spring break travels. Over the course of the week, however, we spotted several students still in the area.
So, what's a student (or visitor) to do in Bloomington over spring break?
Posted on: Thursday, Mar 15, 2012 8:32 AM by: Tosha Daugherty
You've been seeing references to Pinterest for awhile now. It pops up in your Facebook news feed when your friends pin something, you've seen links on Twitter, maybe you've had friends rave about it. If you're Pinterest-curious but just don't know where to start, don't worry - we've got your crash course, right here.
Pinterest is the hottest social site of 2012. They've got over 10 million registered users, their number of daily users has increased by more than 145% since the beginning of this year and they're still in an invitation-only beta stage. So, what exactly are these millions of people doing on Pinterest?
Being inspired. Getting organized. Shopping online. Collecting ideas. Uploading photos. You see, Pinterest is like a giant digital cork board. You can create as many boards as you want for any categories you want. Planning a wedding? Having a baby? Remodeling your house? Need ideas for a science project? Planning a vacation? No idea what to make for dinner tonight? Pinterest to the rescue! Simply create a board for each of these topics, download the pin-it add on for your browser and start surfing the web or uploading your existing photos.
Take a look at how Visit Bloomington is using Pinterest. We've got a board for IU Basketball, of course, but we've also got a board just for local beer and wine, one for foodies, family travel ideas, local music and more. We've even got a board dedicated to famous (or semi-famous) people who have ties to Bloomington and/or Indiana University. You can even create boards that multiple people can pin to, such as our Staff Pins board. That could come in handy if you're planning a girlfriends' getaway or a vacation for the extended family!
If you think you're ready to take the Pinterest plunge, here's our little gift to you. Instead of requesting an invite through the site itself and waiting days or weeks to get it, simply email us and I'll be happy to send you an invitation to join us on Pinterest. Happy pinning!Posted on: Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012 9:26 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
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.