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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

10 Things (+1) to Add to Your Summer To-Do List

Categories: Outdoors, Indiana University, Arts & Culture, Family Fun

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. 

1) 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!)Farmers' Market

2) The Bloomington 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.)

3) Starlite Drive In Theater
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.)

Karst Farm Park Splash Pad4) Karst Farm Park Splash Pad
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.)

5) 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!)

Chocolate Moose6)  Enjoy some Local Ice Cream
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.)

7)  Rent a Boat on Lake Monroe
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.)

Light Totem - IU Art Museum8)  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 Machine Mania
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!)

Fire Tower Sunset10) 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
**The Brain Extravaganza was a temporary exhibit in the summer and fall of 2012.**

Brain ExtravaganzaNo, 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!) 

Tosha Daugherty

Tosha Daugherty

Tosha was the primary contributor to the B-town Blog during her tenure as content coordinator. Her blogs covered a number of topics, from family activities to outdoor excursions.