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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.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

A Holiday Getaway to Bloomington

Categories: General, Arts & Culture, Outdoors, Shopping, Family Fun, Wine & Culinary, Events

Picture this: You’re shopping, but not on Amazon. You’re having dinner — somewhere other than your own house. You wake up in a bed you don’t have to make. You go outside to watch the snowfall without having to see your neighbor in his pajamas.

That’s right. You’re in Bloomington. And you’re enjoying a holiday escape with your family, your besties, your bubble. Or perhaps you relish solidarity and prefer get your shopping done in peace. No matter your version of the holidays, you can find plenty of cheer right here in Bloomington.

You’ll find convenient access to it all in B-Town—from festive dining and outdoor adventures to downtown hotels and cozy cabins. After a year of putting holiday celebrations and cheer on hold, there’s never been a better time to visit.
 

Shop B-Town's best.

Fountain Square Mall shops along The Square during the holidays

Grab a warm drink, explore our local shops, and check everyone off your list with a unique B-Town gift. 

  • For the aesthete // By Hand Gallery is a locally-owned, cooperative gallery where you can find specially-made scarves, art, pottery, glass, furniture, woven items, and more. By Hand isn't your only option — Bloomington is home to a robust selection of stores that specialize in artisan goods of all kinds. Looking for art supplies rather than a finished piece of work? Check out Griffy's Art Supply for a variety of art materials.

  • For the adventurer // J.L. Waters & Co. takes pride in outfitting everyone, from the casual traveler to the experienced mountain climber. They offer a huge variety of outdoor gear with everything you need for fishing, backpacking, camping, kayaking, and much more. Or, perhaps you have someone in your life who prefers to adventure on two wheels — check out all three of B-Town's bike shops for the perfect gift for a passionate cyclist.

Displays of fiction and classic novels at Morgenstern Books

  • For the book worm // Morgenstern Books is Indiana's largest independent bookstore, and as such, it's a one-stop-shop for books of all genres. However, if you're looking for collectibles rather than contemporary releases, check out Caveat Emptor Used Books, a locally-owned store that specializes in rare books and classic novels.

  • For the fashion enthusiast // Mirth Market, Mainstream Boutique, and ALIBI all offer collections of hand-picked women's apparel, accessories, and footwear with a mix of contemporary, casual, and business attire — the fashionista in your life will be thrilled with a piece from one of the local boutiques. Shopping for the stylish guy in your bubble? There's no better place to browse than Andrew Davis Clothiers.

  • For the foodie // Goods For Cooks has been Bloomington's premier culinary arts store since 1973 and is the perfect place to find a gift for the special cook in your life. Or, for the adventurous foodie in your bubble, check out our many specialty food markets. Nothing says "happy holidays" to a food enthusiast like a curated basket of B-Town's best eats!

Holiday items for sale at Goods for Cooks

Displays of strategy games at The Game Preserve

  • For the music maven // Landlocked Music offers the largest selection of music media in Bloomington, but TD's CDs and LPs has a great collection (and great deals) as well. Tracks is a bit of a hidden gem as far as music goes — they're more known as an IU clothing store, but they carry a pretty robust assortment of CDs and vinyl as well. If you're looking to surprise someone with a musical instrument or accessories for an instrument they already have, Melody Music Shop is a must.

  • For the vintage lover // Bloomington Antique Mall and Westbury Antique Market are fantastic places to find vintage, antique, and retro items of all kinds, from home decor and collectibles to jewelry and records. Looking specifically for vintage clothing? Cherry Canary offers a curated collection of eclectic women's fashion items from various decades, and SLCT Stock is the place to go for retro streetwear for all genders.

Before you head out, check out gift card deals from some of our most popular locally-owned shops. From jewelry and art to outdoor gear and houseplants, Bloomington's stores have something for everyone on your list — including yourself!
 

Bring your bubble.

Cascades 1

The beauty of fallen snow on Southern Indiana’s landscape cannot be understated. If you’re looking to explore Bloomington’s natural wonders firsthand, take a look at some of the area’s best winter hikes at spots like Lower Cascades Park, Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, and the Bloomington Rail Trail. These routes give you a chance to see things normally obscured by foliage, like roosting bald eagles and ice-edged creeks.

After your nature bath, head downtown for a stroll under the Canopy of Lights. Their glow can be seen from every corner of the Courthouse Square, and the lights will be on all season to keep the holiday magic going. You can also find festive decor and greenery along Kirkwood Avenue and throughout the Indiana University campus.
 

Savor every bite.

A charcuterie board, latte, and mojito from Feast Market & Cellar

Warm your soul and satisfy your cravings with Bloomington’s coziest cuisine, either indoors or outdoors. Uptown Café has reimagined their patio experience with outdoor dining “igloos,” and Cardinal Spirits, Upland Brewing Co., and C3 offer outdoor tent structures complete with patio heaters to keep you warm. Prefer to dine indoors during winter's chill? Embrace soup season to the fullest: Cozy up to a bowl of Ramen at Korea Restaurant, sip a steaming cup of French Onion Soup at Lennie's, or savor a seasonal latte and charcuterie board at Feast Market & Cellar.

To sweeten the deal, many local restaurants are promoting gift card specials. Purchase gift cards for the folks on your checklist and receive a gift card for yourself to enjoy! 
 

Get holly & jolly.

Canopy of Lights Santa

Bloomington goes big for the holidays, which makes the most wonderful time of year all the more magical. Enjoy a variety of craft fairs & markets, holiday concerts & performances, lighting ceremonies, gatherings with Santa, and more throughout November & December. Annual favorites of both locals and visitors include The Nutcracker, Canopy of Lights, Chimes of Christmas, and the Bloomington Holiday Market. Find all holiday happenings in the area here.
 

Who needs houseguests?

Exterior Of Graduate Building In Bloomington

Skip an overnight at the in-laws’ and book your own place to relax. Discover rustic cabins and cozy vacation rentals that make for the perfect private oasis. Or, stay close to the shopping scene with a slumber at the Graduate HotelSpringHill Suites, or Grant Street Inn — all of which offer convenient access to downtown's delights.

Feel like doing something totally unexpected? Book a stay at the Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina to experience a peaceful stay on the shores of Monroe Lake while it's covered in ice and snow. While visitors usually flock to the lake during summer, there's an unexpected magic blanketing it during winter that far fewer people experience.

Whichever holiday adventure you choose to pursue, Bloomington will be waiting to welcome you with holiday cheer and seasonal spirit.
 

 

LOOKING FOR MORE BLOOMINGTON TRIP IDEAS & INSPIRATION THIS WINTERL? CHECK OUT THESE BLOGS:
Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's also a proud Indiana University alumna, mom to seven cats, and Formula 1 enthusiast. 

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