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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Bloomington's Most Unique Attractions

Categories: Arts & Culture, General, Indiana University, Outdoors, Wine & Culinary, Family Fun

Bloomington offers many fantastic attractions, and some of them are pretty unique to our area. Whether you're looking for attractions you can typically only find in big cities, attractions that are ranked as some of the most premier in the nation, or the only attraction of its kind in the United States, Bloomington has something from every category. 
 

WonderLab Museum

wonderlab
Photo by Robbie Gonyea

Bloomington's award-winning children's museum strives to cultivate excitement and curiosity for science through interactive exhibits & programs. There's much to be explored at WonderLab, including the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science, which showcases live insects, amphibians, and reptiles in their natural habitats, the Bubble Flow exhibits for exploring "soapy science," the outdoor WonderGarden, and much more. It's one of the top attractions for families in Bloomington, and one of the few children's museums in Southern Indiana.
 

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center

Two cultural structures on the TMBCC grounds

Frequently visited by the Dalai Lama, Buddhist teachers, and scholars from around the world, the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center (TMBCC) is dedicated to fostering, preserving, and sharing the Tibetan & Mongolian cultures with the Bloomington community and the United States as a whole. Their grounds offer many beautiful views of cultural architecture, decor, and design, including the nation's sole Tibetan Chortens (Buddhist shrines), both dedicated by the Dalai Lama, and the Mani Korlo, a structure featuring Tibetan prayer wheels. If you're looking for the most unique attraction in B-Town, the TMBCC is it.
 

The Pfau Course at Indiana University

Two men playing golf at the Pfau Course

The Pfau Course at Indiana University is Bloomington's most challenging and esteemed golf course. Designed by highly-acclaimed architect, Steve Smyers, and two-time Major winner, Fuzzy Zoeller, The Pfau Course is ranked in the Top 100 golf courses in North America by GOLF and in the Top 100 golf courses in the United States by Golf Digest. This championship course puts players of all levels to the test, offering six tee options across 18 holes. It's an incredible, unforgettable experience for passionate golfers throughout the country and continent.
 

Oliver Winery

Oliver Winery's facility & grounds

Ranked among Travel + Leisure's Top 25 vineyards in the nation in 2017, Oliver Winery is Indiana's largest winery, as well as one of the largest wineries in the United States. With distribution in 40 states, Oliver is a household name across the country, making the vineyard a top attraction for Bloomington visitors. Enjoy reserved wine tastings, self-guided flights, production & cellar tours, and picnic experiences at the winery's stunning facility and grounds during your next visit to the area.
 

Indiana University

Sample Gates Summer

Founded in 1820, just two years after Bloomington and Monroe County, Indiana University is the largest university in the state. Often cited as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, IU's limestone buildings and dense wooded areas draw inspiration from Bloomington's local history, famed limestone industry, and topography. Housing several unique attractions of its own, such as the Eskenazi Museum of Art, Lilly Library, Assembly Hall, and more, visiting the university is essential for getting the complete Bloomington experience.
 

Hot Air Balloon Rides

Three hot air balloons floating over IU
Photo by Scott Fudge

While it isn't a physical place like most other attractions in this list, hot air balloon rides are an extremely unique Bloomington attraction. TJV Balloons and Bloomington Balloon Rides are the sole hot air balloon purveyors in Indiana south of Indianapolis, offering gentle flight experiences over Southern Indiana's rolling hills for anyone visiting the area. Enjoy the experience of a lifetime from the sky, floating over Indiana University, Griffy Lake, the Hoosier National Forest, local limestone quarries, and other attractions, depending on the direction of the wind during your ride.
 

Hoosier National Forest & Charles C. Deam Wilderness

Tree-top view of the Deam Wilderness with the sun setting

Bloomington's most unique natural wonder, the Hoosier National Forest, is Indiana's sole national forest. Comprised of over 200,000 acres, tens-of-thousands of which are found in Monroe County, as well as Indiana’s only congressional-designated wilderness area, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, the Hoosier's vast forested grounds are an unexpected surprise in the best way. Located just 30 minutes from downtown and the university campus, visitors can enjoy a mix of breathtaking outdoor wonders and city attractions with minimal travel time — which is extremely unique in itself.
 

Captain Kathryn Janeway Statue

Captain Kathryn Janeway Statue

On the B-Line Trail just outside of WonderLab Museum's WonderGarden stands something you'll only find in B-Town: the Captain Kathryn Janeway statue, a monument installed to honor the Star Trek character's birth in Bloomington on May 20, 2336. The statue celebrates Janeway's leadership, humanity, integrity, determination in the face of repeated challenges, and her connection to her future birthplace. The monument is one of Bloomington's most unique attractions, and is especially exciting for those who are fans of the sci-fi enterprise.
 

Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve

Spring at Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve
Photo by Kyah Hiers

Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve is a wetland nature preserve in Monroe County comprised of over 800 acres of protected land, which is home to a variety of endangered species, including the Indiana bat, Kirtland's snake, and rare orchids. Throughout the year, visitors can observe and admire the habitat and its inhabitants on the 2.5-mile ADA-accessible raised boardwalk trail and four observation decks throughout the preserve. While the wetland habitat is special in itself, its ADA-accessibility makes it unique and encourages other nature preserves in the area to implement similar accessibility features.


Looking for more attractions in Bloomington? Check out these blogs:
Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's a proud Indiana University alumna, mom to four cats, and Formula 1 enthusiast. When she isn't at work, you can find Alyssa checking out the newest restaurants in the area with her husband, curled up at home with a great book, or planning her next trip to a destination near or far.

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