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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

How to Spend a Day on Kirkwood Avenue

Categories: Shopping, Wine & Culinary, Arts & Culture

Kirkwood Avenue is the most iconic street in Bloomington. Bold statement, we know, but considering its lineup of legendary bars & restaurants and entrance into Indiana University's campus through the famous Sample Gates, it simply can't be denied. Kirkwood is a popular destination for students, photographers, alumni, families, and visitors alike. Chock-full of shops, eateries, bars, and picture-perfect views, it's incredibly easy to spend an entire day on the avenue — which is exactly what we're suggesting!

Visit Bloomington kiosk and bikes during spring

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Art, Culture & Entertainment

Kirkwood Avenue offers a handful of sights to see, each perfect for snapping a photo to post on the 'Gram or to fondly remember your time in B-Town. If you do share your adventure on Instagram, be sure to tag us by using #visitbtown
 

Buskirk-Chumley Theater

Buskirk-Chumley Theater sign in summer

On the far end of Kirkwood stands one of Bloomington's most historic buildings, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Originally built in 1922 as a silent-movie house, the theater has since been beautifully restored and now serves as a venue for local festivals & plays, as well as touring musicians, including Bloomington's own John Mellencamp, and discussions with prominent figures. 
 

Murals

Village Deli Mural on Kirkwood

Kirkwood is home to three murals: the Peoples Park mural located on the side of Bicycle Garage, Inc., the Graduate Hotel mural located on the west side of the building, and The Village Deli mural located in the alley between the restaurant and Tracks. They all make for the perfect photo backdrop, so snap a pic of yourself and your squad in front of all three.
 

Sample Gates

Sample Gates on a sunny spring day

Sample Gates, built in 1987, serves as the gateway between the Indiana University and Bloomington communities. The Gates look out to Kirkwood's iconic venues and eclectic atmosphere, featuring The Square's Monroe County Courthouse in the distance. It's the number one photo destination on campus — a beloved location for capturing photos of visitors, graduates, newlyweds, little Hoosiers, furry friends, and more.


Drinking & Dining

Raise your hand if you're a foodie! You're going to want to visit B-Town as many times as it takes you to try every restaurant on Kirkwood — they're all that good.
 

International Flavors

Trojan Horse

The Trojan Horse

In the mood for a Mediterranean meal? The Trojan Horse offers gyros, falafel, pita melts, and more. Don't leave without trying their baklava ice cream — it's one of the best frozen treats in town.
 

Z & C Teriyaki & Sushi

Searching for teriyaki and sushi? Z & C Teriyaki & Sushi serves both, counter-service style. It's a local favorite for a late-night bite after hitting the bars, so if you're craving a midnight snack, you know where to go.
 

American Grub

A woman walking a dog past Cafe Pizzaria on a sunny summer day

Cafe Pizzaria

Craving some 'za? Order a pie from Cafe Pizzaria, a Bloomington staple since 1953.
 

FARMbloomington

FARMbloomington is known for their farm-to-table plates that infuse locally-grown food with global flavors. If you and your crew are seeking an upscale dinner, FARM is a great choice.
 

Fat Dan's Chicago-Style Deli

Want a Chicago-style hotdog, an enormous burger, or a deli sandwich? Fat Dan's Chicago-Style Deli is your place.
 

Lennie's

People flock to Lennie's for their huge Strombolis, gourmet pizzas, and handcrafted ales from Bloomington Brewing Company. The restaurant's atmosphere is very laid-back, perfect for those seeking a casual meal.
 

Nick's English Hut

Nick's English Hut is an IU mainstay for students, alumni, and fans, standing at its Kirkwood location since 1927. The tavern is known for its energetic game-day atmosphere, Sink the Biz drinking game, and big 'ole bucket of Biz fries. 
 

Uptown Cafe

Uptown Cafe serves New Orleans-style, Cajun and Creole-inspired fare with an elevated twist. Their Crawfish Etouffee is one of the best seafood dishes in town, and their brunch is a must for weekend visitors.
 

The Village Deli

Looking for a local breakfast or brunch joint? The Village Deli is a favorite. If you're looking for a dish recommendations, locals would suggest their plate-sized buttermilk pancakes and Paxton's Potatoes.
 

Sweets

Banana split from Hartzell's

BLU Boy Chocolate Cafe & Cakery

BLU Boy Chocolate Cafe & Cakery offers from-scratch, gourmet chocolates and desserts, including the signature truffles, ice cream sundaes, cookies, cakes, macarons, and more. It's the perfect sweets spot for a romantic date on Kirkwood.
 

Hartzell's Ice Cream

Hartzell's Ice Cream serves homemade ice cream in a wide range of traditional & unique flavors, including salted caramel, cake batter, java chip, and more. If you're strolling the street on a hot summer day, there's no better place to stop for a cold treat.
 

Insomnia Cookies

Insomnia Cookies sells warm cookies & brownies from 11:00 am-3:00 am — making it the perfect post-bar-crawl snack shack, located just downstairs from The Upstairs Pub.
 

Soma Coffeehouse & Juice Bar

The caffeine-addicted and juice-obsessed will love Soma Coffeehouse & Juice Bar. The quirky-cool Bloomington cafe chain offers classic & unique coffee beverages, fresh smoothies & juices, a wide range of hot & iced teas, and a variety of fresh-baked pastries for those who like to have something to munch on while enjoying their brew of choice.
 

Food Trucks

Three guys standing in line to order from The Big Cheeze food truck

If you're in B-Town during the warmer months, you'll likely see a few food trucks parked on the avenue. Grab some tacos from La Poblana Taco Truck, a mac 'n' cheese-stuffed grilled cheese from The Big Cheeze, or a gyro from Doner Kebab, then enjoy your street food at an outdoor table at Peoples Park.
 

Bar Scene

Sink the Biz at Nick's

Kilroy's on Kirkwood

Kilroy's on Kirkwood is one of the most legendary bars in Bloomington, as it's a rite of passage for all IU students to day-drink on their back patio during game days and party into the night on any other occasion. If you're looking for a bar with an energetic scene, this is the one.
 

Nick's English Hut

If you want to catch a sports game and a few brews or play a round of Sink the Biz with your crew, Nick's English Hut is the place for you. 
 

The Upstairs Pub

If you're looking for a more laid-back setting, The Upstairs Pub offers a second-story patio with a great view of Kirkwood from above. Darts & pool players will also appreciate that the bar has both.


Shopping

From boutiques to IU gear, there's a variety of (mostly) small businesses to shop while you explore Kirkwood.
 

Clothing & Accessories

Racks of clothing at Pitaya

Pitaya

The fashion lover will find heaven-on-earth in Pitaya, a chic and trendy boutique that carries clothing and accessories geared toward college students.
 

Urban Outfitters

There's a two-story Urban Outfitters near Sample Gates for those seeking big-city fashion in our smaller-sized city. In addition to clothing and accessories, the store also carries a small selection of home goods items.
 

Cream & Crimson Gear

Sweatshirts at Tracks

Greetings

Greetings offers unique IU-themed apparel, quirky gifts, home decor, car accessories, and more. Whether you're looking to buy an assortment of items or you're only after some new IU clothing, their selection should satisfy all of your Hoosier shopping needs.
 

The Indiana Shop

The Indiana Shop is known as the ultimate IU fan shop. The store offers an abundance of IU apparel, home decor, alumni merch, special event gear, and more. While you're browsing the other IU shops on Kirkwood, definitely pop into this one.
 

IU Varsity Shop

IU Varsity Shop is the official store of IU Athletics, and as such, they offer a variety of IU sports-themed apparel, including the famous candy-striped pants, as well as a wide range of gifts & accessories, including branded sports gear, tailgate accessories, and home decor. 
 

Tracks

If you're looking for unique IU apparel, Tracks is the place to visit. The clothing and music store offers a wide range of t-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts, hoodies, and much more, most of which is uniquely designed and only available at the Kirkwood store. 
 

Underground Printing

Underground Printing carries a large variety of apparel featuring screen-printed designs. They also allow customers to create their own custom t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and more. 
 

Specialty Stores

A view of Kirkwood looking toward Sample Gates from Peoples Park

Bicycle Garage, Inc.

Passionate cyclists should definitely check out Bicycle Garage, Inc., a full-service bicycle store & repair shop that also offers bike rentals.
 

Moon Stones

Those with an interest in handmade jewelry, exotic rocks, and crystals could spend hours poring over the selection of items at Moon Stones
 

TD's CDs & LPs

TD's CDs & LPs is an underground record store that buys, sells, and trades new & used music media — a must-visit destination for music lovers.


Stay on Kirkwood

Outside of the Graduate Hotel at dusk

Planning to have a late night on Kirkwood? Or, perhaps you simply won't be ready to part with the iconic street by the end of a single day. If you want to extend your stay on Kirkwood for any reason, check in at the Graduate Bloomington Hotel. A uniquely eclectic place to stay, the Graduate's concept is to celebrate the youthful spirit and nostalgia of college, nodding to the history & heritage of Indiana University in its design & decor. In addition to its interesting Hoosier memorabilia, the hotel also offers complimentary bike rentals, a roof-top terrace, and an in-house cafe.

 

Looking for more downtown shopping, restaurants, and nightlife? Check out these blogs:

 

 

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Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is the Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington. She's also a proud Indiana University alumna, Millennial cat lady, and Formula 1 enthusiast. 

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