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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Life on the Water

Categories: General, Outdoors, Wine & Culinary

This article was published in our 2020 Bloomington Visitors Guide. Request your copy here

Bloomington is no stranger to beautiful outdoors.

With over 98,000 acres of forest, 38 different parks, and more than 10,000 acres of protected lands in Monroe County, there is no shortage of ways to spend your time outside.

Almost anywhere you go outdoors in Bloomington, you’ll find that water is a common variable. Lakes, rivers, and waterfalls can all be found minutes away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Monroe Lake, the largest inland lake in Indiana, is found in Bloomington. If you’re looking to explore life on the water in Monroe County, you have ample choices.

Boating in Bloomington is a great way to spend a day on the lake. Head out to Lake Monroe Boat Rental to rent a pontoon, jet ski, ski boat, paddleboard, canoe, kayak, and more. If you’re interested in fishing, this lake is home to populations of largemouth bass, crappie, walleye, bluegill, and catfish. If you’re looking for solely non-motorized boating, take a drive out to Griffy Lake. Smaller than Monroe Lake but still a great choice for watersports, this lake offers a quieter alternative for recreation.

Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is home to a scenic waterfront as well as ample hiking opportunities around the lake, with miles of trails ranging from easy to rugged. The Griffy Lake Boathouse has rental options for paddleboards, canoes, kayaks, and rowboats for anyone looking to enjoy the scenery from the water.

Boating at Lake Lemon will truly get you away from it all. The 1,650-acre lake is nestled amongst scenic ridges and ravines. Bring your own boat and paddle around the beautiful place that Indiana University’s Rowing Team practices, or cast a line at one of Indiana’s most productive fishing areas.

If you’d rather dip your toes in the water, Bloomington’s lakes have you covered. Along the shores of Monroe Lake, you’ll find the Paynetown and Fairfax State Recreation Areas, two popular public beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or picnicking. Both beaches have nearby marinas if you decide you want to hop on a boat during your day.

The Riddle Point Park at Lake Lemon is an excellent place to swim if you’re looking to see more of Monroe County. Find the beach at the end of a beautiful drive down Tunnel Road and enjoy a swim surrounded by lush trees and blue water. The shelter house is available for rental if you’re looking to have a beach-side get together with friends and family.

Man windsurfing on Monroe Lake

Spending a day on the water in Bloomington doesn’t mean you have to spend a day in the water. The beautiful lakes around town are also home to ample hiking, with popular routes at both Griffy Lake Nature Preserve and Monroe Lake providing options from paved to rugged trails, giving hiking options for everyone.

After a long day enjoying the outdoors, a good meal is in order. Some of Bloomington’s favorite nosheries can be found lakeside for an opportunity to refuel after a day of exploring and enjoying the water.

Right off Lake Lemon, you can find the Port Hole Inn Bar and Grill. If live music, ribs, fried catfish, and cold drinks are your speed, the Port Hole is the place to be after a day of paddling and swimming around the lake.

Closer to Monroe Lake, options for everything from brunch to pizza can be found. Overlooking the lake, Scenic View Restaurant gives diners sweeping views of the surrounding landscape while enjoying traditional American food. Scenic View serves lunch and dinner, as well as a weekend brunch, and the scenic drive makes for a great trip all the way around.

Located within the Fourwinds Lakeside Inn and Marina is the Windjammer Bar and Grill, offering everything from salads to pork tenderloins (a Hoosier favorite) alongside creative cocktail specials. During the spring, summer, and fall, weekend entertainment at the lake-side bar gives you ear-candy to match the eye-candy of the lake.

You don’t just have to eat at the Fourwinds--if you’re looking for a place to stay right next to the water, staying here will give you access to the marina, heated pools, mini-golf, and easy access to the lake.

The lodge at Scenic View also gives you an option for food and rest all in one place. The Scenic View Lodge’s close proximity to the Hoosier National Forest has miles of trails to hike and sights to see if you want to wander into the leaves alongside the lake.

Camping is also an option alongside the water in Bloomington. The Lake Monroe Village and Jellystone Park have primitive, RV, and cabin lodging options if you want to stay a little more connected to nature throughout your trip.

The best part about staying close to the water? Getting up the next morning and finding a new day’s adventures, right past your doorstep.

Gillian Fulford

Gillian Fulford

Gillian Fulford is a southern Indiana native and Visit Bloomington’s marketing and media intern. Gillian loves Bloomington for its diverse community, outdoor opportunities, and the wealth of possibilities in everyone’s not-so-small small town. On any given day, you can find her hiking around Lake Griffy, dog spotting, or searching for her new favorite coffee shop.