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Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A Little 500 Trip Itinerary

Categories: Indiana University

The Little 500 is known as "The World's Greatest College Weekend" across the country. There’s no denying that it’s one of the most lively and fun weekends in Bloomington each year, but the event is so much more than its reputation as a big party. The races are intensely captivating, every push of the pedal rooted in history and tradition. Downtown is teeming with energy, the magic of spring and return of warm weather in the air. The tulips on campus are blossoming in beautiful cream & crimson blooms, and the sun is (hopefully) shining down on Old IU. It's Little 500 race weekend, Hoosiers.

Mens Little 500

The following Little 500 trip itinerary is perfect for both visitors and locals alike: experience the races & auxiliary weekend events, the lively atmosphere on Indiana University's campus, downtown's vibrant culinary & shopping scenes, and a healthy dose of nightlife during The World's Greatest College Weekend.

Insider Tip: Before you come to Bloomington for the Little 500, watch the 1979 movie, Breaking Away. The story of working-class friends coming together to compete in the men's race will get you excited for the weekend, and will probably make you want to buy a “Cutters” t-shirt from Tracks on Kirkwood.
 

Friday

Afternoon

Women's Little 500 Winners

The big weekend kicks off with the Women’s Little 500, starting at 4:00 pm at Bill Armstrong Stadium. The race traditionally opens with an a cappella version of "Back Home Again in Indiana," which is goosebump-inducing.

The women’s race is fast & exciting, with a mixture of independent teams and sorority teams funneling their months of dedicated training into an adrenaline-pumping, nail-biting 100-lap race. Pick a team to cheer for, or simply take in the experience as a spectator. The competition is so fierce, you won’t want to take your eyes off the track. Make sure you stay until the end of the race — the trophy is presented immediately afterward, and the winning team takes a victory lap on their bikes. After seeing how grueling this race is, you’ll definitely want to give them a standing ovation!

Insider Tip: Avoid long lines and a $10.00 ticket price increase by buying your ticket in advance for $35.00 on the Indiana University Student Foundation website. Day-of tickets, purchased at the gate, are $45.00. One ticket is good for both the women’s and men’s races.

Evening

malibu

Lower your blood pressure after the race with a relaxing dinner at a downtown restaurant. If you’re feeling something more upscale, try Malibu Grill. The restaurant, located on The Square, offers elevated California-style cuisine. For a more casual atmosphere, head over to Lennie's on Kirkwood for wood-fired pizzas or The Irish Lion for traditional Irish cuisine & classic pub fare.

Saturday will be a big day, so have a laid-back nightcap at any of the three restaurants before you head back to your hotel. Malibu Grill offers a selection of hand-crafted cocktails and elegant wines; Lennie's carries locally-made Bloomington Brewing Company beers, and The Irish Lion serves an assortment of Guinness stouts, Irish cocktails, and other Irish brews & ciders. 

 

Saturday

Morning

Hopscotch Coffee from the B-Line

Set the tone for the energetic day ahead with a morning walk on the B-Line Trail. Head south on the trail towards Hopscotch Coffee, where you can grab a cup of locally-roasted java and a vegan donut made by Rainbow Bakery. If you’re looking to start the party early, head across the street to Cardinal Spirits for a boozy brunch. If sleeping in is more your style, roll out of bed and stop by Soma Coffeehouse & Juice Bar on your way to campus for great coffee, fresh juice, and a delectable pastry (or two).

Spend the rest of your time before lunch browsing downtown's unique shops. If you decide to go the B-Line route, check out the Bloomington Antique Mall, another venue on the trail. If you head over to Soma on Kirkwood, stop by Bicycle Garage — we're betting you’ll be pretty inspired to take up biking after the weekend is over, if not already! You can also pick up an obligatory "Cutters" tee from Tracks while you're in the area.
 

Afternoon

Men's Little 500 at Bill Armstrong

Have a quick lunch downtown before heading over to Bill Armstrong Stadium to cheer on the men's teams. We highly recommend any restaurant on 4th Street — known as "International Row," the street offers Thai, Cajun, Burmese, Indian, Turkish, Korean, and even more international cuisines. Taste of India and Anatolia are both local-favorites, but every restaurant on the street is phenomenal. 

Wrap up lunch no later than 1:00 pm so you can get to the stadium ahead of the Men’s Little 500 starting at 2:00 pm. You'll want to arrive a bit early to find a seat in the stands since it's typically busier (and a little rowdier) than the women’s race. Cheer on your favorite fraternity, underdog, or independent team, and keep an eye out for the notoriously speedy Cutters team, formed after the release of Breaking Away. Take in every moment: the pace lap modeled after the Indianapolis 500, the mass of neon-clad students screaming support for their friends, and the mud-splattered riders hoisting their winning bike in the air. 
 

Evening

Upland Brewing

After the excitement of the men’s race, relax with some brews and good food at a local brewpub — forget domestic beers and instead experience Bloomington’s hopping craft beer scene. If you're planning on enjoying Bloomington's nightlife scene post-dinner, consider grabbing a bite & brew on The Square at Function Brewing or The Tap. If the weather is nice, stroll slightly north of The Square to Upland Brewing Co., with a pit stop at The Wood Shop to try the specialty brewery's sour ales. Grab an Upland bike jersey while you're there so you can rep your favorite B-Town brewery on your next ride.


Night

Nick's English Hut

Saturday night after the men’s race is always the most lively night of the weekend. You can relive the college glory days at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood, hang out with other IU alumni and play Sink the Biz at Nick’s English Hut, or enjoy your drinks on the Crazy Horse patio for a more laid-back night out. If you're feeling competitive in the hours following the race, challenge your friends to pool and darts at Video Saloon, skeeball at Atlas Ballroom, or some classic arcade games at The Cade. Wrap up the night by dancing your way to closing time at The Back Door or The Bluebird.

 

Sunday

Morning

IU Campus Paths - Summer

Before you head out of town, grab an energizing brunch and freshly-brewed coffee with unlimited refills at The Village Deli or The Runcible Spoon. Bring yourself back to life with their scrumptious breakfast creations — we recommend The Village Deli's Famous, Colossal, Fresh Buttermilk Pancakes and The Spoon's Salmon & Croissant Bennie. Before you leave town, walk off your food beneath the towering trees on IU’s beautiful campus, and start planning everything you want to do during next year’s Little 500 trip.


Looking for more information about the Little 500? Check out these pages:
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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