Friday, September 7, 2018
Nature Lovers Guide to Fall in Bloomington, IN
There’s nothing quite like southern Indiana in the fall. The rolling hills of kaleidoscopic leaves against limestone cliffs. The crisp morning air blowing across a still lake. And the warm Hoosier hospitality at every turn. With countless atmospheric locales and seasonal treats available, it’s clear the locals are as crazy about fall as the visitors they greet with Oliver Winery’s prized Apple Pie wine. If you’re looking for a calm retreat to take in the peak season of fall, there’s no better place than Bloomington.
Take your caffeine ritual at Soma Coffeehouse or Crumble Coffee and Bakery, both of which serve up locally roasted coffees from around the world. Or you might prefer the tea and gorgeous baked goods at the newly opened Two Sticks Bakery, where they strive to use only natural, locally sourced ingredients—and offer a variety of gluten-free and vegan baked goods. The orange cardamom cinnamon rolls are a must.
If you find yourself in town on a Saturday, wake up early and head to the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market to stock up on seasonal treats like fresh apples and apple cider, pies and cakes, and all shapes and sizes of pumpkin. Whether you plan on camping or just leisurely exploring the foliage in town for an afternoon, pick up natural snacks from Bloomingfoods to keep you fueled through the day. And keep an eye out for the plethora of seasonal delights (like apple cider donuts and pumpkin bread pudding) from restaurants all over town.
An Unplugged Afternoon
Every local will tell you, there’s no better place to take in the stunning autumn colors than a hike to the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower for panoramic views of the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area (or any of these picturesque locales), but there’s more than one way to enjoy the ever-changing sights. Lake Monroe Boat Rental (at Paynetown SRA) is open through fall, so gather some friends and take a pontoon, kayak, or canoe out for a waterside perspective on the season. On your way back to town, stop in Scenic View restaurant for a stunning view and afternoon drink, or Trailhead Pizzeria for homemade gourmet pizza, drinks, classic board games, and live music.
If you can’t make it to the lake, no worries. There’s plenty of fall foliage to take in on and around campus. Rent bikes from Salt Creek Cycles on the B-Line to tour the changing trees in town or venture out towards the winding hilly roads all across Bloomington.
Fun Fall Festivals
If you prefer to celebrate the season in the company of like-minded leaf-peepers, then plan a trip around one of Bloomington’s many fall festivals, beginning with the Monroe County Fall Festival (September 20-22)—a community tradition for over 50 years. A trip out to Fowler Pumpkin Patch is also a family favorite, featuring hayrides, a corn maze, and even a petting zoo.
The 25th annual Lotus World Music & Arts Festival is a true spectacle, running September 27-30 and showcasing the incredible diversity of the world’s cultures through music and art. Explore the experiential art exhibits, take in a live performance, do some yoga, and expand your horizons alongside thousands of others. If you arrive at the tail end of the fall festival season, be sure to stop by the Artisan Guilds Of Bloomington Holiday Show And Sale (November 2-3)—featuring goods made of clay, fiber, and glass, perfect for a truly unique holiday gift.
Leaf Peeping At Dusk
Round out an afternoon of fall comforts with a drive through the rolling hills of Bloomington along the winding and picturesque Arts Road 46, taking in the fall foliage from behind the wheel. Or steer yourself towards happy hour at locally owned Oliver Winery, where you can book a pre-arranged picnic among the radiant landscape, Apple Pie wine and all. For the season, Oliver packs their garden with a plethora of gourds and pumpkins in all shapes and sizes for purchase.
If you’re looking for a more substantial meal and a locally brewed beer, then head into town and take in the scenery from a seat on the patio at longtime hometown favorite, Upland Brewpub (which includes a family-friendly dining area and kids’ menu).
If it’s peace and quiet and reconnecting with nature you’re after, there’s no shortage of charming hideaways in Bloomington.
- Camping: Hardin Ridge Recreation Area
- Cabin Life: Red Rabbit Inn
- Family Fun: Jellystone Park at Lake Monroe
- Secluded Hotel: Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina (with indoor/outdoor pool and picturesque views)
- In Town BnB: Grant Street Inn
Find Fall Foliage in Bloomington
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Fall Bucket List
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