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Monday, July 30, 2018

Experience International Cultures in Bloomington

Categories: General, Arts & Culture

Due in large part to Indiana University, Bloomington is a veritable melting pot of colorful sights, enchanting aromas, and captivating sounds from around the world. Escape the ordinary and immerse yourself in new flavors from the rich community of international restaurants, new ideas in the unique cultural centers, and exciting events celebrating global culture—all of this without a passport.

Global Sounds

lotus festival bloomington

One of the oldest music festivals in the US, 2019 marks the 26th running of the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival, where indoor/outdoor festivities fill the downtown streets with the sounds and sights of the best performing artists from around the globe. For a multi-day spectacle, plan a trip around this year’s fest, scheduled September 26-29, 2019.


Copy of Lilly Library

If you want to dig a little deeper, visit the Lilly Library where you’ll find rare books from around the globe, including a Gutenberg Bible, or discover the latest exhibit at the  Mathers Museum of World Cultures. Hear from internationally renowned filmmakers at the Jorgensen Guest Filmmaker Series held on campus at the IU Cinema, where previous guests have included Edward James Olmos, Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Werner Herzog, and many more. (Tickets are not required for most programs; however, seating is limited.)

Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center TMBCC 2

For an extensive exploration of Eastern culture, head over to the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center. Founded by Thubten Norbu, eldest brother of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the TMBCC offers classes on Buddhist philosophies, yoga, and meditative hikes on their pristine grounds. Squeeze in some self-care with our comprehensive guide to Bloomington’s Salt Cave, yoga studios, and all things self-improvement inspired by cultures around the world. For jewelry, home goods, and food items, Global Gifts stocks diverse goods handmade by global artisans for the perfect souvenir.

Related content: Self-Care Retreat in Bloomington, Indiana



Visitors are always surprised to discover the vast array of global food options in Bloomington—over 75 international restaurants in a town of 80,000 people has a way of grabbing your attention. Begin your world tour with Afghan food at Samira which hosts a lunch buffet for curious eaters. Turkuaz Cafe is a fun, relaxed destination for Turkish food where you can sip on traditional cay (tea) while lounging on big cushy floor Kilim pillows and savor the traditional red lentil soup and sarma, stuffed grape leaves with tomato sauce. Enjoy a cup of Coddle and a yard of beer at the Irish Lion or for an experience as traditional to Bloomington as a game of Sink The Biz at the iconic 90+-year-old Nick’s English Hut. Around the corner, off the alley, you can sample fresh-made pasta at Osteria Rago with imported beer and wine.

Siam House is a longtime favorite for Thai food and their shady patio overlooking “International Restaurant Row.” For something a little different, venture over to Anyetsang’s Little Tibet, a charming cottage turned restaurant on 4th Street. Try the signature Tibetan dish, momos: meat, potato, and vegetable dumplings. Burma Garden is one of Bloomington staple for massive bowls of pho and pickled green tea leaf salad. If you want to try your hand at Asian cooking, head over to Saraga Oriental Market or B-Town International Market for a variety of fresh produce and specialty items from Korea, China, and Vietnam.

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yurts in bloomington in

With so much to take in, why not make a night of it? Opt for on-theme accommodations for a truly memorable trip. The Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center offers cozy Mongolian yurts nestled on their wooded property for short-term stays. Space is limited, so plan in advance. The Biddle Hotel: Indiana Memorial Union is a stately historical option on campus where you can pay homage to the institution that afforded Bloomington such a diverse and fascinating blend of cultures. Or the charming Wampler House Bed & Breakfast, gives visitors a taste of small-town living with rustic decor and homemade treats.

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