Friday, September 7, 2018
Plan the Ultimate Fall Road Trip to Bloomington, Indiana
Bloomington and IU sports are forever intertwined and there’s no time like the fall to experience them both in peak season. For many, fall means one thing: football. When the leaves begin to turn and the band starts marching, football fans flock to Bloomington to partake in the thunderous roar of Hoosiers in their element. Whether or not you bleed cream and crimson, these next few months are the perfect time to fall in love with Bloomington—for the first time, or all over again.
Champions need their breakfast—even if they’re just championing from the stands. If you’ve returned to tour your old stomping grounds, Uptown Cafe and Runcible Spoon for sit-down service and classic morning staples are likely at the top of your list. For a grab-n-go option, revisit iconic 24-hour haunt Cresent Donut or the city’s first scratch bagel shop, Bloomington Bagel Company Downtown. For heartier eaters, be sure to try the hulking breakfast burrito at Soma Coffeehouse to fuel you through the day.
If you’re looking to see what’s new on the Bloomington brunch scene, get a table on the Square at The Inkwell, known for avocado toast & show-stopping house-made pastries or Bedräk Cafe for smoothie bowls and breakfast tacos. For a quick pick-me-up, small-batch roastery Needmore Coffee Roasters offers small bites and all manner of caffeine to keep you going strong.
Bloomington never looks better than in the prime of the autumn season, so make the effort to get out and see the town before (or after) game time. Hop on a dockless Pace bike and explore the sites off the B-Line Trail, including the Bloomington Farmers’ Market (Indiana’s largest) every Saturday. Take photos at the quintessentially Bloomington Sample Gates before touring the Old Crescent, home to IU’s most historic campus buildings. Stop by the Fowler Pumpkin Patch to choose from thousands of pumpkins, take a hayride, visit the petting zoo, or get lost in the corn maze (and see our full outdoor fall bucket list here). Then get game ready and commemorate the trip with an IU sweatshirt from The Indiana Shop.
There’s no shortage of delectable dinner options in Bloomington—both old classics and new favorites. If you’re in the mood for pizza, Mother Bear’s has been serving up award-winning slices since 1973, or try newcomer King Dough on the Square for a gourmet, wood-fired take on an old standby. Janko’s Little Zagreb has long been a go-to for steaks and an expansive wine list, while Scholar's Keep offers modern small plates and old favorites from the former Scholar's Inn alongside a creative cocktail list complete with a Dark & Stormy slushie. Decadent Italian and Mediterranean cuisine meet craft cocktails and decorum at Alchemy at the Princess Theater, where a list of (suggested) 10 Commandments maintain a civil late-night drinking vibe. Or, skip dinner altogether and head over to Memorial Stadium for some proper tailgating food.
It’s Game Time
What would football be without tailgating? Come to any IU home game and you’ll find the rich tradition of IU tailgating alive and well in the lots surrounding Memorial Stadium (full details here). Meet everyone from traditionalists grilling hot dogs and playing cornhole to lavishly catered setups arranged by Blockparty, but expect everyone to be donning their cream and crimson best. Come early, grab a plate, and soak up some legendary Hoosier Hospitality.
Keep the Hoosier spirit alive long after the final throw. Head to hometown favorite, Nick’s English Hut, to try your hand at a game of Sink the Biz, or Upstairs Pub for darts, pool, and a great view of the bustling street below. If you’re looking to explore the latest additions to the Bloomington nightlife scene, stop by Atlas Ballroom for top-shelf liquor and service, or the brand new taco and tequila joint, Social Cantina, which boasts a selection of more than 125 Tequilas and Mezcals (a perfect smoky libation to compliment the autumn ambiance). When you just need to pop-a-shot, head to the relaxed atmosphere of Video Saloon for pool, darts, and, yes, pop-a-shot. In the mood for some live music? The Bluebird, The Bishop, and Blockhouse Bar all regularly host bands that will have you feeling nostalgic for late college nights. And if you’re craving something sweet in the wee hours after closing, Baked of Bloomington serves up cookies until 3 am.
There’s plenty of options in town to suit all tastes, but book early because spaces fill up quickly around game days.
- Right on campus: Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel
- Downtown: Hyatt Place, Hilton Garden Inn, or SpringHill Suites.
- Getaway: Find some calm after a wild weekend at any number of cabins or guesthouses
- Brand new: Be among the first to stay at the newly opened Home2 Suites by Hilton (great for families and small groups)
Bed & Breakfasts
Bed & Breakfasts
These unique properties provide a great alternative to traditional hotel accommodations.