Explore, Experiment, Experience...

Escape to the Outdoors

Bloomington boasts wide-open spaces, offers solitude in the outdoors, and has plenty of socially distanced adventures to choose from. Home to the 200,000-acre Hoosier National Forest and Monroe Lake (Indiana’s largest), Bloomington attracts cyclists, campers, fishers, foragers, and birders. Some of our favorite hikes and outdoor escapes include:

Take a Walk Around

If you want to learn more about the city's architecture and local history, or if you’re just looking for an interesting walk, Bloomington's historic districts are easily accessible. There are thirteen Historic Walking Tours available to explore – each highlighting the architecture and history of Bloomington, Indiana.

Drive on In

For a nostalgic night out, Bloomington is home to a beautiful, decades-old treasure: the Star-Lite Drive-in Theater. Spend an evening safely in your own car and enjoy the cool summer air. Be sure to check Starlite’s Facebook page for the most up-to-date information and see what movies are coming to their larger-than-life screen this summer.

Learn from the Best

Out and about with the kiddos? Try experiments and have family fun at WonderLab Museum (opening to the public Thursday, August 20). The children's museum is filled with experiments for kids of all ages. They are requiring that all visitors (including members) pre-register. Tickets are available 24 hours in advance. Remember, masks are required for visitors 2 years old and above. Experience art from world-renowned artists for free at the Eskenazi Museum of Art! The museum is open Thursday-Friday 12 PM - 5 PM; Saturdays 12 PM - 7 PM, and Sundays 12 PM - 5 PM. Masks and social distancing are, of course, required. Indoor dining is prohibited, but guests can order food, drink, and merchandise from the gift shop through Grubhub to pick up at the Museum Cafe & Gift Shop. 

Where to Stay Safely

Retreat to lakeside camping at Paynetown State Recreation Area with 300 electric and non-electric camping spots, a beach, and boat rentals. Pro tip: consider a weeknight stay for more solitude and fewer crowds while camping. Explore all of our camping and cabin options here

Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina is the perfect place to enjoy the extended family and the water, with access to pontoon and wave runner rentals. In addition, some downtown lodging options including the Graduate Bloomington, Hilton Garden Inn, and Grant Street Inn are now open. Be sure to check websites and call ahead for the latest information before booking your stay.

With distance top of mind, now is also a great time to check out unique vacation rental properties in Bloomington. For a comprehensive list of Airbnbs in Monroe County, click here

Staying In

There is more to staying inside than binging your favorite show (even though that is very important). This time can also be spent learning new skills, trying cool experiments, or connecting with people virtually. Many places around town are helping you keep busy with their virtual experiences. 

Bloomington Playwrights Project
Bloomington Playwrights Project is offering unlimited online access to 25 plays and musicals until September 1 if you make a one-time donation of any amount to their BPPFLIX program. Your donation will support BPP artists and staff and help the company prepare for future shows. For more information and to make a donation, visit their website. 

Cardinal Stage
Bloomington's professional theatre company is offering several virtual entertainment options for everyone missing the stage. Check out their website and social media for specific details. 

Eskenazi Museum of Art
The newly-renovated museum has reopened to the public, but there are still many ways to be artistic and experience the Eskenazi Museum of Art from home. Their program #EskenazifromHome includes art projects and wellness activities. Check out their social media for art-making activities, collection highlights, and even a virtual open art therapy studio. 

IU Auditorium
The IU Auditorium brings in dozens of off-Broadway productions and concerts every year. While they are currently not happening live in Bloomington, the theatre is sharing links to performances at home by artists around the country. Visit their social media for more information.

IU Cinema
The on-campus cinema is currently not open, but that isn't stopping them from showing world-class films. IU Cinema is having virtual screenings every week to keep people engaged and entertained during this time. For information on the weekly film and the link, visit their social media

Jacobs School of Music
Every Monday and Wednesday, the world-renowned Jacobs School of Music will be sharing pre-recorded live-streamed events that you can enjoy at home! For more info, check out their social media.  

Monroe County Public Library
The Monroe County Public Library has plenty of online resources to keep you entertained while we are staying inside. The library has a variety of ebooks, audiobooks, movies, and music for download. Don't have a library card? That's okay -- check out MCPL's social media for how to access a temporary eLibrary card. 

WonderLab Museum 
Did you know WonderLab has virtual programming? Every day the science museum has a different program covering all areas of STEM. The sessions are meant for kids of all ages and grade levels. Check their website for the schedule. 

Please stay safe and we hope to see you in Bloomington soon.