Bloomington, Indiana, located about an hour’s drive south of Indianapolis, is home to Indiana University, but this area has more to offer than just a great college campus atmosphere. It is also a town that has a thriving business community, a variety of restaurants and international cuisine, and numerous boutiques and shopping options.
There are also nearby attractions that provide options for entertainment, dining, outdoor activities, and that the travel to which can make for a pleasant scenic drive through the rolling hills of Indiana (yes, there are actually hills in Indiana!). Contrary to popular belief, there is plenty more in Indiana than just corn and basketball, and here are a few of the items you might consider for your itinerary while visiting Bloomington, Indiana for the weekend.
Enjoying the Square and Kirkwood Avenue
Just across the street from the Indiana University campus is Kirkwood Avenue. Here you’ll find the kind of bars, restaurants, and shopping that is befitting many college towns. Some of the hot spots here are Nick’s English Hut, Kilroy’s on Kirkwood, the Irish Lion, and the Crazy Horse Food and Drink Emporium.
Just up the street from Kirkwood Avenue is the town’s square. Centered around a domed courthouse, this area provides more in the way of shopping, eateries, and entertainment venues. By exploring the surrounding areas in the near vicinity, you’re likely to encounter international food offerings interspersed among a variety of boutique stores and shops. From Thai and Italian to Middle Eastern, Indian, Greek, and more, there is plenty to choose from when it comes to satisfying your taste buds in Bloomington.
Walking the Campus
Fall can be a particularly nice time to visit the IU campus. With the kids back in school, a crisp chill in the air, and the fall foliage in full display, you might just get the sense that you’re back in school again. Just wandering among the limestone structures spread out across the campus is a pleasant enough way to spend an hour or two. You could even stop in at the art museum, which was conceived by famed architect I. M. Pei.
On a cold day, you might want to stop in at the Indiana Memorial Union for a cup of hot chocolate, to warm yourself by the fire or even stay in the hotel located there during your trip to the area. Maybe you’ll be in the mood to take in a football or basketball game or walk by the track where the Little 500 bicycle race takes place each April (the movie Breaking Away with Dennis Quaid and Daniel Stern was made about this event).
A Brief Excursion
During your time in Bloomington, you might decide to take a day or afternoon side trip. If this is the case, you might want to make the drive over to Nashville, Indiana. This quaint artist colony makes for a nice afternoon spent grabbing a bite to eat or wandering among its many shops. While Nashville might be considered more of a tourist destination, it is devoid of many of the trappings that might make one consider it a tourist trap. It has plenty of character, but depending upon the season you may or may not find it packed with visitors. With the fall season, and the changing of the leaves, many people enjoy making the drive out, and Nashville sometimes serves to provide overflow accommodations for larger events in Bloomington such as big football games, homecoming, and graduation, which can also pack this tiny town pretty darn full.
Brown County State Park is just a couple miles up the road from Nashville, and for those who are looking for a great place to hike or just get away from the rat race for a bit, this park can do the job. If you choose to stay the night, the park offers cabins and the ever-homey Abe Martin Lodge.
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