Bloomington is a city of 86,000 people (2019) in Southern Indiana. Bloomington is home to the flagship campus of Indiana University and the IU Hoosiers. As it is a much larger city than the county seats of nearby counties, it serves as the de facto employment, service, and shopping center for several adjacent counties.
Like most Indiana cities, Bloomington is arranged mostly on a rectangular grid. College Ave and Walnut St, a pair of one-way streets, form the main north-south thoroughfare through the central city, dividing the city into the east and west sides. The east side is centered around the main campus (Bloomington Campus) of Indiana University. The west side historically was the industrial part of town, with a number of factories churning out a variety of industrial products, from limestone blocks to elevators (Otis) to television sets (RCA).
While the university keeps growing, many of the industrial plants have now been closed, and the north-side railway running a few blocks west of Walnut St (Monon Railroad, later acquired by CSX) has been converted to a popular walking and bicycling trail (the B-Line Trail).
Bloomington is the county seat of Monroe County.
- Indianapolis International Airport (IND IATA) is the nearest commercial airport to Bloomington, located about 50 miles away. Scheduled bus service between the airport and Bloomington is provided by the Bloomington Shuttle Service. The shuttle vans or buses depart the airport's Ground Transportation Center every hour or every two hours (depending on the day of the week) from 6:40AM until 10:40PM. Tickets are priced at $23 one-way. The shuttles stop at the Indiana Memorial Union on the IU campus, as well as at a number of other locations on the IU campus and in the downtown area. Taxi fare from the airport to Bloomington is around $90.
- Monroe County Airport 972 S Kirby Rd, Bloomington, IN. +1 812-825-5406. All scheduled service to this airport, a few miles southwest of the city, stopped in the early 1990s; it is only used by general aviation.
- S.R. 37 State Road 37 is the main highway through Bloomington. It goes through Southwestern Indiana and then reaches Indianapolis, where it becomes Harding St. This highway is under heavy construction north of Bloomington to convert it into Interstate 69; at worst, the normal one-hour trip to Indianapolis can take two hours. Construction is projected to finish by the end of 2016.
- S.R. 46 State Road 46 is a small two-lane road that goes east into Brown County, past Brown County State Park to Nashville, IN, and Columbus, IN. To the west, it goes through Spencer to Terre Haute, IN. It avoids downtown Bloomington via a four-lane bypass on the city's northern side.
- I-69 Interstate 69 heads southwest through rural areas of forest and farmland to Evansville. Built in the early 2010s, this highway is new enough that it has comparatively few services; many exits have no nearby buildings at all, and you must follow signs for nearby towns, often several miles away, for fuel and food.
- Miller Trailways/Hoosier Ride. Twice-a-day bus service from Indianapolis (Greyhound Bus Station) and Evansville. The bus stops at the Bloomington Transit central station (3rd St and Walnut St), two blocks south of the Courthouse Square. One can purchase tickets at the Miller Trailways website; alternatively, if one also travels by Greyhound, one can purchase a single through ticket at the Greyhound website, with one of the coupons covering the Miller Trailways segment of the trip (typically, from Indianapolis to Bloomington).
- Bloomington Shuttle Service, run by Go Express Travel. Multiple daily runs (every 1-2 hours, depending on the day of the week) between Bloomington and the Indianapolis airport (see above). This company also runs direct buses to the Chicago area on some weekends, for the convenience of IU students.
- Campus Commute. Since December 2014, Campus Commute offers shuttle bus service between Bloomington (IU Campus) and Indianapolis (IUPUI Campus, and the Indiana State House on the west side of downtown). This service is run by the same Go Express Travel that run Bloomington Shuttle. While the service is primarily geared to the needs of IU and IUPUI students and staff, it is open to the general public. As of January 2015, there are 4 buses a day in each direction on Monday thru Friday; there is usually no service on weekends, or during some university vacation periods.
- Bloomington Shuttle Service offers shuttles to four destination points in town, charters, limousines, and service to and from Indianapolis Airport.
- Bloomington Transit is a full city-wide bus system with various routes to choose from. While serviceable, most buses only run every hour or half hour, and Saturday routes only run every hour. Only the routes serving campus (Route 6 and Route 9) run on Sundays. The system's main hub is the downtown transit center, at 3rd and Walnut Sts. Single-trip tickets cost $1, with a variety of discount passes available to those who need to use the system on ongoing basis. IU students and staff can ride the system for free with their ID cards.
- Indiana University Campus Bus is a separate system from Bloomington Transit. To avoid confusion with the city bus system, instead of numbers, campus bus routes are identified by letters. While mostly of interest to students, the campus bus system is open to general public, and charges no fares.
- Rural Transit operates several routes, on very limited schedule, to a number of locations just outside the city limits, as well as to the nearby towns of Ellettsville and Spencer (Owen County).
- Electric scooter rental (from two companies, Bird and (Lime) is available, and pretty popular. The city has promulgated regulations in regard to their use.
- Taxi. The city is served by taxis, although the fares are high at 50¢ per quarter-mile plus a $4 charge for being picked up. One local taxi company is Red Tire Taxi; there are others.
Parking near the university is regulated. A daily visitor parking pass may be purchased for $6 at the Biddle Hotel lobby of the Indiana Memorial Union (although this may only be purchased on the day of). This pass will allow visitors to park in many different lots & garages around the campus. Additionally, there are some metered parking spots on campus and some lots and garages on campus that are pay-parking (per half-hour). There are a few lots and garages that are free on Saturday & Sunday. For more detailed information, go to Indiana University Parking Operations: Visitor Permits
There are some street spots just off of the campus that either have 1 hour or 2 hour limits from 8AM-5PM (these tend to not be metered spots).
On-street parking throughout downtown is limited and, typically, metered. Visitors are advised to use parking garages instead.
Bloomington is a fairly bicycle-friendly city, with a network of bike trails and recommended bike routes. (See map). B-Line Trail is probably the most popular of them. The trail runs along the route of the now-dismantled railroad that used to separate the better-off east side of Bloomington from "the other [western] side of the tracks".
For spare parts and repairs, there are a number of bike shops in town, as well as the non-profit Bloomington Community Bike Project whose workshop you can use for DIY repairs.
- 1 Hoosier National Forest, Headquarters: 811 Constitution Ave, Bedford, IN 47421, toll-free: . Office open M-F 8AM-4:30PM. The Hoosier National Forest, in the hills of south central Indiana, is a property managed by the United States Forest Service. It has a total area of 201,047 acres and provides a wide mix of opportunities and resources for people to enjoy. Rolling hills, back-country trails, and rural crossroad communities make this small but beautiful forest a favorite. Climb the Hickory Ridge fire tower for a 365° view of the beautiful forest. Free.
- 2 Lake Monroe (Monroe Reservoir). Lake Monroe is a reservoir located about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Bloomington, Indiana. The lake is the largest in Indiana with 10,750 acres (44 km²) of water spread over the counties of Monroe and Brown. It is also home to 13,202 acres (53 km²) of protected forest and three recreational areas (Fairfax, Hardin Ridge, and Paynetown). Rock musician John Mellencamp is a native of the area, and resides on the shore of the lake. The largest marina situated on the lake is the Fourwinds Resort and Marina with over 800 boats. The reservoir provides abundant fishing throughout the year, and recreational opportunities such as boating and water skiing attract visitors from throughout Indiana and the Midwest.
- 3 Lake Lemon. Located in the northeastern part of Monroe County, this is another artificial lake created to ensure reliable water supply for Bloomington and Vicinity. The lake is popular with swimmers (public beach at Riddle Point), yachtsmen (Indiana University Sailing Center), and other boaters. While there are roads both along the northern and southern sides of the lake, E South Shore Drive offers better lake access, as well as good views of the lake, the Indiana Railroad railway trestle, and the upscale waterfront homes ("the Bloomington Riviera"). The small Little Africa Wildlife Viewing Area (off E South Shore Drive, near the eastern end of the lake), has a pleasant forest trail with some water access. The eastern end of Lake Lemon, where the Beanblossom Creek forms a labyrinth of channels as it enters the lake, is best explored with a boat of any kind - if you have one. Free.
- Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple (Tibetan Cultural Center), 3655 Snoddy Road (Located 2 miles south of the College Mall. Take College Mall Rd until it merges into Sare Rd. Continue south on Sare to Rogers Rd. At the flashing red light, turn left on Rogers and go 0.5 mi to Snoddy Rd. The TCC is 1 mile down on the left.), ☏ . Sunrise-sunset.
Located on 108 acres in the southeast corner of Bloomington, the property contains the Kumbum Chamtse Ling Monastery, the Cultural Center, two traditional Tibetan Stupas (Tib. Chorten), four retreat cottages, and a teaching pavilion. Guided tours of the buildings and grounds are regularly available for individuals, with large group tours of 10 or more given for a modest fee of $35. Don't miss the Tibetan Butter Sculpture, large library of books on Buddhism, and the gallery of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Jangchub Chorten and the Kalachakra Stupa are traditional Buddhist monuments to the Enlightened Mind of the Buddha and were dedicated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama during his visits to the TMBCC. $0-35.
- Mother of the Redeemer Retreat Center, 8220 W State Rd 48,. A Roman Catholic center on a large hilltop property a few miles west of town.
Theatre, dance and classical music
- Bloomington Playwrights Project (BPP), 107 W. 9th St (Cars are towed nightly when parking in neighboring commercial lots. Be sure you are legally parked. Metered street parking is best.), ☏ . Most shows run Th-Sa 8PM, Su 2PM. This not-for-profit arts organization is dedicated to the furthering of new original plays and theatre. The fair is almost exclusively original work and often by local writers. BPP is also home to several playwriting contests and youth theatre workshops. This is a great place to both see theatre and get involved as a volunteer. Partially Accessible. $5-25.
- 4 [dead link] Brown County Playhouse (The Playhouse), 70 S. Van Buren St., Nashville, IN 47448 (Travel 14 miles on State Road 46 East from Bloomington to Nashville, IN.), ☏ . Shows run June–October. Th-Sa 8PM, Su 3PM. Just a 20 minute drive from Bloomington's east side and nestled in the heart of Brown County, the Playhouse serves up light summer fare including musicals and contemporary classics. The theatre is in historic Nashville, a 19th century artist colony made famous for its fall foliage. Have dinner, see a show, and check out Nashville's more than 350 shops and galleries. $15-25.
- Cardinal Stage Company, Buskirk-Chumley Box Office: 114 E. Kirkwood, Bloomington, IN. Open daily, 11AM-6PM. 812-323-3020 (Cardinal plays are performed at both the Buzkirk-Chumley Theater & in the Rose Firebay at the Waldron Arts Center. See website for production details.), ☏ . Most shows run Th-Sa 7:30PM and Sa Su 2PM. There may be additional matinee performances for children's shows. Cardinal Stage Company is Bloomington's only dedicated professional regional theatre company, producing both classical and contemporary works, along with shows for young audiences, musicals, and new works still in development. The company also offers extensive outreach programs in an effort to cultivate a lifelong passion for the arts in audiences of diverse ages, cultures and economic backgrounds. $12-27.
- IU Auditorium, 1211 E. 7th St. (Free parking and shuttle service to and from the Auditorium is offered on the nights of most performances from: Atwater Garage (located at the corner of Atwater and Woodlawn Avenues) and Poplars Garage (located on 6th and Dunn Streets)), ☏ . Box Office: M-F 10AM-5PM & 3 hours prior to curtain. Be sure to see what's playing at this 3,200-seat theatre, home to a wide range of events including touring Broadways productions, (often free) lectures, student events, conferences, church services, university ceremonies, and popular music concerts. While you're there, check out the Hall of Murals, home to the priceless and newly-restored Thomas Hart Benton murals, also a regal setting for wedding ceremonies and intimate receptions. Accessible. Prices Vary.
- Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center (IU Department of Theatre & Drama), 275 N. Jordan Ave (Corner of 7th St and Jordan Ave. Shared building with the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center), ☏ . Most shows run Tu-Sa 7:30PM with a Sa matinee at 2PM. Since 1887 there has been a vibrant and active theatre community at Indiana University, and the present day Department of Theatre and Drama continues that tradition by performing two musicals and six "straight plays" each year at the newly constructed Lee Norvelle Theatre & Drama Center in the heart of the campus arts corridor. Enjoy the plush seating and traditional proscenium of the Ruth N. Halls Theatre or find edgier fair in the black box at the Wells-Metz. All productions feature our graduate MFA students and their work in addition to a large pool of talented faculty and undergraduates. Coming soon (in 2011), the newly renovated University Theatre will feature more student-work in actors' studios and a brand new cinema. $10-22.
- Musical Arts Center (the MAC), 1201 East Third St. (Jordan Ave between 3rd and 7th Streets. Park at the Jordan Garage on 7th and Jordan), ☏ . Box Office: M-F 11:30AM-5:30PM.
The Musical Arts Center, known as the MAC, is Indiana University and the Jacob's School of Music's premier performance facility. It features acoustical design and technical capabilities that are among the best in the nation. The backstage area occupies more than half of the building and provides state-of-the-art technical space for producing eight fully staged operas a year. The MAC is also home to the School of Music Department of Ballet. The main stage, which is often compared to that of the Metropolitan Opera, has European-style seating for 1,460. Opera and concert goers at the MAC enjoy intermissions in the Hoagy Carmichael Foyer, named for the Indiana native who enjoyed an illustrious career as a composer/songwriter. Concerts are also held in the lobby area. $10-55.
- Simon Music Center (IU Jacob's School of Music). The SoM has two smaller, lesser-known concert halls that are home to their recitals, chamber concerts, and solo exhibitions. Auer concert hall, a 400-seat auditorium with a gorgeous high-beamed, coffered ceiling, and two side terraces along with Ford-Crawford Hall, a more intimate 100-seat auditorium, are the place to go to see world-class classical music in Bloomington for free. As a top-ranked school in music performance, IU and the SoM not only attracts superstar performers, but it educates them. Keep an eye out for Joshua Bell in particular, who is a resident instructor. Performances happen several times a week, watch the SoM newsletter Prelude for a calendar. Most events are free.
- Theatre of the People (TOP) (TOP performs in various locations in and around Bloomington), ☏ . Since 2008, Theatre of the People (TOP) has been a non-profit community arts organization founded in to showcase modern art for community's sake. Producing new and original performance art from both new and old works to facilitate creative artistic processes in an ensemble setting within the community. TOP focuses on "inclusive theatre" meaning that no interested party is turned away, and all who wish to participate are given some role in a production.
Museums and galleries
- 5 Indiana University Art Museum, 1133 E. 7th St (Visitors should park in the Jordan Avenue Garage at 7th and Jordan, and bring their parking ticket inside for validation.), ☏ . Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. (Closed for repiars until 2019).
No matter what your perspective, you can experience art from all angles at the Indiana University Art Museum. From world-renowned architect I.M. Pei's soaring triangular atrium, to galleries filled with extraordinary works of art from all corners of the globe, the IU Art Museum will engage, stimulate, and satisfy your curiosity about the worlds of art. Since its establishment in 1941, the IU Art Museum has grown from a small university teaching collection into one of the foremost university art museums in the country. Today, the IU Art Museum's internationally acclaimed collections, ranging from ancient gold jewelry and African masks to paintings by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, include over 40,000 objects representing nearly every art-producing culture throughout history. Partially Accessible. Free; donations are welcome.
- Kinsey Institute for the Study of Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (The Kinsey Institute), 1165 E. Third St (Take elevator to the 3rd floor of Morrison Hall, Room 302), ☏ . 8AM-4PM. Founded in 1947, the mission of The Kinsey Institute is to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship in the fields of human sexuality, gender, and reproduction. The Institute carries out this mission through its archives, research faculty, education and of studentsand the community. There are often public art exhibits, concerts, and demonstrations at the Institute's 3rd St. location. Visit the website for information on events. Accessible. Free.
- 6 Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave (just off the corner of 9th Street and Indiana Avenue), ☏ . Tu-F 9AM-4:30PM; Sa Su 1-4:30PM. The Mathers Museum's collections consist of over 20,000 objects and 10,000 photographs representing cultures from each of the world's inhabited continents. These materials have been collected and curated to serve the Museum's primary mission as a teaching museum within a university setting. The museum's collections strengths include traditional musical instruments, photographs of Native Americans and the Bloomington community, Inupiaq and Yupik Eskimo materials, and Pawnee material culture, among others. Free.
- 7 WonderLab (The Museum of Science, Health, & Technology), 308 W. 4th St (On 4th St, just west of College Ave. Park in Garage Art 2 blocks east of WonderLab at 4th & Walnut Streets. Ave.), ☏ . Tu-Sa 9:30AM-5PM; Su 1-5PM; open until 8:30PM on First Fridays. WonderLab is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for people of all ages, especially children, to experience the wonder and excitement of science through hands-on exhibits and programs that stimulate curiosity, encourage exploration, and foster lifelong learning. Voted one of Parents Magazine's top 25 Science Museums in the country, WonderLab is a great place to bring kids for an hour or an afternoon. Some favorite exhibits include Grapevine Climber, a dramatic two-story climbing maze, The Bubble-Airium, and the Cosmic Dance, a dance floor composed of five translucent floor panels which briefly light up as cosmic ray particles hit them from outer space. Accessible. $6-7.
- 8 Lilly Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, 1200 E 7th St (adjacent to the Showalter Fountain, parking available at the Jordan Avenue Garage or at the Indiana Memorial Union), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 9AM-6PM, Sa 9AM-1PM. This internationally known rare book library contains more than 400,000 books, more than seven million manuscripts and 100,000 pieces of sheet music. Exhibits vary throughout the year. On permanent exhibit is the Gutenberg Bible (printed before 1456) and John James Audubon's Birds of America prints. Public tours are available every Friday at 2PM or by appointment. Free.
- Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum, 6764 North Tree Farm Road, Solsberry, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10AM to sunset. A private park with several dozens of sculptures, mostly of abstract nature. Located in a remote corner of Greene County (no cell phone reception) By donation.
- Indiana Hoosiers, Memorial Stadium, 1001 E. 17th St., ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The teams representing Indiana University in 11 men's sports and 13 women's sports. The Hoosiers are members of the Big Ten Conference along with 13 other major universities, mostly in the midwest with eastern outposts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. IU has an especially rich tradition in men's basketball, topped off with three NCAA titles. Most of the Hoosiers' venues are on campus, with the most famous being Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (basketball) and Memorial Stadium (football). Prices vary by sport and seating location.
A large number of events open to general public (lectures, concerts, film showings) take place almost daily on the IU Bloomington campus, at least during the academic semesters. See the calendar of IU Bloomington events.
Another calendar of city events [dead link] is maintained by the local public radio station, WFIU.
The Holiday World amusement park in Southwestern Indiana is a two-hour drive from Bloomington.
- 1 Spelunking (Indiana University Caving Club), 1001 East 10th St (Monthly meetings in IU's Geology Building, Room 126), ☏ . Meetings are the first Thursday of every month at 7:30PM. The IUCC provides students, faculty, staff, community members, and dedicated visitors the opportunity to crawl around in holes in the ground while practicing cave conservation. Monthly trips offer members of all abilities the opportunity to enjoy a safe caving experience with qualified guides. They even provide a helmet and light for the novice! This is a great way to go spelunking legally in Bloomington as many of the area's caves are under restriction for reasons of safety and conservation. Dues are $10 per calendar year. These dues include use of club gear (helmets and helmet-mounted lights) and the opportunity to go on IUCC-led caving trips. You must be a paid member prior to participating in any club trips. $10.
- Gallery Walk. First Friday of each month, 5-8PM. Openings of new exhibits at a dozen or so art galleries around downtown Bloomington.
- 2 Little 500 (Little Five), Bill Armstrong Stadium, 1606 North Fee Lane, ☏ . Held Annually in April. The Little 500 is the biggest intramural event on the IU campus and the largest collegiate bicycle race in the United States. Riders compete in four-person teams in separate races for men and women around a quarter-mile track. More than 25,000 people attend the races every year, with the proceeds used for working student scholarships at IU. The race was founded in 1951 by Howdy Wilcox Jr., Executive Director of the Indiana University Student Foundation, who modeled the race after the Indianapolis 500, which his father had won in 1919. "Little Five Weekend" is a landmark event at IU and the race is somewhat secondary to the parties. Students from all over the country flood Bloomington to attend both public and private parties and usually a large concert with nationally touring acts sponsored by the college. $5-25 for the race.
- Bloomington Early Music Festival (BLEMF), Location Varies (See website for dates and locations). Held Annually in May. Soloists and ensembles unite for a series of concerts, opera and oratorios, workshops, and pre-concert talks exploring historical musica and instruments. Cross-cultural interests in the festival sometimes include performances by acclaimed folk musicians. The only event of its kind in the Midwest, the festival serves the Bloomington community, the Midwest region, and a growing number of music lovers from across the United States. BLEMF has forged collaborative relationships with faculty and students in the Early Music Institute at Indiana University and has produced nine operas and a theatrical children's show. Free.
- Indiana Limestone Sculpture Symposium, Bybee Stone Company, 6293 N. Matthews Dr., Ellettsville (5 miles north of Bloomington), ☏ . Annually in June. The Indiana Limestone Symposium is a series of outdoor stone carving workshops that are held each summer on the grounds of the Bybee Stone Company in the heart of the historic Indiana stone belt in Ellettsville, Indiana. Everyone interested in learning to carve is welcome, from beginners to advanced carvers. Pay-by-the-day hand carving classes for teens and adults offer an opportunity to sample the experience. Workshops are taught by nationally known sculptors. The Indiana Limestone Symposium is sponsored by Bybee Stone Company Inc., which operates a 50,000 square foot limestone mill in Ellettsville, Indiana. Their many projects have included the National Capital, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Market Square Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. $20-1,000 from single day classes to workshops..
- Fourth Street Festival of the Arts & Crafts (4th Street Festival), P.O. Box 1257 (corner of at Fourth and Grant Streets in downtown Bloomington), ☏ . Labor Day Weekend, 10AM-6PM. An annual tradition since 1977 the fair is organized by Monroe County artists and craftspeople to showcase southern Indiana talent. High standards and an independent, professional jury attract hundreds of artisans from all over the United States to exhibit each year and compete for cash prizes. This family friendly two-day event now features local vendors and attracts more than 40,000 attendees each year from all over the Midwest. Free.
- Lotus World Music & Arts Festival (LotusFest), Sunrise Box Office: 114 E. Kirkwood, (Various indoor and outdoor venues in downtown Bloomington), ☏ . Lotus is a not-for-profit organization (est. 1994). Its mission is: To create opportunities to experience, celebrate, and explore the diversity of the world's cultures, in music and the arts. The festival is held each falls and brings a diverse array of international music, art, and cuisine to Bloomington's downtown streets, restaurants, and concert venues. Family friendly. Considering volunteering to see concerts for free. Price Varies by Event.
- The Hilly Hundred (Bicycle Touring Event), 7060 N. Woodnotes Addition Fairland (The ride starts and finishes each day at Edgewood High School, 601 S. Edgewood Drive, Ellettsville. A staggered start on both Saturday and Sunday morning is traditional), ☏ . Annually in October. Since 1968 the Central Indiana Bicycling Association (CIBA) has sponsored the annual Hilly Hundred Weekend, a classic bicycling event designed for the touring cyclists. If you like a bicycling challenge that includes entertainment and fellowship with more than 5,000 cyclists from over 40 states and several foreign countries, the Hilly is for you. This three day event is held in the scenic hills of southern Indiana where the challenging terrain is a wonderful mix of gently rolling country roads and breathtaking hills (literally). The includes a European rally which is not a race, but a test of skill in riding an exact rate of speed. Riders may use a watch, cyclometer, or “use their instinct” in efforts to ride at an exact speed. Trophies will also be awarded to the oldest participant to finish the first loop, and to the participant cycling the farthest distance to this event. There is free food and live(ly) entertainment at each of three rest stops on both Saturday and Sunday. Riders under the age of 18 need the approval of a parent or legal guardian as provided on the application. Riders under the age of 16 may participate in the Hilly only if accompanied by a cycling guardian. $45-75.
- [dead link] Community Book Fair (Monroe County Fairgrounds, southwest of the city). Annually, usually, on the first weekend in October (Thursday through the next week's Tuesday). The annual Community Book Fair is a major event, attended by local bibliophiles and book dealers alike. The event has been run by local charities (first, the Red Cross, and later, the Food Bank) since the early 1980s. The books occupy one of the huge pavilions of the Monroe County Fairgrounds. Due to the unique character of Bloomington's campus community, unusual finds are possible at the sale; for example, in 2016 nearly an entire library of Finnish, Hungarian, and Turkish books, perhaps from an estate of an IU scholar, made its way to the sale. There are children's books as well. The books being priced from $1-3 a piece on the first day down to $5 a bag on the last day.
Shopping areas in the city include:
- Kirkwood Avenue -- Kirkwood Avenue is the street leading from the Downtown Square to the Sample Gates, the main entrance into the Indiana University campus. It offers a couple of clothing shops, a souvenir shop as well as an Indiana University gift shop. It's usually packed with IU students, so take a stroll, find some grub, do some people watching, or some shopping.
- College Mall -- Located on the east side of town, College Mall is a typical small town shopping mall. It's nice to spend a few hours in it at one a rainy day but don't expect too much. Anchor stores are Target and Macy's, with specialty stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Build-A-Bear Workshop, Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Wet Seal, and Yankee Candle. Food options include a couple pizzerias, Auntie Anne's, Subway, and a food court.
- The Westside -- Around the junction of Third Street with State Road 37: typical shopping centers (T.J.Max, Kohl's, Big Lots) with an assortment of restaurants.
- Fountain Square Mall -- The Fountain Square Mall is an upscale mall situated downtown just across from the courthouse. It houses By Hand Gallery, a local artist's coop; a game store; toy store; vintage clothing; and the traditional expensive clothing shops. Across the street to Caveat Emptor as well, a must-see for used book enthusiasts. You can barely get through the aisles for the stacks of books. You can also take a break from shopping to get a relaxing massage at Massage on the Square located on the first floor of the mall.
Books and maps
Back in the early 1990s, Bloomington sported over 20 independent bookstores, and was sometimes described as a city with a largest number of bookstores per capita in the USA. Since then, most of them have gone out of business as Borders and Barnes and Noble arrived (the former of which having later succumbed to competition from the likes of Amazon.com; the latter is still there, in East 3rd St). Still, a few good independent book stores remain. Two of them ("Caveat Emptor" and "The Book Corner") can be seen on the east side of the Courthouse Square; another one ("Boxcar Books", a non-for-profit co-op) is in 6th St between Dunn and Grant.
See also the annual Community Book Fair under Events: October.
- Landlocked Music. Buy local and that does not exclude music. A great variety of new and used albums. If they don't have it they will order it AND you'll pay less than you thought you could. From independent to major label, this is the definitive music shop for the midwest. Run by people who are modern music historians.
Kroger is the main supermarket chain doing business in town; there is an Aldi and a Walmart on the west side as well.
Being a major university town, Bloomington has more "organic" and "international" grocery stores than anywhere else in southern Indiana. Bloomingfoods is a local food co-op, emphasizing organic products and featuring eat-in deli sections in its two locations around the city. Lucky's Market, a small national chain somewhat similar to Trader Joe or Whole Foods, has a store at W. Country Club Dr. and S. Walnut, on the south side of town. Fresh Thyme, with a location near College Mall and another one on the west side, is another similar chain.
There are several "ethnic" stores. Sahara Mart [dead link] (in 2nd St near Walnut St) is particularly strong on Middle Eastern products and wine. Tenth St Market & Deli, located near Eigenmann Hall, provides all kinds of imported groceries to international students living in the student housing in the area. Two "Asian" (Chinese / Korean) grocery stores can be found on the city's east side, in the general area of College Mall (Rongcheng at 10th and Bypass, and B-Town International Market near the east side Kroger).
April thru November, a lively farmers' market operates on Saturdays near the City Hall. A smaller market also runs at a nearby location on Tuesdays in June thru September.
Bloomington is known in the Midwest for its selection of world cuisine. Visit East 4th Street between Grant and Indiana Avenues for a huge selection of the best ethnic fare. There are some enduring classics and a small bit of turnover in this district. Of note is the Snow Lion, an excellent Tibetan restaurant owned by the Dalai Lama's brother! Don't be afraid to travel outside of downtown for great food, remember that University real estate doesn't come cheap, and some of the best new restaurants get their start in the suburbs before moving downtown.
Summer is a great time to avoid student crowds, but many restaurants often cut short their hours and even close-up 1–2 days a week, so call ahead from June–August if you don't want to risk a "Back Soon" sign. All Bloomington restaurants and bars are non-smoking.
- Amol Indian Restaurant, 416 E. 4th St (Corner of 4th and Grant), ☏ . M 11AM-2:30PM, 5:30-10PM; Tu-Su 11AM-2:30PM, 5-10PM. Indian. Excellent Indian cuisine, and quite affordable compared with typical "white tablecloth" establishments. The service leaves something to be desired, but if you go at all, you should go for the lunch buffet which is huge, cheap ($8), and all-you-can-eat. Great for those new to Indian food. Dine-in, carryout and catering.
- Ami Sushi (Formerly Domo), 1500 E 3rd St (Central campus, near Mother Bear's), ☏ . Japanese. This place is under new management every other week. Large portions and there are often half-price specials. It's not expensive and not bad, but there are better.
- Anatolia (Turkish Restaurant and Kebab House), 405 E. 4th St (On the corner of 4th and Grant Streets.), ☏ . Open daily, 11AM-10PM. Turkish & Mediterranean. This wonderful restaurant has delicious, inexpensive food, as well as complimentary Turkish tea and other unique beverages. The feel is relaxed and cozy. This place is great for people with food allergies, as they are willing to work with you! Excellent, friendly service! Dine-in and carryout. $8-15.
- Anyetsang's Little Tibet (Little Tibet), 415 E. 4th St, ☏ . W-M 11AM-10PM; closed Tuesday. Tibetan, Thai, Indian. Try the curries, the salad dressing (they do sell this), and the Pad Thai. The Indian Tea is amazingly good chai. $8-12.
- Aver's Gourmet PIzza, 2 locations. North/Campus: 1837 N. Kinser Pk; South: 317 E. Winslow Rd, ☏ (North Campus), (South). Su-W 11AM-2AM; Th 11AM-3AM; F Sa 11AM-4AM. Pizza. Best build-your-own and take-and-bake on the planet! Their specialty pizzas are amazing. Get the Cream and Crimson. Great delivery specials, and tons of vegan options. Cooked to order for delivery or carryout, or have them make it and you bake at home. $8-22.
- Bucetto's Smiling Teeth (Sister Restaurant of Puccini's, Indianapolis), 2 Locations: East 3rd St & the IN-46 Bypass; West 3rd St and Liberty Rd. (On the eastside behind CVS and on the westside in the Kroger parking lot.), ☏ (East), (West). Su-Th 11AM-10PM; F Sa 11AM-11PM. Delivery: 5PM until 30 minutes before close.. Italian. Pizza & Pasta. They have a million toppings to choose from and it's fun to create-your-own pizza (though it can get pricey, as the toppings are all à la carte. The specialty pizzas are creative and tasty, in unexpected. Will work with food allergies. Pasta dishes are large but nothing special. Monday is half-price bottles of wine and Fridays are $10 buckets of beer. Dine-in, Carryout, Delivery, & Catering. $7-22.
- BuffaLouie's (The Gables), 114 South Indiana Avenue (Near Kirkwood and Indiana. Directly across from the Sample Gates.), ☏ . Open daily, 11AM-midnight. American. A chain restaurant that feels like a hometown eatery. One of the more popular places people go to watch sports. Midwestern sports bar-chic with TVs everywhere and a menu that includes buffalo wings, sandwiches, salads and such. Walking distance to campus and open late. Parking is scarce without a campus permit, so park on Kirkwood and walk. Dine-in and carryout. $5-20.
- Casablanca Café, 402 E. 4th St (Near corner of 4th and Grant Streets), ☏ . Tu W 11:30AM-9PM; F Sa 11:30AM-9:45PM; Su 4-8:45PM. Closed Monday. Call Thursday.. Moroccan, Greek, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern. Go for the Moroccan Mint Tea (only two places have it in town) and stay for the beautiful outdoor dining. Food is great, but atmosphere is better, frequently hosts belly dancers. Despite weird hours, it's great for a romantic dinner, business lunch, or visiting parents. Lunch is much more affordable. Beer and wine. Dine-in and carryout. $6-20.
- [dead link] Casa Brava Restaurante, 2 locations: East, 410 S. College Mall Rd; West, 3482 W. 3rd St (East: Across from the College Mall, in the strip mall with Borders. West: In the strip mall east of Marsh.), ☏ (East), (West). M-Th 11AM-10PM; F Sa 11AM-10:30PM; Su 11AM-9PM. Mexican. Traditional fare in a contemporary atmosphere. Has an identical menu to La Charreada, but the service blows them away. Molé is the brown variety, salsa is the runny type, and white Queso is by far the best appetizer. Good stand-by type of place. Full bar. Dine-in and carryout.
- Café Django, 116 N. Grant St (Just off Kirkwood, across from the Monroe County Public Library on Grant.), ☏ . Asian fusion. Though it might be closer to "Everything Fusion." There is both indoor and outdoor seating and live jazz and eclectic music is on Friday and Saturday evenings. The restaurant is owned by the founder of Cafe Norbu and is named after French jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt
- The Crazy Horse Food & Drink Emporium (Crazy Horse), 214 W. Kirkwood Ave (Located just 1/2 block west of the Monroe County Courthouse, Downtown Bloomington), ☏ . American. An IU Institution. Home of one of the better International beer collection in town. Mostly loud, drunken college students and bar food and Sorority-girl waitresses on their phones in the tiny bathroom. The food isn't terrible, just a little off. They do things like put mushrooms in the nachos and use spinach tortillas for the quesadilla. Come here to drink, not eat. $6-12.
- The Chocolate Moose, 401 S. Walnut St (Near the corner of 2nd and Walnut. Remember that Walnut is one-way (North)), ☏ . Open Mar-Nov. M-Sa 10AM-11PM, Su 11AM-11PM. Ice cream. An old-fashioned walk-up ice cream stand that is a Bloomington tradition. As for a "torch cone," if you just want a taste. Owner gives out his personal e-mail for complaints. Exemplary service. Carryout only. $1-5.
- Chow Bar, 216 S. Indiana Ave (near the corner of 3rd and Indiana.), ☏ . Taiwanese and Chinese. This is neither a pretty nor friendly restaurant and the refill aren't free, but it is excellent authentic Taiwanese cuisine. There is some standard "Chinese-American" fares, but you should go on Sundays for "homestyle" Chinese and Taiwanese. The lunch buffet is great if you time it when the food is just coming out. There's always a fresh seafood dish that I've never heard of. Also serves decent bubble teas. Try the Szechuan Black Angus Steak or Crispy Whole Fish. Dine-in and Carryout. $7-12.
- Dagwood's Deli & Sub Shop (Dag's), 2 locations: 1799 East 10th St; 116 S. Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN, ☏ , . M-Th 11AM-1AM; F Sa 11AM-2AM; Su 11AM-midnight. American. Sandwiches. Amazing sub sandwiches, voted the best in Bloomington for over a decade running. Budget combos for under $5. Large Delivery area and free wi-fi. Dine-in, Delivery, and Carryout. $5-10.
- DeAngelo's, 2620 E. 3rd S (In Eastland Plaza shopping center), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Italian. New York style pizzas, calzones, heaping salads, and pastas with a Louisiana "flare." Good wine list. 10% discount for seniors. Dine-in, carryout, and delivery. $10-15.
- Esan Thai Restaurant, 221 E. Kirkwood Ave (In Suite D of Victoria Towers on NW corner of Kirkwood and Lincoln. Entrance is west of the public library on Lincoln.), ☏ . Lunch: M-Sa 11:30AM-2:30PM. Dinner: M-Th 5-9PM; F Sa 5-10PM. Closed Sunday. Thai. An outstanding Thai restaurant. Can be noisy when crowded, and the atmosphere is lacking, but Esan Thai serves some of the best food in Bloomington, period. Most menu items have variable levels of spice; your server will ask that you specify your desired level. Beware the hotter spice levels; Esan reminds you that ordering your food too spicy (or simply not liking it) is not grounds for sending it back to the kitchen. Call ahead or make reservations for weekends and large groups. Dine-in and carryout. $8-18.
- Falafels (Flavors from Jerusalem & Middle Eastern Grill), 430 East Kirkwood Ave (Corner of Kirkwood and 4th street, near Jimmy Johns.), ☏ . M-Sa 11:30AM-9:30PM. Closed Sunday. Israeli. In Jerusalem culinary traditions from all over the world have blended together with the local cuisine. For many generations Arabs, Jews and other Mediterranean immigrants have brought the culinary traditions of their homelands to Jerusalem, This richness has created a new kind of eatery in Israel: the “Mizrahi” restaurant, which combines the best of various Middle Eastern dishes. Dine-in, delivery, carryout, and catering. $5-15.
- FARMbloomington (Farm), 108 E. Kirkwood Ave (across from the Courthouse, next to the Buzkirk-Chumley Theatre), toll-free: . Tu-Sa 7AM-10PM; Su 10AM-9PM. This is the brand-new Bloomington wonder-child. All organic, mostly local, fresh-as-possible, often raw and vegan. Atmosphere is super-trendy-shabby-chic. Clientele is upscale or wants to be. Breakfast here is great and starts early. Good choice for brunch. The ROOTcellar Bar in the basement is hip and understated and not too expensive. Food is a bit wacky, but generally good. Pan-seared Tuna is simple and to die for. Inventive cocktails are a nice touch. Can't go wrong. $11-35.
- Irish Lion. Irish pub. Try the Guinness with shamrock art, and the fabulous Irish Coffee. Great ambience, great service, great people. Lots of dead things on the walls. Dine-in.
- International Market, 408 E. 4th St, ☏ . Mediterranean. Gyros, spanakopita and other Greek and Middle Eastern dishes. Very cheap and tasty. An authentic deli experience with a dine-in order. Dine-in and carryout. $5-10.
- Janko's Little Zagreb (Zagreb's). Yugoslavian, Hungarian. Famous for steaks and all things meat. Specialize is St. Lois style BBQ - the ribs are unreal. Surprisingly features a number of vegetarian options. Bring plenty of cash. Dine-in only. $10-40.
- Japanee (Formerly Japonais), 320 N. Walnut St, ☏ . Japanese. Decent sushi, good selection of Japanese beer, sake, and local wine. This little gem is most notable for their private karaoke rooms (which will house up to 10 or so people). With leather couches, flat screen TVs, and goofy video-sing-alongs. This is a great place to bring a crowd for some Sake bombs and singing. Rooms run $30/hour (payable in food and drinks), so it works best if you bring a group of 5 or more to split the cost. $10-15.
- La Charreada (La Cha), 1720 N. Walnut St, ☏ . Mexican. Dine-in and carryout. $5-15.
- La Torre. Family-owned & operated, the bestest Mexican in Bloomington. Try the reasonably-priced Chimichanga accompanied with Dos Eqqis Beer.
- The Laughing Planet Cafe, 322 E. Kirkwood Ave (On Kirkwood across from the public library.), ☏ . Mexican fusion. Fresh, organic burritos with unusual daily specials. Chipotle is a block away, but don't let it distract you. Seriously. $5-10.
- Le Petit Café, 308 W. 6th St, ☏ . French. The atmosphere is warehouse-chic, with plants and cheery lighting - owned and operated by a husband and wife team who also live on the premises. Menu changes daily based on what's fresh and in-season, but generally includes your choice of a beef, chicken, pork, of fish entrée. Check the chalkboard out front. In addition to evening menus, Le Petit Café provides a Thursday lunch buffet and a prix fixe Sunday brunch. The opening of the B-Line Trail prompted a walk-up window where passers-by from the Farmer's Market can order freshly-made treats such as strawberry shortcake and quiche. Dine-in and catering.
- Lennie's (Bloomington Brewing Company), 1795 E. 10th St (In the strip mall behind Fortune Cookie. Adjacent to Eigennmann.), ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-11PM; F Sa 11AM-midnight. The pub is open one hour later.. Lennie’s introduced gourmet pizza to Bloomington, and has since become one of the town’s most popular and eclectic eateries. Lennie’s set another local landmark in 1994, with the addition of the first commercial brewery in Monroe county and the first brewpub in Southern Indiana. Take home one of their "Growlers," a mason jar of fresh-brewed beer (now on Sundays too!) or hang out and do a "flight" of local and international wines. Love the focaccia appetizer and cucumber salad. Dine-in and carryout. $8-22.
- Malibu Grill, 106 N. Walnut St (On Walnut between 5th & 6th), ☏ . American. This dowtown restaurant has a high-end feel to it, with soft jazz, a baby grand in the corner and servers all in black; but, it remains affordable for students and non-students alike. Billing itself as casual California-style dining with a menu inspired by Wolfgang Puck, Malibu serves tasty, if not-so-memorable, pastas, chicken, fish, etc. Boasts Bloomington's only wood-fired pizza oven. Go early and sample one of their delicious specialty martinis. Dine-in only.
- [dead link] Mandalay, 413 E. 4th St, ☏ . Tu-Su 11:30AM-2:30PM, 5-9PM. Closed Monday. Burmese. Lots of rich meat and vegetable curries, noodle soups, exotic desserts, and flavorful salads vagetable salads. The most famous is a salad of preserved green tea leaves, tomato, shredded cabbage, nuts, chilies, garlic, and lime juice, called lepet tout. Try the Tilapia with tamarind or samosas. LOTS of vegetarian options. Closed for much of June & July. Dine-in, Carryout, Delivery (S2YD). $8-15.
- Mother Bear's Pizza This place is ancient, a Bloomington tradition. BBQ Cheese pizza for one - Absolutely amazing. This, along with Nick's, is arguably the most famous and treasured restaurant in the city. Claims to have been voted "4th Best Pizza in the Country" a few years back.
- My Thai Cafe, 3316 W. 3rd St (Located in Highland Village strip mall, just west of Hwy 37, on the north side of West 3rd St (behind westside Arby's). Turn right between the Marathon Station and Peoples State Bank, then right again.), ☏ . M-Th 11AM-3PM & 4:30-9PM, F 11AM-3PM & 4:30-10PM; Saturday 11:30AM-10PM; closed Sunday. Call for summer hours.. A little off the beaten path, but well worth the trek, this tastefully decorated gem offers a full menu of Thai dishes, and they aren't afraid to add some extra spice. Considered to be some of Bloomington's best Thai food, the chef describes her restaurant as having sensual, contemporary ambiance with a traditional Thai aesthetic. Now in its second generation of family cooking. Dine-in or carryout. Call ahead for faster service and watch out for the midday siesta. $6-18.
- Nick's English Hut The traditional place to eat in Bloomington. A hotspot for alumni and the older Bloomington crowd ("older" just meaning "non-student"). Arguably the hallmark institution of Kirkwood Avenue. Be sure to play "Sink the Biz," the drinking game for which the restaurant is known.
- Noodle's and Co. A chain that has opened in an old theater building. Serves Italian, Asian and American style noodle and pasta dishes.
- Opie Taylor's Great burgers with an awkward atmosphere. There's always takeout.
- Puccini's One of the best Italian restaurants in town. Awfully pricey, but serves quality food.
- Red Chopsticks (3rd & Jordan), 1420 E. 3rd St., ☏ . Fresh sushi and cooked Asian cuisines from China, Japan, Korea, Thai. The best sushi in Bloomington, for sure! It's fresh and worry-free for this picky connoisseur. What's more, it's clean and the service is fabulously friendly. (You can easily end up with rude servers at other sushi shops in town.)
- Roots Organic juice bar and vegetarian restaurant, with all the hippy ambiance that implies. The owners believe air-conditioning isn't environmentally friendly, so it gets warm in mid-summer.
- Runcible Spoon A wonderfully comfortable restaurant, converted from a house complete with living room furniture and bookshelves. Delicious entrées all around, with great coffee brews, very veggie/vegan friendly, cheap wine, good selection of beers, and a good (but pricey) breakfast. Definitely come for the ambience and pretty alternative girls. Excellent food and coffee, but your coffee will be cold by the time your food gets there, as speedy service is not their forte.
- Samira, 100 W. 6th St (Corner of Walnut and 6th St, on the north side of the Courthouse Square downtown), ☏ . Lunch Buffet: M-F 11AM-2PM. Dinner: M-Th 5-9PM; F Sa 5-10PM. Afghan. This is a "white tablecloth" sort of place with a variety of dishes like Kebaabs, Vegetarian Dishes, Rack of Lamb, Manto, Aushak, and more. Dinner is a rather formal (and somewhat expensive) affair. Try the lunch buffet if you're uncertain. It's a great variety and under $10 and it's great to be able to sample some of the very spicy dishes without making a huge commitment. They suggest reservations on weekends and with groups. This is particularly important if there is anything going on at IU that might bring parents to town. $15-20.
- Shanti's Indian restaurant in the heart of downtown Bloomington. Check out the lunch buffet!
- Scotty's Brewhouse Three large-screen TVs and a bar, suitable for late-night student partying, but family-friendly before 9PM. Kids eat free on Sundays.
- Snow Lion Tibetan- owned by the Dalai Lama's brother.
- Sobon, 1811 E. 10th St, Bloomington, IN (CrossTown strip mall @ 10th & Union), ☏ . 11:30AM-10PM. Korean. Cafeteria-style Korean home-cooking. Their strength lies in their soups, all amazingly rich and flavorful, with lots of edible meats. Very reasonably priced and a favorite hang-out for Asian students. Extremely clean place with self-service filtered water and very friendly servers.
- Soma Cliquish hipster heaven, where anyone who's alternative, fashionably or otherwise, goes to be seen (everyone looks up at the door when it opens to see who's coming in). Don't forget to drop a few coins in the tip jar or be prepared for snide comments and dirty looks. Good coffee nonetheless.
- Smokin Jack's Rib Shack.
- Sweet Grass.
- Restaurant Tallent (Tallent), 208 N. Walnut St (just north of the Bluebird, on east side of Walnut), ☏ . M-Sa 5-10PM. American. Organic. Utilises all local, artisan ingredients whenever possible. With whimsical and creative flavor combinations, this is a true foodies' paradise. Check out their website for the seasonally changing menu. Try the 5-course taste menu, served family-style, for a mind-blowing experience. More casual fare (with a lower price point) available on the bar menu. Dine-in only. Reservations recommended. $20-35.
- Trojan Horse Excellent Greek & American food with the best atmosphere, and usually the best servers, in Bloomington. Tavern upstairs. (corner of Kirkwood & Walnut)
- Turkuaz Cafe & Market, 301 E. 3rd St (at the corner of 3rd and Lincoln, right across from the central Post Office), ☏ . Th-Sa 10AM-10PM; Su-W 10AM-9PM; closed Mondays. Turkish. Affordable and delicious food and tea. Try a sour cherry, for sure. Comfy optional floor-seating (don't be afraid to kick off your shoes!) and excellent service make this a popular place among those in the know. Try a pidé for a filling meal that won't break the bank--it's like a little pizza boat with a full soup and salad course for like $8! Free wi-fi and a special breakfast menu also available. Don't leave without doing Turkish Coffee. Dine-in or Carryout. $6-15.
- Village Deli The perfect American breakfast. Over-priced, as with all breakfast foods, but do not leave without ordering Paxton's Potatoes (not Take 2). The home fries will win you over here. Packed on the weekends, but generally a crowd pleaser.
- Yogi's Best place to go if you're in a group of four or more. Largest beer selection in Bloomington.
Bar and pubs
- The Vid Bloomington, 105 West 7th Street, ☏ . Also known as the Video Saloon. This bar/live music venue features a relaxed atmosphere and nice staff. Serves as a "melting pot" and has a diverse mix of students and Bloomington residents.
- Bloomington Brewing Company, 1795 E 10th St, ☏ . Primarily available at Lennie's, a sophisticated gourmet pizza and beer restaurant. After you select your beer, you'll be asked whether you want it hand, nitro, or CO2 pumped. Choose hand pumped unless you really prefer your beer cold.
- Bears Place (Bears), 1316 E 3rd St, ☏ . Older crowd. Music student hangout. Loud obnoxious behavior not tolerated. Monday nights feature live comedy shows. Try the "hairy bear" (several different kinds of alcohol).
- Bluebird, 216 N Walnut St, ☏ . A bar across from Kilroy's Sports that features live bands, three bars, a dance floor, and good drink specials. Generally a more chilled out crowd. Cover is usually between $3-5.
- The Bishop, 123 S walnut St. Where have all the good bars gone? It would be The Bishop. A beer only bar with an exotic selection from around the globe. Also a music venue housing nearly 200 people. The premier spot for Bloomington's music and libations. Don't want to see a show? Don't worry! No cover for the bar.
- Brothers, 215 N Walnut St. Directly across from Bluebird. No cover. Strictly enforces IDs and "casually nice" dress code. Features two levels, with a bar on each floor. The second floor has a nice outside lounging area centered around a large fire pit. Unless you want to hang out with a bunch of frat brothers and undergrads with false IDs, best to pass on this one.
- Crazy Horse, 214 W Kirkwood Ave, ☏ . Chill place with an older crowd. Great patio seating and full dining menu.
- Kilroy's on Kirkwood (Kilroys), 502 E Kirkwood Ave, ☏ . Very typically a "college" bar. Lots of Greeks, loud '80s music, and always packed. Great place to sit outside and have drinks during the spring/summer in the daytime. Another place to avoid if you are over 22 (unless you wait until the summer months when the younger crowd clears out).
- Kilroy's Sports Bar (Sports), 319 N Walnut St, ☏ . Features an upstairs and downstairs, with the upstairs usually being pretty packed. The upstairs is more 'club'-ish, it features more hip-hop music and dancing, with blacklights. There is also a patio area upstairs. The downstairs is more laid back and is similar to Kilroy's on Kirkwood. It's big and they have free popcorn. Cover is $5.
- Nick's English Hut (Nicks), 423 E Kirkwood Ave, ☏ . Nick's is the oldest bar in Bloomington and boasts tradition. Much of the bar is wooden and it displays mementos from IU throughout the years, including sports memorabilia, photos, Greek paddles, etc. The crowd is typically at least somewhat older, as Nick's is notorious for not letting in students with fake IDs (unlike many other bars in the area). Hot spot for alumni and the adult crowd.
- Upland Brewery, 350 W 11th St, ☏ . Upland Wheats are available at most restaurants in town. Try the great pasta dishes made with beer.
- Upstairs Pub, 430 E Kirkwood Ave # 18, ☏ . Literally an upstairs bar. It features darts and pool tables. Can get pretty crowded. Be sure to try its signature drink, the AMF (adios mother fucker), made from five types of alcohol but tastes like Kool-Aid. Don't expect friendly service, bartenders jerked the bottle from a patron's mouth and threw it upon the ground when wanting to close early during the summer months.
- Root Cellar Located in the basement of FARM, one of Bloomington's delicious downtown restaurants off Kirkwood avenue, the Root Cellar offers a selection of beer and whiskey (other beverages available at the posher bar upstairs). Eclectic vintage decor in a cave like setting make this a popular destination for Bloomington's hipsters, graduate students, and young professionals. Occasionally features music - check out Soul in the Hole (first Saturday of every month) for a great Motown dance party or New Wave Night [dead link] (every 2nd & 4th Saturday) for wild dancing - 1980s style.
A majority of Bloomington hotels are concentrated along the city's main north-south axis, Walnut and College Ave (aka Business Route 37, i.e. the highway from Indianapolis), between the downtown are and the city's northern edge, where the highway enters the city. The downtown ones are convenient for a traveler without a car, as they are walking distance to downtown attraction and the IU campus; those on the northern side may have better parking and better highway access.
- 1 Courtyard Bloomington, 310 S. College Avenue, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. This hotel offers free Wi-Fi, indoor pool and fitness center.
- Fourwinds Resort and Marina. Known locally for its private beach on Lake Monroe, boating, and meeting facilities. Guests can also enjoy onsite tennis courts, nearby golf courses, fishing, dining, and rentals (including water toys).
- Holiday Inn Express Hotels & Suites, 2800 Express Lane, ☏ . Bedford 20 miles (at IN 37). 64 rooms, free Smart Breakfast, Priority Club points, free wireless high speed, indoor pool, sauna, hot tub, 24-hour fitness room, meeting rooms.
- A Summerhouse Inn, 4501 E Third St (Two Miles East of College Mall), ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. A Summerhouse Inn is Bloomington's classic family motel, having served the area since the 1960s. Providing Bloomington's only courtyard setting, a guest fire pit, an outdoor pool, and a complimentary breakfast, A Summerhouse Inn represents hospitality from a simpler time. $60-100.
- Wampler House, 4905 South Rogers Street (4 miles from downtown off S. Walnut St.), toll-free: . This inn is in the little village of Clear Creek where the southern Indiana limestone industry once thrived. It's 10 minutes from the campus of Indiana University and surrounded by a quiet neighborhood. A full breakfast is served each day as part of your stay. A massage and body spa therapist has a room for clients located at the B & B for guests and locals. You can make an appointment when you make your reservation. $100-150.
Free Wi-Fi and public computers for residents and visitors are available in the Monroe County Public Library (Kirkwood Ave, between Grant and Lincoln St).
The main university library (10th St and Jordan Ave) also offers free temporary computer accounts to visitors; ask at the circulation desk.
Free WiFi is available at a number of locations around the city. Besides the public library and many IU buildings, it is available at the new central station of Bloomington Transit (at 3rd and Walnut), and at some large stores (such as Kroger, Lucky's, Fresh Thyme, or Kohl's).
Most telephone numbers in Bloomington consist of +1 812 plus a seven-digit number, but the entire 812 area is now served by an overlay complex of two area codes, with 930 being the second. A local or in-state telephone call now requires all 10 digits of the local number be dialed (omitting just the leading +1 from a local landline call).
Signage on many established businesses may still display the original seven-digit numbers; dial 812 before these if no area code is indicated.
|Routes through Bloomington|
|Indianapolis ← Martinsville ←||N S||→ Bedford → Tell City|
|Terre Haute ← Spencer ←||W E||→ Nashville → Columbus|