Are you only here for a few days? While there are many great things to do and see in Bloomington, Special Publications Editor Harley Wiltsey shares her favorite must-see stops for your trip.
1. Kick your feet up. Just steps from the entrance to the Eskenazi Art Museum is the Light Totem, an iconic sculpture that projects a dazzling display of colorful lights onto the exterior of the museum. Lie back onto the ground, kick your feet up onto the wall and watch the lights dance across the stone. The installation began as a temporary display but was kept as a permanent fixture after students were upset by its removal.
2. Take a dip. If you happen to be exploring campus on a warmer day or night, make a stop at the Showalter Fountain, located in the heart of campus. The fountain was created by the Robert Laurent and the Nicci Foundry in Rome and shipped to Bloomington in 1958. Upon completion, the fountain was dedicated in 1961. So, go ahead dip your toes in the water, or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, hop on in — just no climbing on the statues.
3. Snap a picture. Before heading off campus, take a picture in front of Sample Gates, the iconic entryway into IU’s campus. (tease to page) IU was named the most Instagrammed place in Indiana in 2016, so be sure to Instagram your new memory and geo-tag it.
4. Play "Sink the Biz." Nick’s English Hut, located on Kirkwood Avenue, is an English-style restaurant where you will find a staple for students, alumni and residents. "Sink the Biz," Nick’s signature drinking game, requires players to pour beer into a small cup floating in a metal bucket. The person that sinks the cup drinks it. The game has a long standing history that dates back to the 1970s.
5. Have a picnic. Grab a blanket and a couple of sandwiches or some takeout food from Kirkwood or Fourth Street and have yourself a picnic in Dunn Meadow along the Jordan River. While Dunn Meadow has been the stage for rallies, festivals, demonstrations and much more, it offers the perfect backdrop for an afternoon snack or lunch.
6. See the stars. If you happen to be visiting on a clear Wednesday night, be sure to visit the Kirkwood Observatory. You will have the opportunity to view stars and planets through the large telescope that peers out of the domed retractable roof. The observatory reopens to the public March 22. Before visiting, check their Twitter, @iuastro, or their online schedule, as viewings may be canceled due to weather.
7. Meet a legend. Scattered across campus sit three bronze men important to IU. Just off Jordan Avenue you will find Hoagy Carmichael playing a note on a large piano. Throughout the year, he may be adorned with flowers or scarves. Sit with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ernie Pyle while he works on his next story just steps from Sample Gates and Franklin Hall. Finally, shake hands for good luck with former IU President Herman B Wells, located in the Old Crescent near Owen Hall.
8. Take a hike. Bloomington is neighbored by a handful of prime hiking locations. Located about 3.5 miles from campus, Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is a 1,200-acre nature preserve with nine trails of varying lengths and difficulties. Around 10.5 miles from campus, Lake Monroe is Indiana’s largest lake and offers five hiking trails as well as swimming areas, picnic areas and boat rentals. Lake Lemon, 16 miles from campus, has one half-mile long trail. Though short, the trail leads hiker to an overlook of the lake.
9. Eat local. Take a walk down Kirkwood Avenue or around the courthouse to find a multitude of local restaurants serving delicious entrees. Grab breakfast from The Runcible Spoon, a gyro from the Trojan Horse, or a plate of chicken tikki masala at Amrit India Restaurant. There is something for everyone.
10. Order dessert. After dinner, stop in or place an order at Baked! Of Bloomington, a popular bakery on Third Street that sells customizable fresh cookies with pints of milk. While most bakeries require you to pick up your sugary treats, these warm cookies can be delivered straight to your door.