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Here are 11 things to do in and around Bloomington this fall



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A group of pumpkins await picking at Apple Works in Trafalgar, Indiana. People can also tour Musgrave Orchard, which is just outside Bloomington.  IDS file photo Buy Photos

Labor Day has come and gone, pumpkin spice lattes are back and football season has officially begun. Spooky season is almost here. 

We’ve compiled everything you need to know about the best things to do, places to go and food to eat around Bloomington this fall, so you can live your best autumn life.

Apple Picking

Musgrave Orchard is a family-run orchard just under a 30-minute drive from campus. Open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday at 8820 N. Old State Road 37, it offers fresh, local apples, pumpkins and more. The fruits are not “U-pick,” but visitors are free to  walk around the orchards. 

“Get out and breathe the fresh air,” owner Amy Hamilton said. 

The Bloomington Community Orchard is a local volunteer-run nonprofit. It’s always free and open to the public at 2120 S. Highland Ave. Anyone in the community can visit, pick whatever is ripe and take it home for free. In addition to six types of apples, it offers pears, plums, persimmons and more.

Haunted Houses

The Barn of Terror has been haunting Hoosiers since 2008 and returns for the season the first weekend in October. The barn is open from 8 p.m. to midnight every Friday and Saturday at 8792 N. Old State Road 37, about 15 minutes from campus.  It also offers kid-friendly trick-or-treating from 7-7:45 p.m. on Halloween before the final night of the season from 8 to 10 p.m. 

The Barn of Terror is a family-run attraction, owner Jarrod Neal said. The family started it out of nostalgia for the haunted houses their grandmother created for them every October as kids. In addition to the main attraction, it also offers a “Resta-haunt” concession stand, gift shop and zombie paintball. 

IU’s Wylie House Museum, historic home of former IU President Andrew Wylie, will host spooky “Haunted Wylie Tours” Oct. 26 and 27 from 7 to 11 p.m. Tours are free and open to the public and last about 30 minutes. The tours recount true Wylie ghost stories and tragic family deaths. They are not recommended for children under 10.

Pumpkin Patches

Fowler Pumpkin Patch, about 25 minutes from campus at 4932 N. Greene County Line Road, has been owned and operated by husband and wife Perry and Renee Fowler for nine years. In addition to the classic “U-pick” pumpkin patch, Fowler also offers a corn maze, hayrides and a petting zoo. Entry and parking are free, but the corn maze and hayrides cost $5 for adults. The patch will hold special “spooky” hayrides in October.

The fall season begins Sept. 29, and the patch will be open 4-7 p.m. every Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Each weekend will also feature a fundraiser from a different nonprofit group. Local food pantry Operation Outreach will be selling food and drinks during the first weekend of the season.

Kelp’s Pumpkin Patch in Nashville, Indiana, less than an hour’s drive from campus, offers pre-picked pumpkins, gourds, squash and mums every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It hosts a farm festival Oct. 6 and 7 with a petting zoo, jumphouse, hayrides and pony rides. There is no admission or parking fee for the festival, but food and activities each cost a few dollars.

More Pumpkins

Real pumpkins not your thing? The Bloomington Creative Glass Center’s 9th annual Great Glass Pumpkin Patch is Oct. 13 on the Monroe County Courthouse lawn in downtown Bloomington. More than 900 glass pumpkins will be on display and for sale. In the afternoon, it will also offer activities such as face and pumpkin paintings. 

Real pumpkins are your thing, but carving jack-o-lanterns isn’t? The Bloomington Pumpkin Launch is back 11 a.m. Oct. 27 at the Monroe County Fairgrounds. Spectators can watch local teams launch pumpkins through the air on homemade catapults as they compete for both accuracy and distance. Buy snacks from local food trucks and listen to live music as you watch flying pumpkins to really get in the fall spirit.

Fall Fest

The Monroe County Fall Festival runs Sept. 20-22 in Ellettsville with live entertainment, food, games and more. Admission is free. The last day of the festival also features a parade at noon. 

Fall Foliage

There is no shortage of spots around Bloomington to watch the leaves change, from Brown County State Park to Griffy Lake to Hoosier National Forest. The best time to see the most vibrant colors is usually the second half of October, but it all depends on the weather, said Brown County public relations coordinator Aubrey Sitzman. Some of the most popular vistas for checking out the views at Brown County State Park are Hesitation and Hohen Points. 

For a different perspective, Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is offering a Fall Foliage Family Float 1 p.m. Oct. 14. For $8 each, visitors rent a boat and paddle along Griffy Lake.

Football

Homecoming weekend is arguably one of the best weekends of fall at IU. The parade starts at 6 p.m. Oct. 12 and runs down Woodlawn Avenue. to the Indiana Memorial Union with a fireworks display to follow. 

The game kicks off at noon Oct. 13 when the Hoosiers take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

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