Indiana Daily Student

How to have fun in downtown Bloomington

Patrons wait to hear the Anat Cohen Quartet at the Buskirk-Chumley theater Sept. 30, 2012, during the Lotus World Music and Arts festival.
Patrons wait to hear the Anat Cohen Quartet at the Buskirk-Chumley theater Sept. 30, 2012, during the Lotus World Music and Arts festival.

When living in a college town like Bloomington, it’s arguably just as important to experience what’s off-campus as what’s on-campus. Here are some of the many activities you can partake in once you cross the Sample Gates.


While there is a multitude of restaurants in the downtown Bloomington area, the restaurants on Fourth Street are some of the city's most beloved.

Here you will find several establishments with cuisine hailing from Turkey, China, Myanmar, the Mediterranean, India, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Tibet and many more. 

That diversity isn’t just limited to Fourth Street. Other restaurants such as Chow Bar, Dats, Samira and Amrit India also offer international dishes. Other dining options include Bloomington Sandwich Company, Village Deli, The Owlery, Runcible Spoon and BuffaLouie’s around Kirkwood Avenue and in the town square. 


As a college student, it’s inevitable that you’ll need some form of caffeine since you’ll be staying up late either laboring through projects or studying. 

There is nowhere near a shortage of coffee downtown. A popular go-to is the Starbucks located conveniently across from Sample Gates, but local coffee shops also get a great deal of business. 

The Soma Coffee House and Juice Bar is located across the street from the Monroe County Public Library. Pourhouse Cafe is also located nearby.

Just a few minutes past the courthouse is a small pink building, which is the authentically French café La Vie En Rose. La Vie En Rose offers not only fresh coffee, but fresh French food. More of a tea person? Cup and Kettle on Walnut Street offers a variety of different flavors and types of tea. 

There are plenty more, too. You could spend a good deal of your free time at IU just looking for new coffee shops in town because there are so many. 


Many of the music venues downtown, such as the Blockhouse and the Bluebird, require you to be at least 21 because they’re held in bars. But there are some that don’t serve alcohol and are therefore open to minors. 

The Bishop, while a bar, plays its shows in a separate back room. Musicians from across the country come here regularly to perform music across all genres. It’s common to see music performances in local coffee shops and record stores, as well as on the street.


The Comedy Attic on Walnut Street is getting more popular each year both in the Midwest and beyond. John Mulaney, Amy Schumer, Hari Kondabolu, Maria Bamford, Marc Maron, Tiffany Haddish, Hannibal Burress and Tig Notaro are notable past performers. 

One thing to note before going: on top of your ticket sale price, it is required to buy at least two food or drink items while at the club. 

For those aspiring to be comedians, the Comedy Attic does open mic every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Not a bad gig to use the same stage as many celebrities once have. 

Your college experience, especially at IU, is far more than what you will learn in the classroom or see on campus. Go out and explore every opportunity this city has to offer.

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