Bloomington, Indiana, is a beautiful city located 50 miles south of Indianapolis. Plan a weekend trip to get to know its parks, museums and unique limestone architecture. Visit the Indiana University Art Museum, listen to a music performance at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, and enjoy wine tasting at one of the local wineries. Best things to do in Bloomington, Indiana, with kids include the WonderLab Museum of Science, Monroe Lake, and the Bloomington Farmers Market. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University
© Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Established in 1941, the Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is the foremost university art museum in the country and one of the best things to do in Bloomington, Indiana. Housed in I. M. Pei’s iconic triangular building on the campus of Indiana University, the museum is home to an internationally acclaimed collection of over 45,000 works of art that include paintings by Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso, African masks, and jewelry.
Aiming to inspire, encourage, and enrich the lives of every visitor to the museum through the beauty of art, the IU Art Museum features permanent collection galleries, traveling exhibitions, and special installations. The museum also features on-site sculptures arranged into nine curatorial areas across three floors. Visitors can enjoy guided tours around the museum for free, though they need to be booked in advance.
1133 E. 7th Street, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-855-5445
2. WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology
© Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
The WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology is an outstanding science museum in the heart of Bloomington dedicated to providing opportunities for visitors of all ages to experience the wonder of science. The museum accomplishes its goal by providing an excellent range of immersive and hands-on exhibits, displays, and programs that inspire curiosity, stimulate questioning, and encourage exploration of science and technology.
Exhibits include the George and Evelyn Brabson Discovery Garden, the Bubble-arium, the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science, and the Lester P. Bushnell WonderGarden, as well as “How Things Work,” and various art displays. If you are wondering what to do in Bloomington with kids, this is a great place to visit. WonderLab also hosts a variety of educational and age-specific programs, hands-on workshops, innovative activities, and live animal programs for both adults and children throughout the year.
308 W. Fourth Street, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-337-1337
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Monroe Lake is 10,750-acre reservoir located southeast of Bloomington and is surrounded by nearly 24,000 acres of protected forests and wilderness areas. Spread over the two counties of Monroe and Brown, the lake provides local residents with beautiful and natural recreational areas in which to enjoy the great outdoors.
Ransburg Scout Reservation is located on the eastern shore along with the Fourwinds Resort and Marina, which is home to over 800 boats. Visitors can enjoy year-round fishing on the lake, as well as other recreational activities such as boating, water-skiing, and kayaking. Expert interpretive naturalists present an array of programs at the visitor’s center during the summer season.
4850 S. State Road 446, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-837-9546
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4.Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
© Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
Based at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, the Musical Arts Center (MAC) is one of America’s greatest performance venues. It can accommodate up to 1,460 people and is home to the Jacobs School of Music Ballet Department. The Musical Arts Center and Ballet Department offer a calendar of internationally renowned performances throughout the year, including The Nutcracker, The Barber of Seville, Carmen, and Oklahoma.
The Jacobs School of Music offers a wide range of music programs, summer academies, and adult summer workshops, as well as pre-college programs and music classes for adults and children. Next read: Best Day Trips in Indiana and 8 Best Things to Do in Jasper, Indiana.
Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, 1201 East Third Street, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-855-7433
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5.Indiana University Tours, Bloomington, Indiana
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Discover the University of Indiana on a daily campus visit and tour, which will allow you to learn all about the history of the university and the spirited community that calls it home and to explore the magnificent campus grounds.
Three different tours are offered: a group information session, which gives an overview of the university from an academic, cultural, and social point of view, an overall campus tour led by current students that covers the layout of the school, its buildings, faculties, and residences, as well as its beautifully maintained grounds, and a residence hall tour, which takes a look at the places the students call home. Tours are available on most weekdays and need to be booked in advance.
300 N. Jordan Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-855-0661
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Located in the heart of downtown Bloomington, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater is a performance venue that showcases a range of stage performances, shows, and entertainment for the local community every year. The site also provides a base for both local and nationally-known performers from which to perform, as well as an inviting space for the community to enjoy the arts.
If you are looking for romantic date night ideas in Bloomington IN, watch a performance at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Performances range from music and movies to dance and theater, including internationally renowned shows such as Of Mice and Men and Mary Poppins. The theater is located just off the downtown square and situated close to many of the city’s downtown attractions, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
114 East Kirkwood Avenue, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-323-3020
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7.Bloomington Community Farmers Market
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The Bloomington Farmers Market is a weekly market that sells a variety of farm fresh produce, handcrafted products, and other organic items produced by local farmers, artisans, and artists.
Visitors to the market can explore over 40 vendor stalls to discover a wide variety of delicious locally grown produce, including fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, as well as dairy, charcuterie, and homemade honey, jam, jellies, and pickles. During the winter months of November and December, the market offers an array of winter produce, cheese, chocolates, coffee, and arts and crafts. The market also features live music and other entertainment.
East Lot, Bloomington Civic Plaza, 1800 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 952-563-8700
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8.Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center
© Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Founded by Thubten Jigme Norbu, brother of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center and Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple are the oldest and largest centers of Buddhism in the United States. Established with the aim of nurturing and preserving the rich culture and heritage of Mongolia and Tibet, the center features several shrines, stupas, sculptures, and prayer wheels.
The beating heart of the center is the Kumbum Chamtse Ling Temple (meaning “Field of Compassion” in Tibetan) and residences for the monks. Visitors can enjoy guided tours through the center, which includes stops at a reception room, special shrine room, and bookstore, giving visitors a chance to learn more about the ancient culture of Buddhism along the way.
3655 Snoddy Road, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-336-6807
9.Wylie House Museum, Bloomington, Indiana
© Wylie House Museum
Built in 1835 and owned and operated by Indiana University Libraries, the Wylie House Museum was the home of Andrew Wylie, the first president of Indiana University, and his family. Today, the historic house is a museum dedicated to displaying life at the Wylie home in the mid-19th century, and it offers guided tours to the public.
Aligning itself with the campus curriculum, the museum also provides educational programs and research opportunities for students and faculty of the University. Free guided tours are conducted every day of the week from May to November, and the Wylie House has a small gift shop where visitors can purchase heirloom seeds grown in the museum gardens.
1320 East Tenth Street, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-855-8028
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10.IndiGo Birding Nature Tours
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IndiGo Birding Nature Tours offers personalized, guided birding and nature tours in south-central Indiana. Visitors can enjoy a range of tours, including birding tours, “Fall colors” photography tours, historical tours of Brown County and naturalist hikes through some of the region’s most beautiful natural landscapes.
IndiGo Birding Nature Tours also offers tailor-made trips to some of the area’s most popular attractions, including Yellowwood State Forest, Brown County State Park, Lake Monroe, and Hoosier National Forest, as well as Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area. Drinks and snacks are included on each tour, as are state-of-the-art binoculars and spotting scopes.
2432 E. Rock Creek Drive, Bloomington, Indiana, Phone: 812-679-8978
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11. BBQ Train, Bloomington, Indiana
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BBQ Train is a casual eatery located at the historic Short Stop Food Mart on the corner of Smith Road and East 10th Street in Bloomington. Conveniently situated in the Food Mart, the restaurant serves a variety of barbecue, from pulled pork, ribs, and chicken to burgers and brisket, all of which are accompanied by tasty sides like mac-and-cheese, baked beans, and coleslaw. BBQ Train offers catering and delivery of freshly cooked barbecue.
Corner Smith Road & East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-219-7731
12. Tranquil Vibe Day Spa
© Tranquil Vibe Day Spa
Tranquil Vibe Day Spa offers a range of pampering and therapeutic treatments, massages, and facial services in an elegant and luxurious setting. Choose from a range of spa services or special spa packages, which include facial and skin treatments, body treatments, therapeutic and relaxation massages, waxing services, and restorative and healing hydrotherapy treatments.
Featuring comfortable and spacious treatment rooms with calming décor and imported linens, the spa also offers a custom-designed hydrotherapy suite, a tranquil room for pre- and post-treatment or service relaxation, and a beautiful patio overlooking a tinkling creek on which to relax in the summer.
383 S Park Ridge Rd Suite 101, Bloomington, IN 47401, Phone: 812-287-8024
Named after the broad peninsula that lies between the Black and Mediterranean Seas, Anatolia has been hailed as one of the best ethnic restaurants in Bloomington. Located in the heart of already diverse Fourth Street, Anatolia features a menu of classic Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine, with dishes from baked dolma (Turkish stuffed grape leaves), moussaka, and lamb kebabs to stuffed eggplant, veggie guvec, and baked tilapia.
The restaurant does not serve alcoholic beverages, but soft drinks and fruit juices are available.
405 E 4th Street, Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-334-2991
14.Oliver Winery, Bloomington, IN
© Oliver Winery
Indiana University law professor William Oliver founded Oliver Winery in the 1960s, and it has been producing excellent wines ever since. One of the largest wineries in the United States, Oliver Winery aims to produce wines that capture the flavor of the high quality grapes produced by the vineyard. Some of the wines they produce include semi-dry and dry whites and reds, dessert wines, and sparkling wines.
The winery also produces Beanblossom Hard Cider, Bubblecraft, and a light wine made from honey called Camelot Mead, and it offers daily wine tasting and weekend tours of the production facility and cellar. Visitors can also enjoy gourmet picnics on the farm and purchase a variety of wine-related items and accessories from the gift shop.
200 E Winery Rd, Bloomington, IN 47404, Phone: 812-876-5800 or 800-25-TASTE
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© Cardinal Spirits
Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery in Bloomington that produces a range of spirits such as high-quality whiskey, rum, gin, vodka, and specialty liqueurs. Established to “increase a connection between people,” Cardinal Spirits is a craft distillery that produces its range of spirits using locally sourced ingredients and products.
They also ferment and distill 100% of their products on site using a continuous column still. Spirits include whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, and bourbon, as well as seasonal spirits and Songbird liqueurs. Cardinal Spirits offers distillery tours, tastings, and cocktails for visitors.
922 S. Morton St., Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-202-6789
16.Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream
© Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream
Established in 2003, Bub’s Burgers and Ice Cream has become a popular franchise in three different locations, and they are known for their All-American menu of classic burgers, fries, and ice cream. Located in Carmel, Zionsville and Bloomington (which has received numerous awards), burgers are the restaurant’s specialty. They are made from scratch with hand-ground beef patties, freshly baked buns, and crisp salads and sides. The menu also features other food favorites such as chicken sandwiches, grilled Mahi Mahi, elk burgers, and the popular Bub’s Hotdog.
480 N. Morton Street, Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-331-2827
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17.Butler Winery, Bloomington, Indiana
© Butler Winery
Established in 1983 by Jim and Susie Butler, Butler Winery is the fourth oldest operating winery in Indiana. Located in the heart of the Indiana Uplands viticultural area, the winery produces wines of distinctive character according to the philosophy that wine made from locally grown grapes reflects the character of the climate, soil, and people that grow them. Butler Winery produces wine in both stainless steel and American oak barrels using a variety of grapes, including Chambourcin, Chardonel, Cabernet Franc, and Tannat.
The wine farm offers cellar tours and wine tastings on Saturdays and Sundays, and wines can be bought from the farm and in-town shop, as well as a selection of unique wine accessories and gift items.
6200 E Robinson Rd, Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-332-6660
18.Lennie's Gourmet Pizza
© Lennie's Gourmet Pizza
Open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, and brunch, Lennie’s Gourmet Pizza serves a range of delicious, wood-fired pizzas with gourmet toppings, as well as an array of eclectic entrées. Using only the freshest ingredients sourced from local farmers and producers, Lennie’s has menus that feature favorites such as chicken wings, meatballs, pasta, soups, salads, and, of course, pizza.
Pizzas come with gourmet toppings like blue cheese and apple or Portobello mushrooms and goat’s cheese, and all meals are accompanied by craft beer from Bloomington Brewery, one of Lennie’s Gourmet Pizza partners.
514 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408, Phone: 812-323-2112
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The Upland Brewpub is the headquarters and main tasting room of the Upland Brewing Company, a brewery that has been producing beer for over 14 years. Featuring a cozy, inviting pub-like restaurant and tasting room, Upland Brewpub will charm beer lovers and foodies alike; it is difficult not to love the vast menus of both creative and innovative beer and food. Seasonal lunch and dinner menus are served, and dishes can be paired with at least seven of the brewery’s home brews on tap, which are rotated on a seasonal basis and served in a sampler or by the glass.
The pub also boasts an excellent selection of local and international wines, as well as 6-packs, bombers, and growlers to go. Visitors can enjoy guided tours around the brewery every Saturday and Sunday to learn more about the brewing process and how the ale is made.
350 W. 11th Street, 4060 Profile Pkwy, Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-336-2337
20.The Runcible Spoon, Bloomington, IN
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The Runcible Spoon is a cozy eatery in the heart of downtown Bloomington that features a menu of hearty, home-cooked food, and freshly brewed coffee. Opened in 1976, the restaurant became famous for having the only coffee roaster in town, a tradition that continues today. This restaurant attracts both locals and visitors with their aromatic cups of coffee.
The Runcible Spoon is open seven days a week from 8:00 am to Midnight, serving a variety of dishes from homemade pancakes and freshly baked pies, to soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, pasta, and vegetarian and seafood specialties.
412 East 6th Street, Bloomington, IN, Phone: 812-334-3997
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21 Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Indiana
- Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University, Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
- WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology, Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
- Monroe Lake, Photo: Courtesy of alyssa mae photo - Fotolia.com
- Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Photo: Indiana University Jacobs School of Music
- Indiana University Tours, Bloomington, Indiana, Photo: Courtesy of Shelley - Fotolia.com
- Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Photo: Courtesy of Jaroslav Machacek - Fotolia.com
- Bloomington Community Farmers Market, Photo: Courtesy of mccallk 69 - Fotolia.com
- Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
- Wylie House Museum, Bloomington, Indiana, Photo: Wylie House Museum
- IndiGo Birding Nature Tours, Photo: Courtesy of Shelley - Fotolia.com
- BBQ Train, Bloomington, Indiana, Photo: BBQ Train
- Tranquil Vibe Day Spa, Photo: Tranquil Vibe Day Spa
- Anatolia, Photo: Anatolia
- Oliver Winery, Bloomington, IN, Photo: Oliver Winery
- Cardinal Spirits, Photo: Cardinal Spirits
- Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream, Photo: Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream
- Butler Winery, Bloomington, Indiana, Photo: Butler Winery
- Lennie's Gourmet Pizza, Photo: Lennie's Gourmet Pizza
- Upland Brewpub, Photo: Courtesy of Joshua Rainey - Fotolia.com
- The Runcible Spoon, Bloomington, IN, Photo: Courtesy of amenic181 - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Visit Bloomington
Attraction Spotlight: WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology
The WonderLab Museum of Science, Health and Technology is hands-on science center that explores the world of science through exhibits and programs that encourage exploration and foster lifelong learning. The award-winning Museum is designed for people of all ages from children to adults with the aim of promoting lifelong learning through hands-on exhibits and programs that focus on the wonders of science. Next read: Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Indiana
Established in 1988 and originally located in the historic Wicks Building on the Bloomington courthouse square, WonderLab grew in popularity and moved to a new two-story facility with a beautiful public garden in 2003 where it currently resides today.
Striving to build creative problem solvers and critical thinkers who are inspired by the wonder of science, the mission of WonderLab is to provide opportunities for everyone to experience the wonder and excitement of science. Wonderlab does this through a variety of inspiring and thought-provoking programs and interactive exhibits that foster lifelong learning to shape a brighter future for all.
Special exhibitions at WonderLab include ‘Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action™’ – a health-based action adventure exhibit that encourages visitors to get physical in a fun and healthy way. Set in a non-competitive environment, Run! Jump! Fly! Adventures in Action™ features activities that focus on building strength, supporting coordination and balance and working on endurance, all of which contribute to a fit and healthy lifestyle.
The George & Evelyn Brabson Discovery Garden is a uniquely designed are for children under the age of six to provide early childhood science experiences in a protected environment surrounded by a little fence. Exhibits in the George & Evelyn Brabson Discovery Garden include live animal habitats, tree house climbing structures, the Kaleidoscope Cave, the Little Light Table, the Flat Rock Stage, the Magnet Wall and access to Water Works.
The Bubble-Airium explores ‘soapy science’ concepts such as shapes, states of matter, surface tension, evaporation, and color, light, and density and is one of the Museum’s most popular exhibits. The Bubble-Airium features fun exhibits such as the Bubble Wall, Viscosity Tubes, the Giant Flowing Bubble, the Cloudball Machine, and Strobe Drops.
Located on the second floor of the gallery, The Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science is home to WonderLab’s live amphibians, insects, and reptiles who reside in settings that mimic their natural habitats. The gallery showcases the ancient environment of south-central Indiana through an array of fossils, as well as the diversity of the living world and will soon be home to a new saltwater aquarium that will contain a self-sustaining coral reef ecosystem.
How Things Work offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy the experience of hands-on science with displays that illustrate how things work through concepts such as gravity and motion, magnetic and electrical forces, the properties of air and water, and the science of sound.
WonderLab offers a variety of outreach programs in an informal educational setting. Designed to inspire creative and curious thinkers of all ages, innovative programs range from activities, live animal programs, an array of events and hands-on workshops focused on specific age ranges, learning styles and various science topics.
Designed to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) skills to children of all ages by encouraging creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills, WonderLab’s IDEA Labs workshops are a popular educational program and are offered throughout the year.
WonderLab After Dark is a quarterly event designed for adults and provides an opportunity to experience the wonder of hands-on science along with delicious cuisine and beverages. The workshop presents an array of themed activities that encourage critical thinking and visitors receive a collectible mini-pint glass at the end of the seminar.
Visitors can also enjoy unique experiences with science, from demonstrations to animal shows with WonderLab’s age-appropriate Science LIVE! Programs. Discovery Time provides unique, science-based experiences for pre-school age children and their families that encourage the development of early science skills through play-based learning. Other educational programs at the Museum include WonderCamp and Science of Art.
WonderLab is located at 308 W 4th Street in Bloomington, on the B-Line Trail in the heart of the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD). The Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 09:30 am to 5:00 pm, and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and on the first Friday of every month from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The Museum is just a short walk to the Bloomington Convention Center, Indiana University, the Bloomington Convention Center, and the restaurants, cafés, galleries and shops of the vibrant BEAD district.
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308 W 4th Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47404, Phone: 812-337-1337
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