I might be a tad biased as an Indiana University grad (go Hoosiers!), but Bloomington is the best college town in the U.S. and IU is the most beautiful campus ever. (Ok, fine, I guess Notre Dame and Purdue are nice, too.)
Bloomington—a.k.a. ‘B-town,’ if you’re hip and with it—is filled with small-town charm, delicious food, and college-themed fun. Visit during the school year on a game weekend and you can party it up at a tailgate or out at the bars (trust me, it’s not just students partying at home game weekends.) According to my scientific research/Facebook feed, 99 percent of IU alumni still attend home games — regularly. Or, visit during the summer and be treated to a much quieter but just as gorgeous Bloomington.
What to Do in Bloomington
Spend a day wandering the Indiana University campus. It’s beautiful and it always inspires me to expand my educational pursuits. Wander through downtown Bloomington via Kirkwood Avenue and stop into the shops and restaurants or bike the adorable B-Line Trail through downtown. During the summer, escape to Monroe Lake to swim, boat, or fish.
Where to Eat (& Drink) in Bloomington
Bloomington is home to amazing restaurants. Wander down 4th street downtown to find cuisine from all over the globe. For that authentic college vibe, go to Nick’s English Hut, which is where Obama ate when he visited and is also home of the locally famous game Sink the Biz, which involves a giant bucket of fries and beer galore (you’ll see).
You’ll also find here a few rival pizzerias and locals are rabidly loyal to either Mother Bear’s Pizza or Aver’s Gourmet Pizza. (I’m an Aver’s girl myself; the Cream & Crimson is my favorite pizza in the world.) If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, FARMBloomington is a delicious farm-to-table restaurant.
If you’re feeling thirsty, head to Oliver Winery for wine tasting or Upland Brewing Co. for incredible craft beer. (They’re particularly famous for their sours.)
If you’re up for an authentic local experience, the nightlife in Bloomington is legendary. Bring two forms of ID to Kilroy’s on Kirkwood (KOK for short). Come early so you don’t have to pay a cover and order a Long Island Iced Tea. There are about 20 flavors to choose from, they’re all $5, and they come in a huge pitcher that I absolutely cannot finish on my own.
Once you finish your massive LIT, stumble down Kirkwood into any of the bars that strike your fancy. On a weekend night during the school year, all the bars will be poppin’. Get your next-day hangover brunch at Scholar’s Inn Bakehouse.