Your Next AFFORDABLE Vacation Destination: Bloomington, Indiana

August 3, 2018

Look, this isn’t a sponsored post.  I just really love Bloomington, Indiana. 

When my husband told me we were moving to Indiana, I was so confused.  For a couple reasons.
1) He was in the Navy, why were being sent to a land locked state?  I signed up for a life by the sea. 
2) What does one do in Indiana?  Eat corn? 

We hilariously fell in so love with that landlocked state, we just couldn’t leave until we had no other staying options.  Even after resigning from the military, my husband chose to do full time graduate school there so we didn’t have to leave for two additional years.  This week, I was writing out some of my dream travel destinations and thought how much I’d love to go visit as a tourist, because it’s such a great place and very reasonably priced.  So this blog post was born.  Here are my favorite things to do in Bloomington, Indiana.  With and without children!

The fun part about Bloomington is that you can do the family thing or the college thing.  You can have a family, but get a babysitter and suddenly you’re 21 again.  In Bloomington, you can be a foodie or an outdoorsmen.  You can be a wine enthusiast or a beer snob.  You could go to their Chick Fil A every day and still participate in a different activity (I’m serious, ya’ll their CFA on 3rd is LIT.)

Where to stay: There are some great hotel options in Bloomington, but the bed and breakfast scene is really great too.  I recommend Showers Inn if you’re traveling sans kids.  With kids, I really liked the Homewood Suites on Liberty Drive.  My best friend stayed there a week with her family and it was awesome, a suite with a small kitchen.  They also had an awesome pool and hot tub area, so kid appropriate entertainment, FTW.

Where To Eat: Domo Steak & Sushi..Ya’ll, Bloomington has so much good food.  I’m going to share my top five, maybe 10, I don’t know.  This is a lot of pressure to narrow down. If you’re staying at the Homewood Suites, your first stop has to be   We ate at Domo Steak & Sushi so much, we didn’t even have to order.  They’d sit us and just bring our food.  (They also have crazy nice staff, the owners would just take our kids and walk around the place while we ate.)  For coffee, I reccomend you grab some coffee from the Pourhouse and then take a tour of the library across the street.  We have been to a lot of libraries, and I still believe that the Monroe County Public Library is the best library that has ever been.  Go into that children’s area and TRY to tell me I’m wrong.    After you check out the library and explore the hip ass downtown area, have lunch at Bub’s burgers.   (Where you get french fries with marshmallow sauce, ya’ll.  I don’t know if that’s an Indiana specific thing, but I was pretty pleased with it.) Be sure to look on the wall and find the photo proof that ya girl ate a one pound burger at that place.  Proof that you can make your dreams a reality.  For dinner, you have to go see our Bloomington favorite, Mama’s Korean Barbecue.  If you want donuts during your vacation, Crescent donuts is a non-negotiable tourist destination. Siam House Thai lunch buffet is something you simply have to do.  You can have your curry and pad thai and eat it too.  Upland brewery is a great spot for fare, fun, and local beer.  Oliver Winery is the perfect place to let your children run wild, while you drink a bottle of wine. Chocolate Moose for dessert.    (Liam actually thought it was a cheese factory for a year.) Honorable mentions:  Village Deli, Uptown Cafe, La Poblana, The Tap, Willie T’s

What to do: This changes season to season.  I personally recommend going during summer or fall. Lake Monroe is where the scenic party is at, and I know they have some fun canoe and kayak options, but we’ve done many a hike over there.  (Just don’t forget bug spray.) I noticed the city offers on occasion night time paddles, that cost under 10 bucks, really great date night.  If you visit without kids, you have to go get a drink at Kilroy’s.  I also already mentioned Oliver winery!  Catch a football game, or take advantage of other Indiana University events and activities.  Visit Karst Farm splash pad and sand area if you’re traveling with kids.  Going on a campus walk and downtown stroll is an absolute must, it is so beautiful. There are some incredible parks (we love cascades)  in the area, and you can also drive 45 minutes and be in Indianapolis to go to the zoo or the remarkable children’s museum.  Pick some produce: either at the dreamy farmer’s market downtown, or one of the area farms! Work out at Hoosier Athletic Club (my husband added that one.)  Schedule a photo shoot with Gift of Today photography, my remarkably talented photographer friend.

For more tips and a list of current events in the area, be sure to check out:  Visit Bloomington and Bloomington Mom’s Blog.  

More about This Messy Season

This Messy Season is a blog serving families through practical tips for nurturing their families, emphasizing quality time and adventure. Helping young families bloom where they're planted, embrace their mess, and thrive through a series of honest, blog posts highlighting realistic travel tips, favorite products that simplify the work load of families, and family entertainment.

    1. True story. I have only eaten at like 1/2 of those restaurants and I’ve lived here for 20 years. The fact that Siam House has a Thai lunch buffet might just change my life (or at least my waistline). Also, COME VISIT.

      1. I so want to 😭😭 but yes do the lunch buffet and report back ASAP

    1. This made me fall in love with my town a little more! So great!!! Now when are you coming to visit??

      1. I want you to come to me first since we haven’t done Portland together yet. Come next week?

    1. I think Anatolia should get an honorable mention, it’s delicious! We love the Leonard Springs hiking trail with the kids.

      1. Oh I had never been able to go there but I’ve heard amazing things! And yes! Leonard Springs, I can’t believe I forgot that one!!

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