Home to Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, hosts one of the largest seasonal, open-air farmers’ markets in the Midwest, bringing its community together since 1975. On Saturday mornings from April through November (as well as Tuesday evenings in the summer), shoppers gather next to City Hall to browse a selection of locally grown fruits and veggies from asparagus to zucchini, along with mushrooms, free-range eggs, flowers, artisan meats and cheeses, maple syrup and more from a group of almost 130 vendors.
IMU Biddle Hotel and Conference Center
Indiana University alumni wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else. Located in the middle of the stunning limestone campus within the handsome Indiana Memorial Union building, this 189-room boutique hotel offers access to a food court, a bowling alley and the IU bookstore right on site. It’s also within quick walking distance to the eclectic shops and restaurants that line vibrant Kirkwood Avenue. 900 E. Seventh St., 812.856.6381, imu.indiana.edu/hotel
Grant Street Inn
Settle into historic digs at this inviting turn-of-the-century bed-and-breakfast. The welcoming property makes guests feel right at home with 40 distinctive accommodations that cover a range of styles from Victorian to contemporary. A full hot breakfast is part of the package, sending guests off happy and well-fed. 310 N. Grant St., 812.334.2353, grantstinn.com
Newly minted in 2014, Springhill Suites elevates stays with local art, a free hot breakfast and craft beers at its on-site bar, The Ave. The hotel’s prime location just four blocks off the town square (anchored by the handsome Monroe County Courthouse) puts guests in the heart of Downtown Bloomington and in close proximity to the farmers’ market. 501 N. College Ave., 812.337.7772, marriott.com
James Beard-nominated chef-owner David Tallent hones his fine-dining chops here with a seasonally changing menu of organic ingredients. Tallent prides himself on promoting local farms and food purveyors; springtime often means appearances by fresh asparagus, peas and the elusive morel. Tallent’s wife, Kristen, capably handles the delectable dessert and wine portions of the program. You won’t regret timing your visit to catch one of the special-event wine dinners. 208 N. Walnut St., 812.330.9801, restauranttallent.com
Serving familiar comfort food with flair, FARMbloomington feels like settling in for a meal at grandma’s house, complete with country-chic décor. Chef Daniel Orr gives classic Indiana Hoosier fare a twist; the “Lugar” bison burger (named for the former Indiana senator) draws consistent raves, and breakfasts are outstanding with choices like peppered bacon or buttermilk biscuits made with a fourth-generation family recipe and housemade apple butter. 108 E. Kirkwood Ave., 812.323.0002, farm-bloomington.com
Fourth Street Restaurant Row
For a midsized college town, Bloomington is home to a surprisingly diverse array of ethnic eateries, many located in distinctive bungalows and former residential homes along the 400-block stretch of East Fourth Street paralleling the Kirkwood Avenue main drag – think Turkish, Thai, Indian, Korean, Tibetan, Mediterranean, Chinese and Middle Eastern. Fourth Street, between South Dunn and South Lincoln streets
Janko’s Little Zagreb
A Bloomington fixture since 1979, Little Zagreb is often the restaurant of choice for special events and celebrations. The intimate space is known for its whopping USDA choice steaks, its excellent wine list and its refreshingly unstuffy atmosphere capped off with casual red-and-white checkered tablecloths. 223 W. Sixth St., 812.332.0694, littlezagreb.com
Nick’s English Hut
A quintessential Bloomington stop since 1927, this cozy nook brims with IU memorabilia; expect to wait for a table on weekends and during basketball games. The tiny kitchen turns out a casual menu of tasty pizzas, burgers, stromboli, chili and such, using locally sourced meats and produce. Make sure to start with an order of spicy “Sink the Biz” fries with garlic mayo for dipping. 423 E. Kirkwood Ave., 812.332.4040, nicksenglishhut.com
Oliver Winery & Vineyards
The oldest and biggest winery in the state of Indiana sits in an idyllic setting just north of Bloomington. With grapevines out front, a rustic tasting room and a pretty pond, this is prime picnic territory. The sweet Soft White and jammy Soft Red wines are the best sellers among the winery’s expansive selection of dry, semidry, semisweet, sparkling and dessert wines and hard ciders. 8024 Indiana 37, 812.876.5800, oliverwinery.com
Upland Brewery Co.
Boasting a new addition to its family-friendly property, “The Upland” (as it’s known to locals) brings folks together over pub grub and pints of wheat ale, IPA, porter and a range of seasonal brews. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, guests can get a peek at the brewery and tasting room during tours. 350 W. 11th St., 812.336.2337, uplandbeer.com
The Chocolate Moose
John Cougar Mellencamp fans might recognize this Bloomington landmark ice cream stand as the Tastee Freez from the singer’s Jack & Diane music video. The Moose was originally known as the Penguin when it opened in 1933; these days, soft-serve fans queue around the building for cups and cones of Moose Chocolate, sweet cinnamon and lemon custard flavors. Bonus: The shop also now serves vegan treats. 401 S. Walnut St., 812.333.0475, chocolatemoosebloomington.com
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