Talk about Bloomington and Indiana University usually starts and centers on basketball. While basketball is what has brought fame and recognition, the town is being sold short if that’s all you think there is to see in Bloomington. Around campus, Assembly Hall shouldn’t be your only stop. During the fall and spring, the campus is a beautiful collection of colors that can leave you in awe. Outside of campus, there are some necessary stops to be made for the casual tourist. Whether you come to town to party or relax, the list of sights to see is a long one. So let’s break down the top 12 must see places around Bloomington next time you’re in town.
12. Art Museum
We’ll start off with something not often thought about for the average tourist in Bloomington. The Indiana Art Museum opened in 1941 but moved to its current building in 1982. Open to the public, the museum holds almost 40,000 works and is rumored to have no right angles (which, upon further investigation, is untrue), giving the museum a unique look.
11. Herman B Wells Library
The Wells Library is among the biggest campus libraries across the country. With 11 stories on the graduate side and five on the undergraduate side, it ranks as the 13th largest university library nationwide. With thousands of books to choose from, including many rare books, a stop at the Wells Library is certainly recommended.
10. Indiana Memorial Union
Another record setter, the IMU is the second biggest student union in the nation. It features a bowling alley, restaurants, a hotel, an auditorium, shops, and just about anything you could hope for.
9. Mother Bear’s Pizza
The only restaurant to makes the list, but it is certainly a deserving one. People magazine has named it one of the top nine pizzerias in the country, and it’s a worthy title. Sitting just across from campus, it’s a hot spot for students and visitors alike and a must-stop for anyone wanting pizza on their visit.
For those looking to experience the nightlife of Bloomington, you need to go no further than Kirkwood Avenue. Starting with the Sample Gates and stretching nearly half a mile, you’ll find Nick’s English Hut, Kilroy’s, Buffalouie’s, and multiple other local restaurants not to mention lots of local shops.
7. Showalter Fountain
This fountain is famous for being the center point for celebrations of national titles. However, it is also quite a sight. Located directly in front of the IU Auditorium, it’s often a peaceful stop for students between classes to read or even cool off.
6. Jacobs School of Music
The only specific school of IU on this list is quite possibly the most deserving. Ranked the number one music school by U.S. News and World Report, the School of Music has the second largest enrollment of all music schools in the nation with 1600 students. The Musical Arts Center, equipped with an opera theater, sits on Jordan Avenue and houses a large fountain on its front lawn.
If you visit IU in the fall or spring, this might move up to number one on the list. There’s nothing quite as beautiful and awe-inspiring on IU’s campus than seeing the beautiful flowers, trees, and sunlight mixed in with the students walking to class or lounging on the grass. Sitting in the middle of campus, the Arboretum was built where the old football stadium once lied.
4. Bill Armstrong Stadium
Home of two of the more well-known athletic events for IU, Armstrong stadium is a must-see. First, it houses the soccer matches for both the women’s team as well as the more successful men’s team, which has won seven national titles. However, it is more famous for the annual Little 500 race held in the spring each year. The race has seen the likes of Barack Obama and Lance Armstrong, among others, stop by to watch.
3. Memorial Stadium
While IU may not have a rich football history, that doesn’t change the fact that Memorial Stadium is a must-see in Bloomington. The nearly 53,000 capacity stadium features one of the largest weight room facilities, as well as one of college football’s largest scoreboards in the South Endzone.
2. Sample Gates
The Sample Gates are one of the more elegant iconic images of Indiana University. Located on the west side of campus, the gates separate campus from the downtown area. The Gates are an entrance into the oldest part of campus, known as the Old Crescent.
1. Assembly Hall/Cook Hall
The no-brainer, must-see landmark of Bloomington is Assembly Hall. Home of five national championship banners, this iconic stadium opened in 1971. While tickets may be hard to come by, simply walking in seeing the national championship trophies and plaques of former greats hanging up can give you goose bumps. Also check out the newly constructed Cook Hall, which houses the team’s practice facilities as well as its fair share of memorabilia. It should be the first stop for all Bloomington visitor, Hoosier fan or otherwise.
About: Jacob Rude
I'm Jacob Rude, and I'm a senior at Indiana University. I am majoring in journalism, where I'm focusing on print journalism. I'm a diehard sports fan of just about any sport, which has directed me toward the sports journalism field. My goal is to one day write for a national sports publication.