By Amy Lynch
Looking for a fun-filled destination for a getaway with your best gal pals? Look no further than Bloomington— this friendly south-central Indiana town is packed with things to do, both girly and gutsy.
First things first—you’ll need a place to stay. Bloomington’s “urban oasis,” the Grant Street Inn (grantstinn.com) managed by CFC Properties welcomes guests in luxury style at the forward- thinking Inn, with cozy facilities capable of accommodating parties of any size.
“Grant Street Inn has all the amenities of a larger hotel, but offers more personalized touches, such as, afternoon baked goods in the lobby with coffee and tea, and a full hot breakfast served every morning,” said general manager Paul Wagoner.
Several of the property’s 40 room choices have access to wraparound porches where guests can relax and unwind with a glass of wine in the evenings. Groups wanting to re-live their sorority or dormitory days may also be able to reserve an entire wing or building for themselves; the Inn periodically offers specials, so be sure to check out their website ahead of time as well.
“We’re nestled in a residential neighborhood, but central to downtown and Indiana University, making this a private, fun getaway spot,” Wagoner mentioned. CFC Properties also maintains many of the buildings that line Bloomington’s charming town square, within easy walking distance of the Grant Street Inn and prime territory for boutique shopping and diverse dining. On the southern side of the square, you’ll find the historic Fountain Square Mall (fountainsquaremall.com) populated with an eclectic mix of stores that includes the How about mentioning instead: “…mix of stores that include Tivoli Fashions, Blond Genius, Eyebrowz Style, Bloomington Massage and Bodyworks, Gather, plus more. And don’t forget, Stefeno’s Ice for a quick tastey treat or hot/cold coffee.
Meanwhile, gourmet-minded gals gravitate toward Goods For Cooks (goodsforcooks.com) on the west side of the square for the latest, greatest kitchen equipment, gadgets and products. Additionally, fashionistas and domestic goddesses should set a course to downtown Bloomington to try Piace Boutique (piaceboutique.com), Lola Rue and Relish urban marketplace (relishbloomington.com) on for size. If you’re an art enthusiast, good news! Bloomington offers plenty of fine art establishments to wander through — By Hand Gallery (byhandgallery.com) and Gallery406 (gallery406.com) to name just a few.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, check out Bloomington’s vibrant dining scene. From modern and traditional American eats to authentic ethnic cuisines from around the world along a several-block stretch of 4th Street, there’s definitely something here to please any palate. The Bloomington Independent Restaurant Association’s web site (bloomingtonindependents.com) may—or may not—be able to help you narrow down some tempting options.
Here are a few additional suggestions for ways to customize and make the most of your Bloomington Adventure. If your into….
No Coast Reserve (nocoastreserve.com): Serves fantastic fresh seafood dishes and creative small plates.
The Uptown Café (the-uptown.com): A long-standing Kirkwood Avenue mainstay offering a stylish menu of American cuisine with a Cajun bent.
BLU Boy Chocolate (bluboychocolatestore.com): Satisfy any sweet tooth craving with the fanciful cakes and candies
Wine, Beer and Spirits:
Serendipity Martini Bar (serendipitymartini.com): Toast to friendship with a Cosmopolitan or Petite Fleur
Cardinal Spirits (cardinalspirits.com) cranks out a range of high-quality distilled products including whiskey, gin, vodka, rum and liqueurs.
Oliver Winery (oliverwinery.com): The oldest and biggest winery in the state, this winery is a required stop for winetasting with a beautiful, rustic backdrop.
Bloomington is a vital cog in the Indiana craft beer community—sample the wares at Bloomington’s 1st and oldest craft brewery and brewpub: Bloomington Brewing Co. (bloomingtonbrew.com), the Upland Brewpub (uplandbeer.com), and Quaff ON! Bloomington (quaffon.com) to find out what all the fuss is about.
MarDon Salon (mardonsalon.com): Let the staff love on your locks with deliciously scented Aveda products.
VIP Nails: Gorgeous gals need gorgeous nails. VIP Nails steps up to deliver mains and pedis at the downtown Courthouse Square.
That’s The Rub (thatstherub.com): For ultimate pampering, book a massage, facial or body wrap in Historic Graham Plaza.
The Great Outdoors:
On Saturday mornings throughout the summer, hit the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market (bloomington.in.gov/farmersmarket) for locally grown produce, baked goods and live entertainment.
IndiGo Birding Nature Tours (indigobirding.com) are an ideal way to enjoy the local landscape and get a breath of fresh air.
Nearly a dozen local galleries and studios open their doors for the Downtown Bloomington Gallery Walk (gallerywalkbloomington.com) on the first Friday evening of every other month.
The Indiana University campus brims with world-class cultural events and venues such as the IU Art Museum (artmuseum.indiana.edu), IU Cinema (cinema.indiana.edu) and IU Opera and Ballet (music.indiana.edu). Dedicated solely to the production of new performances, the Bloomington Playwrights Project (newplays.org) is a great place to catch a rising star.