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Nearby Attractions in Bloomington

Swirling with intellectual curiosity and a unique history, Bloomington Indiana is your hub for ten engaging museums and attractions set in the beauty of nature. Spend an afternoon kayaking the glassy waters of Monroe Lake, analyzing a work of Picasso at Eskenazi Museum of Art, or making your own music on the big Piano at The WonderLab Museum.

Here’s the five best museums and attractions to check out in Bloomington now. 


Monroe Lake

Indiana’s largest inland lake is only 20 minutes away from the center of Bloomington, and perfect to get away from the IU commotion. Monroe Lake offers visitors a boatload (literally) of activities ranging from boat rentals, kayaking and waterskiing to hikes, picnic areas and beaches.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, the lake also houses a variety of campsites. Widely considered one of the top five things to do in Bloomington, Monroe Lake can satisfy every visitor.  

Insider Tip

Paynetown and Fairfax are the most developed sites around the lake. 

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Eskenazi Museum of Art

The Eskenazi Museum of Art promises that a trip around the world, and even through time, lies within its doors. Though the building itself is an icon, the exhibits within have even more to offer. Explore sub-Saharan Africa by way of its finest art alongside world-renowned works from artists like Monet and Picasso. 

Meander through seven galleries, special exhibitions, and more, all of which showcase art from cultures near and far. Visit on your own or attend one of their guided tours to learn from a docent about the stories behind the art. 

Insider Tip

Book one of the three art study rooms, available by reservation. Each space is outfitted with technology to allow you to take a closer look at the art that interests you.

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The WonderLab Museum

Science, health, and technology get a playful twist at the WonderLab Museum. This museum encourages learning through play, which is why many of the exhibits are interactive. Say goodbye to reading plaques and hello to making your own music on the big piano or experimenting in the Sprouts Lab. 

Check out permanent exhibits like the Fitzgerald Hall of Natural Science, which houses live insects, reptiles, and amphibians. Take a look at their event calendar before you go to see if you can fit in some special experiences like deep dives into the ocean biome and nature scavenger hunts.

Insider Tip

Check out their After Dark event series for adults-only events like chocolate tastings and happy hours.

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Sample Gates

Before you step foot on the IU campus, you’ll have to pass through the Sample Gates. The Sample Gates stand on the edge of the 1,860-acre campus, welcoming students and locals alike to experience the Hoosier way of life.

Edson Sample built the gates out of Indiana limestone in 1987, but they open onto one of the most historic parts of campus: Old Crescent.

Insider Tip

The Indiana University Sample gates serve as an entrance into the oldest part of the current Bloomington campus, known as the Old Crescent.

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B-Line Trail

Get your blood pumping on the B-Line Trail. This short and sweet 3.1 mile trail meanders through some of the most scenic parts of Bloomington. Hop on the trail at Fairview Street before walking, running, or cycling your way to Country Club Drive, where the B-Line joins the Bloomington Rail Trail for a 5.1 mile jaunt.

The trail is well-lit from dusk to dawn, and also features amenities like picnic tables, a drinking fountain, and even a pet fountain for your furry friends. Get in a workout or two while you’re in Bloomington or simply step on the trail for a little peace and quiet. 

Insider Tip

The B-Line Trail, which is wheelchair accessible and free to use, is an ideal place for people of all ages and abilities to walk, run, bike, skateboard, stroller walk, in-line skate and otherwise engage in healthy, active lifestyles.

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