Learn About Indiana University Bloomington

One of the top public universities in the United States, Indiana University Bloomington (IU Bloomington, Indiana University, IU, or simply Indiana) was founded in 1820.

In 1867, IU became one of the first state universities to admit women and in 1869, Sarah Parke Morrison became the first woman to graduate from IU.

Indiana University and Bloomington give students, families, and supporters the classic college experience as one of the most beautiful college campuses and best college towns in the United States. 

Whatever your reason for visiting, you can undoubtedly find plenty of inspiration on the breathtaking Indiana University grounds. There will always be something new to experience when visiting Indiana University.

IU’s Unique Attractions  

Indiana University in Bloomington offers attractions you can’t find anywhere else in Bloomington to attractions you can’t find anywhere else in the world. 

Musical Arts Center

IU’s Musical Arts Center (MAC) is one of the most state-of-the-art performance venues in the United States, featuring the second-largest stage area in the country. Every year during the holiday season, crowds of people go to the venue to see The Nutcracker and other performances throughout the year.

IU Auditorium

The IU Auditorium is a stunningly grand building inspired by the culture of Southern Indiana, constructed out of locally-quarried Indiana Limestone. Inside are high ceilings, classic art, and an all-around opulent space that feels more like Chicago than Bloomington.​ 

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, one of college basketball’s most iconic arenas, is the site of Hoosier tradition, legend, victory, and camaraderie. It is a venue with a long basketball history and is practically a holy ground for college basketball enthusiasts. 

Lilly Library

Assorted books in brown wooden bookshelf

The Lilly Library boasts over 460,000 books, 8.5 million manuscripts, 120,000 items of sheet music, and thousands of other items. It is an internationally-revered collection of millions of literary and cultural artifacts that record some of humanity’s greatest accomplishments and is remarkably open to the public for free viewing in Bloomington. 

Cook Hall

Cook Hall, located beside Assembly Hall is a state-of-the-art facility that serves as the practice, training, and conditioning domain for the men’s and women’s basketball teams. In addition, Cook Hall is home to the Pfau Shine Legacy Court, a museum that exhibits that chronicles the history of Indiana Basketball. 

Eskenazi Museum of Art

The Eskenazi Museum of Art at Indiana University is a work of art itself, designed by I.M. Pei, the architect behind the Louvre Pyramid and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The museum has no 90-degree angles except where structurally necessary. 

Indiana Memorial Union

With more than 500,000 square feet of space, the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) is the second-largest student union in the country and one of the most notable landmarks on campus. The limestone building can easily be mistaken for Hogwarts, with its classic stone façade and all of the magic found inside.

Moreover, it is a place for visitors, alumni, students, and families to experience the warm and welcoming spirit of IU.

Biology Greenhouse

Green plants inside greenhouse during daytime

The Biology Greenhouse is home to nearly 800 different kinds of rainforest, desert, and insectivorous plants from around the world, the eldest of which is the sago palm, which is more than 100 years old. 

IUs Stunning Locations

From the unique attractions of Indiana University, here are some of the stunning locations on campus that run the gamut from well-known favorites to hidden gems.

Beck Chapel

Beck Chapel is a small, non-denominational chapel next to the Indiana Memorial Union. It is a popular venue for weddings, especially for IU alumni. 

Rose Well House

The Rose Well House is also a well-known campus location for weddings and is steeped in IU legend and history. The practice of sharing a midnight kiss under the gazebo on Valentine’s Day is said to bring good luck to the couple.

Sample Gates

Brown and yellow leaves on ground

The most recognizable landmark on the university’s grounds is Sample Gates, which serves as a gateway between the IU and Bloomington communities. The limestone gates are the most popular location for photos when visiting the university.

Cox Arboretum

Cox Arboretum offers 11 acres of tranquil beauty landscaped with Indiana-native trees, a picturesque pond, plant life from around the globe, and the Metz Carillon Tower. It is surrounded by three architecturally stunning buildings: the Wells Library, the Global & International Studies Building, and the Eskenazi Museum of Art.

Showalter Fountain

Showalter Fountain was built in 1961, however, one of the fish in the fountain is newer than the others. One of the fish was taken hilariously in 1987 when IU won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, and it was never to be found or returned. Now, during big games or high-risk events, the fish are removed. 

Dunn Woods

A squirrel sitting on a tree branch

A woodland area close to Sample Gates called Dunn Woods was Herman B. Wells’ passion project. This area is remarkable because of the centuries-old trees, charming brick paths, and magical, Snow White-like atmosphere.

IUs Annual Events

Homecoming Weekend

Indiana University Homecoming takes place every October. The event allows alumni to reconnect with friends, relive their favorite college traditions, and take their children to visit their old haunts at the event. 

Family Weekend

Family Weekend usually takes place in the middle to end of September. It is a chance for parents to spend the weekend in Bloomington with their student(s) to explore the campus and town.

Little 500

The Little 500 is an experience like no other. It is the largest collegiate bike race in the United States. Modeled after the Indianapolis 500, riders compete in four-person teams around a quarter-mile cinder track at Bill Armstrong Stadium. 

In 1951, the first race between teams from various housing units against one another began. In 1988, the women’s competitions were added. 

It is one of the best times of the year to take a trip to Bloomington.

IU’s Sporting Spirit

White and gray Adidas soccer ball on lawn

One of the most exciting things to do while in Bloomington is experience an Indiana University sporting event; the passion displayed by the players, coaches, and supporters will give you goosebumps.

Bloomington, the home of the Cream & Crimson, is the perfect place to experience a quintessential college sports weekend. Whatever sport you’re visiting the city for, there are a few useful details and tips you will need to know to make the most out of your trip.

  • Get to know the popular term “Hoosier” which is used to refer to either residents of Indiana or students, alumni, and fans of Indiana University. 
  • Know the lyrics of these two songs: “Indiana, Our Indiana,” which has been played at every Hoosier football and basketball game since it first debuted in 1912; and “Hail to Old IU,” the university’s official alma mater song, a mainstay since it first debuted in 1893.
  • Know how to perform Fists and Blades, a popular way to demonstrate school spirit during athletic contests.
  • It would be an understatement to say that tailgating is popular during IU football games. Set up your area in the grass lots south of 17th Street and north of 14th Street between N. Fess Avenue and N. Forrest Avenue, or in the Memorial Stadium parking lot. 
  • Nevertheless, purchase a parking pass in advance and arrive very early as tailgate space is extremely limited due to the large crowd that Hoosier football draws.

To Consider When Planning a Visit

In Bloomington, there lies the biggest and oldest IU campus. There are lots of amazing things to see, so be sure to allow plenty of time to explore, and do not forget to wear comfortable shoes. 

If you are not familiar with the place, you can get a map from their visitors center or the IU Visitors Center to aid you in navigating winding trails and massive buildings.

You may also check the events calendar to see what is happening in the area during your trip. Do not forget to plan if you are coming for big events like football games, Little 500, and the graduation.

In conclusion, aside from the fact that Indiana University Bloomington is a perfect place in empowering students and faculty to cultivate meaningful careers, develop lifelong connections, and make an impact on the world. There are also lots to do on campus and some of the local establishments are also part of the IU experience.

Indeed, the diversity of interests, ages, and nationalities positively impacts all aspects of the community, from international attractions to annual festivals.