The art-smart campus at Indiana University Bloomington promises plenty of fun for a weekend getaway.

September 12, 2015
Made of limestone, the Sample Gates echo the architecture found across IU's campus.

Outside downtown Bloomington's jazz-age Buskirk-Chumley Theater, a ­glittering marquee advertises an evening ballet performance. Inside, 10 students from Indiana University Bloomington perform a popping and pirouetting dance routine to the bass-thumping Top 40 song "Uptown Funk." It's the dancers' own choreography-part classic ballet, part hip-hop, completely original.

Original, funky and "well, that's interesting" get a warm welcome in the progressive home of Indiana University. The university's prestigious Jacobs School of Music consistently ranks as the nation's No. 1 music school in U.S. News and World Report lists (and yes, that includes Juilliard), and the 1,600 instrumental, vocal and dance students put on an average of three performances every day, on campus and at venues around the city.

Made of limestone, the Sample Gates echo the architecture found across IU's campus.

But the campus itself offers plenty of diversions beyond performing arts. Visitors gather on Sundays at the iconic Sample Gates, a symbolic separation between city and campus, for a student-led university tour or a stroll through the arboretum, where at least one of every tree native to Indiana grows. The wonky-angled I.M. Pei-designed Indiana University Art Museum contains 30,000 Asian, African and Western works; and nearly 53,000 Hoosier football fans fit in Memorial Stadium.

Kirkwood Avenue connects campus to cosmopolitan downtown Bloomington, where dozens of modern, upscale restaurants rub shoulders with vintage bars. A few blocks south, ice cream shop The Chocolate Moose's parking lot becomes a popular Friday night destination when it's lined with food trucks (through fall). And when dinner is done, there's time again for art: window-shopping in the galleries along Kirkwood or stopping in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater to see what's on stage.

There's no shortage of IU's crimson and cream on game day.

The art-smart campus

Play The Indiana University Art Museum (with a giant lighted totem that glows rainbow colors at night), the IU Auditorium (showcasing student and national touring acts) and the Lilly Library(containing one of the world's 14 original Gutenberg Bibles, Ian Fleming's James Bond manuscripts and 30,000 mechanical puzzles) are each worth a visit, and they're within steps of each other. Off campus, cruise past public artwork, shops and museums along the paved 3-mile B-Line Trail.

Dine At farm-to-table restaurant FarmBloomington, the ever-changing menu might feature adobo-rubbed bison sirloin and garlic fries. Finch's Brasserie serves an impressive variety of small plates (don't miss the duck wings with orange glaze) as well as little pizzas.

Stay Indiana University's cream and crimson school colors dominate the lobby and artwork at the new Hyatt Place Bloomington, conveniently located at the intersection of the B-Line Trail and Kirkwood Avenue. Book one of the corner rooms for wall-length windows overlooking the Monroe County Courthouse and downtown bars. But be warned: The scene can get noisy on weekends. From $159.

For more information: Visit Bloomington (800) 800-0037;