Weekend U: Fall Getaway to Indiana University
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 one of the nation's top music schools in U.S. News and World Report, and the 1,500 instrumental, vocal and dance students put on an average of three performances every day, on campus and at venues around the city.
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 Sidney and Lois Eskinazi Museum of Art 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.
The art-smart campus
The Sidney and Lois Eskinazi Museum of Art (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.
At farm-to-table restaurant FarmBloomington, the ever-changing menu might feature adobo-rubbed bison sirloin and garlic fries. The Runcible Spoon Cafe and Restaurant still offers the fresh-ground coffee that first drew students and locals, but also has a solid menu that covers the bases from vegan to corned beef hash.
Light fixtures shaped like basketball hoops and quilts with picket-fence designs reflect the Hoosier influence at the Graduate Bloomington.