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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Bloomington, Indiana: The Hoosier Hometown

Bloomington at a Glance

Location: South Central Indiana

Access: Indianapolis International Airport, Interstate 69

Hotel rooms: 2,000

Contact Info:

Visit Bloomington


Monroe Convention Center

Built: 1991, renovated 2012

Exhibit Space: 24,000 square feet

Other Meeting Spaces: Nine breakout rooms

Meeting Hotels

Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel & Conference Center

Guest rooms: 189

Meeting Space: 55,000 square feet

Hilton Garden Inn

Guest rooms: 168 rooms

Meeting Space: 5,030 square feet

Who’s Meeting in Bloomington

Educational Theatre Association – International Thespian Festival

Attendees: 2,000

Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association

Attendees: 180

National Conference on Police Social Work

Attendees: 250

Bloomington, Indiana, is the college town that welcomes the world.

College towns are often winning choices for meetings. Educational institutions make for a healthy supply of venues, while football weekends and homecoming festivities ensure plenty of lodging options for parents and alumni. In addition, international students — who often stay on after graduation — keep the culinary and cultural scene vibrant.

These winning factors all come together in Bloomington. Home of the state’s flagship university and located only an hour from the capital of Indianapolis, Bloomington is a great place to host your next event.

Destination Highlights

For a city that made its biggest Hollywood appearance in the 1979 Academy Award-winning movie “Breaking Away,” one of Bloomington’s biggest draws is its friendliness to pedestrians, despite the film’s bicycle racing backdrop. Although it’s known as Bike Town, USA, and home to the Little 500 (the world’s most famous college cycling race), the town and campus are easily navigated on foot.

“We definitely pride ourselves on our downtown,” said Teal Strabbing, visitor services manager for Visit Bloomington. “Our convention center is in a great location, just a couple of blocks from the downtown square and the courthouse. There are more than 100 different restaurants and shops in the downtown area. It’s very walkable, so that’s especially great for meeting attendees. They can leave the car and explore our nightlife — we have a great music scene and lots of fun bars — then stroll back to their hotel.” (For those who don’t want to bother with a car at all, a convenient shuttle operates every two hours from the Indianapolis Airport.)

Fans of urban trails will definitely want to stroll or cycle the 3.1-mile B-Line Trail, which is packed with murals and other public art, galleries, restaurants and vintage shopping, along with a bountiful farmers market that pops up each Saturday during the summer.

Major Meeting Spaces

Located in the Memorial Union on Indiana University’s glorious limestone campus, the Biddle Hotel and Conference Center is only five blocks from Bloomington’s vibrant downtown. With 189 guest rooms and 55,000 square feet of event space, the Biddle has a theater capacity of 600 and can accommodate receptions for up to 500 people and seated banquets for 350 guests. The 24,000-square-foot Monroe Convention Center has 10 meeting rooms and can accommodate a similar number of attendees for meetings, receptions and banquets. Three other hotels with event space (the Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place and Graduate Bloomington) are within five blocks of the convention center.

Distinctive Venues

A number of unique event venues provide surprising flair. Gather your group in the heart of downtown for a performance or presentation at the Buskirk-Chumley, a completely renovated vaudeville theater and movie house built in 1922. Or shave a few points off your handicap at the Golf Club at Eagle Point. The 18-hole championship course is nestled in the scenic hills near Lake Monroe and offers many configurations for events, receptions and banquets.

Just 20 minutes from downtown, the Four Winds Lakeside Inn and Marina offers a peaceful retreat on serene but lively Lake Monroe. Guests can enjoy pedalboats and other recreational activities while staying in one of the inn’s 118 rooms (including 12 suites) and gathering in one of its eight meeting rooms. The 10,000-total-square-foot meeting space has theater capacity for 300 and banquet and reception facilities for 180.

After the Meeting

Fourth Street is the undisputed hub of international dining in a town that draws students from around the globe. In the district on and around Fourth Street, funky old residences now house eateries offering delicacies from Afghanistan, Burma, Indonesia, Greece, the Philippines and more.

Bloomington’s beverage scene also has plenty to toast. Forty years ago, the Butler family began crafting wines from Indiana-grown grapes at a picturesque vineyard nine miles outside the city. It’s a great spot for a picnic, but there’s a downtown tasting room, too. Oliver Winery is Indiana’s largest, offering unusual specialties like blueberry moscato, and a number of event spaces that can accommodate seated groups of up to 75 people.

College students love their beer, so it’s no surprise that Bloomington has a robust brewery scene. And other spots, such as Cardinal Spirits and Friendly Beasts Cider Company, offer other handcrafted delights.

To take your group back to happier, more carefree times, reserve the Orbit Room for a private event. This appealing underground lair has everything you need: gourmet hot dogs and bar snacks, even vegan gourmet hot dogs and vegan bar snacks. Throw in great music, vintage pinball machines and plenty of refreshing beverages, and you’ll have a night to remember.

For a more serene and spiritual outing, your group might enjoy a tour at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center, located on 90 acres just outside of town. Founded in 1979 by an Indiana University professor, the center aims to educate people on the history and culture of Tibet and to support Tibetans and Mongolians. The Dalai Lama has made several visits to the center.

The Wonderland Museum (one of the country’s best science museums) is an affordable and original setting for spending an evening, letting adults get hands-on with fun experiments that will make them feel like a kid again. And for attendees who want to feel like slightly older kids, look no further than the iconic Bluebird Theatre. Celebrating 50 years of rock, funk and fun, “the Bird” is a great place for otherwise responsible adults to drink beer from a plastic cup, listen to loud music, and pretend they’re freshmen again.