Bloomington is a charming college town in southern Indiana with a thriving campus community at Indiana University. The campus is the flagship institution of the university system’s eight campuses and houses the largest event venue in the city: the Indiana Memorial Union. Built during the 1930s, this expansive 500,000-square-foot facility is one of the largest student unions in the world and offers nearly 30 different meeting spaces; 11 accommodate full on-site catering services.
Next door to the Indiana Memorial Union, the Biddle Hotel features 189 newly renovated guest rooms decorated with memorabilia and artwork from Indiana University students. Thanks to the diverse talents of university students and staff, groups can often find top-quality entertainment like plays, comedy shows, musicals and jazz concerts, which take place weekly throughout the year.
Between sessions, attendees can take a self-guided tour of campus or get in touch with Visit Bloomington to coordinate a custom program. Since limestone is one of Indiana’s most well-known resources, many groups enjoy doing a limestone building tour that highlights some of the unique architecture on campus.
“It’s something that people seek out, especially during June, which is Limestone Month,” said Kaylin Worthington, convention sales manager at Visit Bloomington.
The Monroe Convention Center in downtown provides an additional 24,000 square feet of meeting space for groups, and visitors can walk a couple of blocks from campus to enjoy shops, restaurants and other activities.
“During your conference, you can park your car and not have to move it the whole time you’re here because the city is so walkable,” said Worthington.
Twenty miles south of Oklahoma City, the University of Oklahoma in Norman features a remarkable range of facilities and museums.
“The University of Oklahoma is the state’s largest attraction when you consider all the athletic events and museums and other parts of campus,” said Stefanie Brickman, communications manager at Visit Norman. “It has incredible name recognition from coast to coast, so we realize that a lot of meeting professionals selecting Norman may want to include the university as part of that experience.”
Two of the university’s largest event venues are the Lloyd Noble Center, an 11,528-seat multipurpose arena, and the Oklahoma Memorial Union, a 25,000-square-foot student activity center with Gothic-style architecture and coffered ceilings.
In addition to traditional event spaces, there are several exquisite off-site venues on campus. Groups can take exclusive, behind-the-scenes tours of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, which is considered one of the top natural-history museums in the world, or enjoy a private meal function surrounded by the artwork of masters like Monet, van Gogh, Renoir and Degas in the Fred Jones Museum of Art.
Another must-see on campus is the National Weather Center, a five-story research center that houses some of the country’s finest meteorologists, climatologists, scientists and engineers. Though tours must be scheduled two weeks in advance, visitors can walk through the National Severe Storms Laboratory and see the movie props from the 1996 film “Twister.”