Indiana University is also the largest employer in Bloomington, with 7,000 employees. Other major employers include Cook Group Inc., a medical device manufacturer, Monroe County Schools, and Baxter Healthcare Pharmaceuticals. The proximity of the IU School of Medicine makes it a hub for developments in the health-care field.
Outside of the university, Bloomington stands on its own as a great destination for recreation and the outdoors. Runners will enjoy the B-Line trail -- a three-mile trek through downtown Bloomington -- or the more family friendly Bryan Park. There are also plenty of rivers, lakes, and streams in the Hoosier National Forest where you can kayak or cast your line.
When to Visit Bloomington, IN
The best time to visit Bloomington is the fall. The leaves are starting to change, and the summer heat is starting to break into cool fall breezes. Fall is also football season, which pulls IU fans from all over the state to cheer on the home team and tailgate through the weekend. Hotel rooms will get booked quickly during this time -- especially when a competitive rival is in town -- so be sure to choose your weekends and book far ahead of your visit.
During the summer, Bloomington takes on a small-town feel as many students go home for the school break, reducing the overall population. Despite this, summer is a popular time for visitors. Many families come to Bloomington to enjoy recreational activities and get away from Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. Expect a different type of visitor in the summer -- one with a family who's looking to relax.
Winters can be quite brutal in Indiana, especially for visitors who aren't adjusted to the cold and snow. If you're unfamiliar with driving in the snow, we recommend traveling by taxi or public transportation. Despite the cold, many people still visit Bloomington to catch basketball games and attend medical conferences. In fact, almost 2 million people visit Bloomington each year, accounting for $326 million in revenue and providing 4,163 jobs to Monroe County.
For a college visit, try to book your hotel in the spring -- from March through April. Many prospective students tour IU around this time, and you or your child can take campus tours and meet with faculty and staff. By now, most of the snow should have melted, and you can walk around the campus and take in newly blooming flowers and budding trees.
Below is a chart of the current pricing seasonality of hotels and motels in Bloomington, IN:
Averate Rates by Star Rating
Below are 3 charts displaying average price trends by star rating class in Bloomington, IN. Analyze these illustrations to evaluate the least expensive seasons to book a room in Bloomington throughout the year.
Luxury Hotel Options in Bloomington, IN
4 Star Average Prices: $135.13
Hyatt Place Bloomington offers more luxury options than other hotels in the area. Along with free breakfast, the Hyatt has a coffee shop so you can pick up espresso and a pastry if you're on the go. Guests can also enjoy the indoor pool and 24-hour fitness facilities. The Hyatt has been called the best place to stay in Bloomington, especially for families. It's located within walking distance of the WonderLab Museum of Science and the Bloomington Convention Center. When you visit, ask for a room with a pullout bed or opt for two queen-sized beds to accommodate the family.
The Holiday Inn Express and Suites is also a popular hotel for luxury travelers visiting Bloomington. It received top marks in all categories for the area, but travelers particularly enjoy the vibe and amenities. It's a great choice for a business trip. As far as amenities go, the Holiday Inn Express and Suites has free breakfast and newspapers in the lobby, along with a gift shop and a pool. This hotel is located slightly outside downtown Bloomington, but still only a few miles from all the action.
Affordable Hotel Options in Bloomington, IN
3 Star Average Prices: $119.81
There are plenty of affordable hotel options in Bloomington, and the Century Suites Hotel comes highly recommended among them. This is also the most unique hotel in the area. The rooms are in a semi-circle around the check-in house, so guests feel like they're in a house or apartment instead of a hotel room. There's a full bath upstairs, and a dining room and kitchen area downstairs. This hotel cherishes the outdoors, and guests can pick up a free newspaper in the lobby, along with some complimentary tea and coffee, and sit out in the garden to enjoy their mornings.
Another affordable choice in Bloomington is the Quality Inn. This hotel is about a mile away from downtown, close to Memorial Stadium and IU. On top of its ideal location, this hotel is known for its top-notch service and value for the money. All guests can enjoy a free breakfast and an indoor pool to relax in after a long day cheering on the Hoosiers.
2 Star Average Prices: $89.62
Which Bloomington hotels have real discounts?
The Days Inn Bloomington offers a 10 percent discount to AAA members, as long as they show a membership card at check-in. This offer applies to rooms with one or two queen-sized beds, and those with a king-sized bed. Each room comes with a microwave and refrigerator, which allows guests to eat in during their stay. If you do feel like trying one of the top local restaurants, ask the 24-hour front desk what's close and what the locals like. This hotel also offers free cancellation up to 24 hours before your stay, so you can book confidently knowing there aren't better deals out there. This hotel gets top marks for location: it's only a half-mile from Memorial Stadium.
If you're in the military or a recent veteran, consider booking the Super 8 when you visit Bloomington. This hotel offers a military discount on most rooms, as long as you can show a valid government ID at check-in. This hotel is just over a mile from BHC Meadows Hospital and offers the perfect balance of value and budget. Guests will appreciate free breakfast and free Wi-Fi, along with a spa tub and an indoor pool for swimming during the winter months. It's ideal for a short stay for a sporting event or campus tour.
Best Value Options in Bloomington, IN
If you're willing to drive 10-15 miles outside of Bloomington, there are two beautifully scenic hotels awaiting you. These are ideal for visitors who are looking to get out into the countryside and experience the beauty of Indiana, not just its universities. The Fourwinds Resort & Marina boasts excellent reviews as a weekend getaway. Guests can book rooms facing the lake, and wake up to the sunrise over the water. There are many local restaurants nearby, or you can rent a boat out of the marina for an evening cruise. This hotel is perfect for relaxation, with both an indoor and outdoor pool and tennis courts on site.
The Artists Colony Inn & Restaurant is another top choice for a unique getaway. This B&B offers free breakfast and help with booking tours or tickets to nearby attractions. The staff is known to be very friendly, and will do whatever they can to make your stay enjoyable. This hotel is located right next to Brown County State Park so that guests can go hiking, kayaking, or bird watching throughout their visit.
Enjoy the Food and Culture of Bloomington, IN
If you're looking to experience the culture of Southern Indiana, look no further than Bloomington. For music, visit the African American Arts Institute, located inside the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. There are three ensembles that call this center home, and if you're able to catch at least one when you're in Bloomington, consider yourself lucky.
Alternatively, the Bloomington PRIDE Film Festival runs for three days in January and February. Choose from a list of local and national indie films that highlight the LGBTQ community and its history. Even if you're not in Bloomington during the festival, it's still worth checking out the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, one of the busiest community theaters in the country. This 88-year old theater highlights work from more than 50 local organizations throughout the year.
Microbreweries are also thriving in this college town, as there are plenty of young people to sample their wares and keep the brewing economy buzzing. Stop by Bloomington Brewing Company or the Upland Brewpub for a beer. If you're into wine, relax with samples from the Butler Winery and Vineyard. If you're feeling brave, stop by Cardinal Spirits to try some local craft spirits, including whiskey, vodka, and gin.
Wherever you decide to stay in Bloomington, plenty of locals will offer advice on where to eat, what to see, and who to cheer for (always the Hoosiers). However, where you stay is an easy answer. Whichever hotel you decided to book for your getaway, you're sure to be greeted with a smile and welcoming hello.