Yes there is more than one Bloomington and Nashville, and you can find both of these in  Indiana, about a four hour drive from Chicago, and approximately 110 km south of Indianapolis.


Bloomington is a great college town (being home to Indiana University) and is very walkable. Everything is centered around the county courthouse square downtown. A walk through the campus is a must with its beautiful limestone buildings and the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Other fun things to do:

  • Bring your bike and ride on the B Line Trail.
  • Enjoy the beautiful gardens and have a picnic at the Oliver Winery.
  • Rent a boat or enjoy the beach at Lake Monroe’s Paynetown Recreation Area.
  • Take a hike in the Deam Wilderness.
  • Hike the Ogle Lake trail or see the rare yellow wood tree in the Ogle Nature Preserve in Brown County State Park. Bring your mountain bike and enjoy the many trails of the Park.

Bloomington is a foodie’s paradise. Bloomingfoods has a great salad bar and is just west of the square. Enjoy fresh juices at Soul Juice. The Farm Restaurant is very good as is the new Elm Restaurant and the  Uptown Cafe. Nourish is also very popular.  Pickup some candy at Granny’s Candy Cupboard. No chain restaurants in sight in this unique city.

I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, 245 N. College, on the square downtown. It’s steps to all the restaurants and shops and near the campus. The new Graduate Hotel and Hyatt Park Place are also good choices. You can also stay on campus at the Biddle Hotel in the Student Union.

On the drive from Bloomington to Nashville, stop at the T.C. Steel State Historic Site to enjoy the gardens and trails which was the home of Indiana artist T.C. Steele.


Just east of Bloomington you will find the art’s colony known as Nashville. The hilly wooded countryside is not unlike the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. Explore the downtown with its many unique shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

I recommend the Quality Inn in Nashville, just a short free trolley ride to downtown Nashville and near an IGA which has a hot food bar.  You can also stay right in Brown County State Park at the Abe Martin Lodge, or in their rustic cabins.

Bears, cubs, and their friends will want to bring their tent and camp at Camp Buckwood in nearby Morgantown. Weekly events mean there’s something’s always happening, and they also have two pools and a food truck for those that would rather not cook. Cabin and lodge rental options also available at this male resort  that also has friends and family weekends. You might even meet a Hoosier Daddy.

Bloomington and Nashville make for a perfect weekend visit or vacation. You could easily spend the whole week at beautiful Brown County State Park.

About the Author

Bill Malcolm is the nation’s only LGBTQ+ syndicated value travel columnist. Residing in Indianapolis, he travels with a focus on the local and value orientation.