Is This America’s Most Beautiful University Campus?

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve found America’s most beautiful university campus.

Located deep in America’s Midwest, You may not have heard of Bloomington, Indiana but I’m sure you’ve heard of Indiana University – or IU – one of the top public universities in the country. Crimson and cream pride, the universities colours, can be spotted all around town, becoming more obvious the closer you get to campus.

I tend to shy away from university towns. Call me old fashioned, but they’ve always felt a little too rambunctious – I thought I’d rather be exploring big cities, museums or eating all the food than hanging out in a student-filled pub or bar – and I’ve never really considered them as culturally ‘interesting’.

Bloomington changed all of that.

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Better known as B-Town by the locals, Bloomington is charming. In fact, after five days, I declared I wanted to move there, and not just for Mother Bear’s Pizza – but we’ll talk about that later.
It’s a blend of big-little city vibes, a thriving arts scene, and an emerging culinary scene, while still giving you the opportunity to escape into nature in just minutes; and then there’s that College Town atmosphere. There’s always something to do or a sporting team to cheer on.
While I was ready to don the crimson and cream on Friday night, I was told that football – that’s NFL to the Aussies – is played from the spring to winter each year – darn it!

If you said you wanted to walk through any of the universities in Australia, most people would be confused why. Modern buildings, modern amenities, maybe one or two grand sandstone buildings and some campus-style food, but not much else. The other issue? Most Australian universities are smack bang in the middle of suburbia.

Indiana University is a little different.

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Following the red-brick path that begins at Indiana University’s main entrance, The Sample Gates, and winds its way through the immense grounds, you’ll wander past manicured gardens – red and white flowers blooming from spring –  and see a stunning mix of classical architecture which makes up much of the campus.

Nearly every building at IU incorporates locally quarried Indiana Limestone into its design; the same rock that built The Empire State Building, The Pentagon, and even parts of the facade of the new Yankee Stadium! The mash of architectural styles since the 1890’s, when the first two buildings were constructed on campus, just adds to the fairytale feeling.

Due to the significance of the architecture on the grounds, nine of the campus’ buildings have been included in a national historical district known as The Old Crescent, including the Student Service building (below) built-in a Collegiate Gothic style and the Richardsonian Romanesque style Maxwell Hall (far below).

Having hand cut and carved the materials, the buildings exteriors are decorated with ornate carvings, as well as a few quirky secrets for passersby to uncover for themselves.

Student Service Building - Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Maxwell Hall - Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Carved into the facades or hidden around corners, there are 100 years of skilled masonry, inscriptions, and symbols waiting to be discovered.

To the keen eye, you can find the buildings adorned with books, coiled serpents, and students snoozing while studying. There are chemical compounds, DNA codes, and medical symbols atop building entryways; Quotes by great philosophers adorning seating areas and oh so many owls, the symbol of knowledge and wisdom.

Only one building in the campus features limestone carvings inside. Bryan Hall’s foyer is adorned with carved shields representing each of the schools within the university.

Indiana limestone – also known as Bedford limestone – is regarded as some of the highest quality quarried in the United States. If you are interested in learning more about limestone, or want to uncover the secrets of Indiana University, I highly recommend trying to take a tour with limestone geologist Brian Keith, available during Limestone Month each June.
Alongside expert insight, Brian’s two-hour campus walks will teach you the myths and stories of IU and plenty of inscriptions, symbols and carvings which many people wouldn’t see at first glance from a man who has studied and worked in the field for many years.

The Indiana Geological Society (IGS) also has a limestone campus tour map if you prefer to take the self-guided option or are short on time.

Even the students practice their inscribing skills, albeit on a much softer material than limestone. If you pass through one of the archways you might come across a tiny courtyard with a single tree with the initials of college sweethearts carved into the trunk. Okay, so maybe this one isn’t unique to IU.

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Question critically, think logically, communicate clearly, act creatively

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

“Veritas Filia Temporis” – “Truth is the daughter of time”

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

The nature of the body is the beginning of medical science – Hippocrates

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus


While you wander through campus, there are other places well worth spending some time.

The Kinsey Institute, named after Dr. Alfred Kinsey, one of the world’s foremost experts on the study of human sexual behaviour, has a significant collection of art, artefacts and photographs documenting human sexuality and exploration from around the world and tours can be taken daily.

The Indiana University Art Museum has a collection of over 43,500 objects created through 40 centuries, including pieces by Pablo Picasso and influential American artist Jackson Pollock. The museum is free and open to the public Tuesdays through Sunday and offers a free weekly tour to the public.

But there was one spot I lingered a little longer. The Lilly Library was named after Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., owner of one of Indiana’s biggest companies, Lilly Pharmaceuticals, when he donated his personal collection of 20,000 books and 17,000 manuscripts, as well as oil paintings and prints, to Indiana University in the 1950’s. Today, the Lilly Library contains more than 400,000 rare books, 6.5 million manuscripts and 100,000 pieces of sheet music, and an Oscar.

Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus

Presented to John Ford for Best Direction of “How Green was my Valley” in 1941, the Oscar, one of many won by Ford, is now in the libraries collection. You can even pick it up and take photos with it, providing you agree to the strict white glove policy. In fact, many of the items in the collection can be touched and read.
Two of my favourite pieces were “The Infant’s Library”, created in the early 1800’s as an experiment in creating books for children, and one of the first hand drawn atlases.

Among its collection, the Lilley Library has more than 60,000 comic books and graphic novels. Its most rare are first appearances of many Marvel superheroes, including Spiderman, Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. Then there are all of the original manuscripts for Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, and a collection of mechanical puzzles, similar to Rubix Cubes as they have to be manipulated in a certain way to reach the goal.

One of the more interesting collections is a set of photos and letters from Ernie Pyle (below). An Indiana-born, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, who served in the United States Navy Reserve during World War I; Ernie Pyle was on the front lines of war during World War II. First from the home front, and later from the European and Pacific theatres. His syndicated column ran in more than 300 newspapers across America until he was killed by enemy fire during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.
The letters he wrote shows his quick wit and tells fascinating encounters from his time out in the field. Of course, in the letters to his wife, things were toned down and told more of the life on the front lines, while the letters to his close friend tell of the narrow escapes and harsh conditions of war time, but jovially addressed to “Mr Shitface”.

The Lilley Library frequently hosts special events which give students, faculty and visitors the opportunity to explore the diversity of the libraries catalogue.



Indiana University - Bloomington, Campus


All the walking, talking and exploring will leave you hungry. Located conveniently opposite campus, Mother Bear’s Pizza has been voted the best pizza in Bloomington for 10 years straight. Over the years, it’s been awarded “Best Pizza in Indiana” by USA Today and People Magazine selected it as “one of America’s top nine pizzas” – basically, you need to try this pizza!

The well-worn wooden booths, all graffitied by students in pen and Sharpie, and the red and white decor is warm and inviting. I could imagine spending a night hanging out with friends, eating great pizza and drinking beers both in summer and the cold winters. A family business opened in 1973, you’ll often find the owners, especially Ray, walking around making sure everyone is enjoying their slice and having a good time. He chuckled when I asked if he’d consider delivering to Melbourne.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Midwest. I thought I’d like it, maybe even want to visit again. I didn’t think I’d love it, and I sure didn’t think I’d find America’s most beautiful University campus.

Bloomington changed all of that.


Now it’s over to you:

What university do you think has the most beautiful campus?

Do you prefer small towns or big cities?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Essential Info:

Indiana University
107 S Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, Indiana

Website: www.indiana.edu

Mother Bear’s Pizza
1428 E 3rd Street
Bloomington, Indiana

Website: www.motherbearspizza.com

How to get to Bloomington:

The Indianapolis International Airport is the nearest major airport. Indianapolis Airport (IND) is serviced by most major airports across the USA and some international destinations. You can plan your journey to Indianapolis here.

When you arrive in Indy, the easiest way to get to Bloomington is by shuttle. I used Go Express Travel which cost me $18 online ($20 if you purchase it at the airport) and runs every two hours.

While in Bloomington, I stayed at the Courtyard Marriott which offered comfortable, basic facilities close to downtown Bloomington and a 10 minute walk away from Indiana University.
For a unique experience, you can stay on-campus at the upscale Indiana Memorial Union – Biddle Hotel, just minutes from all downtown Bloomington has to offer.

You can find more hotels in Bloomington here.

If you wanted to include Bloomington as part of a longer trip, you could easily pair the city with other Midwest destinations: check out the fast cars and natural beauty in Indianapolis or take a road trip along Arts Road 46 which connect Columbus, Brown County and Bloomington – three distinct art communities in Southern Indiana.

Louisville, Kentucky is a two-hour drive away and Cincinnati, Ohio is only two and a half drive away.

Due to the location of Bloomington, as well as the road trip opportunities, it may be easier to rent a car, however, once you are in Bloomington, it’s easy to walk around or take a taxi.

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Read more about Indiana:

A Quick Guide to Bloomington, Indiana

Tasting Truly American Wine at Oliver Winery & Vineyard

A Piece of Tibet in America’s Midwest

Driving Southern Indiana’s ArtsRoad 46

A Quick Guide to Columbus, Indiana

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Is Indiana University the most beautiful university in America? I sure thing so! From the stories hidden in the classic limestone architecture to the secrets in its buildings, come explore of this incredible campus. | #VisitBtown #Bloomington #Indiana #USA

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I was in Bloomington for TMS Showcase with Visit Bloomington.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

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  • Reply
    June 21, 2016 at 8:44 am

    Fun story about that “love tree” – in the original land grant for the university, there was a stipulation that certain trees couldn’t be cut down because they had been carved with the names of family members and their sweethearts. When they went to expand the Chemistry building, they realized one of those trees was there–so they adjusted the plans to leave that quiet courtyard!

    • Reply
      Raghav Kapur
      June 24, 2016 at 4:35 am

      I’m gonna join IU for my undergrad in less than 2 months. So excited 😀

  • Reply
    Jean Rhoads
    June 21, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    I too love Indiana University as well as Bloomington, Indiana. I have an MS from IU, and I worked at IU for 29 years. My husband and I have lived in Bloomington since 1972, and there is no other place we would rather be. The Jacobs School of Music is one of IU’s biggest draws. In my mind IU has one of the most beautiful college campuses anywhere.

  • Reply
    Erin Erdmann
    June 22, 2016 at 1:16 am

    Nicole, you beautifully articulated the love hundreds of thousands of people have for Indiana University and Bloomington. It was our pleasure to host you last summer for Travel Media Showcase. You are welcome back anytime!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 2:02 am

    I know there’s so much to cover, but I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Jacobs School of Music. We’re consistently ranked right around Julliard as one of the most prestigious music programs in the country, and most of the world-class classical and jazz student performances are free to attend! Definitely something to add to your to-do list if you ever revisit 🙂

  • Reply
    A Quick Guide to Bloomington, Indiana - Bitten by the Travel Bug
    June 22, 2016 at 11:06 am

    […] town. Crimson and cream or signs of Hoosier pride will be seen year round but being home to Indiana University just adds to the diversity of the […]

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    Well done you for mentioning the Lilly Library! As a Art History graduate the Lilly Library was home to many of my manuscripts classes. It always felt like a little hidden gem on campus and the hours spent combing 16th century manuscripts for my thesis are something I will treasure forever. So happy you enjoyed the midwest and our lovely school!

  • Reply
    June 22, 2016 at 10:21 pm

    Nicole covered it wonderfully, there is so much more to explore as Indiana University heads into it’s third Century as a major academic institution.

  • Reply
    Btown native
    June 23, 2016 at 12:23 am

    Lovely piece about a wonderful university. One correction – the Student Building is just that – not Student Services (and never was). I believe this was the original “student union” before the IMU and where the name comes from

  • Reply
    Linda Segall
    June 23, 2016 at 12:44 am

    I am an IU alumna, having graduated in 1967. I regret that I have not been in many of the buildings cited in this article! But, I have been on many college campuses, including University of Texas, which is also very beautiful. I would give UT a runner-up to IU, which I believe IS the most beautiful college campus in the United States.

    • Reply
      Texas Ex & Hoosier Mom
      June 25, 2019 at 3:19 am

      I agree that my alma mater, UT Austin, is also a beautiful campus and is a very close runner up. My oldest son just graduated from IU. When he had to decide where he wanted to go to college, the beauty of IU’s campus was a huge draw (besides the business and music schools). When we were discussing where he should go– to IU or stay in California and go to a top UC– he said to me, “You have to admit this campus is prettier than UT’s?” I had to admit that it was but not by much! My youngest is a Longhorn now, so I get back to UT more now than ever. And, I still think IU is more a little more beautiful than UT… but not by much!

  • Reply
    June 23, 2016 at 4:23 am

    You haven’t been to Notre Dame.

    • Reply
      June 24, 2016 at 6:03 am

      South bend/ND – not even in the same ball park in this context. Amazing school. Nice campus. But not close.

      • Reply
        IU alumni
        June 30, 2017 at 10:08 pm

        I couldn’t agree more. My hometown is South Bend, IN (Notre Dame). I am an Indiana University graduate and there is absolutely no comparison there to Bloomington. This article was very well written! I’m so glad that someone finally covered our campus and depicted it so beautifully!

    • Reply
      Hoosier Gal
      June 25, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      I have been to Notre Dame. It has history and is pleasant to visit, but is not even close to Indiana University’s Bloomington Campus.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Sit down.

    • Reply
      June 28, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Agreed. As an alum of both schools, I am grateful to have been able to walk both campuses. IU is gorgeous and has the better location. It’s proximity to downtown is spectacular. That said, Notre Dame is an iconic campus. Touchdown Jesus, 1st down Moses, the Grotto, the Stadium are all gorgeous buildings. It has a gorgeous modern gothic architecture and an ivy league feel virtually everywhere you go. IU is beautiful in many parts put not as consistent as Notre Dame’s campus grounds.

      • Reply
        July 30, 2016 at 12:23 am

        I have spent time on Notre Dames campus and I’m an IU grad. Sorry but it’s not even close Notre Dame has great tradition but as a top campus many are more beautiful!

    • Reply
      June 30, 2016 at 12:03 am

      As I live in South Bend and often run on the Notre Dame campus, I would disagree. The lakes and the grotto are lovely but nothing like Indiana University.

    • Reply
      June 24, 2017 at 11:27 pm

      I have been to both and I agree with Greg. While both campuses are wonderful, I think Notre Dame’s is more beautiful. It’s smaller, for sure, but that doesn’t take away from it. As for proximity to downtown, I’ve walked from my dorm room to some of my favorite riverside restaurants.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Nicole, thank you for such a loving ode to my hometown of Bloomington and my alma mater, IU. You discovered and enjoyed many of the things that makes Bloomington such a wonderful and charming town. And your pictures are fabulous!

  • Reply
    Theresa L King
    June 23, 2016 at 5:16 am

    Thank you so much for this blog post. IU Bloomington truly is the most beautiful campus (I hope you noticed, also, the abundant woodlands that contribute greatly to that – it’s probably unusual to have so much woodland on a campus.) This is wonderfully written and I love the photos. I and my husband are IU (Bloomington) graduates, and now our daughter and son-in-law live in Bloomington and attend IU. Bloomington is a great town – you described that well, too. I’d never heard of the limestone tour and now I am intrigued and want to go on it. 🙂

  • Reply
    Connie Romine
    June 23, 2016 at 7:33 am

    I live in Bloomington,and love being here. I graduated two from IU and my mother retired from IU. But if you ever want to visit a small but equally as beautiful campus,travel to Hanover ,IN. Hanover University is one of Indianas oldest private colleges. My youngest attends there,and it is one of the prettiest campuses I have ever seen. Actually, Indiana has some of the most beautiful campuses in the country! Notre Dame is wonderful too!

  • Reply
    Sharon Jenkins
    June 23, 2016 at 8:56 am

    You need to check out Florida State University. It’s not about one building but the entire campus.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2016 at 9:58 am

    IU is incredible in beauty and far surpasses any college campus. I have seen over 50. I’m surprised the writer didnt include pics of the running streams and bridges students get to take to get to class or Dunn meadow or the largest student union.
    The place is gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Stacy Gruen
    June 23, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Check out Michigan State University!

  • Reply
    Bob LeMay, '80
    June 23, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Having graduated from IU in 1980, one of the most significant decisions I thought they made about campus was when they later tore down the old stadium — right on the edge of the main campus, next to the library — and built the arboretum!

    Also, having graduated SO long ago, I am always amused at the prominence given the Sample Gates, which didn’t exist back then.

    • Reply
      Barbara Bennett Haunton
      June 28, 2016 at 12:45 am

      Yes re the gate. And the gate photos are generally way too ubiquitous. There should be more photos of the Memorial Union, etc. The interior is handcrafted and lovely too.

      The dormitories are for the most part far more gracious and attractive than many other state and private universities. No comparison. I was sorry to hear the gothic women’s quad (or at least part of it) is no longer part of the dormitory system.

    • Reply
      J. Taylor
      August 9, 2021 at 11:05 am

      Completely agree about the Sample Gates. i got my MFA in ’92 and they hadn’t been built yet. I guess its a testament to how well they fit with the architectural style that they are assumed to have been there for a huge chunk of IU’s history.

  • Reply
    Toni Gould
    June 24, 2016 at 1:52 am

    Respectfully, I think Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan has the most beautiful campus in the Midwest. Lovely in every season – and the botanical garden is wonderful bonus.

    • Reply
      Dan Stanton
      June 24, 2016 at 8:21 am

      All of the Big ten Universities have beautiful campuses. But IU Bloomington is the most beautiful in the country. Both spring and fall. The limestone is quarry locally in southern Indiana.

      • Reply
        Peter Alexander
        August 9, 2021 at 12:05 pm

        Well . . . there is Purdue. As an IU grad., I may be prejudiced, but that is just not a beautiful campus. Great school, flat, flat, flat campus. Illinois is only slightly better.

    • Reply
      Kathryn H Peltier
      June 24, 2017 at 12:43 am

      I would agree, Toni, and I’m a U-M grad!

  • Reply
    Hoosier Mama
    June 24, 2016 at 2:03 am

    All three of my children went to IU, and I’ve always loved the campus. Now that they’re all graduated I have no excuse to indulge in Mother Bear’s pizza. Miss it but not enough to travel 3.5 hours to eat it. Very nicely written piece.

    • Reply
      July 21, 2016 at 11:45 am

      Well that’s why you ought to convince at least one of them to take you down for Homecoming this fall! Make a weekend out of it 🙂

  • Reply
    Brad Tierney
    June 24, 2016 at 2:46 am

    Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa is consistently in the top rankings of Most Beautiful Campuses in America. From Lake LaVerne to the Campanile, Architecture and landscaping and greenery…Truly a treasure.

  • Reply
    Mike quear
    June 24, 2016 at 7:33 am

    Northwestern university – on the shore of lake Michigan with chicago glittering in the distance

    Cornell university in New York’s finger lakes region crisscrossed by gorges

    Univ. Of colorado for its cohesion of building styles and pressed up against the flatirons

  • Reply
    Dee Ahonen
    June 24, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Thank you for writing about B-town, our daughter’s alma mater as well as her husband’s. We loved looking at Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” at Ian Fleming’s original manuscript & maps from the middle ages during two special visits to the Lily Library. We’d reserved our choices in advance but also enjoyed items the staff chose for us to see like Lincoln’s plaster hands.

  • Reply
    Adam Donbie
    June 24, 2016 at 11:51 am

    I’ve been to Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa State and none of them come close to what IU or Bloomington has. The town has more charm in it than any other college campus I’ve been to.

  • Reply
    Annette Magjuka
    June 24, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    IU is beautiful, but I think my alma mater, University of Notre Dame, is even a little bit more beautiful.

  • Reply
    Herb Melton
    June 25, 2016 at 1:27 am

    As a graduate of ND, I am quite partial to it, but have always said the IU campus around the IMU is the most beautiful, anywhere. I do think Iowa State is lovely, but not in the same league. Apparently, I never saw the beautiful part of MSU.

  • Reply
    Mary Lou
    June 25, 2016 at 3:14 am

    I’ve lived in BL all my life; an alum with IU and have worked with IU for 29 years. I’ve had the privilege to see other universities up close and personal in my 29 years and can’t remember any that have the appeal of IUB – the flowers and landscaping are the best, the buildings compliment each other. It provides the community with the best diversity in restaurants, shopping, the beautiful B-Line trail in the middle of town, a county capital with a beautiful square and courthouse. Indiana University IS the most beautiful campus, and Bloomington is warm and inviting!

  • Reply
    Liz Schlemmer
    June 25, 2016 at 10:07 am

    I’m with Adam–I’ve been to a lot of campuses considered the “most beautiful” including Notre Dame, Dartmouth and now attending UNC Chapel Hill. People told me over and over how much I’d love Chapel Hill and its campus–and I think it’s more than just my Hoosier pride–but neither UNC nor any of these places beat IU and its relationship with Bloomington … and I’ve found everyone who got their bachelor’s at IU and went on to other schools for post-grad agree. Is it drunken nostalgia bias? Or a well-cared for, organically formed community with high quality crafted architecture and people who love to live and walk and work downtown right at the gates of the university?

    • Reply
      June 28, 2016 at 1:55 am

      I agree Liz! My best decision was to attend IU and be able to walk thru the beautiful campus each day!

  • Reply
    David Polansky
    June 25, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Did you/will you get to make the Farmers Market? We have a spectacular market here, and it would be a shame to miss it.

  • Reply
    Thomas Cooper
    June 25, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    The University of Kansas campus in Lawrence is equally beautiful but I would have to say that IU’s Bloomington campus is rich in beauty and a notch above.

  • Reply
    Daniel D. Maurer
    June 26, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Actually, I believe there are many campuses that are quite lovely throughout the nation. St. Catherine University in Saint Paul, Minnesota (in our neighborhood) is quite fabulous as well. These photos are simply amazing though, and I would take the time to stop in Bloomington, if only to grab some pizza and have it underneath a tree on this campus. Thank you! – DDM

  • Reply
    Mary Conwell
    June 27, 2016 at 2:43 am

    This article captures the essence of Indiana University and makes me want to pay a visit in the near future to my beloved alma mater. Definitely the happiest time of my life was spent there as an undergraduate, but only years later did I fully realize how stunningly beautiful Indiana University is. Definitely the most beautiful campus in the United States. I would give honorable mention to Ole Miss and Oxford, Mississippi, which ooze Southern charm and history.

  • Reply
    Lisa Chaney
    June 27, 2016 at 6:08 am

    I used to be a College Textbook Sales Representitive. I traveled to many Universities. My vote is for IU, too.

  • Reply
    Another Hoosier Mama
    June 27, 2016 at 10:26 pm

    As a mom of two who went to IU, I completely agree…my kids went to awesome schools with beautiful campuses including Ohio University, University of Michigan and University of Washington…all wonderful! Two even met their spouses while at IU…an extra bonus!

    • Reply
      Anne Schwab Cannon
      June 24, 2017 at 2:16 am

      Too funny “Another Hoosier Mama”, as I am an IU alum and both my boys go to Ohio U (darn IU was $45K to attend as an Ohio resident:(…….I have always said that OU is a mini version of IU. Athens is a quaint town full of hippies and nature lovers, Hocking Hills is like going to Brown County and the buildings are beautiful, mature trees everywhere and the charm is there.

  • Reply
    June 27, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Gosh, I love Bloomington. I think there is nothing more special than walking through campus early in the morning near the observatory on the way to the farmer’s market. So special.

  • Reply
    Tammy Gewehr
    June 28, 2016 at 2:31 am

    Have you seen the University of New Hampshire? Gorgeous campus with beautiful New England brick buildings and woods in the middle of campus.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2016 at 2:33 am

    This article = so much nostalgia. From August 2005 to August 2010 I called Bloomington home. It is hard to look through all these pictures and not get a bit emotional. While I now live very far away from Bloomington I keep up with everything IU-related as best I can. Charlottesville, VA and Athens, GA are the only two college towns in America that can hold a candle to Bloomington. Jagjaguwar is one of the best record labels in the world and it is based right in B-Town. If you get a chance, try to catch a show at The Bishop as they book bands that people in Indianapolis would kill to see play in the state’s capital. My earliest memories of IU are of bowling in the Memorial Union as a little kid on a visit with my parents. My most recent memory is of IU and Notre Dame playing a fiercely competitive soccer game late last summer. At some point I hope to work at IU. In the meantime I will live vicariously through posts like these. Thanks!

    • Reply
      June 30, 2016 at 9:55 am

      BTW, the owner of The Bishop also does Airbnb. I stayed with him and he is a fantastic person

  • Reply
    Angela Haney
    June 28, 2016 at 2:41 am

    I have seen every university campus listed in the comments and while many are very pretty, none come close to IU. It will always have a piece of my heart.

  • Reply
    Mark W.
    June 28, 2016 at 2:51 am

    I’ve been to a lot of Universities in my 63 years & have 2 degrees from IU. IU/Bloomington is gorgeous & very much worth a visit, or to pursue a degree, or to live & enjoy 24/7/366!
    I am not going to get into comparing campuses, but as an American I am very proud that we have so many great schools for higher education & beautiful campuses to brag about! GO IU, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT!

  • Reply
    June 28, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I was born in Iowa City, home of University of Iowa (another beautiful college), raised in Bloomington (recent Grad from IU) and am now pursuing my graduate degree in Madison (another beautiful Big Ten school).

    But Btown is tops. So blessed to call it my home.

  • Reply
    Ransom of Thulcandra
    June 28, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    I have visited a great many campuses over the 40 years since I graduated from Indiana University. Having spent 25 of those years in management consulting, I traveled to every corner of America. I have always made it a point to visit as many great campuses as possible.

    As far as beauty goes, I put America’s colleges and universities into two groups: (a) state universities and (b) private universities and colleges. Those in the first category tend to be vastly larger than those in the second. The size of the geographic footprint makes it far more difficult for a state university to be ubiquitously beautiful–advantage private colleges. Moreover, the size of financial endowment (from alumnae) tends to be vastly larger at private institutions–again, advantage private schools.

    In the private university and colleges category I see Princeton as the clear winner. There are many gorgeous campuses in this category, including Davidson, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame. But Princeton is, IMHO, tops, leaving all other Ivies (with the exception of Cornell) in the dust.

    In the state university category, Indiana University is the clear winner. I am sorry, University of Texas, Michigan State and Florida State aficionados, your alma maters are fine academic institutions, but no “lookers.” While the Universities of Wisconsin, Virginia, Washington and Mississippi are strong aesthetic performers, the only other state universities that warrant such lofty status as IU holds are the University of North Caolina at Chapel Hill and William and Mary.

    But IU and Princeton are the best.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    That’s it….quitting my job and moving back to Bloomington. I don’t think my undergrad son will appreciate this but hey, who’s paying anyway? Darnit Nicole…this is all your fault! 🙂

    • Reply
      June 24, 2017 at 2:22 am

      You would be surprised how many parents of students did just that! Mine did.

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    June 29, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I love IU and Bloomington…it is beautiful…I have a daughter that goes to school there and will have a son also that will attend IU…my retirement home will be there also…

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    June 29, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    I will never forget IU and its campus. Is astonishing both in winter and summer. Best time of my life.

    Thank you for this article 🙂

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    June 30, 2016 at 12:22 am

    I understand your obligation to mention wherever you were taken for lunch on the fam tour. But within context how could you not mention Nick’s English Hut or Ye Olde Regulator? Also, where did you get the notion that locals refer to Bloomington as B-town? Bedford and Beanblossom are nearby.

    • Reply
      June 30, 2016 at 1:44 am

      Hi Lynne,

      In this post, I was keeping with what I experience while on campus at Indiana University. The first time I took the limestone tour, saw the Lilly Library and ate at Mother Bear’s. I did go back though! I visited admissions, wandered campus (twice!) to retake photos, took a peek inside the IU Art Museum and stopped by the Kinsey Institute. I will be back though!

      One of the people I met – while eating my way around town – was a lovely lass called Jordan. She seconded the recommendation of Mother Bear’s and told me that it’s a student favourite because of how close it is to the University. Also, it was just plain delicious!

      I have another post, A Quick Guide to Bloomington, where I mention Nick’s English Hut but I didn’t come across Ye Olde Regulator!
      All of these places I mentioned in the second piece I ate and drank at on my own dime, the exception being Mother Bears (which I did order a second pizza for takeaway before I headed back to Indianapolis) and Oliver’s Winery, where the CVB provided a spread from many local restaurants. Ironically, I didn’t eat anything there as I was busy wandering the grounds and doing a tasting with Kim C. (he’s a rockstar of stories!) The other lunch was at the conference centre.
      There was also an event at FARMbloomington which I wish I attended but, since I was short on time in Bloomington, chose to spend with some friends and wandering the city to take photos, eat and walk the B-Line. 🙂

      I hope this clears up any misunderstanding and tells you why Nick’s English Hut or Ye Olde Regulator were not mentioned in this particular piece.

      • Reply
        June 30, 2016 at 2:43 am

        Nicole, I loved your review. Nick’s is a very “historical” location, due to its longevity. Many alumni have a “Nick’s” memory. There is a great YouTube series about the place, if your are interested. Here is a link to Part 1:

        • Reply
          June 30, 2016 at 3:03 am

          Thanks, Susan! Will be watching that YouTube video once I finish responding to you.

          I’ve heard about Nick’s and know some people who went there (and raved about it)! Will definitely have to stop by next time 😉

      • Reply
        Barbara Bennett Haunton
        June 30, 2016 at 8:33 am

        Hmmm. Jordan–the same as the river that runs thru the campus. Could it be her public name? Or maybe her parents loved IU.

        I enjoy your site.

    • Reply
      June 30, 2016 at 2:39 am

      I’m a ‘local’ and am very familiar with the term “B-town”. Ye Olde Regulator no longer exists (at least not as a place open for business). Nick’s has the the old Regulator signs hanging on it’s upstairs walls (with other memorabilia).

    • Reply
      June 24, 2017 at 2:23 am

      Back in the day, we called it Blooming Gulch or just the Gulch.

    • Reply
      August 23, 2021 at 2:16 am

      I think she didn’t mentioned Ye Olde Regulator because it has been Kilroy’s Sports Bar for the last (roughly) 20 or so years. Before that I remember it being called the Stardust. I think it may have been a few other things since it closed in the late 70’s/early 80’s.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2016 at 9:58 am

    Wow, did I love this article. There are many beautiful campuses but none as overall nice as Bloomington. A lot of folks mentioned many of the treats. Little 500 is an incredible spectacle. I have to also mention that they are also home what was recently voted the top soccer school in the country. Just one more plus.

  • Reply
    Charlotte Deeter
    July 6, 2016 at 11:32 am

    No pics of the beautiful woods in the middle of campus? The well house by the woods? The beautiful limestone chapel on the edge of the woods? The very old paths which meander through the woods? This is the most beautiful part of the most beautiful campus.

  • Reply
    Raymond Beaty
    July 21, 2016 at 7:12 am

    Looks like the author hasn’t been to Ohio University and its beautiful campus in Athens, Ohio…the first
    university (1804) in the Northwest Territory.

    • Reply
      Anne Schwab Cannon
      June 24, 2017 at 2:19 am

      read my reply to another Hoosier mama above! I vote OU a close second!

  • Reply
    J.D. Hayes
    July 27, 2016 at 3:55 am

    Next time you’re in town, travel 20 minutes south to Bedford (where Bedford stone comes from) and take the underground quarry tour at Elliott Stone. It’s a family owned business that still thrives. Tours are given buy the owner, Judy Elliott.

  • Reply
    Nancy Anne
    June 23, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Very, very good article about IU! And there’s so much to do IN town, as well. While here, be sure to take a tour of the Wylie house, IU’s first president, built in 1934 (owned by IU). Bloomington is beautiful and entertaining. Everyone who visits us wants to move here.

  • Reply
    June 23, 2017 at 10:24 am

    Hope College in Holland, Michigan is pretty beautiful!

  • Reply
    June 24, 2017 at 2:25 am

    An entire article with no mention of basketball?!! That’s almost a crime in Bloomington.

  • Reply
    Jane Phillips
    June 24, 2017 at 3:26 am

    Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Beautiful green spaces, impressive buildings, lovely town. It is truly a gorgeous place to be.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Yes IU is the best

  • Reply
    Tom Tuohy
    June 24, 2017 at 6:39 am

    Beautiful no questions. However, there are many that compete or surpass IU. Virginia being one, Northwestern, the University of Chicago< Stanford being a few more.

  • Reply
    June 24, 2017 at 10:19 am

    As an IU graduate who now lives in Melbourne, happy to see B-town has left such a great impression on you. The town and campus will always hold a special place in my heart. I even got married on campus and make a effort to go back whenever I’m in the midwest. Your post and pictures brought back some great memories!

  • Reply
    Geoff Heisey
    June 24, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Went to IU for 7 years. 4 for college and 3 for law school. Was in Bloomington for 9 years. It is one of my favorite places on earth.

    • Reply
      June 26, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      You are a lucky man Geoff! Hope you can make a trip back to Bloomington soon 🙂

  • Reply
    June 25, 2017 at 8:02 am

    Williams, Miami University in Oxford Ohio! Ohio University, Stanford, Dartmouth all surpass IU! IU is beautiful, but there are so many beautiful places! This is a very one sided article!

  • Reply
    R. Jordan
    June 25, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    I have been to IU and agree that it is a gorgeous campus, but most beautiful in the US? I do think you missed it on that. Always ranked as the #1 or #2 most beautiful campuses in the nation are Miami University (Oxford, OH) and Cornell in New York.

    • Reply
      June 26, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Thanks for the recommendations! I will have to make a trip out to Cornell and Miami University on my return visit to the US 🙂

    • Reply
      Ransom Thulcandra
      July 1, 2017 at 8:26 pm

      R. Jordan, I commend your loyalty to Miami of Ohio, but contest your assessment. I have been following this topic for decades and have never once seen even one poll that listed Miami as #1 or #2, let alone all of them, as you suggest. Cornell is very nice, but no Princeton.

      My wife is a proud Miami of Ohio graduate. For the first 22 years of our marriage we frequently conducted the “most beautiful campus” debate. Then, 8 years ago, she saw the Indiana University campus when our daughter was considering the renowned Jacobs School of Music. As I led the walking tour, she became very quiet and wide-eyed, and then announced: “OK, you win.” Now she hints at wanting to live in Bloomington. By the way, our daughter selected a different music school for undergrad, but did her Masters at IU and is now pursuing her doctoral studies. Lucky me, I get to return to see her perform on the magnificent MAC opera stage.

  • Reply
    r s
    June 8, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    IU looks like a university where a person can go and LEARN – not get dragged into a bunch of ’causes’ and ‘groups’ and ‘activism’. I’ll bet you could also invite almost anyone to speak there and the event would be orderly and calm. Anyone who hasn’t seen ‘Breaking Away’ ought to check out that movie, it’s great and provides a real feeling for the Bloomington area.

  • Reply
    Case Study: #TMSbloomington - Bitten by the Travel Bug
    March 18, 2019 at 1:10 am

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    • Reply
      June 28, 2019 at 4:47 am

      I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the little chapel where a lot of students come back to be married and the peaceful small cemetery right on campus among the trees.

  • Reply
    Texas Ex & Hoosier Mom
    June 25, 2019 at 3:41 am

    Great article that captured the essence of IU and Bloomington! My son just graduated from the business school and minored in violin performance and was glad to call Bloomington his home for four years. We all appreciated IU’s having that kind of diversity in terms of subjects/courses to study. I think it’s a testament to IU that its degree programs are so varied and outstanding. Indiana residents should be proud of the great university they built!

    Having visited the campus numerous times, I appreciate how some of the new buildings blend in with the old buildings, architecturally speaking, as you mention. Buildings such as Hodge Hall (the somewhat “new” undergrad biz school) and the Hutton Honors College fit right in. Nevertheless, the old buildings, built with that beautiful Indiana limestone, are some of the most beautiful I have seen. Speaking of Indiana limestone, I believe the University of Texas’ tower is made of Indiana limestone, too.

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos, too!

  • Reply
    June 25, 2019 at 8:24 am

    Great post! I live in Bloomington and went to school at IU, you really captured a lot of things that I love about this place. Although, I was a little surprised that you didn’t mention Lilly Library’s most prized possession- a Gutenberg bible (one of the first bibles ever printed). Anyway, I found this post because someone reposted on Facebook, and it’s lurking around Bloomington pages as we speak! (: Thanks for the appreciation, I’m glad you saw the beauty in this little town.

  • Reply
    June 26, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Amherst College is nice….

  • Reply
    June 26, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    The next time you visit the Lilly, ask to see the vault. You think what’s out for the viewing public is awesome?! Trust me on this. The worst that can happen is they say no

  • Reply
    June 28, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Definitely one of the most beautiful, even if I am a prejudiced alum! It was lovely in the 60’s & 70’s, and it’s only gotten better. Although many buildings have appeared since I was resident there, they have managed to keep the natural surroundings as much as possible. I go back as often as I can!

  • Reply
    (Interpret This!) Owls On Campus!? – – Interpret This!
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  • Reply
    Tom Hensley
    August 10, 2021 at 6:34 am

    I grew up in that town, and the author does a pretty good job of describing it, at least for a Aussie. Kind of like me writing a remembrance of the Blue Mountains or the finest restaurant in Palm Cove. The bit about the pizza place, for example, seems to be the work of a local publicist, dutifully flogging a just-okay establishment. Out-of-towners, let alone out-of-countriers, are easy prey for a local flack. She should do a little more research before judging local food. Otherwise, good job.

    • Reply
      August 13, 2021 at 7:18 am

      Hey Tom,
      Thanks for your feedback on my piece.

      I went to a few pizza places during my time in Bloomington (and the surrounding area) but Mother Bears was by far my fave. Definitely not a publicist decision! The lass who worked at the hotel I stayed at also recommended it as an IU fave.

      If you have another place I should try on my next visit, please let me know! Always down for some good pizza 🙂

    • Reply
      Susan A White
      August 13, 2021 at 10:02 am

      I think most locals would answer ‘Mother Bears’ when asked where is the best pizza? I know I would. Mother Bears is iconic and the pizza is so good. Are you sure you are from our lovely town?

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