One of my very best friends moved to Bloomington, Indiana a little over a month ago. As young professionals, we lived together a year ago in La Crosse as she was finishing her Master’s Degree and I was working full-time as a journalist. She recently landed a position at the University of Indiana as a counselor and my friend Taylor and I (who I lived with all summer) figured we should visit for an extended weekend before the cold weather and dreadful driving conditions set in.
Upon getting into town on Friday night (a couple weeks ago) after an eight hour drive from La Crosse we went to Cardinal Spirits, a small distillery for a drink before enjoying a late dinner at Uptown Cafe on Kirkwood Street. First off I can’t tell you how delicious and refreshing our drinks were. If you’re ever in Bloomington I’d highly recommend giving them a try! They make all their own syrups, cut fresh garnishes daily, and have an great overall vibe. Although we didn’t eat while we were there, I’ve read some pretty fantastic reviews about heir food selection; including breakfast options!
Naturally, I came back to Wisconsin with a bottle of coffee liquor because let’s face it, I have a blatant coffee addiction. It’s called Songbird and I shared the photo below so you can see what it looks like (just trust my tastebuds). Although you can’t order any of their delicious spirits online, you can most certainly browse and get an idea of what you may want to try when you do visit!After we finished our drinks we went to Uptown Cafe for a late dinner and WOW. It’s located on East Kirkman Ave and it’s absolutely delicious! I had Cajun flavored, deep fried shrimp with mashed potatoes and sour cream and I was in heaven. It was the perfect serving size too, which didn’t leave me overly stuffed with enough room to enjoy one of my favorite desserts: Creme Brûlée. [SEE THEIR MENU HERE]Saturday a part of my soul slipped away when I placed an IU sticker on my face, but let’s be honest…it was all for the cause. Indiana was playing Michigan that day for homecoming, so luckily I wasn’t totally rooting against my beloved Badgers AND an IU upset over Michigan would have only helped our rankings; unfortunately that didn’t happen. Don’t worry friends, if they would’ve been playing Wisconsin I 100 percent would’ve had Bucky on my face and red and white clothing on. I was also reunited with one of my favorite pups, Benjamin — who is arguably one of the sweetest and most well-behaved dogs I’ve ever known. Plus, he’s a killer running partner! He used to knock out 7 to 8 miles easily with me in Downtown La Crosse.After breakfast and mimosas it was time to Uber downtown for pre-game shenanigans. Now growing up in Wisconsin Rapids, I went to my first Badger Basketball in 5th grade and my first football game at Camp Randall early on in high school. I knew from a young age that the energy, history, and passion that consumes Madison on game day is truly unmatched; however, the older I get, the stronger that realization becomes. Taylor, Liv, and I were all experiencing Hoosier game day for the first time and were shocked at the number of people who didn’t plan on attending the game and those who commented on how full the stadium was (which compared to Camp Randall seemed scarce). Positive aspect? The people we met were wonderful. From the Indiana fans that welcomed the fact we were Badger fans, to students trying to help us learn IU chants, to locals giving us tips about the city’s social scene. But as fate would have it…you can take the girls out of Wisconsin, but you can’t take the Wisconsin out of the girls…Sunday (post Packer game) we went to Oliver Winery in an effort to take our minds off of Aaron Rodger’s injury. Although the winery is located right off the highway, it’s nestled back behind trees and the landscaping is breathtaking. They have winding paths with bushes and flowers, not to mention a beautiful fountain just outside the main entrance to the tasting room and store area. It began in 1960 as a hobby of an Indiana University professor at the time, William Oliver. “Professor Oliver was instrumental in passing legislation allowing for the creation of small wineries in our state. The Indiana Small Winery Act passed in 1971, and Oliver Winery opened in 1972. Sales took off with Camelot Mead, and we’ve been growing ever since. Today, we distribute our award-winning, fruit-forward wines to 18 states and ship across the country.” Fun fact? It’s the largest and oldest winery in the entire state of Indiana and has become Liv’s favorite spot in Bloomington (and now I know why)!Olivia, thanks for being the best host and friend anyone could ask for! I’m a little more at ease now that I got a tour around your new home. Already planning my next visit…Until next time Bloomington,
//P.S. If you live in or around the Bloomington, Indiana area and have restaurants you enjoy or recreational ideas please comment or email me! I’d love to know what I should add to my list for future visits!