I spend quite a bit of time searching for good travel spots with my pup Norbert. After all, I purchased a Cricket trailer for him (okay, for both of us, but really for the ease of traveling with my BFF along). With the trailer, I can easily find places to stay, but I can’t always find the best dog friendly stops.
I often want to find a town where I can stop, go to stores (usually some sort of Outfitters), a restaurant or brew pub. Trying to find places that are “dog friendly” is not as easy as one would expect in this day and age of split second Google searches. Big cities usually have listings but not every moderately populated town does.
So, as I search through areas for my next trip, I realize I happen to live in a place that is often a destination for travelers. Bloomington is a college town in southcentral Indiana with a population of 80K. The 46K students turn this town from a busting mid-sized city to a smaller town during the summer. In addition to all the many IU attractions, Bloomington is also a summer mecca for many who travel to spend time on our large Monroe Lake or one of the many smaller lakes in the area, camp at nearby campgrounds, or visit Bloomington for all its many attractions.
I’m lucky to live in a very dog friendly community. We have several hiking/running trails where one can bring their dog along for a day hike or several days of backpacking; a number of forests and recreational areas for camping; lakes for paddleboarding, kayaking, and motorboating; and restaurants and breweries that have plenty of outdoor seating where your canine companions are welcome.
As a consumer, it is time for me to give back to the dog-loving community and list out some of my favorite venues in the Bloomington, Indiana vicinity. Below is the start of my list which I have no doubt will be updated as friends will remind me of places I forget to mention. If you find this list useful, please pay it forward by posting (on your own blog or in a comment below) your favorite local dog friendly places or findings in areas you’ve traveled.
Restaurants/Brew Pubs (dogs welcome in outdoor seating and indoor at non-food serving locales; notes include Norbert’s favorite meals):
- Scenic View http://scenicviewbloomington.com/ (outdoor patio with a view overlooking Lake Monroe; Norbert always looks forward to an order of the thick cut bacon; humans love the Sunday half-priced Bacon Bloody Mary)
- Upland http://www.uplandbeer.com/
- Upland Brew Pub (outdoor garden area; Norbert loves the local Fischer farms hamburger, plain and cooked rare; humans are fans of their sours, but there is a brew for all tastes here; if the pooch isn’t with you, stop by the Wood Shop next door for a sours extravaganza)
- Upland West (great dog locale! No food, but you can bring your own. Dogs are welcome inside or out on the patio; humans say you can’t beat their $2 Sunday pints)
- Big Woods no longer allows dogs at their outdoor locations. I’m not sure whu but was told during the Summer 2018 that their corporate office changed their policy.
Big Woodshttp://quaffon.com/ Big Woods Bloomington – formerly Quaff On! in the heart of Bloomington has a small outdoor deck and a new garden area (Norbert has been known to coerce a few bites of the Soft Pretzel sticks w/ Beer Cheese; humans swear by the pulled pork bbq nachos) Big Woods The Original – this one is again, in nearby Brown County (Nashville, IN) and has a small deck where you can bring your pup; there is also a Big Woods Pizza a couple blocks over though I’m not sure about outdoor seating for your dog
- Oddball Fermentables http://www.oddballcyser.com/ (a unique drinking experience open on the weekends that is a labor of love between some local friends who created a variety of cysers (cider-mead hybrids) that you can taste individually or in a homemade concoction. This house turned into a cysery has a small outdoor seating area in the back and a food truck that brings some extraordinary tastes for the foodie in you. Like Big Woods West, Oddball Fermentables is not a restaurant so I believe you can bring your pup inside as well – call first to make sure though!)
- The Tap Bloomington http://www.thetapbeerbar.com/ (yet one more craft brewery in Btown along with a plethora of other rotating craft brews on tap with a small strip of outdoor seating where your Fido can accompany you)
- Function Brewing http://www.functionbrewing.com/ (another local craft brewery with a small outdoor seating area where Norbert has been welcomed that is worth a stop)
- Switchyard Brewing http://www.switchyardbrewing.com/ (the newest brewery in town that welcomes dogs inside their premises. Like Upland West, they do not offer food, but you can bring your own or have something delivered)
- The Inkwell Bakery & Cafe https://www.facebook.com/inkwellbtown/ (great little local bakery with breakfast and lunch options. There’s two tables outside where they welcome dogs. If you go, I highly recommend their homemade pop-tarts, especially the FROG tart, when available – fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger)
- Laughing Planet Cafe http://www.thelaughingplanetcafe.com/ (restaurant that features locally-farmed foods in burritos of the week with a large outdoor deck where you can dine with your buddy)
- Story Inn http://www.storyinn.com/ (a bit off the beaten path in our neighboring Brown County, but if you are visiting Brown County State Park, it is well worth the trip; check and make sure the outdoor area is open; Norbert still hasn’t made a visit there, but his older brother Tucker swore by the bacon and eggs)
- Bruster’s Real Ice Cream https://www.facebook.com/BloomingtonIndianaBrustersRealIceCream/ (this is entirely outside but I mention it because when you get your treat, you can also get a free Pup Cup that is a small vanilla scoop with a dog biscuit in the middle for your pal)
- There are many other restaurants in Bloomington that have outdoor seating so I imagine many/most/maybe all, allow you to have your pooch alongside.
Stores where my pups have been welcome:
- JL Waters and Co (Outfitters) – http://www.jlwaters.com/
- Lowes (Home improvement store) https://www.lowes.com/store/IN-Bloomington/0634
- Trails, trails, trails… (in Bloomington/Monroe County as well as some nearby counties – most within 20-30 minutes of downtown Bloomington) and lakes!
- B-Line Trail https://bloomington.in.gov/b-line
- Clear Creek Trail https://bloomington.in.gov/documents/viewDocument.php?document_id=276
- Griffy Lake Nature Preserve https://bloomington.in.gov/griffylake
- Monroe Lake – Paynetown SRA, Fairfax SRA, Allen’s Creek SRA, Cutright SRA, Moore’s Creek SRA, Salt Creek SRA, Pine Grove SRA, and Crooked Creek SRA – http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2954.htm
- Yellowwood State Forest/Yellowwood Lake – http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4817.htm
- Brown County State Park (Ogle and Strahl Lakes) http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2988.htm
- McCormick’s Creek State Park – http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2978.htm
- Morgan-Monroe State Forest – http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm
- Tecumseh Trail http://www.hoosierhikerscouncil.org/tecumseh-trail/
- Knobstone Trail http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4224.htm
- Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/hoosier/specialplaces/?cid=fsbdev3_017439