Bloomington getaways include vacation rentals, private campsites

Cabins, castles and bungalows, oh my!

Bloomington visitors and residents looking for a fun getaway can take advantage of many opportunities to stay in and around the city, including in a yurt.

Erin White, director of recreation, marketing and media for Visit Bloomington, said the beauty of vacation rental properties is their availability and variety of options. The Visit Bloomington website includes tons of rentals from owners who have asked to be featured.

People want to fit into a community to get an authentic vibe, White said, and these destination spots allow vacationers to immerse themselves in neighborhoods, explore local parks and cafes, and experience nature.

Often families may be traveling with extended relatives such as grandparents, she said, and want to stay in a central space with common areas to cook meals together and enjoy each other’s company.

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“I think it’s something that a lot of people have really missed over the last two years,” she said. “These types of spaces and rentals give you the opportunity to connect with your family or friends in a unique environment and create those memories.”

Central Mongolian yurts

One option is the Mongolian Tibetan Buddhist Cultural Center yurts. The location has modern amenities but not a lot of technology, allowing visitors to disconnect and enjoy a peaceful stay, White said.

The property, at 3655 S Snoddy Road, is scenic and serene, where visitors will hear birds and animals and have the opportunity to connect with nature.

“A lot of writers will use yurts as a kind of little hideout if they’re in the middle of a project,” she said. “Or if they want to break that writer’s block.”

In the woods near Lemon Lake

Another place to stay is the Red Rabbit Inn, located off the beaten path near Lemon Lake.

“It’s a fantastic space,” White said. “It really makes you feel like you’re in the woods, which is exactly the type of experience people, especially in the last few years with COVID, have been looking for.”

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Joyce Porvaznik and her husband built the inn on their 15-acre property in 2007. Visitors stay in a modern but rustic cabin on the property, Porvaznik said, and the second cabin is for her friends and family.

“I just needed a new adventure,” she said. “And I love meeting new people.”

The naturally lit cabin in the woods overlooks a pond and features an inviting hot tub. Porvaznik leaves a supply of baked goods, milk, juice and coffee for visitors.

‘Castle’ near IU

Califin Castle, located near the IU Athletics Sports Complex, has castle-like spiers and architectural details. White said it’s a perfect place for families, couples or small groups vacationing for a weekend of games. The property also has a built-in trampoline for visitor enjoyment.

“Engage your youthful spirit at your peril,” she said.

More options in the area

Lydia Davey Crosby, senior communications manager at Hipcamp, said the platform connects private landowners with outdoor enthusiasts. Hosts must follow federal, state, and local regulations and have at least two acres of land to share. If a violation occurs, hosts have the opportunity to bring themselves into compliance before the listing is removed.

Landowners set the price for each site, which offers everything from basic $5-a-night camping sites to $800 luxury glamping sites.

A 30-minute stay from Bloomington in Spencer is a 15-acre Dugger family farm. Visitors will stay in a cabin with a porch that faces a private pond. They can choose to have fresh eggs, coffee, homemade bread or jam delivered. It’s a scenic stay with fields and animals such as goats, donkeys and alpacas, Crosby said.

The Duggar Family Farm cabin is just 30 minutes from Bloomington in Spencer.

“It’s just a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of your everyday life and go enjoy some peace and quiet,” she said.

A more adventurous stay in Nashville is Hoosier’s on the Ridge. The wooded countryside offers three different tent sites for visitors to enjoy and participate in outdoor activities like golf or yoga, Crosby said.

Sobremesa Farm in Bloomington is a 9-acre farm run by people who live one of Hipcamp’s community values, Crosby said, by leaving their farm better than they found it. Visitors can cycle, hike and view wildlife.

“If you want to do tent camping but also support small businesses, local businesses, this is a great way to do it,” she said.

Since the pandemic began, people have been exploring the outdoors more and campgrounds have become overcrowded, Crosby said. Outdoor experiences like these offer people a memorable and private opportunity to spend time with friends and families.

Contact Luzane Draughon at or @luzdraughon on Twitter.

Sally J. Minick