Historians and university professors team up with professional tour guides to create Freedom Quest Cultural Tours, LLC's comprehensive cultural excursions. The company helms tours in seven cities around the country, giving visitors an up-close and curated look of museums and historical sites. The "I Am The Greatest" tour visits the Muhammad Ali Museum and Kentucky Railway Museum in Louisville, Kentucky; the American Patriots tour browses the National Mall and passes the White House in Washington DC; and the "Roots" tour heads to Memphis, Tennessee to visit the Underground Railroad Museum and other monuments to black history.
Looking for a fresh turn in their respective careers, Joe and Dawn Taylor planted the first grapes at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in 2002. In 2007 they opened the winery, where they sell their wines and swap stories with visitors. Amid 10 acres of expansive grapevines, a timber-frame barn houses the winery and tasting room. While sipping Sleepy Creek's varietals, guests can browse the gift shop, peruse the upstairs art gallery, and sample local cheeses from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery and Ropp Jersey Cheese. Above the winery, bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations allow visitors to relax amid the countryside and eavesdrop on rumors spreading through the grapevines outside.
The Winery at Shale Lake sprawls over 212 acres of verdant terrain, with a 10-acre vineyard producing a menu of eight original wines for enjoyment in an array of charming settings. Spin around the 24-acre lake during a 30-minute bike ride aboard any of the Surrey cycles available for rent, or hike the scenic trail to slowly experience nature and the soothing melodies of Bigfoot quartets. Sip on up to five complimentary varieties of wine in the tasting room, built into the barn for a fine equine view through the picture window, and chow on gastronome goodies, including baked brie with raspberry sauce ($6), or white garlic and sausage pizza ($9). Kick back in the winter loft during colder months, playing pool and swirling sippers such as the Fifth Dimension, a sweet red foch wine, and the Beginners Luck, a semisweet chambourcin (all $4.50 by the glass). Live performers burst into song roughly twice a month, so thirst quenchers can enjoy sweet sounds while tickling their taste buds and their friends' bellies on Saturday evenings.
High above a lush vineyard, the morning sky brims with creatures of flight: an eagle, a large bumblebee, a pigeon that forgot how to land. These were just some of the sights Airbus Balloon Rides' owner Andy Richardson imagined would greet his future down-gazing passengers. He first fell in love with the roar of a hot air balloon's flame just before entering the second grade, and that passion has driven his dreams ever since. Ten years after buying his first balloon at age 14, Andy now commands a fleet of rainbow-colored balloons that come in standard and specialty shapes. These colorful vessels set the elevated stage for individual flights and tethered rides helmed by Andy and his talented team. Flights lift off at sunrise, in the afternoon, and at sunset, when the low sun paints an orange-red glow over water, fields, and reindeer still stuck on rooftops.
Back on land, Airbus Balloon Rides also educates visitors on hot air balloon creation inside their balloon factory, which welcomes tours. At the end of each tour, the guides lead guests in a champagne or mimosa toast with accompanying hors d'oeuvres, celebrating their skyfaring adventures together.
Bites of Bloomington Food Tours introduces groups to foodie destinations off the town's beaten paths. On Saturdays, tour guides and participants head out to savor treats such as Turkish cuisine at Turkuaz Café, baked goods at Sweet Claire Gourmet Bakery, and ice cream at The Chocolate Moose. Groups learn more about Bloomington's neighborhoods, too, as the guides point out interesting historical and architectural sites along the way.
The Vintage Indiana wine festival totes more than 200 award-winning Indiana wines. As varietals from wineries such as Oliver Winery, Winzerwald Winery, and Best Vineyards flow into glasses, food from eateries such as Bazbeaux, Chef JJ's, and various food trucks curbs appetites. Live music adds a soundtrack to the entire affair, which also includes special events such as culinary demonstrations.