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19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Illinois

19 Fun & Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Illinois

If you’re planning a trip and looking for fun things to do in Bloomington, Illinois, you’ll find a variety of museums, theaters, restaurants, and parks that will surely fit the bill.

Known for its vibrant, historic museum square, Bloomington, Illinois is full of interesting shops, delicious restaurants including farm-to-table options, and bars and nightlife.

There are also many things to do in the city, such as visiting the McLean County Museum, taking a tour of the Miller Park Zoo, or going on a scenic walk or bike ride on the Constitution Trail. 

If you’re looking for even more activities, there are several historical sites including the David Davis Mansion and the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. No matter what you’re looking for, you will surely find it in Bloomington, Illinois. 

If you’re coming in from Central Illinois Regional Airport, consider staying at the Eastland Suites Hotel and Conference Center, two miles away. This hotel won the 2019 Couples’ Choice Awards and is one of the best venues for booking your next vacation or big event!

Here are the top fun and best things to do in Bloomington, Illinois.

Eastland Suites Hotel Conference Center
1. Eastland Suites Hotel & Conference Center Top Recommendation

Eastland Suites Hotel & Conference Center is situated near the Central Illinois Regional Airport, just 3.2 km from the hotel. The hotel offers free airport transfers and a 24-hour fitness centre. Free Wi-Fi in rooms and suites and cable TV with 25 channels are provided at this Bloomington hotel. Guests can enjoy a free breakfast buffet during their stay. A free cocktail hour is offered Monday through Saturday at the on-site bar, which features a fireplace and large screen television.

Hampton Inn Suites Bloomington Normal
2. Hampton Inn & Suites Bloomington Normal

Hampton Inn and Suites Bloomington/Normal, IL is a 3 star hotel situated in Bloomington, Illinois. The hotel has 153 air-conditioned rooms that are equipped with television, desk and coffee/tea maker. You can enjoy a hot breakfast every morning at this hotel. Take advantage of the complimentary pool and fitness center to stay fit and healthy during your vacation.

Hyatt Place Bloomington Normal
3. Hyatt Place Bloomington / Normal

Hyatt Place Bloomington - Normal is located in Bloomington, a 3-minute drive from the University of Illinois. Free Wi-Fi is available and all guest rooms have air conditioning, as well as a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. A seating area and refrigerator are also standard in each room at Hyatt Place Bloomington - Normal. The 24-hour front desk can provide local information on the surrounding area.

TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – David Davis Mansion
  • Best park – Constitution Trail
  • Best free activity – 3rd Sunday Market
  • Best activity for kids – Miller Park Zoo
  • Best activity for adults – Lil Beaver Brewery
  • Best food – Epiphany Farms Restaurant
  • Best nightlife – Downtown Bloomington
  • Best all-around accommodation – Eastland Suites Hotel and Conference Center

Best & Fun Things to Do in Bloomington, Illinois

1. Visit Miller Park Zoo

Front view of Millers Park zoo
Image by Randy von Liski used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Address:1020 S Morris Ave, Bloomington, IL 61701

The Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois, is a great place to take the kids for a day out. The zoo has over 300 animals, including lions, tigers, bears, and more exotic animals like red pandas and monkeys. There are also plenty of activities for kids, such as a petting zoo, a playground, and a train ride.

If you’re looking to spend the day with family, while having fun as an adult or a kid, the Miller Park Zoo is the perfect place to go! Their current animal exhibits, ticket prices, and more detailed information is available on their website.

This zoo is hailed for its dedication to education and conservation, so you can be sure your visit benefits the animals while providing a fun day out. Are you looking for an all-day adventure? Book your ticket to save time and skip the line at the Miller Park Zoo.

2. Explore Downtown Bloomington

Downtown Bloomington Illinois

Address: 517 N Main St, Bloomington, IL 61701

Downtown Bloomington is the perfect place to explore if you’re looking for yummy eats and drinks, or a night out on the town.

For a lively atmosphere, head to Nightshop, a spacious hangout with delicious eats including vegetarian options, a full bar, live music, and games. Nearby is the highly-rated Lucca Grill, an Italian-American dining and pizza joint operating since 1936, with an old-school vibe, antique bar, and tin ceiling.

Jazz UpFront is Downtown Bloomington’s premier venue for live jazz, blues, and bluegrass featuring local artists. The intimate venue has friendly bartenders, a knowledgeable and helpful staff, and is a hidden gem in Bloomington.

The Mystic Kitchen & Tasting Room is a highly-rated wine bar and restaurant that is described as a funky bohemian lounge with an extensive, yet approachable wine list, quirky craft cocktails, local brews & eclectic bistro cuisine. 

No matter what your preference is, you’re sure to find the perfect place to unwind in Downtown Bloomington. Consider taking an art tour of the many galleries in the area or eating at one of the many cafes, coffeehouses, and fine dining restaurants.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Illinois & Places to Visit

3. Visit the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site

David Davis Mansion State Historic Site Bloomington

Address: 1000 Monroe Dr, Bloomington, IL 61701

The David Davis Mansion is a must-see for any history lover, as it is considered one of the most historic places in Illinois. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975.

This beautiful Victorian home was once owned by Supreme Court Justice David Davis and his wife, Sarah Davis. The David Davis Mansion is now open to the public for tours and is a popular spot for weddings and events. The grounds are also beautifully landscaped and there’s a lovely garden to explore.

Different types of adventures are available at this historic mansion, including a behind-the-scenes mechanical tour, where you can learn the details of how the David Davis Mansion operated back in the day. More adventurous visitors may enjoy an adults-only murder mystery night.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of Bloomington, Illinois, or want to see a beautiful historic home, the David Davis Mansion is the perfect place to visit.

See Related: Best Tourist Destinations in the World

4. Hike on the Constitution Trail

Hike on the Constitution Trail bloomington
Image form TripAdvisor

Address: 200 N Main St, Bloomington, IL 61701

The Constitution Trail is a historic route and trail network covering around 40 miles between Bloomington and the town of Normal. The trail is perfect for hiking, biking, and rollerblading, and is a great way to explore the area.

It follows the abandoned line of the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad, so there are many different places to access the trail. If you’re looking for a challenging hike, some sections of the trail are more difficult than others.

But if you’re just looking for a stroll, plenty of flat sections are perfect for an easy walk. No matter what your fitness level is, the Constitution Trail is a great way to get some exercise and fresh air.

5. Pay a Visit to the Children’s Discovery Museum

Children’s Discovery Museum

Address: 101 E Beaufort St, Normal, IL 61761

The Children’s Discovery Museum is perfect for a fun day out with the kids and only a 6-minute drive from Bloomington. This interactive museum is designed for children ages 2-10, and it’s a great way to spend a rainy day.

The museum has three stories full of hands-on exhibits, and the kids will love exploring all the different areas. From discovering the newly built medical exhibit to exploring STEM, this museum is here to help your children learn and have fun.

There’s also a special toddler area with age-appropriate toys and activities if you have younger children. In addition to the regular exhibits, the museum also offers special events and workshops throughout the year. There is also a sensory-friendly exhibit for children with autism or those who need sensory help.

You can view a gallery of their wonderfully designed exhibits in advance to see what’ll be happening during your visit. Admission to the museum is $8 for adults and children, with free admission for children under two years old.

See Related: Best Museums in the US You Need to Visit

6. Check Out the McLean County Museum of History

McLean County Museum of History

Address: 200 N Main St, Bloomington, IL 61701

The McLean County Museum of History is a great place to learn about the history of Bloomington and Normal. The museum is housed in a beautiful Victorian building, and it’s full of exciting exhibits. You can learn about the area’s Native American heritage, the Underground Railroad, and much more.

The museum also has a research center where you can access genealogy records and other historical materials. If you’re interested in local history, this is the perfect place to visit.

The museum also offers a variety of special events and programs throughout the year. Some of the most popular exhibits are the Discovery Room, which is perfect for kids, and the Evergreen Cemetery Walk.

Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and free for students and children. Tuesdays are their free days when no admission is charged.

7. Explore 3rd Sunday Market

People buying stuffs at 3rd Sunday Market
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 1106 Interstate Dr, Bloomington, IL 61705

The 3rd Sunday Market is a monthly market that takes place in downtown Bloomington. This market is perfect for visitors on a journey to find unique gifts, local produce, and handmade goods.

You’ll also find plenty of food and drink vendors, so you can grab a bite to eat while you browse the market. The market takes place from May to October on the third Sunday of every month.

Admission to the market is free, making this an excellent, free thing to do on your Bloomington vacation. Consider staying at The Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham Bloomington.

This hotel is just a short drive from the market, and it offers plenty of amenities to make your stay comfortable, such as a hot breakfast to get you going, an indoor pool, baggage storage, and more.

8. Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts

Entrance of Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts
Image by Randy von Liski used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Address: 600 N East St, Bloomington, IL 61701

The Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts is great for enjoying a show, artistic events, dances, live music, and much more. This 1,200-seat auditorium is the perfect venue to see a variety of performances, such as musicals, dance shows, and more.

The BCPA presents national and international touring artists and, between classes, meetings, seminars, presentations, life events, and more, holds over 500 events annually.

The theater also offers a variety of educational programs for students of all ages. Tickets to the shows vary in price, so check the list of upcoming shows and events for your next date night.

See Related: Best Health Insurance for Visitors to the USA

9. Prairie Aviation Museum

Jet planes parked at Prairie Aviation Museum

Address: 2929 E Empire St., Bloomington, IL, 61704

The Prairie Aviation Museum is a great place to learn about the history of aviation. This museum is housed in a World War II-era hangar and contains various exhibits on the history of aviation.

You can also see a variety of restored aircraft, including a B-52 bomber. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs for kids and adults.

Best of all, this museum is a great way to learn about the men and women who have served our country, and admission to the museum is free for military members. The museum is also a great place to explore with children since they are free to touch the aircraft and sit in the cockpits.

View their exhibits and schedule so you can plan your visit to this memorable museum full of adventure ahead of time.

10. Visit Illinois State University

People relaxing in the campus at Illinois State University
Image by Randy von Liski used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Address: 100 N University St, Normal, IL 61761

If you’re looking for a great college experience, look no further than Illinois State University. This school is known for its welcoming campus and student body and is located just two miles from Bloomington.

There are plenty of things to do on campus, such as attending sporting events, visiting the library, or participating in the Illinois Shakespeare Festival at the Center for Performing Arts. While here, you can also explore the surrounding town of Normal, which is full of great restaurants and shops.

Admission to the school is free, making this a great activity for visitors of all ages. If you’re looking for a place to stay, consider the Marriott Bloomington-Normal. This hotel is just a short drive from campus, offering plenty of amenities to make your stays comfortable such as an indoor pool, free wi-fi and parking, and much more.

See Related: Visiting the Four Corners National Monument in the USA

11. Visit the Lil Beaver Brewery

Address: 5 Finance Dr., Bloomington, IL, 61704

If you’re looking for a great place to eat and drink, look no further than the Lil Beaver Brewery. This local brewery offers 24 rotating beers on tap, and a variety of delicious food options such as burgers, wings, sandwiches, and more. The Lil Beaver Brewery is perfect for watching a game or enjoying an evening out with friends.

Many of their beers are also aged in barrels, creating the perfect taste for beer lovers everywhere. They also have a patio where you can enjoy the weather and people-watch.

Check out their delicious menu, news, events, and social media so you can explore the restaurant and plan your night ahead.

12. Prairie Vista Golf Course

Address: 502 W. Hamilton Rd., Bloomington, IL, 61704

Prairie Vista Golf Course is a Golf Digest “Places to Play” 4-Star Golf Course. This course offers 18 holes of golf, and it also has a driving range where you can practice your swing.

The course is located in a beautiful setting. Bentgrass tees, greens, and fairways make this golf course a treat to play. Water hazards are located on 16 of the 18 holes.

You can also shop for low-priced gear at the nearby golf shop if you need anything. Kids also play free after 2 pm, so the Prairie Vista Golf Course is a great place to take the family.

If planning a trip with the kids or on your own, check out their rates, tee times, and lessons for the whole family.

13. Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

American flag at Evergreen Memorial Cemetery

Address: 302 E Miller St, Bloomington, IL 61701

If you’re looking for a place to reflect on the past and learn about the city’s history, look no further than the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery. This cemetery is the final resting place for many notable citizens of Bloomington, including soldiers, politicians, and more.

Visitors will find many war memorials, such as the Civil War Veterans Section, the Spanish-American War Veterans Section, and about a dozen others. This is one of the best historical sites in the area, with beautifully landscaped gardens and well-kept headstones and memorials.

14. Iron Coyote Challenge Park

Address: 4113 Oakland Ave., Bloomington, IL, 61704

The Iron Coyote Challenge Park is the perfect place for thrill-seekers and adventure lovers. This park offers a variety of obstacles and challenges for you to overcome, such as a rock climbing wall, zip lines, and more.

If you want to see just how challenging their obstacles are, check out their gallery and see for yourself if you have what it takes to overcome them! Iron Coyote Challenge Park also hosts events and birthdays, so you can celebrate your special day with friends.

You can also join their membership program to get discounts on future visits.

See Related: Best Places to Travel For Your Birthday

15. Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market

Downtown Bloomington Farmers' Market
Image by Gemma Billings used under CC BY 2.0

Address: 200 N Main Street, Bloomington, IL 61701

The Bloomington Farmers’ Market is perfect for fresh, local produce. This market offers a variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. You can also find locally made honey, cheese, bread, and other goods. The market is open on Saturdays, which is convenient for both locals and visitors alike.

The Outdoor Bloomington Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 12 pm, from May through October. The Indoor Market takes place at the Grossinger Motors Arena from November through April.

16. Normal Theater

Normal Theater

Address: 209 North Street, Normal, IL, 61761

Located in the heart of Uptown Normal, Illinois, the historic Normal Theater is an authentically restored 1937 Art Moderne cinema offering a curated mix of vintage and contemporary films, including Classic cinema, Art house films, Cult favorites, and International titles.

The Normal Theater is perfect for watching a movie or attending a live performance of music, dance, and more. You can also find a concessions stand with snacks and drinks for purchase.

This is one of the best spots to bring a date, so look at their showings beforehand to plan out your perfect movie night.

See Related: Most Scenic Bike Trails in America

17. Pheasant Lanes Family Fun Center & Kegler’s Pub

Pheasant Lanes Family Fun Center & Kegler’s Pub
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 804 N Hershey Rd, Bloomington, IL 61704

Pheasant Lanes Family Fun Center & Kegler’s Pub is a family-friendly bowling alley with a mini-golf course, sand volleyball, and a pub serving sandwiches and pizza. You can also find arcade games, virtual reality, and more.

Kegler’s Pub, located inside Pheasant Lanes, has a wide array of draft beers, a full bar, big-screen TVs, and video machines. Their Beer Garden is also a fan-favorite location. This is the perfect place to come for some food and drinks after work or on the weekends.

Pheasant Lanes Family Fun Center & Kegler’s Pub also hosts special events, such as live music and comedy shows.

18. Enjoy a Meal at Epiphany Farms Restaurant

Epiphany Farms Restaurant
Image from TripAdvisor

Address: 220 East Front Street, Bloomington, IL, 61701

If you’re looking for high-quality, farm-to-table dining, look no further than Epiphany Farms Restaurant. The restaurant is best described as an open, rustic-chic eatery offering seasonal farm-to-table cooking with international influences.

Epiphany Farms sources its ingredients from local farms, so you know you’re getting the freshest food possible. They also have a wide selection of wines to pair with your meal.

Eating at Epiphany Farms Restaurant is a great way to support the local community, support sustainable farming, and enjoy a memorable and delicious meal with your loved one.

See Related: Best Breweries in Massachusetts

19. The Castle Theatre

Address: 209 E Washington St #1, Bloomington, IL 61701

First opened in 1916, The Castle Theater has been the site of many music acts, live performances, tours, and much more. In addition, this venue also has three full bars located within the theatre offering a terrific selection of draft beers and wine along with your favorite spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.

If you’re catching a show here, you can stay at the Parke Regency Hotel & Conference Center, only about 5 miles away. This hotel has daily housekeeping, free wi-fi, and a free airport shuttle if you’re visiting another area.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Rockford, Illinois

FAQ

What are the best tourist attractions in Bloomington, Illinois?

Many people visit Bloomington for the Constitution Trail, which is one of the oldest walking trails in Illinois. The Evergreen Memorial Cemetery is also an interesting place that’s rich in history with lots of memorials to view. The Miller Park Zoo is a great place to take the kids for a day out.

What are some fun things to do in Bloomington, Illinois?

Explore the fine arts and university galleries at Illinois State University, or stop by Downtown Bloomington so you can take a gander at the historic buildings in the area. You can also visit the Bloomington Farmers’ Market for fresh farm produce and to explore the local community.

What is the best thing to do with kids in Bloomington, Illinois?

If you’re visiting with kids, stop by the Bloomington Children’s Discovery Museum. This is one of the best places to take children with sensory issues, toddlers, and kids who love STEM. You can also visit the Miller Park Zoo, which is great for children and families alike.

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