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13 Fun & Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Minnesota

13 Fun & Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Minnesota

Bloomington is a suburban city just 10 miles south of downtown Minneapolis and 20 miles south of St. Paul, Minnesota. Bloomington sits on the Minnesota and Mississippi River’s north bank. A bustling suburb where 85,225 residents call home.

It is optimally placed near the larger Fortune 500 company headquarters of Best Buy, General Mills, Target, and Land’ o Lakes. Your Bloomington adventure awaits in a state famous for its 10,000 lakes and forests. Although, much of the city’s daily life is centered around the famous Mall of America. There is still quite a bit to see and do that does not involve shopping. 

An adult Minneapolis city tour is an easy way to familiarize yourself with the area. Visitors to the area can choose from serene green spaces, an adult historic cave tour, and numerous companies featuring visual arts.

In fact, save Minneapolis Institute of Art for last, as it may take the entire day. Bloomington even has an adult scavenger hunt adventure. And while writing your bucket lists Minnesota Zoo is a great place to visit

. If you are an adult Twin Cities have hidden magic all their own such as the adult Minneapolis bar hunt. If you are in town for “Bleisure,” save Minneapolis Convention Center for coffee. If you need a little Midwestern culture, the Minneapolis river walk will not disappoint.

Or just spend a day at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve and Bush Lake Beach. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the more than 90 hiking and walking trails that cover over 783 miles throughout the area.  With so many entertainment options, it is easy to see why there are always fun things to do in Bloomington, Minnesota.

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TLDR

  • Most significant landmark – Minnehaha Falls
  • Best park – Hyland Lake Park Reserve
  • Best free activity – Bloomington Farmer’s Market
  • Best activity for kids – Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium
  • Best activity for adults – Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy
  • Best food – Cedar + Stone, Urban Table
  • Best nightlife – 9 Mile Brewing
  • Best all-around accommodation – Hyatt Regency Bloomington

Fun & Best Things to Do in Bloomington, Minnesota

1. Mall of America

Mall of America Exterior
image by Tyler Vigen is licensed under CC BY 4.0

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

The Mall of America opened in 1992 and quickly grew into a destination shopping and world-famous mall. MOA is one of the best things to do in Bloomington and one of America’s top tourist destinations.

The Mall of America receives more than 40 million international visitors annually to shop at over 520 specialty and luxury shops. 

There are hundreds of Mall events, celebrity appearances, book signings, concerts, and fashion shows for anyone wondering what to do in Bloomington. One of the coolest things to do is the Mall of America Scavenger Hunt. This fun scavenger hunt is for the whole family. New hunts are being planned throughout the year.

During the holidays, the Mall of America presents the Holiday Music Festival, complete with Santa’s workshop. Valet parking can be found at the north entrance for easy access to the mall.

And while there are dozens of things for kids to do at the Mall of America, it is also an adult mall. It is a regional entertainment mecca with over 8,269,000 square feet. Featured in an award-winning travel blog, the Mall of America has four levels with 50-plus restaurant styles ranging from fast food to fine dining. The Cedar + Stone is fine dining with eclectic urban fare popular before or after a show.

A Renaissance Fair where you can have the only axe-throwing experience Minneapolis has to offer. The fair sits on the mall’s fourth level. And an indoor roller coaster weaves its way through pop-up entertainment and exhibits down below.

At the end of the day, the upscale trendy Hyatt Regency Bloomington is a few steps away.

2. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge's Louisville Swamp

Address: 3815 American Blvd E., Bloomington, MN 55425

The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge lies in the heart of Bloomington, Minnesota. A 14,000-acre environmental refuge, this beautiful park boasts two educational visitor centers and over 46 miles of walking and hiking trails. During Winter, the Refuge is a popular spot to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

One of the most important Bloomington attractions, the Refuge allows hunting, fishing, and foraging within the park to ensure healthy wildlife populations. It is also perfect for bird watching with dozens of species, including warblers, eagles, and waterfowl.

The Refuge also hosts nature programs and other environmental education events throughout the year. 

See Related: Best Things to Do in Little Falls, Minnesota

3. Normandale Japanese Garden

Normandale Japanese Garden, Bloomington
image by Runner1928 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: West Lot, 9700 France Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55431  

One of the best free things to do in Bloomington is visiting the Normandale Japanese Garden. Completed in 1972. This serene setting covers two acres on the Normandale Community College campus. The garden is tended by Normandale Community College and the Japanese Garden Committee. 

Several structures shape the garden. The Bentendo is a hexagon-shaped building on one of the three islands in the garden’s pond. The name Benten, a goddess of fortune and do, a building.

Other unique features such as bridges, ponds, lanterns, and a waterfall adorn the garden. The garden is open year-round, and admission is free. Wander through the flowering plants on a self-guided audio tour, or enjoy the peace and tranquility of a traditional Japanese garden. 

4. Great Wolf Lodge Water Park

Great Wolf Lodge Water Park Building
image by Booking.com

Address: 1700 American Boulevard East, Bloomington, MN 55425

The Great Wolf Lodge, near the Mall of America, is one of the best things to do in Bloomington with kids. In addition to resort-quality accommodations, the Great Wolf Lodge has a host of indoor action-packed fun, with an indoor amusement park, waterpark, bowling alley, and video arcade. The Park also features a ropes course and a climbing wall. Day passes are available for park visitors.

Several restaurants pepper the lodge with adult food and special fare for the kids. And the Great Wolf Lodge is also within 15 minutes of the Minnesota Como Zoo and the Mississippi River.

Combining water, games, golf, food, and fun, it is easy to see why the Great Wolf Lodge Water Park is one of the most visited Bloomington attractions mentioned.

See Related: Most Beautiful Sunflower Fields in Minnesota

5. Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy

Inside the Rick Bronson's House of Comedy
image by JoeNathan9249/TripAdvisor

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy offers a great night of adult fun and laughter in a dinner and standup combo. A mecca for both local and national talent, including Chris Maddock, Jordan Rock, and Paris Sashay. Live shows are performed nightly, Tuesday through Sunday, with two performances on Saturday.

Once inside the Mall of America, the House of Comedy is easy to find. It is located on Level 4, and the best parking for the club is East Parking on Level 5.

As one of the best things to do in Bloomington for adults, the House of Comedy also provides small bites, shared plates, and handcrafted cocktails. 

Rick Bronson, the founder of the House of Comedy, is an award-winning comedian, magician, writer, producer, and musician. His one-man show has earned him 8 COCA Comedian of the Year awards. Bronson has a long list of television credits working with such names as Bill Clinton and Spinal Tap. This New Jersey native loves the piano and saxophone.

Looking for a side quest? Experience The Escape Game Minneapolis Adventures.

6. Old Town Hall History Museum

Old Town Hall History Museum
image by McGhiever is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 10200 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55431

Curated by the Bloomington Historical Society, the Old Town Hall Museum is a restored 1890s wooden clapboard building. The building features a cupola, a type of dome that was an architectural feature unique to the Bloomington, Minnesota area. The Old Town Hall served as a community meeting place – hosting celebrations, dances, and other social festivities.

Inside the museum, free permanent exhibits depict a pioneer schoolhouse. There are also artifacts and documents, including newspapers from the settlement period through the current day.

Another fascinating adult history artifact can be found nearby — the Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, built in 1864. The church features a pump organ manufactured in Chicago in the late 1890s.

One of the most unique historical adult Bloomington attractions is just a few minutes away. It combines a historical tour of the old mansions of the Twin Cities with the spooky goodness of an old-fashioned adult ghost walking tour. The St Paul Mansions of Mystery Guided Ghost Tour is well worth the time. It’s a fun city scavenger hunt for ghosts.

But if you think it might be just a bit too scary, the tickets are online with free cancellation available price included. If you prefer, a custom tours adventure can be arranged for a closer look at Saint Paul’s soaring sights.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in St. Paul, Minnesota

7. Minnehaha Falls

Minnehaha Falls

Address: 4801 S Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417

Established in 1849, Minnehaha Falls Regional Park is one of Minneapolis’ oldest and most beloved parks – attracting more than 850,000 visitors annually. Just 10 miles from Bloomington, this historic green space features an awe-inspiring 53-foot waterfall and is home to several life-size bronze sculptures by Jakob Fjelde.

A great place to spend the day for a child or an adult Minnehaha Falls is named after the Native American woman made famous in the 1855 poem The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

The 193-acre is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Visitors can relax in one of the two beautiful gardens while enjoying a snack from one of the park vendors. Or cool off in the wading pool. Even the family canine is welcome in the Minnehaha Dog Park.

As you walk the park, take the self-guided audio tour for a complete educational experience. There are also numerous trails crisscrossing the park, including a scenic 0.8-mile trail that loops the Falls.

Classified as an easy hiking and walking trail, it takes about 20 minutes to complete. A southern trail leads from Minnehaha Falls to Fort Snelling State Park. Fort Snelling is about 7 miles from Bloomington and infamous for its involvement in the U.S. – Dakota war.

See Related: Best Hikes Near Minneapolis, Minnesota

8. Sea Life Aquarium

Sea Life Aquarium Exhibit
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 60 E Broadway, East side of Level 1, Bloomington, MN 55425

Minnesota’s largest marine museum, Sea Life Aquarium, is located on the East side of Level 1. This incredible aquarium experience is home to more than 4,500 animals living in 1.3 million gallons of water.

And the 300-foot underwater tunnel lets you watch guitar sharks, stingrays, and jellyfish swim overhead. Many exhibits have an educational component, describing the Coral Caves or the importance of the Rainforest in Brave the Rainforest. While designed mainly for children, these educational exhibits also have adult tours.

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium is part of a group of world aquariums that support marine conservation. Sea Life also has easy-access tanks where you can explore sea animals such as anemones up close. Ask about shark feeding times or behind-the-scenes tours for one of the best things to see in Bloomington. Get your tickets here.

Sea Life aquarium is also a great place to host birthday parties or special events. If you need a place to stay, the Sheraton Bloomington is close by.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Minnesota

9. Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center

Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center Exhibit
image by Myotus is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Address: 11411 Masonic Home Dr, Bloomington, MN 55437

The Bloomington Minnesota Masonry began in St. Paul in 1849, over 160 years ago. And the Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center celebrates the history and legacy of Freemasonry in Minnesota and the Upper Mid-West. Curated by the Masonic Historical Society, it is located along the Minnesota River Valley. The Minnesota Masonic Heritage Center is just 10 miles west of the Mall of America.

The 3,700-square-foot museum houses thousands of Masonic artifacts and educational and interactive displays. The numerous exhibits complement a unique library and an ornamented Masonic Lodge Room. The Masonic Heritage Center’s 443-seat auditorium and theater are also home to public meetings and performances.

Another aspect of the Masonic Center is its ongoing philanthropic endeavors. The Minnesota Masonic Charities (MMC) impacts outcomes in cancer research, eldercare, and children’s health. 

10. Nickelodeon Universe

Nickelodeon Universe Rides

Address: 60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

Nickelodeon Universe is located at the center of the Mall of America. And is a sure bet with the kids when visiting Bloomington. This seven-acre playground has 28 Nickelodeon-themed rides and attractions for the whole family.

The indoor amusement park is organized by age group and size, ensuring something for everyone, including Avatar Airbender, Adventure Bay, a roller coaster, and a working carousel. Other park activities include surprise meetings with Nickelodeon characters like SpongeBob, Dora, and Ni Hao. 

More enthusiastic park visitors can try the Dutchman’s Deck zip lining. But if you prefer your feet planted on the ground, the Rock of Ages Blacklight Mini Golf Course may prove challenging. Nickelodeon Universe has taken extra steps to protect children and is a Certified Autism Center for children with sensory, emotional, and ambulatory concerns.

Each activity has a sensory guide letting parents know the stimulation level of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight for that activity. Get your Nickelodeon Universe®– Unlimited Ride Pass now and enjoy your visit.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Bemidji, Minnesota

11. Bloomington Farmers Market

Bloomington Farmers Market
Image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 1800 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington, MN 55431

Each Saturday, June through October, The Bloomington Farmers Market offers locally-grown produce, artisan goods, and handcrafted items. 

The dozens of stands are filled with organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, honey, baked goods, artisanal meats & cheeses, and maple syrup. Shoppers can browse while they listen to local live music and munch on hot delicacies.

Visitors can attend Midweek Music and Market during the summer. This unique weekly mini-market and concert series is a popular community event. Familiar market vendors combine with food trucks and lawn games while local musicians perform live concerts. The Midweek Music and Market is located in the East Lot of Bloomington Civic Plaza. 

And during the Winter months, market vendors host an indoor market on select Saturdays.

12. Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hyland Lake Park Reserve
Image by Management/TripAdvisor

Address: 10140 East Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438

Hyland Lake Park Reserve is a beloved community park covering almost 2600 acres. This scenic retreat in the heart of Bloomington offers year-round fun. Hyland Lake and Bush Beach are perfect for water sports through summer.

The Park is famous for its 18-hole disc tournament golf course and nine-hole short course within the Hyland Hills Ski Area. There is also a three-hole disc golf practice area. The holes follow the hills with varying elevations and difficulty for a challenging afternoon of play.

The Richardson Nature Center, also part of the Reserve, sits at the park’s northern half. An introduction to the area’s reptiles, the Nature Center combines the serene beauty of the park with clay mosaics and sculptures by famed artist Chris Tully.

The Hyland Hills Ski Area is located within the Reserve. Cherished by the community, the hills are the perfect place for downhill skiing and snowboarding in the Twin Cities area. Lessons are available for beginners or for a seasonal refresh.

Hyland Hills is perfect for a day of play and may be preferred to playing an adult Minneapolis scavenger hunt. The Ski area is known for its attention to snowmaking and grooming — keeping the hills pristine all winter long.

With almost 18 miles of paved and turf hiking and biking trails and numerous ponds for relaxing, it is easy to see why the Hyland Lake Park Reserve is one of Bloomington’s most popular year-round attractions.

See Related: Best Scenic Drives in Minnesota

13. Como Park Zoo

Como Park's Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Address: 1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103

Expedia Group Company lists Como Park Zoo and Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park as one of the best attractions in Bloomington. The park, zoo, and conservatory sit on over 384 acres of reserve — welcoming over two million visitors to Bloomington annually.

A seal island is featured, and animal enclosures include large cats, primates, and birds. There are also African hoofed animal enclosures and an internationally recognized polar bear exhibit.

The 65,000-square feet visitor center features meeting rooms, classrooms, and event spaces.

There is even a Zobata Cafe for visitors to relax and refresh. The visitor’s center has information for those interested in helping with donations to save Minnesota Zoo or locally save Como Park Zoo.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Waconia, Minnesota

Getting Around Bloomington

If you have decided to visit Bloomington, your adventure will start near the junctions of two major highways, Interstate Highway 35W & 494 — about a 30-minute drive from the Twin Cities. While driving is the most efficient way to see Bloomington, several taxi companies service the metroplex, including Airport Taxi and Blue & White Taxi. Town cars are available through Fareshark.

The Amtrak train service travels a primary East-West line with a stop near the city. The Amtrak train depot is located about 20 minutes from Bloomington at Union Depot. 

Surprisingly, Greyhound Bus has a station stop at the Mall of America for accessible shopping excursions. And all of the city’s hotels offer guests a free shuttle ride to the airport and the famed retail outlet. 

The Metro Bus Transit system includes over 100 bus lines that criss-cross the greater Twin Cities region, including Bloomington and Eden Prairie. The Metro Transit Green Line connects Bloomington with St. Paul. 

The Hiawatha Light Rail BLUE Line also serves the area as part of the Transit system with 17 dedicated stations between downtown Minneapolis and the Mall of America® and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

FAQ

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

Located in the Mall of America, the Crayola Experience is part of the Nickelodeon Universe and brings the magic of Crayola Crayons to life. You may ask, can an adult participate? Well, here everyone can color outside the lines or watch the Crayola Experience combining chemistry, color, and technology.

What is Bloomington known for?

Bloomington, Minnesota, is a southern suburb of Minneapolis and is located in Hennepin County. It is famous as the home of the Mall of America. This unique destination is the largest shopping center in the United States. 

What are some things to do in Bloomington when it’s raining?

BlackLight Golf in the Mall of America is challenging and engaging fun for the whole family when it rains.

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