Bloomington, Minnesota is a dynamic mix of first-class attractions, vibrant restaurants and kid-friendly hotels. Whether you’re interested in an exhilarating walk in a wildlife refuge or an energizing day filled with attraction hopping, Bloomington has you covered! Bloomington is home to the shopping mecca Mall of America. It is adjacent to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and minutes from both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul. You can find plenty of free family fun in Bloomington MN as well.
If Minneapolis and St. Paul are the Twin Cities, Bloomington, MN, can be considered the bonus sibling. This city, home to the shopping magnet The Mall of America, offers hotel rooms that are usually less expensive than those in the Twin Cities. You can find free family fun in Bloomington MN and nearby. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even save some money for a little shopping at the mall.
Artistry at the Bloomington Center for the Arts
Artistry at the Bloomington Center for the Arts showcases the work of local artists. These free exhibits are open daily. The arts center works with the City of Bloomington to create public art. The theater presents shows throughout the year. Ticket prices are reasonable, with special even lower prices for anyone under 30.
Bloomington History Museum and Research Center
The Bloomington History Museum and Research Center is housed in Bloomington Old Town Hall, built in 1892. It features exhibits of artifacts from the early pioneer through the agricultural period. There are also Native American dugout canoes. A permanent exhibit features photographs from Irwin Norling. The black and white photos, from the 1950 and 1960s, explore suburban life.
Shopping Mecca: Mall of America
Mall of America is the largest fully enclosed retail and entertainment complex in the United States. There is even an attached hotel. You don’t need to spend money browsing over 520 specialty stores. The LEGO Store features a giant pick-a-Brick wall and play tables where kids can sit and create. There are also eight larger-than-life models, including a 34 foot robot.
The Mall even has better air quality than most malls. It is a great escape from a bitterly cold winter day or hot summer. Over 30,000 live plants and 300 live trees are natural air purifiers. And solar energy heats the Mall.
Minnehaha Regional Park
Overlooking the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Park is on the outskirts of Minneapolis. The 193-acre park features a 53-foot waterfall, limestone bluffs and river overlooks. The park contains oak, elm, silver maple, basswood, hackberry and cottonwood trees. The park also boasts native and prairie woodland wild flowers. There are walking trails and biking paths. Minnesotans bike year round, so trails are maintained all the time. There is even free parking at the park.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge features two visitor centers with interactive wildlife exhibits. The Refuge has miles of trails for hiking, biking and cross-country skiing. With over 14,000 acres, the refuge is a great place for seeing wildlife and plants. Bring binoculars for bird watching. Habitat at the refuge varies from prairie to wetlands to forest.
There are free weekly programs for children. These include Ranger Chats and Nature Walks with a Ranger. Programs for older visitors include ones focusing on tech and nature, photo hikes and bird language.
More Outdoor Rec: Fort Snelling State Park
Fort Snelling State Park has year round free outdoor recreation, from hiking paths to snowshoeing trails. Free events include parent and child ice fishing and an introduction to snowshoeing. You can learn about how to tap trees. Help the park collect sap to make maple syrup. Note that a state park permit is required for parking. A day pass is $7.
Go East: Normandale Japanese Garden
Any round up of free things to do in Bloomington MN should include Normandale Community College’s Japanese Garden. The garden is a two-acre oasis. It has bridges, streams and waterfalls. The beauty and serenity of the garden make it ideal for contemplation and renewal of the spirit. It might not be the best place for kids who need to run around. But it’s great for quiet enjoyment of the outdoors, and perfect for teens and tweens.
More free family fun in Bloomington MN
Looking for more free things to do in Bloomington MN? At Bloomington, Minnesota you can compare hotel rates, explore getaway packages, detailed itineraries and events. You can also find out about The Big Ticket three day bundled attraction pass.