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9 Exciting Things to Do in Bloomington, Minnesota

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on
January 4, 2022

Are you looking for a list of fun and exciting things to do in Bloomington, MN?

This article features 9 awesome things to do in Bloomington, and highlights why this Minneapolis suburb is the ultimate stop for shopping and family entertainment.

Whether you’re looking to spend a day at an aquarium, shop for top-notch clothing brands, or go hiking, biking, or downhill skiing, you will find tons of fun things to do in Bloomington.

Look no further for the 9 best things to do in Bloomington with or without kids!

Some of the links on this page are Amazon affiliate links. If you click on the links and make a purchase, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All photo credits thank to the Bloomington CVB!

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
An event held at the Mall of America

Things to do in Bloomington, Minnesota

Located 10 miles south of Minneapolis and 20 miles south of St. Paul, sits the fun and exciting city of Bloomington, Minnesota.

As the fourth largest city in the state of Minnesota, Bloomington is most commonly known for being the home of the world-famous Mall of America.

Bloomington is not just a shopping center, however, as it is home to a variety of entertainment venues and a plethora of activities for children and adults. 

In addition, Bloomington has many outdoor activities to keep you active and engaged while visiting this suburban city.

Here, you will find a lineup of hiking and biking trails, fishing and camping opportunities, playgrounds, and even downhill skiing and snowboarding.

Visiting Bloomington is a delight because it has so much to offer no matter what time of the year you visit!

Be sure to click on the links in this article for more in-depth guides on the Bloomington attractions mentioned.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
World-famous Mall of America

1. Mall of America

60 E Broadway, Bloomington, MN 55425

The Mall of America (MOA) is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.

Each year, over 40 million visitors head to Bloomington, MN to experience the Mall’s 400+ events, such as fashion shows, concerts, and celebrity appearances.

In addition, guests marvel at its 520+ retail shops that feature fashion, food, tech, toys, and plenty of unique finds.

Big-name clothing retailers include Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lululemon, and Athleta. (Insider tip: there is no sales tax on clothing in the state of Minnesota!)

The Mall is also home to specialty retailers like Peleton, Apple, Carhartt, and Alpaca Connection, as well as luxury retailers like Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, and Lacoste.

Along with epic shopping experiences, the Mall of America houses more than a dozen full-service restaurants like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Rainforest Cafe, Twin City Grill, Hard Rock Cafe, and Crave.

(The following is our list of the best kid-friendly restaurants at the Mall of America!)

You’ll also find nearly two dozen attractions and entertainment venues including:

  • An indoor theme park
  • Arcades and escape rooms
  • Axe throwing
  • Comedy theatre
  • The Crayola Experience
  • Mini golf
  • Movie theater 
  • Mirror maze
  • Laser tag
  • Old Time Photos
  • Many more…

Finally, if you’re looking for ultra-convenient overnight accommodations, the Mall of America is connected to two amazing, upscale hotels!

Both Radisson Blu and JW Marriott Mall of America are physically connected to MOA and can be experienced without ever having to leave the mall.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!

2. Nickelodeon Universe

Would you believe that the Mall of America has an indoor amusement park that includes giant rollercoasters and thrill rides?

Nickelodeon Universe theme park is a humongous 7-acre indoor amusement park located in the center of the mall.

Spending a few hours or an entire day at Nickelodeon Universe is by far one of the most fun things to do in Bloomington, MN!

This Nickelodeon-themed amusement park offers over 28 rides in three different categories: Family, Junior, and Thrill.

For the little tykes in your family, the 11 Junior rides are specially designed for children 36-42 inches tall.

(And as a huge bonus, parents or chaperones ride for free with a paying toddler!)

Tweens, teens, and adults will enjoy the Pepsi Orange Streak rollercoaster, SpongeBob Squarepants roller coaster, Brain Surge, and The Fairly Odd Coaster.

Rides can be enjoyed when purchased in the form of a points system, an unlimited wristband, or an annual pass.

Other activities within Nickelodeon Universe include character meet-n-greets with SpongeBob, Dora, Ninja Turtles, and Ni Hao, as well as Dutchman’s Deck zip lining.

Additional planning tip: Helpful to note is that the Mall of America and Nickelodeon Universe is a Certified Autism Center for children with sensory concerns.

Each activity has a sensory guide letting parents know the stimulation level of touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight for that activity.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Ocean tunnel

3. SEA LIFE Aquarium

Another one of the best things to do in Bloomington, MN is to visit SEA LIFE Aquarium.

SEA LIFE Aquarium is located on the East side of Level 1 at none other than, the Mall of America.

This incredible aquarium experience brings the ocean to Minnesota with more than 4,500 animals in 1.3 million gallons of water.

SEA LIFE’s crown jewel is the 300-foot ocean tunnel where you can watch sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, and sea turtles swim overhead.

The aquarium also has touch tanks where you can find out what sea animals such as anemones feel like.

Finally, SEA LIFE Aquarium hosts ongoing events like shark feedings and behind-the-scenes tours that visitors can book ahead of their visit.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Bloomington’s National Wildlife Refuge

4. Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington, MN 55425

Next, Bloomington, Minnesota is home to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and its visitor center.

This 14,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge is part of a national effort to conserve and protect fish, wildlife, and plants, as well as to provide environmental education.

Among its lakes, ponds, and floodplain forests, there are over 46 miles of beautiful trails for hiking, biking, bird watching, and photographing.

Here, you will likely see dozens of avian species, including warblers, eagles, waterfowl, and migratory birds.

In the winter, visitors head to the Refuge to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing as part of their midwest winter weekend getaway.

Additional planning tip: The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge permits select access to fishing and hunting within the park in order to ensure healthy wildlife populations.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
A Hyland Park playground

5. Hyland Lake Park Reserve

10145 E Bush Lake Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438

If you’re looking for another way to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, head to Hyland Lake Park Reserve as part of your Minnesota bucket list!

As another one of the best things to do in Bloomington, MN, Hyland Lake Park Reserve is part of an extensive park system comprised of nearly 2,600 acres.

Here, visitors will find activities suitable for spring, summer, fall, and winter that include:

  • Hiking, dog trails, and geocaching
  • Picnic areas and large playgrounds with a variety of structures
  • Biking and disc golf
  • Boating, paddling (canoe and kayak), and fishing on Hyland Lake
  • Camping
  • Cross-country, downhill, and telemark skiing
  • Snowboarding, snowshoeing, and sledding
  • Nature center to learn about local wildlife
  • Rental spaces for group events

Keep your eyes peeled for stunning wild animals like wood ducks, swans, beavers, and turtles around the lake.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area

6. Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area

8800 Chalet Rd, Bloomington, MN 55438

Within the Hyland Lake Park Reserve is the Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area.

This facility is unique in that it has 14 runs, 3 chair lifts, and 5 surface tows located in an urban area.

The runs at Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area range in difficulty from beginner to expert and include a terrain park with jumps and rails to practice your aerial tricks.

In addition to having equipment rentals and lockers for visitors, riders can take private or group ski or board lessons offered at the park.

Finally, relax with some food and drink at the Chalet while watching all of the activities on the mountain. 

Note that in the warm months, the mountain is open for hiking, biking, and outdoor concerts, while the Chalet hosts weddings and parties.

Read here for another great Minnesota downhill skiing destination!

7. Bloomington Farmers Market

Bloomington Civic Plaza, W of 35W on 98th St. and James Ave.

The Bloomington Farmers Market is host to a plethora of locally-grown produce and homemade goods. 

Nearby farmers come to the market on Saturdays from 8 am-1 pm between the months of October through June to sell products and participate in special events.

You will find all types of organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, cut flowers, honey, baked goods, jams, jellies, artisanal meats, cheeses, and maple syrup.

Typically, you will also find coffee stands and live music throughout the morning hours.

Don’t worry if you forgot to bring cash.

All vendors accept credit or debit cards too.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
FlyOver America is located at the Mall of America

8. FlyOver America

Bloomington’s FlyOver America is located on Level 1 of the Mall of America.

FlyOver America is a one-of-a-kind indoor video simulation ride where you will experience a fully immersive adventure complete with wind, mist, and scent.

The aerial tour takes you over some of the country’s most recognized and memorable landmarks and regions including places you may have only dreamed about.

For instance soar over Hawaii’s volcanic craters, along the stunning Maui beaches, and among the tropical canyons of Oahu. 

Each FlyOver America ride lasts approximately15 minutes and is a unique way to get to know some extraordinary places within the United States.

The experience features both child and adult prices and is open year-round, making it one of the best things to do in Minneapolis in winter.

Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, MN from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan!
Vertical Endeavors

9. Vertical Endeavors

Vertical Endeavors is premiere rock climbing facility located in Bloomington.

The facility is open to the public and does not require any previous climbing experience before visiting for the first time.

Visitors can purchase a day pass, 10-visit pass, or membership packages, as well as rental add-ons such as climbing shoes and a harness.

As another great indoor activity, Vertical Endeavors offers hours of action-packed fun for the whole family!

More Things to do In Bloomington, Minnesota

There are literally hundreds of other attractions found within Minnesota’s metro area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as its surrounding surburban cities.

Here is a list of additional activities located within the city of Bloomington.

  • The Works Musuem (Interactive children’s museum focused on engineering and technology.)
  • Normandale Japanese Garden (Beautiful garden located on the campus of Normandale Community College.)
  • The Links at Dred Scott Minature Golf (Fun, outdoor miniature golf course.)
  • Artistry Theater and Visual Arts (Award-winning production theater.)
  • Gameworks (Esport and entertainment hub located inside of the Mall of America; includes console gaming, arcade games, bowling, and a restaurant.)

Places to Stay in Bloomington

Bloomington, MN is home to over 40 different hotels.

Its high density of hotels is related to the large influx of visitors drawn to the Mall of America as well as its close proximity to the Minneapolis International Airport (MSP).

Our absolute favorite place to stay in Bloomington if you’re visiting with kids is Great Wolf Lodge.

Located less than 1 mile from Mall of America, it’s only a short 10-minute walk to the north entrance of the mall, or a free shuttle ride away.

This immaculate lodge-themed hotel has a humungous indoor waterpark, as well as an arcade, ropes course, and MagiQuest game.

Read our entire reivew of Great Wolf Lodge as well as find our our insider tips for visiting there.

Our other recommendations for places to stay in Bloomington include:

Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

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Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, Minnesota from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan! (Photo credits: Bloomington CVB)
Find out the best things to do in Bloomington, Minnesota from top US family travel blog, Travel With A Plan! (Photo credits: Bloomington CVB)
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Hi, I'm Jen - founder of the award-winning travel blog, Travel With A Plan! I help families plan fun & fulfilling family vacations by sharing our exact itineraries and "best things to do" lists to popular US vacation spots. Take the stress out of planning a family vacation by using our detailed destination guides and ultra-convenient packing lists to help you travel better. We'll show you how hassle-free family travel is possible - when you travel with a plan!

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