12 Things to Do with Family in Bloomington, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 6, 2024 by Robert Wilson


Bloomington, Minnesota is a lively inner-ring suburb of Minneapolis that offers no shortage of fun, family-friendly activities. From world-renowned attractions like the iconic Mall of America to outdoor recreation like bowling and mini golf, there’s something for every age group to enjoy.

Families visiting the area will love the hands-on children’s museums, beautiful nature centers and parks with playground equipment, and interactive sports entertainment options. And the dining options in Bloomington cater to kids and grownups alike, with many restaurants featuring creative, delicious kid’s menus.

During certain seasons, special events like the Renaissance Festival provide an extra layer of excitement appropriate for all-ages. Read on for some of the top things for families to see and do in Bloomington, Minnesota for maximum fun and lasting memories.

1.Spend the Day at Mall of America


No trip to Bloomington would be complete without stopping at the world-famous Mall of America. This massive shopping and entertainment complex contains an indoor amusement park, aquarium, mini golf course, mirror maze and more.

Famous attractions include Nickelodeon Universe®, a 7-acre indoor theme park with roller coasters and rides for all ages. Other kid favorites include the LEGO store and the American Girl retail store and bistro. Of course, the Mall of America also offers prime people watching and window shopping opportunities.

The mall also features dozens of diverse restaurant options that make it easy for families to take meal breaks amidst the shopping and playing without having to leave. During the holidays, stop by to see intricate animatronic displays and themed events.

2.Learn at Minnesota Children’s Museum


The Minnesota Children’s Museum in downtown St. Paul is one of the top things to do with kids in Bloomington and the Twin Cities metropolitan area. This massive educational play space features engaging, interactive multi-sensory exhibits that make it joyful for kids to explore science, arts, and humanities. Permanent exhibits like Our World focuses on community, diversity and culture.

The featured art studio, Sprouts music studio, and Our Backyard nature space also captivate and inspire creativity. Special traveling exhibits offer fresh new themes and sensory play.

Kids and parents alike will find that learning flows organically from following interests and curiosity in this rich, stimulating environment. During your Bloomington family trip, tack on a stop at Minnesota Children’s Museum for an unforgettable and meaningful experience together.

3.See Marine Life at Minnesota Zoo


Located just a short drive away in Apple Valley, the Minnesota Zoo offers an excellent family-focused outing from Bloomington with habitats showcasing animals from around the world. This renowned zoo goes beyond typical animal viewing with specialized exhibits that allow visitors to get surprisingly close-up with creatures like dolphins, seals, penguins and more.

The Discovery Bay area allows kids to touch rays as they glide by. Other key exhibits feature tropical butterflies floating freely, birds and even an indoor stream walk with waterfall. Beautiful botanical displays like the Northern Trail give glimpses of the temperate habitats right in Minnesota’s backyard.

Make sure to stop by the Wells Fargo Family Farm area to see goats, sheep, donkeys and even milk a robotic cow. Bring the family to laugh at the silly snow monkeys playing and to marvel at large creatures like tigers, bears and whales visible from clear underwater viewing areas.

4.Play Mini Golf at Hyland Greens


For affordable, classic family fun, treat the kids to mini golf at Hyland Greens in Bloomington. This creative 36-hole mini golf course surrounded by lush landscaping has been a beloved local favorite since opening in 1962.

The courses intertwine and complement one another, with unique hole designs requiring skillful putting through obstacles like loops, curves, ramps and tunnels. Friendly competition arises with opportunities to skip ahead or even send opponents’ balls back to delay their progress.

The elaborate theme displays like plow horses mid-chore and covered bridge sights help transport players back to rural life in the past. Hyland Greens makes mini golf exciting for all ages from small kids to grandparents, so everyone can participate. There’s also a Hyland Hills ski chalet, dinner menu and bar upstairs for the grownups to relax while kids bound from hole to hole refining their hand-eye coordination skills.

5.Visit Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge


Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will not want to miss the opportunity to explore the serene trails and scenery at Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge while visiting Bloomington. Spanning 14,000 acres spread throughout 70 miles of Minnesota River Valley habitats, this amazing refuge features a Wetland Management District right in Bloomington.

Here you’ll find five miles of trails traversing through prairie, marshland and oak savanna habitats that once dominated Minnesota’s landscape. Sharp-eyed wildlife watchers may spot whitetail deer, red fox, beavers and dozens of bird species from the wooden observation platforms along the paths.

Make sure to stop inside the Bloomington Education and Visitor Center to let the kids try their hand at the interactive exhibits highlighting unique refuge ecosystems and the creatures residing within. The kid-focused displays showcase animal costumes, bones, furs and more for hands-on sensory exploration.

6.Play Laser Tag at Ultrazone


For active indoor entertainment, Ultrazone laser tag will thrill kids, teens and kid-hearted adults alike. Their massive multi-level arena glows under specialty lighting as players attempt intense yet good humored battles shooting harmless laser blasters in the foggy darkness.

Game options range from every person for themselves to exciting team play requiring communication and cooperation towards illuminated based stations. What’s great for families is that the arena and equipment are specially adapted to be physically accessible and enjoyable for a wide range of ages and mobility levels. So all family members from young kids up through grandparents can play at their own pace without fear of injury.

Ultrazone also offers trendy Escape Room options where players have an hour to work together solving mysteries and overcoming puzzles and challenges to figuratively break free. Break up a day of Bloomington shopping and attractions by teaming up for some adrenaline-pumping play at Ultrazone.

7.See Rare Aircraft at Minnesota Air National Guard Museum


Aviation buffs young and old will find the collections at the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum well worth a visit during their Bloomington travels. Displayed aircraft tells the story of Minnesota aviation history relating to commercial transportation, national defense, air mail and more.

Visitors can get up close to supplies and artifacts inside the fully-restored 1940s era Air Guard hangar. Kids enjoy the hands-on interactive exhibits inviting them to try out flight simulator controls, jump into a historic pilot seat and experiment with aircraft levers and dials.

Make sure to check the exhibit schedule for special STEM-based events like robotics demonstrations, science experiments and physics lessons often offered. The aircraft viewing room allows a close glimpse of rare specialty planes in detail. From fighter jets to powerful helicopters, the Minnesota Air National Guard Museum offers an exciting glimpse into aviation that will inspire any future top guns in the family.

8.Catch a MN Twins Baseball Game


Being Bloomington’s next-door neighbor, no visit to the area would be complete without catching some Major League Baseball action courtesy of the Minnesota Twins. Home to the team since 1982, the open-air Target Field provides a lively backdrop for America’s favorite pastime from April into September. T

o appeal to kids, the Twins host numerous family-focused mini events on Sundays where kids can run the bases after the game and partake in post-game entertainment on the field. Younger fans can burn off energy at the massive Twins Town playground in center field equipped with tiered slides, rope climbs, tunnels and ball launchers. Stop by the Jr.

Home Run Derby or take part in other skills challenges on the roof deck. Parents will appreciate the broad range of gourmet foodie offerings showcasing some of the Twin Cities’ most celebrated chefs and best breweries. Catching a Twins game while visiting Bloomington makes for an all-American afternoon or evening that future big leaguers will long remember.

9.Tour Seasonally at Renaissance Festival


While only open during select weekends in late summer leading to fall harvest, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival offers a beloved annual tradition in the Shakopee area near Bloomington. This immersive fictional 16th century English village comes to life with more than 200 professional theater performers dressed in intricate period costumes roaming the streets and stages.

You’ll find jesters, knights, magicians, musicians and artisans peddling their wares at one of North America’s largest and longest running Renaissance fairs. Kids delight at demonstrations by swordsmen and falcon handlers while parents admire handmade jewelry and crafts at the open-air shops full of treasures. With turkey legs, steak on a stake and giant pickles always cooking over open fires, no one ever leaves hungry.

Pay an additional fee for unlimited carnival rides like the swings and giant slide to amplify the enjoyment. Wander through the labyrinthine forested paths connecting encampments and you may even glimpse a fairy or centaur summoning passersby. Immerse the kids in history, artistry and folklore at this magical Renaissance village that seems to disappear as quickly as it materialized once autumn arrives.

10.Splash Around at Aqualand Waterpark


The family owned Aqualand waterpark provides refreshing wet n’ wild summer fun in nearby Eagan, under 15 minutes drive south of Bloomington. This clean, spacious park centered around a generous zero-depth pool with mushroom fountain will thrill kids from toddlers to teens.

The Little Squirts Lagoon section tailored to tiny tots with mini slides and splash toys sits adjacent to the big kids thrill rides like Looping Starship with launch capsule and funnel. In between find family raft rides like Big Kahuna along with a waterfall pool, side winding Crazy River, surfing simulator and lengthy flat out slides.

Covered tables allow parents to relax poolside while watching the kids zig zag through drenching spray tunnels. Concessions feature standard waterpark fare like cheesy pizza, Dippin Dots ice cream and sno cones to keep energy replenished for more hydro action. With attentive lifeguards, rules enforcement and general maintenance, Aqualand presents a genuine splash bash in clean, shiny environment parents can feel good about.

11.Tour Spring Valley Vineyards


The family owned Spring Valley Vineyards situated on 108 acres of former dairy farm also offers the neighborly Vineyard Villas chalet rentals in picturesque rural setting only minutes from Bloomington’s attractions. But the real draw is intimate wine tasting retreat that happens to be the only commercial winery and vineyard in the Twin Cities area.

Tour the family home and wine production facility to learn about cultivation on Minnesota’s youngest AVA region supporting hybrid French American grape varietals. Underage kids will appreciate free Vern’s root beer floats as parents indulge in award winning whites like Brianna, Frontenac Gris and St. Pepin.

After sampling, wander through the estate’s sprawling vineyards and dine outdoors at the casual bistro that even offers hot dogs, chicken tenders and grilled cheese catering to unrefined young palates. Back at the cozy restaurants, parents will find plenty of sophisticated small plate offerings perfect for sharing like wild mushroom tart and artisan cheese display.

With bucolic patio seating surrounded by vines twisting from the pergola overhead, Spring Valley Vineyards offers a peaceful mealtime getaway centering around favorite libations.

12.Make Memories at Thunder Road


No family fun center packs quite as much entertainment into one venue as Thunder Road, located conveniently right off I-35 and about 98th in Bloomington. This multi-faceted amusement park features celebrated attractions like classic bowling and a video arcade stocked with cutting edge virtual reality pods and simulations.

Yet you’ll also find indoor go karts that get the adrenaline going and a 18-hole mini golf course to test putt putting skills underneath black lighting effects. Laser tag, bumper cars and escape room options offer additional variety. The expansive outdoor section opens seasonally for additional rides, slides, zip lines and adventure parks to exhaust even the liveliest kids.

Plentiful party rooms get booked quickly for kid birthdays and team events. And the large restaurant menu ranges from shareable starters like nachos and queso dip to hand tossed pizzas, loaded burgers and curly fries to satisfy all appetites. For all-around entertainment, Thunder Road literally cannot be beat while visiting Bloomington with a crew of kids and teenagers in tow.

Conclusion


With world-famous megamalls, thrilling amusement parks, incredible zoos and engaging children’s museums, Bloomington offers no shortage of terrific attractions for families visiting the Twin Cities region of Minnesota.

Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the hiking and nature education at wildlife refuge sanctuaries while sports fans can catch exciting professional baseball games nearby. Kids and kids at heart will delight at the hands-on interactivity of museums and recreation centers tailored specifically for family participation and enjoyment.

Those looking to support local arts can explore homegrown wineries or visit immersive theater festivals reflecting different historic eras. With convenient proximity to Minneapolis international airport and hub of metro highways, staying in Bloomington makes for easy access to the full spectrum of family-friendly sights and happenings all across the Land of 10,000 Lakes region.

Parents and guardians wanting to show their children a fun-filled, memorable vacation should consider Bloomington as an ideal, budget-friendly home base given the wealth of attractions found right in town.

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