Oct 20

The Tourist’s Guide to Bloomington, MN

by in USA

This suburb of Minneapolis is a destination all its own. Featuring stunning natural scenery and attractions, you’ll feel far from the bustling Twin Cities during your Bloomington vacation. Discover the best of Bloomington with this quick guide.

Free Natural Attractions

White tailed Deer Fawn Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Don’t let the city’s proximity to the airport fool you; there is plenty of natural beauty in Bloomington. Foremost is the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. This lush natural area stretches along the south and east borders of Bloomington and offers the precious opportunity to experience a variety wildlife in their natural habitat. The refuge offers free staff-led hikes and interpretation programs for budding naturalists, while fishing and hunting licenses are also available.

For more tame outdoor experiences, visit the Normandale Japanese Garden and Normandale Lake. Featuring two acres of gardens, ponds, lagoons, and bridges, this well-groomed outdoor setting is ideal for picnickers and avid photographers.

Hiring a private guide can help show you the most interesting sights and places in Bloomington that you might not have known about. Informative guides take you to historical places, restaurants, recommended locations, and bars.

Mall of America

Mall of America entrance sign Bloomington Minnesota

Bloomington is probably most well known as the home of the Mall of America. Not only does it house an impressive 500+ stores, but it is also an entertainment destination. Test your crime-solving skills at CSI: The Experience, unleash your inner thrill-seeker at the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, or rush down the water slides at the world’s largest indoor water park. Re-fuel at Bubba Gump restaurant or the Rainforest Cafe. Before you go, visit the mall’s website to download coupons and discount tickets.

Where to Stay

Many of your favorite hotel chains are in Bloomington. You will find most hotels near the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), the Mall of America, and along Interstate 494. Hotels in Bloomington are generally cheaper than in downtown Minneapolis.

Travelers arriving by plane into Bloomington should consider the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Suites Mall of America/MSP Airport and the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, both of which offer free shuttle service to the airport and Mall of America. Families traveling on a budget will find free breakfast, free parking, and free Wi-Fi at Super 8 Bloomington/Airport and Comfort Inn Airport.

For something extra special, book a room at the Embassy Suites Bloomington that features a lush interior garden courtyard, a free cooked-to-order breakfast, on-site dining, and an indoor pool.

Restaurants Popular with Locals

Normandale Lake Bloomington MN

While many hotels in Bloomington boast their own restaurants and bars, there are a couple of off-site choices for travelers looking to explore local cuisine. Dress up and enjoy a pleasant meal or Sunday brunch at the elegant Kincaids restaurant on Normandale Lake. Entrée prices are reasonable and range from $15 to $40. Offering an impressive wine list for your indulgence, you might want to take a cab.

Tucked in an industrial park, the exterior of the Shantytown Bar and Grill is nothing special. However, the atmosphere and food inside has made this venue a local favorite. Popular dishes include gourmet burgers, sandwiches, and onion rings.

While there are many reasons to spend time in Bloomington, many travelers will be most impressed with the more affordable hotels, dining, and attractions prices than in neighboring Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Author Bio:

A former video-journalist and news anchor, Tammy Banfield is a freelance travel writer. Tammy has written editorials for more than 2,000 hotels and has travelled across Canada and the United States. When she’s not scouring the web for the best travel experiences, Tammy can be found running with her dog or organizing her next book club meeting.

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