Trip Idea: Family Fun
Bloomington is a college town, but there are still plenty of opportunities for families with young children to have fun together. Whether you're into outdoor adventures or educational tours, or maybe a little bit of both, you'll find it here. Here are some of our favorite family and children's attractions.
If you have kids, or act like a kid yourself sometimes, you absolutely must visit WonderLab, ranked as one of the top 25 science centers in the country by Parents Magazine. WonderLab offers two floors of exciting hands-on experiences for all ages. Expose your family to some unique cultures at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures on the IU Campus. Their exhibits showcase artifacts from around the world, but there are also interactive displays and activities that kids and adults can enjoy. For cultures closer to home, visit the Monroe County History Center, which houses several permanent and rotating exhibits, with a special emphasis on children's programs.
Family adventures start at Monroe Lake, the state's largest lake, with fishing, swimming and boating (rentals are available at various locations). With the Hoosier National Forest covering a large portion of the surrounding area, there's plenty of room for hiking, biking, horseback riding and camping. Many family memories are made on the beaches of Monroe Lake and on campgrounds in the beautiful forests.
May we suggest a fun afternoon at the Karst Farm Park Splash Pad - especially if you've got small children in your family. The splash pad is a completely accessible, zero depth water wonderland. Kids of all ages and abilities love beating the heat at this colorful attraction. Right next door is a large playground and picnic area.
Fountain Square Mall
There are plenty of places to shop for kids' gear throughout Bloomington, but the Fountain Square Mall right on the downtown square is fantastic. There are a few kid-specific stores in the mall, plus the facility hosts special seasonal events - Santa Claus and Easter Bunny photo ops, for instance.
Bloomington is well-known for its unique eateries and that includes some great family-friendly options. Bloomington Bagel Company is a great place to start the day, featuring fresh-made bagels and pastries (plus plenty of lunch options too). Grazie Italian Eatery has plenty of pasta dishes, of course, which kids and adults can enjoy. You can find dozens of places that serve the all-time kids' favorite- pizza! Two local favorites include Café Pizzaria, with a classic Midwestern style pizza, and Buccetto's, which takes a more gourmet approach.
When you're traveling with kids, you have to consider two factors when choosing a hotel: space and money. So the larger rooms at Homewood Suites and Towneplace Suites are fantastic options, and they all feature kitchenettes for eating in once or twice (but not too much - you don't want to miss all the great restaurants in Bloomington!)
To make your trip planning even easier, here's your go-to checklist for everything mentioned in the trip idea above.