Winter may get a bad rap, but Bloomington knows how to make the most of it — especially for families. With fun seasonal festivals & events, awesome indoor attractions, unique opportunities for outdoor fun, and Hoosier Basketball, there's plenty to do with kids in B-Town. Whether you're here for a day, a weekend, or a week, there's much winter fun to be had among the bare branches and snow-covered hills.


A little girl sledding down the ice luge at Freezefest

Check Out Freezefest

Bloomington's only winter festival is a celebration of icy art, with ice sculptures displayed on Madison St, in front of The Mill, including interactive ice games such as ping pong, cornhole, mini golf, sledding, and more — all carved from ice! Bundle up and head to B-Town with the whole family to experience the Freezefest ice battle, live carving demonstrations, aforementioned games, and more.

Cheer on the Hoosiers

The return of Indiana University Basketball is one of the best things about winter in Bloomington, and taking the kids to a Men's or Women's game is an awesome activity for the entire family to enjoy. Put on your favorite Hoosier gear, make the drive to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, grab your favorite snacks from concessions, and cheer the Hoosiers on to victory! You can even make an entire trip out of the game — we already planned your stay for you.



A girl climbing an obstacle course at Urban Air
Photo by Rachel Hawkins

Glide Around the Ice Rink

From October through March, Frank Southern Ice Arena is open to all in Bloomington for a fun day of ice skating. Rent a pair of skates or bring your own, and after the kids have gotten out all of their energy, be sure to stop by Soma Coffee House & Juice Bar for a steaming cup of hot cocoa!

Go on a Gaming Crawl

If your littles are tiny gamers in the making, a gaming crawl is a great way to spend a winter day in B-Town. Start with laser tag at LaserLite, then head to Yogi's for lunch and some gaming time in their "Side Bar" full of arcade games, then head to IMU Bowling & Billiards to teach the kids how to play pool and end the crawl with a round or two of bowling.

Jump Around, Jump Around

Get the kids out of the house to burn off winter's pent-up energy by jumping around at Urban Air Adventure Park! The indoor trampoline park features tons of trampolines, a Ninja Warrior course & Wipeout course, climbing walls, a slam dunk zone, and more. Burn off your own energy and get active by joining the kiddos for a fun day they're not likely to forget!



A Barred Owl perched in a tree at Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge during winter
Photo by @thinklikeapoet on Instagram

Hike the Perfect Winter Trail

Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, located just five minutes from the Indiana University campus, offers several short hiking trails of varying distances, from 0.2 miles to 1.7 miles, making for the perfect winter hiking experience for visitors of all ages with beautiful views of the preserve's frozen lake beyond the bare trees.

Observe Winter's Wildlife

Bloomington is home to several fantastic wildlife refuges and nature preserves, Muscatatuck National Wildlife Refuge and Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve being two of the best for wildlife observation and birding. During winter, tundra swans, sandhill cranes, many species of ducks, and river otters are commonly spotted. If you and your kids are passionate about animals, an afternoon spent at either of the two properties is the perfect winter activity for your family.

Have a Harry Potter-Themed Adventure

Bloomington is home to many places that have an uncanny similarity to parts of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World. Brave the outdoors at Monroe Lake (The Black Lake) and around the university campus (Hogwarts), then escape the cold at IU's Biology Greenhouse (Professor Sprout's Herbology classroom) and The Irish Lion (The Leaky Cauldron). The whole family will have a bloody good time following this list of destinations to experience the magic of Harry Potter in B-Town.



A mother and daughter observing art at the Eskenazi Museum of Art
Photo Courtesy of the Eskenazi Museum of Art

Traverse the B-Town Basketball Trail

If you and your kiddos are sports enthusiasts and/or passionate IU Basketball fans, exploring the Bloomington Basketball Trail is a must. With a famed basketball arena, multiple museums with collections on the area's basketball history, and other attractions that display fanfare & memorabilia on their walls, it's a great experience to be had on a winter day in Bloomington.

Have a Day at the Museum(s)

B-Town offers several top-notch museums, some of the best including the Monroe County History Center, WonderLab Museum of Science, Health & Technology, and Lilly Library — all of which offer exciting experiences for both kids and adults. Explore the miniature books and vintage games collections at the Lilly Library, the entire WonderLab Museum (each exhibit and activity is designed specifically for kids), and the rich history of Monroe County with hands on experiences at the History Center, featuring Monroe, the Schmalz bear. 

Go on a Cozy Cuisine Tour

There's no shortage of delicious winter flavors in Bloomington. If your kids are little foodies in the making, treat them to a B-Town cozy cuisine tour. Enjoy a Sugarplum Donut from Rainbow Bakery for breakfast, Hot Chocolate from The Inkwell for a post-breakfast beverage, a Soup Flight from Southern Stone for lunch, a savory pastry from neighboring Feast Market & Cellar for an afternoon snack, and Pad Thai from Siam House for dinner.