Things to Do in Bloomington, Illinois

Bloomington, Illinois, is a medium-sized city, but it’s brimming with various attractions and activities that cater to every interest.

From museums that offer a deep dive into history and aviation to tranquil spots perfect for relaxation, Bloomington is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

For history buffs and aviation enthusiasts alike, the Prairie Aviation Museum is a must-visit. Here, you can get up close with an impressive collection of military aircraft, each with its own story.

The museum showcases these majestic machines and offers insights into the technological advancements and historical significance of aviation in the military.

The McLean County Museum of History is your gateway to the past if you’re keen on understanding the local heritage. Housed in a beautifully preserved historic building, the museum comprehensively looks at the region’s rich history through well-curated exhibits. From the early pioneer days to the present, the museum captures the essence of McLean County’s evolution.

Things to Do in Bloomington, Illinois

But Bloomington isn’t just about museums. The city also offers a serene and relaxing atmosphere, perfect for those looking to unwind.

Whether you’re strolling through one of its lush parks, enjoying a quiet coffee in a cozy café, or simply meandering through the charming downtown streets, Bloomington provides a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Bloomington, Illinois, prepare to be pleasantly surprised by the variety of interesting places you can explore.

From learning about the skies at the Prairie Aviation Museum to delving into local lore at the McLean County Museum of History, Bloomington offers every visitor a rich tapestry of experiences.

Miller Park Zoo

If you love animals, you will enjoy visiting the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois. This small community zoo houses a variety of exotic and native species. It is an excellent place for families and kids to see and learn about animals.

One of the best things about this zoo is its interactive exhibits. In addition, the zoo features a zoo lab, which is an opportunity for visitors to see how the staff at the zoo takes care of their animals.

Red Wolf (Canis rufus) - Miller Park Zoo - Best places to visit in Bloomington
Red Wolf (Canis rufus) – Miller Park Zoo – Best places to visit in Bloomington

The zoo has many other exciting attractions, including the Tropical Rainforest Exhibit. The zoo also offers a junior zookeeper program. In addition to the exhibits, there is a playground and splash pad.

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The Miller Park Zoo was first opened in the early 1900s. The Parks and Recreation Department of the city of Bloomington now runs it.

Prairie Aviation Museum

The Prairie Aviation Museum is located near US 9 and Veterans Parkway. The museum offers educational programs and a glimpse into aviation’s past. This facility also features an interactive video presentation.

The museum’s main objective is to provide an opportunity to experience aviation in a way that can help create a better understanding of the industry and its role in our nation.

Visitors can take a tour of the museum’s indoor and outdoor displays, as well as enter the cockpit of several aircraft.

Some of the planes displayed at the Prairie Aviation Museum include the A-4 Skyhawk, the F-14 Tomcat, and the F-4N Phantom.

There are also three helicopters on display. These include the AH-1J Sea Cobra, the Bell UH-1H Iroquois Helicopter, and the McDonnell QF-4E Phantom II.

Places to go in Bloomington - Prairie Aviation Museum
Places to go in Bloomington – Prairie Aviation Museum

The Prairie Aviation Museum is a public, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting aviation’s history. It does this through membership, donations, and ticket sales.

Aside from the airplanes, there are artifacts on display as well. Visitors can take a look at old uniforms and engines. One of the highlights of the museum is a 1941 Link Trainer.

Another highlight is the museum’s flight simulators. These were used to train pilots. Several of the aircraft on display were former training planes for the Air Force.

For example, the B-25 bomber was once used by the 169th Fighter Squadron, a part of the Naval Air Reserve. Previously, it was displayed at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois.

McLean County Museum of History

The McLean County Museum of History is a nonprofit organization that tells the story of McLean County, Illinois.

It operates out of the former McLean County Courthouse, built in 1903. In addition to the museum’s permanent exhibits, it also features award-winning rotating exhibits.

Best tourist attractions in Bloomington - McLean County Museum of History
Best tourist attractions in Bloomington – McLean County Museum of History

The museum’s collection contains over 18,000 items. These objects include maps, photographs, manuscripts, and newspapers.

They represent the history of the region from the 1800s to the present. As a result of its mission to promote education, it also develops public educational programs and serves as a repository of local history.

Visitors can view five galleries, which depict the history of the county. Each gallery is focused on a specific aspect of the community’s past.

For example, the Making a Home exhibit explores the lives of individuals who settled in McLean County.

Similarly, the Farming in the Great Corn Belt exhibit focuses on the agricultural practices of early settlers.

David Davis Mansion

The David Davis Mansion in Bloomington, Illinois, is a state historic site. It is also known as the Clover Lawn Estate.

This mansion was constructed between 1870 and 1872. In 1972, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Things to do in Bloomington - David Davis Mansion
Things to do in Bloomington – David Davis Mansion

The mansion’s history tells the story of America’s westward expansion. Several special events take place at the mansion throughout the year.

One is the “Glorious Garden Festival” in June. Another is the “Antique Car Exhibition” in November. These special events are free to attend and only require a small donation.

The mansion also contains a garden. Sarah Davis designed the garden. When she was alive, she created a garden inspired by classical Italian gardens from the 17th century and formal English gardens from the 18th century.

Duncan Manor

Duncan Manor is a historic house located in central Illinois. It is a nineteenth-century Italianate farmhouse that Dave and Randi Howell have restored. They have worked hard to restore this property.

The mansion has been in a state of disrepair for several years. However, the couple decided to return the house to its former glory.

They installed plumbing, heating, and air conditioning and completed detailed preservation projects throughout the property.

Places to visit in Bloomington - Duncan Manor
Places to visit in Bloomington – Duncan Manor

Duncan Manor is also home to a not-for-profit organization funded by community donations. In addition, the family plans to open the property to the public regularly.

There is a $5 tour of the grounds. This tour is meant to be a scary one. Many people have reported paranormal experiences at the house.

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