Bloomington is an exciting place for families during the summer. Not only is Bloomington home to The Works Museum, it is also home to tons of other great family activities this summer. Whether you want to explore the outdoors at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve or MN National Wildlife Refuge, unleash your creative side with classes at Artistry, or take a peaceful walk through the Normandale Japanese Garden, there is something for everyone. Check out the list below for great free or low cost options for family activities in Bloomington this summer.
Hyland Lake Park Reserve
photo via Three Rivers Park District
Centered on Hyland Lake and surrounded by prairie landscapes, this park is great for hiking, exploring plants and animals at the Richardson Nature Center, or renting canoes and kayaks for an afternoon on the water! If you’ve had enough natural scenery for the day, head to the wildly popular Chutes and Ladders children’s play area within the park (pictured above).
Open from 5 am to 10 pm during the summer. Find out more here.
Bush Lake Beach
This fun family swimming beach is directly adjacent to the Hyland Lake Park Reserve. Come check out the beach, play volleyball, or walk the trails with your kids. The Bloomington Family Aquatic Center is another great option for swimming on hot summer days.
Lifeguards are on duty at Bush Lake from 11 am to 7 pm every day during the summer. Make sure to grab a daily parking pass for $7.75 per car. Find out more here.
Bloomington Farmers Market
This vibrant local marketplace runs every Saturday from June to October, 8 am to 1 pm. Enjoy fresh produce and chat with farmers for a lovely weekend activity with the family.
Find out more here.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Boating, hiking, biking, and fishing are just a few of your options when you visit this stunning wildlife refuge! The Bloomington Visitor’s Center is also home to exhibits offering information on the natural and cultural history of the area.
The Bloomington Center is open every Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm during the summer, free admission. Find out more here.
Located on Normandale Community College’s campus, this peaceful sanctuary offers a respite from the hectic pace of summer camp and sport schedules. This garden is great for a peaceful stroll, and every Sunday from 1 to 3 pm in the summer, the college offers a free “Show and Tell” activity for visitors.
Open sunrise to sunset year round, free admission. Find out more here.
Mall of America- Toddler Tuesdays
Every Tuesday from 10 am to noon, the Mall of America sponsors an afternoon of free activities for toddlers! Potential activities include special character appearances, arts and crafts, and storytime.
Tuesdays 10 to noon at the rotunda, free admission. Find out more here.
This center for theater and art offers excellent family and child programs throughout the summer. Families can sign up for programs like “Gorgeous Garden Printmaking” for around $22 per family. Send your teens to the free teen open studio space on specific Friday evenings throughout the summer. This center also offers galleries of visual art and theater productions.
Open 10 am to 5 pm Monday – Friday, free admission to galleries. Find out more here.
Historic Fort Snelling right outside of Bloomington is well known for being a popular choice for families throughout the year. Walk through the fort and see history come to life with interactive exhibits and storytelling. Head next door to Fort Snelling State Park for a hike or fishing break.
Historic Fort Snelling open every Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm, $12 adults/$6 kids/Free for 4 and under. Find out more here.
Art in the Parks
Visit a Bloomington park as part of the city’s “Art in the Parks” program. Monday mornings at Moir Park feature musical performances for kids, and every Friday evening at Normandale Lake Park a free movie is screened!
Monday Morning Kids Series (10:30 am at Moir Park), Moonlight Movies (9 pm at Normandale Lake Park), free admission. Find out more here.
The Works Museum!
Come visit us for hands-on STEM activities and experiences, including exploring the K’NEX Ball Machine, building in our Workshop, and looking through a giant kaleidoscope. On Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11 am throughout the summer, we offer “Pop-Up Engineering” activities for the whole family. Come to build a marble rollercoaster or wind turbine and leave knowing a little bit more about engineering.
The Works Museum hours during the summer are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5 pm, Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, and Sunday – 12 pm– 5 pm and we offer special camps and workshops throughout the week.
Our Bloomington Summer Pass for families who either live, work, or attend school in Bloomington, offers unlimited admission for the whole summer for just $25.99 (click here for more information).
Need more? Check out these resources for more ideas for Bloomington family activities this summer!
The City of Bloomington offers a list of attractions and events on this page, sort by location and narrow to Bloomington.
Pages 1 -3 of this document offer active and outdoor family activity ideas in Bloomington!