10 Things to Do Outside in Bloomington-Normal This Summer

Ewing Manor with first groups of people setting up on lawn for Illinois Shakespeare FestivalDo you feel it? Summer has sneaked in and brought excitement along for the ride. Children and adults alike seem to want to go outside and play!

More people stroll downtown, usually taking an outdoor-indoor tact, because many of the shops and restaurant and the new the Route 66 Visitors Center are irresistible. But the outdoor offerings are spread over the Bloomington-Normal area, promising you fresh air and fun at every turn.

We’re happy to host you here at Vrooman; we love to see our guests enjoying our beautiful Twin Cities. Here are our top 10 outdoor things to do in the area.

  1. Miller Park: At the zoo, see red pandas and greater flamingos, and ask zookeepers questions. The theater in the park hosts one summer production each year. Chances are you won’t believe these performers are non-professionals. This year’s presentation is Oliver! July 26-29.
  2. Minor league baseball: The Cornbelters play at the Corn Crib Stadium. You can’t get more summertime than baseball.
  3. McLean County Fair: Well, maybe you can get more summertime. McLean has the world’s largest county 4-H participation, so that means many types of exhibits and demonstrations. Also enjoy a petting zoo, pony rides, carnival rides and games, free music and other shows, and carnival food. What will they fry up next?
  4. Constitution Trail: Hikers and bikers take the alternate route from Normal to Bloomington (or vice versa), communing with nature and finding cool places to stop along the way.
    Bicycle leaning against tree with people sitting in folder chairs in sandy area right behind it.
  5. Prairie Vista Golf Course: The American contemporary style course has been named a 4-star course on the Golf Digest’s “Places to Play” list. Take the kids; they play free after 2 p.m.
  6. Maxwell Park in Normal. One of the area’s great places to picnic. Grill here and use the trails, tennis courts, disc golf course, horseshoe court, and other amenities.
  7. Grady’s Family Fun Park: Family entertainment center. Go-Karts, miniature golf, amusement park rides for adults and children, bumper boats and bumper cars, batting cages, pizza, and more.
  8. Theater and concerts: Many performances for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival will be outdoors at Ewing Theatre, June 27-Aug. 8. Bloomington’s love of all kinds of music brings many acts to Central Illinois, and during the summer we take it outside.
  1. Street fairs: People come out for summer festivals because of the air of celebration and the thrill of never knowing what you’ll find. But somehow attendees, even when they are seeking nothing, sense they will find something great. No matter what the draw is—arts, antiques, music—the guaranteed good-find will be the food and drink. Here are a few in the area.
  • Sugar Creek Arts Festival, July 13, Upper Normal
  • Summer Antique Market, July 21, Interstate Center, Bloomington
  • Sweet Corn Circus, Upper Normal, Aug. 24-25 (formerly the Sweet Corn Festival)

10.  Farm hopping: Visitors from the city and suburbs like to go out to farms to unwind and see life from a different perspective.

  • Ropp Jersey Cheese Farm, north of Normal: Taste a variety of cheeses and other farm-made delectables and maybe feed some calves.
  • Epiphany Farm: Scheduled hayride tours around the farm will give you a good idea of how Epiphany has become a leader in biodiverse organic regenerative farming. Be sure to check out their restaurants for a mouthwatering farm-to-plate experience.
  • Other farms in the area may be open, as they often set up a market to sell fresh food. They may provide tours or allow walkabouts; call to check.

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