Wondering what to do in Bloomington, Indiana with kids this year? Bloomington, located in southern Indiana, and a great place full of fun things for the whole family to explore. One of the best things is that is in an easy drive from many Midwestern cities and only about an hour away from Indianapolis.
Home of the Indiana University campus, the city of Bloomington is full of great adventures in the outdoors. This combined with great restaurants, outdoor activities, art galleries, local events and a fun college town makes Bloomington a highlight in the state of Indiana full of family-friendly activities.
Hiking: Things to Do in Bloomington, Indiana with Kids
If you are looking for a fun adventure for the whole family, there are plenty of fun hiking trails in the Bloomington area. Whether you want a short walk in the Hoosier state or a horseback riding trail, you can find it in the acres of land that surround Bloomington.
Morgan-Monroe State Park
If you are looking for things to do in Bloomington with kids, Morgan-Monroe State Park is the perfect place with 24,000 acres of land to explore. Located at 6220 Forest Road, Martinsville, IN, Morgan Monroe has multiple options for hiking. The 6 main hiking trails consist of: Tree ID Trail (1 mile easy), Scout Ridge Nature Trail (.5 mile moderate), Three Lakes Trail (10.1 miles, rugged), Mason Ridge Trail (2.9 miles, moderate), Rock Shelter Trail (3.1 miles moderate), and Low Gap Back Country Trail (10 miles, rugged). People of all ages can find the perfect hike to explore the great outdoors.
If you do plan to visit the park, make sure pack some insect repellent, water, snacks (especially for little ones in case they need a boost), and a map/compass. Using an app like All Trails is helpful as well. You can pull the trail up on your phone to check your progress. I would advise pulling those trails up before you leave your Wi-Fi to make sure it loads properly.
My favorite snacks to include for the entire family are: gum, hard candy, lollipops, trail mix, Goldfish, and pretzels. Make sure to bring a bag to collect the trash and leave the trail clean!
Hoosier National Forest
Hoosier National Forest is another great area to explore while in Central Indiana. Located about 17 miles from Bloomington, it is filled with 260 miles of trails. Horseback riding is available with over 200 miles of trails for horses. Horse riders do need a permit and are required to stay on the trails.
Monroe Lake is another beautiful place to see near Bloomington, Indiana. It offers 9 boat launch ramps, fishing, Fourwinds Lakeside Inn and Marina, hiking, a nature center, picnic shelters, playgrounds and fishing boats and pontoon rentals. Lake Monroe also offers 2 beaches with boat rentals, a marina and paddle sports. Fun for the entire family!
The B-Line Trail runs through the heart of downtown Bloomington. The trail runs 3.1 miles from Adams Street to Country Club Drive, offering 5.1 miles of trail. The trail is lighted and perfect for a stroll or bike ride through town. Picnic tables and drinking fountains are available at WonderLab Plaza along with fitness stations along the trail. Outdoor art is along the trail, making it a beautiful walk or run along the way.
WonderLab Museum of Science
If you are looking for what to do in Bloomington, Indiana with kids, make sure you add WonderLab Museum of Science to your list. It is an amazing children’s museum filled with interactive displays and fun. My kids definitely have this on their list of favorite interactive museums.
Our toddler enjoyed exploring the fun activities in Science Sprouts Place and Sprouts Lab, while our older kids loved making bubbles in the Bubble Flow exhibit and the second floor gallery filled with insects, amphibians and reptiles. The outdoor WonderGarden is another favorite spot for a day of fun in Bloomington!
General admission to WonderLab is available on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. No reservation is required and admission can be purchased at the door. It is a fantastic science museum for kids!
Indiana University Bloomington
No trip to Bloomington would be complete without a visit to the campus of Indiana University. This beautiful campus is the perfect place to explore with your kids and a great way to talk about what college with your children. Our kids loved seeing the current students moving into campus dorms and exploring the Lilly library. Make sure to check out the IU website for a list of great events that might be going on at the campus.
You may find a musical performance at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures or an amazing exhibit at the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Sports lovers will want to check out Assembly Hall or Memorial Stadium while visiting.
We also enjoyed exploring right outside the Sample Gates on Kirkwood. We had a fantastic lunch and even spotted a farmers market filled with local farmers while we visited.
Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center
Many people may not realize that Bloomington is home to the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center. The Dalai Lama’s late brother Thubten Norbu was a professor of Tibetan studies at IU for many years and established the center in 1979.
The center was established to educated people about the history and culture of Tibet. It also offers workshops, teachings, and retreats for those wanting to learn more about Tibetan and Mongolian cultures.
Visitors are welcome and warmly welcomed. We enjoyed exploring the grounds and learning a bit more with our kids while we were in Bloomington.
If mom and dad can slip away for a date, Oliver Winery is the perfect spot. The winery is absolutely beautiful and only a few minutes away from the downtown area. There is a tasting room, private event spaces and picnic options. The picnic option provides a delicious picnic lunch for up to four people with gourmet meats, cheeses, breads, spreads, fruits and wine tumblers. You can pair it with a delicious bottle of wine and enjoy the patio or the peaceful, breathtaking grounds around the lake. An amazing jewel in Bloomington.
I hope this tour of ideas on the best things to do in Bloomington, Indiana with your kids encourages you to plan your next visit. Be sure to check out my other posts on traveling with your kids including Greenville, SC, Disney World, South Haven, Michigan, Nashville, TN and Universal Studios, Florida. Thanks for reading!