Bloomington, Illinois, offers a wide range of attractions and activities that you can enjoy throughout the year. Best of all, many of these highlights come free of charge. Below are several destinations that you can visit without paying an admission fee, so you can continue exploring our beautiful city without putting a dent in your budget during difficult times.
Constitution Trail spans nearly 37 miles through the City of Bloomington and the Town of Normal. Much of Constitution Trail follows the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad right of way, though there are several branches that you can take. The trail opened in 1989 to honor the 200th birthday of the United States Constitution. The White House Millennium Council designated this a Millennium Trail in 2000. The trail is open from an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset.
O’Neil Park Skatepark
1515 W. Chestnut St, Bloomington, ILBloomington offers a superb skatepark within O’Neil Park so skateboarders of all skill levels can practice. Features include:
- Six-foot raked quarterpipe
- Four-foot halfpipe
- Two-foot radius pyramid stairs
- Grind rails
- Radius grind box
- Picnic table
O’Neil Park is an ideal spot for anything from trying out the basics of skateboarding on small ramps to perfecting advanced tricks on the picnic table. This prime destination is popular among teens and young adults, though you can easily make it a family outing.
Parents or younger siblings may enjoy some of the other amenities of O’Neil Park such as the playground equipment, picnic tables, grills, tennis courts, or basketball courts. Public restrooms are available on-site as well.
Franklin Park Concerts
302 East Chestnut St, Bloomington, ILThe Community Concert Band with conductor Michael Wallace performs a series of free concerts in Franklin Park during the summer. They typically begin the third week of June and continue through July. You can catch these weekly concerts each Thursday from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. This park spans 4.8 acres and includes picturesque maple trees, picnic tables, playground equipment, and a drinking fountain. Bring the whole family for a musical summer evening.
David Davis Mansion
1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, ILJudge David Davis was a longtime friend of Abraham Lincoln. The stunning nineteeth-century home that David shared with his wife Sarah is a beautifully restored Victorian mansion that offers a fascinating glimpse into a different time. Surrounding the mansion is an elegant garden, created in 1872.
Tours of the David Davis Mansion are available Wednesday through Saturday with the exception of holidays. Each tour begins with a video that starts on the top of the hour each hour from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. A guided tour begins at the bottom of the hour. Your docent will lead you through the mansion explaining the family history as well as both domestic life and servant life there. These tours are best for children in fourth grade or above. They are free, but a donation of $10 per adult and $5 per child is suggested.
McLean County Museum of History
200 North Main Street, Bloomington, ILVisit the McLean County Museum of History on a Tuesday and your admission to this intriguing destination is completely free. The Museum hosts extended hours on Tuesdays, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. to accommodate as many guests as possible. On other days of the week, hours are shorter and admission is $5 per adult, though children still get in free.Permanent exhibitions in the museum include:
- Abraham Lincoln in McLean CountyChallenges, Choices, and
- ChangeCourthouse ExhibitDiscovery Room
A number of rotating exhibits come through the museum as well, so you can find something new to experience on multiple visits.
The Genevieve Green Gardens
Ewing Cultural Center, 48 Sunset Road, Bloomington, ILThe Genevieve Green Gardens surrounding the Ewing Cultural Center feature several picturesque landscapes for you to explore. This is the ideal spot to capture breathtaking photos at any time of the year. The gardens are open daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. These gardens include the following:
- Compass GardenWoodland GardenMoriyama Japanese GardenSouth Lawn GardenFormal PlazaGreat LawnNorthern Buffer
- Smooth, even pathways, convenient seating, and ample lighting are featured throughout the area, so you can peruse at your leisure and rest as needed during your visit.
- Parking is available at St. John’s Church. This is a non-smoking environment, and while pets are not permitted, it’s a great spot to visit with your family.
Evergreen Memorial Cemetery
302 East Miller Street, Bloomington, ILOver 150 years old, the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery is a historic destination that offers a fascinating afternoon for those who like to step into the past by witnessing historic graves. The cemetery features several grave sites with stunning tree stump sculptures, including:
- Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourne: See the baseball player’s likeness in this carving.
- Dorothy Gage “The Wizard of Oz”: Five-month-old Dorothy passed while her uncle Frank Baum was writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The main character was named in the baby’s honor and a sculpture of Dorothy, Toto, and the Yellow Brick Road can be found in the cemetery.
- Plane Crash Memorial: In 1948, a WWII trainer plane was flown over the cemetery to drop poppies over a Civil War Veterans memorial service. The plane crashed into one of the cemetery’s trees. When the tree had to come down, it was turned into a memorial sculpture featuring a carved plane atop the remains of the very tree that was hit.
For a truly unforgettable experience, visit during the annual Cemetery Walk, when costumed actors stand throughout the cemetery and create a theatrical interpretive program for visitors.
Eaton Studio & Gallery
411 N Center, Bloomington, ILThe Eaton Studio & Gallery is open on the first Friday of the month from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. You can view paintings, sculptures, and drawings from Herb Eaton. The gallery also participates in events like the Tour de Chocolat in February, Around the Corner Art Walk in November, and Live Window Vignettes in December.
These are some of our favorite highlights of the Bloomington, Illinois area. What are your top picks for free activities in the city? Contact Hustedt Jewelers and let us know about your own list.
7 Free & Fun Things to Do in Bloomington, IL
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