Whether teeing off on one of its three golf courses, biking along the 37 miles of Constitution Trail or observing a Sumatran tiger at the Miller Park Zoo, tourists visiting Bloomington, Illinois, find plenty of things to do. In fact, for a city with fewer than 100,000 residents, there’s a lot going on.
In 2005, Golf Digest ranked the Twin Cities of Bloomington and Normal, the smaller neighbor immediately to the north, as the fifth best golf city in the country. Together, the Twin Cities boast nine golf courses, providing ample access to the sport. The Den at Fox Creek, one of Bloomington’s three municipal courses, is an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course. Rated a 4.5-star course by Golf Digest, the Den at Fox Creek is one of the top attractions to Bloomington.
Another reason for visiting Bloomington is to enjoy one of its annual dramatic productions. The Illinois Shakespeare Festival has brought together theater professionals and interns for summer performances since 1978. The Illinois State University School of Theater joins forces with its College of Fine Arts for these productions, staged in an Elizabethan-style outdoor theater on the grounds of Ewing Cultural Center in Bloomington. The American Passion Play, another annual performance, is one of the oldest continuously performed passion plays. This staging, performed by amateurs, spans the entire ministry of Jesus rather than just the final week before the crucifixion, distinguishing it from other passion plays.
Anyone who loves the outdoors will revel in Constitution Trail. Bloomington and Normal worked together in the late 1980s to establish the initial hiking and biking trail along 4.3 miles of abandoned railroad track. Today, the trail spans 37 miles. Community groups, including the McLean County Wheelers and the Friends of the Constitution Trail, help maintain it. In 2000, the White House recognized Constitution Trail as one of its Millennium Trails.
Parents looking for a great place to take their children need look no farther than Miller Park Zoo, home to an assortment of animals, including reindeer and red pandas. Although small, this quaint zoo offers some unique and engaging exhibits. At the Wallaby WalkAbout, for example, guests wander through an area where kangaroo-like wallabies roam. Children may also participate in classes or camps. The Overnight Program, available for youth groups, is another one-of-a-kind experience at Miller Park Zoo.
For history buffs, one of the top attractions in Bloomington is the Evergreen Memorial Cemetery, which dates back to 1820. The 87-acre grounds serve as the final resting place for several notable individuals. Perhaps the most famous is Adlai Stevenson, who served as Vice President under Grover Cleveland. The grave of five-month-old Dorothy Gage is also of interest. This child was the niece of Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, who named the protagonist in his famous novel after her. A soldier from the Revolutionary War and the top baseball pitcher of the 19th century are also buried in the cemetery.