Are you looking for toddler activities in and around Bloomington - Normal, IL? Ready to get out of the house and explore our community? Here's a list of tried-and-true places to check out with your toddler.
1. Visit the Animals at Miller Park Zoo
Miller Park Zoo is open year-round from 9:30am - 4:30pm and perfectly sized for a pre- or post-nap visit. Our toddler can't get enough of the flamingos, river otters, and red pandas, or walking through the Wallaby WalkAbout and Tropical American Rainforest. The concession stand is now open for a mid-zoo snack, and a ride around the carousel completes a visit.
2. Get Curious at Children's Discovery Museum
The Children's Discovery Museum is set to reopen for members on May 1st and to the public on Memorial Day weekend! Hands-on exhibits, imagination play, and age-appropriate experiences make the Children's Discovery Museum a great place to learn and play. Learn more HERE.
3. Check Out Some Books at the Library
The Normal Public Library and Bloomington Public Library are not just filled to the brim with books, movies, and games for you to check out... they also offer loads of programming for children of all ages both in-person with registration and virtually. The Bloomington Public Library even has a special Facebook group for Children's Services where storytimes, craft instructions, and more are posted and accessible for members to view at any time.
4. Skip Around Uptown Circle (and Hear Some Tunes!)
When the sun is shining, we love heading to Uptown Normal to play around the Circle - climb up the grassy hill, splash in the water feature, and enjoy the sights and sounds of Uptown. On most Wednesdays and Saturdays during the warmer months of May-September, you can catch live music from local performers being played as part of the LoungeAbout the Roundabout series. All concerts are free and family-friendly. Follow Uptown Normal on Facebook for information.
5. Find a New Favorite Park
Bloomington - Normal is home to many, many parks and playgrounds. We challenge you to visit them all and find a new favorite. Find a list of them HERE. Check them off as you go with a printable Park Passport found HERE.
6. Learn Some Sign Language
It's never too early to introduce your little one to American Sign Language. Signing with your toddler is a great way to jump-start communication, reduce frustration and tantrums, and improve reading skills. (And we think there's nothing cuter than a toddler signing "please" and "thank you.") Communication Junction offers virtual and in-person Sign & Play classes and Sign & Sing Story Times perfectly suited for toddlers. Try a free class through the Normal Public Library.
7. Cool Off at Spray Parks (AKA Splash Ground)
Too hot to go out? We don't think so. Grab your sunblock and a towel and head to a spray park. There are three spray parks in Bloomington to explore. McGraw Spray Park is located in phase 1 of McGraw Park at 3202 Cornelius Drive in Bloomington, off of Airport Rd. behind Central Catholic High School. Miller Spray Park is located in Miller Park (1020 S. Morris Ave, across from the entrance to Miller Park Zoo). Tipton Spray Park is located in Tipton Park at 2201 Stone Mountain Blvd (just off of College Ave.) in Bloomington. They usually open around Memorial Day -- sometimes sooner if the weather is warm enough.
8. Take a Dip at the Pool
Visits to the local pool are summertime staples, and currently, there are three pools to check out in Bloomington - Normal. In Bloomington find Holiday Pool located at Holiday Park (800 S. McGregor, Bloomington) and O'Neil Pool (currently closed and under construction but located at 1515 W. Chestnut St, Bloomington). Normal is home to Fairview Family Aquatic Center (801 N. Main Street, Normal) and Anderson Aquatic Center. Ages 2 and under at all pools are FREE! Toddlers will love the zero-depth entrance and polar bear slide at Fairview, as well as the big submarine at Anderson. (This summer, due to the pandemic, expect to see some capacity restrictions or advanced registration requirements.)
9. Strike a Pose in Front of Community Wall Murals
Need to walk ... ahem "toddle" ... off some energy? Stroll around both Uptown Normal or Downtown Bloomington and snap some IG-worthy pics of your tot in front of the many colorful wall murals found on buildings in the area. Our favorite is just across from the Children's Discovery Museum.
10. Break a Sweat Together
Forget about squeezing your workout in when your toddler naps! Grab your stroller and let them be part of the workout with FIT4MOM Bloomington/Normal. FIT4MOM Bloomington/Normal offers in-person and virtual workouts that you can do with and around your kiddo. Translation: workout friends and support for you, and fun bonding time with your mini-me. They also offer playgroup opportunities, book club for mama, and more. You can try your first class for free!
11. Dress Up for Movie Night
Dress Up Movie Night is just what it sounds like! Movies are played at the Connie Link Amphitheater and viewers are encouraged to dress up as their favorite character. Don't forget to take a blanket to sit on. Follow the Town of Normal Parks and Recreation Department on Facebook for event details!
12. Get the Sillies Out at a Gymnastics Studio Open Gym Time
You are guaranteed a good nap after open gym time. Rising Stars Academy and Gymnastics Etc. offer open gym time for walking-age children (through age 5) for $5-7 per child. During these one-hour sessions, you and your child can explore on your own with staff available to offer ideas for activities. The Jump Spot also offers age-appropriate gymnastics classes for toddlers that will exhaust even the most energetic of kids.
13. Jump for Joy at a Trampoline Park
The younger crew can jump to their heart's content during Junior Jumpers (for age 6 and under) time at Altitude Trampoline Park in Bloomington (Monday through Friday 10am-1pm and Saturday 10am-12pm) and Little Leapers Time at Skyzone in Normal (Monday through Friday 10am-12pm. Saturday and Sunday 9am-10am). During this designated time the staff makes every effort to keep older jumpers out of the area to keep little ones safe.
14. Create Some Art
Chalk, chunky crayons, washable markers and paints, and glue sticks... these are some of my toddler's favorite things. Need some inspo? Check out The Little Art School and Craft Take Out for to-go art projects you can do with your toddler. Or visit Artful Designs where you can help your pint-sized Picasso paint a special piece of pottery. Tip: Artful Designs has a curbside pick-up option. Visit their website to choose your pottery piece and colors to paint at home. Return the piece to be fired and pick up when it's done!
15. Make Some Music
Once your little one has graduated from banging wooden spoons on your pots and pans, sign them up for a music class. Bloomington-Normal is home to several fantastic music programs perfect for the younger set. Don't know where to start? Developing Melodies Music Therapy Center offers Tiny Melodies for children age 0-5. These classes offer little ones and their caregivers an opportunity to explore and experience music in a fun and meaningful way. There's singing, movement, structured instrument play, and more. Kindermusik by Music Connections Foundation classes combine fun and learning to spark a lifelong love of music in your child. Miss Laura's Music Class believes that children learn by doing, and the earlier the music exposure, the better. During these classes, your child will dance, spin, sing, and play. Sound fun? It is!
16. Dance Your Heart Out
Whether your little one wants to twirl in a tutu, tap to the beat, or moonwalk their way across the floor, there's a dance studio in Bloomington - Normal for them! With class day/time offerings across the board, there are options for everyone. A few studios that offer toddler age classes include All About Dance and The Next Step Dance Studio.
17. Pick a New Special Toy
Picking out a new special toy is always fun! Support local by shopping at the Gingerbread House and The School Shop. Both offer unique finds, many toys that double as learning tools, and games your toddler will love.
18. Explore Sugar Grove Nature Center
Just a short 25-minute drive from Bloomington - Normal is Sugar Grove Nature Center. The main building is currently closed due to the pandemic, but Imagination Grove is open daily from dawn until dusk. Here, little ones can explore the nature around them -- dig in the sand (and dirt!), explore the trails, smell some flowers, and more. Bring your own nets, containers, and dirt-friendly toys if you'd like! And yep... dress for mess. Sugar Grove Nature Center is located at 4532 N. 725 East Road in McLean, IL.
Did we miss any of your go-to toddler fun spots? Tell us about them by emailing MelissaA@macaronikid.com so we can add them to the list!