Nowadays, it seems like many of the infinite activities one could partake in during a stay in Bloomington, Minnesota contrast the social distance guidelines we try to abide by during this ‘new normal’. From care-free afternoons with the kids at Nickelodeon Universe, to adrenaline-filled Saturdays at Valleyfair, to komodo dragon sightings at the Minnesota Zoo, the pandemic has curtailed many of the iconic experiences that make Bloomington one of Minnesota’s most visited cities. But just as we’ve been able to confront and conquer many of the challenges the Coronavirus outbreak has bestowed upon us, there are still plenty of fun and safe adventures to pursue in Bloomington other than spending the day at the Mall of America. Here are just a few of the social distance friendly things you can still do in Bloomington, Minnesota:
Fort Snelling State Park
Nothing tops the great outdoors when it comes to finding social distance friendly things to do in Minnesota. Fort Snelling State Park is less than a ten minute drive from Bloomington, and is open all year round to host whatever nature-immersed activities you’re into. If the weather forbids it, rent a canoe or kayak and soak in the sights while paddling on Snelling Lake. Take a stroll down any of the hundreds of trails, where white-tailed deer, fox, woodchucks, turkeys, and coyotes can be spotted. History buffs can learn about the origins of Fort Snelling at the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center. True Minnesotans take advantage of the park during winter with its plethora of snowshoe and cross country skiing trails. Fort Snelling State Park is a perfect place to get away from it all and reaffirm your affection for nature’s beauty.
Bloomington Golf Courses
Golf has been the benefactor of outdoor recreational activities during the pandemic. Americans have been golfing in record numbers this year, and Minnesota has seen nearly a 50 percent increase in the number of golfers this fall as opposed to autumn of last year. Golfing remains one of the easiest recreational activities to participate in and abide by the CDC’s recommendations for playing sports, and Bloomington is home to multiple, prestigious courses. Dwan Golf Course has been open for over 50 years, and has established itself as one of Minnesota’s most historic golf courses. Beginners and casual players may want to check out Hyland Greens Golf and Learning Center, a beautiful 9-hole course that mostly persists of par three holes.
Hyland Hills Ski Area
Anybody trying to get out of the house for a socially distant winter activity should check out Hyland Hills Ski Area, nestled right in West Bloomington. The National Ski Areas Association lists several factors on why skiing is one of the most low-risk outdoor recreation activities, including the vast amount of space for adequate social distancing, as well as the protective gear and equipment associated with skiing and snowboarding. The Hyland Hills Ski Area is Bloomington’s premiere skiing utopia, and has implemented several rules to ensure guests follow COVID-safety protocols, including mandatory face coverings, no congregations in indoor areas, and a strict reservation-only policy.
Normandale Japanese Garden
Another outdoor opportunity to participate in appreciating all the natural beauty Bloomington has to offer is checking out the Normandale Japanese Garden. Established in 1972, the Normandale Japanese Garden is home to more than 300 types of exotic plants, surrounded by gorgeous Japanese gardening architecture to provide an all around tranquil, serene environment. The Garden is open all-year-round, and requires reservations to comply with their current capacity restrictions.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
One last iconic Bloomington outdoor haven to consider exploring is the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Northeast side of the city, adjacent to the MSP Airport. With more than 46 miles of trails and terrain to tour, there’s plenty of wide open spaces to seek asylum from people and city life and take in all the immaculate scenery. There are ample opportunities for wildlife watching, from Bald Eagles and Prothonotary Warblers, to River Otters and Prairie Skinks. This is where you’ll want to pack the binoculars, fishing pole, berry basket, and bicycle for a pristine outdoor and social distance safe getaway.
Minnesota Virtual Tours
If you’re trying to avoid going outside, there are still plenty of ways to explore Minnesota’s great outdoors all from the confines of your Bloomington home. Explore Minnesota has compiled an online resource for virtually touring all the wonderful natural amenities the state has to offer. You can take 360-degree photography tours that will instantly transport you to all the outdoor staples of Minnesota, such as the Artists Point in Grand Marais, or Canal Park in Duluth. Plan a puzzle night indoors by completing some of the Minnesota-themed digital jigsaw puzzles of iconic destinations, like the Mississippi River Headwaters or Paisley Park. You don’t even have to leave your couch to check out all the outdoor beauty Minnesota boasts.
Cooks of Crocus Hill
While the pandemic has put a damper on indoor dining, you can still enjoy an intimate Bloomington dinner for two without having to risk being surrounded by others. Cooks of Crocus Hill is a Minnesota-based culinary resource center that’s currently offering a wide variety of virtual cooking classes, aimed to provide customers with an engaging cooking experience without having to leave the house! Renowned Chefs from around the world will directly instruct you on how to craft your own culinary masterpieces, from authentic Tuscan pasta entrees, to tantalizing Indian side dishes, to delicate macaron desserts!
Online Crafting Courses
If this pandemic has brought us any good, perhaps it’s forcing us to pick up old hobbies that used to entertain us, or finding new leisure activities to creatively distract us during dire times. If you’re looking for some arts and crafts to tie you over in Bloomington, but don’t want to risk attending any in-person events or classes, then check out the North House Folk School’s website to sign up for some online crafting courses! As of now, you can sign up for anything ranging from Adirondack Chair Building, to Bead Embroidery, to Wooden Bowl Carving, and so much more. Plus, they’re also hosting all sorts of online art events and festivities, in case you’re missing out on in-person art shows and festivals.
Build Your Own Website
Another easy and productive way to devote time to something you love is building your very own website. There has never been a better moment to invest in your passions or hobbies, and showing the world what you have to offer can be obtained through innovative and sleek web design. Whether you’ve been itching to launch that sports blog you’ve been dreaming of or you’re finally willing to sell your homemade pottery, creating your own website has never been easier or more accessible, regardless of age or experience.
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