Introduction to Bloomington, Minnesota
The Minnesota city of Bloomington, a southern suburb of Minneapolis, is located in Hennepin County. Situated about 15 miles south of each of Minnesota's twin cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), Bloomington is serviced by Interstate I-35, which bisects the city, and also by Interstate I-494. Centered in the heart of the Upper Midwest, the city sits along the banks of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. Bloomington is most famous for being the home of the nation's largest (and the world's most visited) shopping center, the Mall of America.
The first organizational meeting for the Town of Bloomington took place in 1858, the same year that Minnesota achieved its statehood. It wasn't until 100 years later, however, that Bloomington began to grow significantly. In 1950 the city had a population under 10,000 but a decade later it was five times as large. In 1960, the town became a city and further growth would follow. In 1961, Bloomington became home to both baseball's Minnesota Twins (who moved to Minnesota as the former Washington Senators franchise) and football's Minnesota Vikings (an NFL expansion team in 1961), who played at the city's newly-renovated Metropolitan stadium. In 1967, Bloomington gained another team when the expansion Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League moved into the city's Metropolitan Sports Center. By 1982, the Twins and Vikings would leave the city for a newer stadium in Minneapolis and in 1994 the hockey franchise would relocate in Dallas. The year 1992 was a significant one in the city's history with the opening of the Mall of America, the largest retail complex in the United States and one of the largest tourist attractions in North America.
Bloomington Area Attractions
The crown jewel of Bloomington's tourist industry is the Mall of America, the largest visitor attraction in Minnesota. The Mall boasts over 500 stores, small and large, plus theaters, food, and much more. A more recent Bloomington attraction is the Water Park of America. Opened for business in May 2006, the facility claims to be the largest indoor water park in the U.S. The park sports a unique look, attached to a hotel with water-slide tubes exiting and then re-entering the side of the hotel building. The Twin Cities area has a number of other attractions as well. The Science Museum of Minnesota, located in the state's capital city of Saint Paul, covers topics in technology, natural history, physical science and mathematics. Minneapolis' Mill City Museum chronicles the flour milling industry that drove world flour production for roughly a half-century and spurred the growth of the city. Valleyfair!, the largest amusement park in the Upper Midwest, offers 125 acres of rides, games, food, and fun. St. Paul's Ordway Center for the Performing Arts plays host to a wide variety of performing arts, including touring Broadway musicals, orchestra performances, and opera.
The Twin Cities host a number of annual festivals and events. January's St. Paul Winter Carnival, the city's biggest event, features winter sports competitions, ice and snow sculpting, parades and live entertainment. The Minnesota State Fair, one of the nation's largest and best-attended agricultural and educational entertainment events, runs for twelve days from late August into early September. "A Taste of Minnesota" is a late-June celebration of food and music featuring nightly fireworks displays and numerous booths offering local, national and international food samples. Holidazzle is a winter event which features an outdoor parade staged several nights a week during the months of November and December.
Minnesota hosts a large number of professional sports teams, all centered in the Twin Cities area. Included in the list are Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins, the National Basketball Association's Minnesota Timberwolves, the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings, and the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild. Other Minnesota pro teams include women's basketball's Minnesota Lynx (WNBA), the Minnesota Thunder of the United Soccer League and the Minnesota Swarm of the National Lacrosse League.