While many people think of Chicago as the main place to go for fun and entertainment in Illinois, the truth is that the state has plenty of other cities with exciting things to do.
The city of Bloomington was recently voted as number nine in a top 10 list of most exciting places in Illinois, among cities like Rock Island and Edwardsville. Surprisingly, Chicago was ranked number four.
As one of movoto.com’s Big Deal Lists, the writers started with the 100 most populated cities in the state, and from there narrowed them down by the number of live music venues, by nightlife and parks and outdoor activities, as well as other exciting criteria.
“Bloomington has a lot of entertainment, attractions, history and restaurant options within just a 10 to 15 minute drive from their doorstep,” Tracy Andracke, U.S. Cellular Coliseum assistant general manager for booking/marketing, said.
“Education systems are top-rated. The unemployment levels are very low. Since Bloomington is located in Central Illinois where three major interstates meet — Interstate 39, 55 and 74 — it makes for easy travel to and from,” she explained.
On this list, Bloomington was noted for places like Laugh comedy club, Rosie’s Pub, Entourage Lounge and C II East Lounge.
However, those places mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg for Bloomington. The city has an extensive amount of entertainment spots and restaurants that contribute to the things to do around town.
In particular, the U.S. Cellular Coliseum is a multipurpose arena that hosts several events for visitors to come watch each year — and consistently remains the best in the area for live entertainment.
“We are always trying to get top talent to the U.S. Cellular Coliseum … We have an intimate venue to see some of the top artists touring the nation,” Andracke said.
“There is no bad seat in the house to see a concert, speaker, comedian or family show,” she added.
The restaurants in the area are also in no short supply. Establishments include Biaggi’s, Lone Star SteakHouse, Smashburger and, a favorite among college students, the Coffee Hound.
“I love going downtown to the bars on the weekend or grabbing some dinner from one of the restaurants Bloomington has to offer,” Bianca Lawson, senior public relations major, said.
Six Strings, Mulligans and Rosati’s are among Lawson’s top spots in the city.
Other criteria the writers of the list included were the percentage of young residents from 18 to 34, and the more, the better. With ISU and Wesleyan University in close proximity, Bloomington’s population of residents between these ages is at 27 percent.
“I love that you get the small town homey feel with the liveliness of a small city,” Lawson said.
“There are actually a lot of things that Bloomington has that I want to take more advantage of, like laser tag, rock climbing or even the historical side of Bloomington.”
Bloomington also gives residents plenty of options to register through the community’s Parks & Recreation outdoor classes and activities. Tours of Miller-Showers Park, Stories of the Stars and Night Paddle are all upcoming events for the summer and fall seasons.
“I only recently realized how big Bloomington is and how much stuff there is to do,” she said.
“The towns are kept up really well too, which makes for a nice stroll on the trails or in downtown Bloomington or Uptown Normal. It is a really great community that is a wonderful place to live.”