Settled in the mid-1800s, the booming Twin Cities southern suburb of Bloomington—known for its retail commerce (aka the Mall of America)—is a prime location with its transit options, dining, lodging and area attractions tailored to servicing group meetings and events.
“We have a fantastic hospitality community in Bloomington,” says Daniel O’Neill, vice president of strategy and sales at the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau. In fact, Bloomington has the largest concentration of hotels in the state. “That helps us cater to all types of groups and sizes, and being adjacent to the airport and Interstate 494 provides easy access.” In addition to the free parking at hotels and complimentary shuttle services to and from the airport and Mall of America, O’Neill also notes that the lightrail expansion connects both Minneapolis and St. Paul to the city of Bloomington. As a unique contrast, the name Bloomington means “flowering field,” and this strong connection to nature still stands true today. So if you’re looking for a one-of-kind place, here’s an overview of what this shopping mecca, nature-loving town has to offer.
Nearly a third of the city is made up of reserved park land, including the Minnesota Valley wetlands and Hyland Lake Park Reserve. Right in the thick of it is the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It’s the perfect nature getaway for a brisk morning or afternoon jaunt. “Conference attendees use the Wildlife Refuge’s miles of trails to escape outside after a long day,” says Kristin Raveling, park ranger for the Wildlife Refuge. “The river valley is quiet, the sun sparkles off the wetlands, and bald eagles soar overhead. Attendees come back from their walks refreshed and eager to tackle another day of meetings.”
For off-site company team-building, The Works Museum is your go-to spot for interactive play with its think-tank type locale. Spend some time tinkering with tactical hands on gadgets in the science lab as you brainstorm your next business strategy. The museum is chock-full of engineering design challenges to twist your brain at any age. “If a group is looking for an interesting venue to use for a team outing, we’re a great place to consider,” says Candace Slattery, operations and finance manager. “We can work with your group to add a private meeting room or event space to your outing, and we also schedule corporate family nights or private group visits in the museum.” The Works Museum offers package pricing for groups of 15 to 150.
The Bloomington Center for the Arts, which is part of the Bloomington Civic Plaza, offers meeting spaces for groups of 30 to 366 in its two theaters, rehearsal hall, lobby, chamber room, studios and art classrooms. From corporate meetings to social gatherings, the open spaces exude an aura of being out on the town while inside this grandeur venue. The importance of the arts statewide is represented well here, which according to Manager Jim Urie, “is home to seven resident arts organizations who produce more than a dozen art exhibits and 185 performances each year. The facility also hosts numerous outstanding community and corporate gatherings and meetings annually.”
Kincaid’s Restaurant is a full-flavored find and serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, but make sure to ask about its custom menus. “Kincaid’s Bloomington is proud to offer accommodations and tailored parties for groups of five to 75,” says Kim Oppegard, general manager. “Our dining room features floor-to-ceiling windows and is a lovely setting for date night, entertaining clients and making memories. Our bar and lounge is a cozy yet upscale retreat for libations and snacks after work or for walk-in diners wishing to enjoy the full dining menu.” The Alcove is a semi-private dining space between the dining room and lounge, along the windows and is perfect for more snug gatherings. “The Alcove seats groups of eight to 24 comfortably for a formal dinner or for more casual, standing events, such as open houses and cocktail parties,” says Oppegard. The restaurant is also able to accommodate larger group sizes on a case-by-case basis.
The Creekside Community Center fits the bill for the most flexible with its variety of rooms for different group sizes and purposes. “We’ve seen a variety of groups utilize space at Creekside Community Center,” says Lorinda Pearson, manager, human services division. “With the wide range of room sizes and available technology, we are able to structure your meeting to fit your needs. You will find Creekside a more cost-effective alternative to other rentals in the community.” The multifunctional complex welcomes the public to use its ready-to-use spaces like their Minnesota Valley Room (capacity 175) with A/V equipment and presentation stage options. There’s also a library, kitchen, computer lab and several other ample room settings. The Creekside Community Center can be big and cozy at the same time with the optional perk of add-on rooms.
The Minnesota Valley Country Club portrays panoramic charm with its rich history of golf tradition. The grounds are substantiated by both architecture and ambiance, as seen with their covered bridge and graceful arching fountain in ornate display like the fine chandeliers found in the polished ballroom inside. The club’s facility is open to the public and offers an expansive catering menu and expandable ballroom (up to 350) with veranda to fit your party’s size. The Ballroom consists of three rooms: The Founders Room, Valley Room and Minnesota Room can be separate or used in conjunction. The Chambers Dining Room is another more intimate option for 60.