Tourism in Bloomington-Normal

I f you want a quick commute to work, easy access to interstates for business or leisure travel, as well as air and rail options virtually at your doorstep, Bloomington-Normal is the community for you.

We are situated in the middle of Illinois, virtually halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, and at the intersection of three major highways – Interstate 55, Interstate 74 and Interstate 39 – making a trip to Chicago, St. Louis, Champaign, Peoria or the Quad Cities a breeze.

Uptown Normal is home to the second busiest Amtrak station in the state, behind Chicago. The station serves more than 200,000 passengers with 10 trains daily to Chicago and St. Louis.

The Central Illinois Regional Airport, located in Bloomington, has three full-time airlines – Allegiant, American and Delta – on a year-round basis and a fourth, Frontier, with service spring to fall.

“We have two low-cost carriers providing non-stop service to Florida,” said Carl Olson, CIRA’s executive director. “It’s where Central Illinoisans want to go for leisure and vacation travel.”

The airport has free parking and “trouble-free” security screening. “You can go through pre-check in a minute and be in-gate in a minute,” Olson said.

Getting around within the Twin Cities is just as easy with an average 15-minute commute time by vehicle, according to Data USA.

We also have other options for getting to work, school and shopping.

Connect Transit, the Bloomington-Normal bus service, has 15 bus routes and provided 2.3 million rides last year, said Isaac Thorne, general manager. Besides the seven-days-a-week regular bus service, it offers special bus service for Illinois State University students and Connect Mobility, a door-to-door service for those with disabilities.

It recently received a $6 million grant to start replacing its current fleet of 60 buses with electric buses, which will not only be cheaper to operate but also bring zero emissions, Thorne said. The first 12 electric buses are expected to be in place by the end of 2019.

The Twin Cities also has a very popular hard-surface trail system. Constitution Trail, a joint venture of Bloomington and Normal, started nearly 30 years ago along an abandoned rail line.

It now stretches more than 45 miles throughout the Twin Cities. It was designated a Millennium Trail by the White House Millennium Council in 2000 and is a favorite for walkers, bicyclists and hikers.

“Transportation is a huge selling point for us,” said Zach Dietmeier, vice president of marketing and communications for the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council. “We have a solid infrastructure with roads, an airport and rail lines.”

That infrastructure has helped the community attract business and industry, including recently Canadian-based Brandt Group of Companies, which opened an agriculture manufacturing plant in the McLean County town of Hudson.

“Three Interstates and a rail line allow them to ship to anywhere in the region,” Dietmeier said.