The original inhabitants of what is now Bloomington were Ojibwe and Dakota Sioux Indians who appreciated the area's secluded woodlands, multiple waterways and abundant wild game. These same attributes attracted the first European settlers in the 1840s. The township of Bloomington was formed in 1858 and the city was incorporated in 1960. Bloomington, named for its many flowering fields, is nicknamed "The City of Hospitality."
Bloomington is the fourth largest city in Minnesota, with 40 million visitors coming to the area each year, many to shop and play at the Mall of America. The entire mall complex covers 78 acres and includes major department stores, specialty shops, restaurants, nightclubs, the LEGO Imagination Center, the Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, a simulated speedway and a movie theatre complex. Also inside the mall is Underwater Adventures. This walk-through aquarium is home to over 3,000 sea creatures. Tanks allow visitors to touch sharks and stingrays and a virtual submarine ride offers an underwater look into the mysterious sea.
Recreational opportunities are available throughout the city. Bloomington has set aside more than 7,000 acres of land for parks and recreation. The Richardson Nature Center in the Hyland Lake Park Reserve provides a place to study the many creatures that inhabit the park. Also located in this park is the popular "Creative Play" area. This award-winning complex provides play equipment for children under five years old. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge is home to animals from bald eagles to badgers. Golf courses, tennis courts, hiking trails, fishing areas and ski areas can all be found within Bloomington, offering facilities to please even the most avid outdoor aficionado.