It’s time to gear up for Illinois State University’s Family Weekend, held October 1-3 this year.

Illinois State will offer many events and programs during Family Weekend 2021, but this weekend is also a perfect time to explore other opportunities around Bloomington-Normal. Check out these activities with your Redbird family to make your weekend the best it can be.

Schedule a family workout session

Free workouts are available at the Student Fitness Center for students and their families from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday with pre-registration by Monday, September 27. Guests must be 18 or older and must be accompanied by the Illinois State University student during the workout. To pre-register, please contact Campus Recreation at (309) 438-7529 by Monday, September 27.

Take a walk through artist exhibitions at University Galleries

Exhibitions by Chicago-based alumna Caroline Kent and Iowa-based artist T.J. Dedeaux-Norris will be on view during Family Weekend. See more information about each exhibition on the University Galleries website.

Explore Constitution Trail

This 45-mile tree-lined trail has beautiful scenery that will stimulate your senses and calm your mind.

Pick some Pumpkins at Rader Family Farms

If you’re in the mood for some fun fall activities, this is the place for you. Rader Family Farms is known all over Bloomington-Normal for their delicious coffee and fresh donuts. They also have U-Pick Pumpkins, a 10-acre corn maze, games and activities for kids, a gift shop, and photo opportunities aplenty. For hours of operation and ticket prices, visit the Rader Family Farms website.

Visit the Children’s Discovery Museum

If you’re planning on bringing small children to your family weekend, the Children’s Discovery Museum in Uptown Normal is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The three-story museum offers interactive exhibits for children of all ages featuring topics like agriculture, renewable energy, physics, art, music, theatre, and more. For information on hours and pricing, visit the Children’s Discovery Museum website.

Explore the stars at the Illinois State University Planetarium

Experience the full dome planetarium show “Big Astronomy: People, Places, Discoveries” located in the white domed building at the end of Felmley Hall of Science. With shows at various times throughout the weekend, “Big Astronomy” explores Chile’s rugged Andes Mountains and arid Atacama Desert—remote, extreme regions that offer perfect conditions for astronomical research. Tickets may be purchased in the Planetarium Gift Shop, next to the Planetarium, beginning 20 minutes before the show.

Dine at a local restaurant in Uptown Normal

Take your family to their choice of unique, local restaurants in Uptown (because chances are, they’re going to pay for your meal!). Dining options in Uptown Normal include Medici, The Rock Restaurant, Firehouse Pizza & Pub, Pub II, Maggie Miley’s, Windy City Wieners, Sichuan Chinese Restaurant, D.P. Dough, Coffeehouse & Deli, and La Bamba Mexican Restaurant.

Try out a new ice cream flavor

Desserts make everything better! After dinner, consider stopping at one of the locally owned ice cream shops. Theo’s Microcreamery in Uptown Normal, Carl’s Ice Cream on College Ave., and Main Street Scoop in downtown Bloomington offer a wide variety of flavors that will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.