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ISU - Bloomington-Normal - Living page - Hero image

Living in Bloomington-Normal

As one of the best college towns in the US, you can expect a great quality of life in Bloomington-Normal. With bike-friendly roads and picturesque countryside, you will have a lot to explore. Our campus is steps away from locally owned shops, restaurants and hotels in the thriving central business district.

The Bloomington-Normal area has been recognized for its entertainment and art venues as well as its restaurants. During your free time, you can go watch a live performance at one of the performing art studios, attend an art festival or go downtown to dine at one of the many restaurants available to you.

In the Bloomington-Normal area you will experience all four seasons, excellent job opportunities, a vibrant downtown and a welcoming community to help you build memories in your new home.

Opportunity all around

You don’t have to look far beyond Bloomington-Normal to find career opportunities and things to do. Your days at Illinois State University will be filled with research opportunities, joining one of the 400+ student organizations and networking at events attended by Fortune 500 companies. When it’s time to unplug from schoolwork, you can explore the local offerings such as the eclectic restaurants, performing arts scene and other entertainment.

Ready for more? Venture to some of the major neighboring cities for a weekend like Chicago or St. Louis. In just 2 hours, you can experience the sights, sounds and tastes of Chicago, IL. Catch a Cubs baseball game or indulge in deep-dish pizza with your friends. In 2.5 hours from campus, you can wind up in St. Louis, MO, where the Gateway Arch rises like a beacon and welcomes you to the city. At Illinois State, you are local to industry and central to opportunity.

A taste of what you're looking for

Bloomington-Normal offers a variety of dining experiences. You can eat at a locally-owned restaurant, a popular US chain or try something new in the downtown area. If you like to cook, you can find fresh produce at the farmers’ market to complete your home-cooked meals.

From antiques to major brands

Enjoy shopping in locally-owned antique shops or visit a shopping center to find major US department stores. For everything else on your shopping list, visit the Bloomington-Normal area to find anything from the perfect outfit to some relaxing spas or accessory stores.

How to get around town

  • Bus: Enjoy free local bus service throughout Bloomington-Normal.

Exploring beyond the city

  • Train: Use the train to go to Chicago in 2 hours or to Saint Louis in 2.5 hours.

  • Plane: Central Illinois Regional Airport is located 10 minutes from campus.