From Day to Night: Adventures in Minnesota’s Mall of America®

Photo Credit:  Meet Minneapolis

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A day at Minnesota’s Mall of America® isn’t just a regular shopping spree; it’s an event. Beyond the name brands and latest fashions, this mall has 520 stores, 16 thrilling attractions and more than 50 dining options. There are even two hotels if you want to make a weekend out of it!

Located in Bloomington, this mall is the ultimate entertainment hub, but with so many attractions to experience, where do you start? Check out this guide for some of the mall’s greatest hits and must-visit stops the next time you’re in town.

One-of-a-Kind Shopping Experiences

It’s hard to believe there are over 500 stores at this mall, but it’s absolutely true. Even better, all clothing and shoe sales are tax-free (yep, you read that right, NO tax)! While the mall has the luxury brands you’d expect, from Michael Kors to Kate Spade, it also has unique shopping spots that stand out.

Check out the Alpaca Connection, where all products are made from 100% Alpaca wool. Take home a cozy wool blanket for those cold winter nights or some fuzzy Alpaca wool socks to wear around the house. The store also sells adorable Alpaca plushies, hats, scarves, and rugs.

The Crayola Experience at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Wayne Hsieh.

Add a bit of color to your life at the Crayola Store. Here, kids of all ages can build their own custom packs of crayons or markers from the store’s extensive color library. Melt your favorite crayon into a ring or fun character at the Melt & Mold station. Unleash your inner artist with crayon rubbing, or watch with amazement as crayons are melted and dripped onto paper, creating a beautiful drip art masterpiece! This store has over 25 incredible experiences, from the two-story playground to live shows.

Spice up your life at the one and only Pepper Palace. Dedicated to all things seasoning, this store caters to folks who love their dishes with a little kick, from rubs and sauces to spices. Love hot sauce? Choose from over 90 varieties, like the three-pepper blend Black Rose or the Ghostly Garlic Fusion. If barbecuing is more your jam, this spot showcases dry rubs and sauces that will take your pork, brisket, and chicken to flavor town! Try the Apple Rub, a sweet and savory chili and brown sugar blend. Or, pick up a bottle of the Watermelon BBQ – it’s sweet and tangy (seriously, it’s like summer in a bottle).

Don’t pass up a visit to The Beef Jerky Experience. You’ll find a variety of wild beef jerky flavors to choose from, like pineapple, black cherry or dill pickle. Of course, they have traditional flavors as well. You can even pick up pet-friendly jerky for your fur babies at home!  

Entertainment & Attractions

A theme park inside a mall? You bet! Spanning seven acres, Nickelodeon Universe brings a world of thrills to Bloomington with 27 exciting rides and experiences. Feel the rush on the Avatar Airbender roller coaster as you twist and spin 70 feet in the air. Meet favorite Nickelodeon characters like Spongebob and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And don’t miss out on the Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course, home to the world’s tallest Sky Trail® ropes course and the Barnacle Blast zip line!

Nickelodeon Universe inside Minnesota’s Mall of America®.

Another must-see attraction is the SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, where you can view a variety of underwater creatures from all over the world. Stroll through the 300-foot-long ocean tunnel and immerse yourself in life under the sea. Stop by the stingray lagoon as they glide calmly beneath the clear water. Enter the rainforest (if you dare) and confront crocodiles and tarantulas. In the Coral Caves, meet friendly Scrawled Boxfish as they dart about the colorful coral. And at Shark Cove, face off with deadly creatures of the deep, such as Sand Tiger Sharks and Brown Sharks.

Children petting the stingrays at SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium. Photo Credit: Jenn.

For the ultimate virtual reality experience, take a flight over some of America’s greatest landmarks in the 4-D flight simulator, FlyOver America. Tapping into all your senses, this ride utilizes wind, mist, and scents for a truly immersive experience as you soar over valleys, prairies, and snowy mountains. Currently, the simulator is showcasing Flyover Canada for a limited time, providing riders with a look at Canada’s dynamic landscapes.

Fun for all ages awaits at two themed mini-golf courses. Visit Rock of Ages, a groovy 18-hole mini golf course immersed in blacklights, with a timeline of music-themed holes, beginning back in the fifties and going up to the present day. With glowing décor featuring Pac-Man, the Kool-Aid man and throwbacks to the 8-track, you’ll be doing the hustle from hole one to 18. For a rustic mini-golf experience, check out the course at Moose Mountain Adventure. This golf course transports players to the woods of the north and features logging trucks, bi-planes, an old steam train and life-size animals like moose and horses.

After the sun goes down, prepare to laugh out loud at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy. This comedy club regularly hosts top comedians touring the country, from SNL’s Jay Pharoah to Bobby from Mad TV. Enjoy a cocktail in the lounge, dine on bar bites like cheese curds and Canadian-inspired poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds), and spend the evening in stitches as hilarity ensues on stage.

Delicious Dining

When it comes to good eats at Mall of America®, this ain’t your mama’s food court. In fact, there are over 50 food and drink options to choose from that are sure to please even the pickiest palate.

For classic American grub in a fun and funky rock ‘n roll atmosphere, chow down on steaks and burgers at the Cadillac Ranch. Sip a cocktail at one of the two bars (the Georgia Peach Crush with peach vodka and schnapps is a must) and dine on menu items such as skillet queso dip, spicy shrimp tacos and steak salad. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the all-the-way burger topped with queso and chili. After dinner, show off to your friends with a ride on the mechanical bull.

At the on-site Radisson Blu Hotel, enjoy upscale, farm-to-table dining at FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar. Here, indulge in dishes like heirloom corn-crusted walleye with shaved almonds or quinoa and arugula salad – all made from locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant also features an extensive wine menu, from refreshing whites to Bordeaux-style blends. And don’t skip the handcrafted cocktails – The Loon, featuring vodka, grapefruit, and ginger liqueur, is the perfect way to unwind after a day at the mall.

The Rainforest Cafe inside the Mall of America® in Bloomington, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Aron Pobursky.

Take a trip to the Amazon’s rainforests at the family-friendly Rainforest Cafe. Colorfully decorated with trees, vines, and animatronic wild animals, this restaurant offers seafood, burgers, steaks, pizza, and thunderstorms at the top of the hour. Relax under a giant mushroom at the bar and enjoy jungle-themed cocktails. Visit the gift shop; here, you’ll find stuffed animals, t-shirts, and other Rainforest Café merch.

Of course, no mall is complete without your typical food court fare. Mall of America is home to go-to favorites like Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, Panera, Chipotle, and many more.

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