Mall of America – The Ultimate Shopping Destination

by Trish Utter

Crave_WEB Christmas shopping can be stressful, chaotic and bewildering. In saying all this I tried a new approach by taking the kids to the one and only Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. The mall is within a few minutes from Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport.

Roller-Coaster-Wide_WEBUsually on trips to the mall my son, Colt age 14 is begging me to stay at home but this trip he was actually looking forward to and so was his sister, Brooke age 12, as they had heard that there was an indoor roller coaster in the center of this mall. Turned out that it was a full size amusement park called Nickelodeon Universe with 25 rides and attractions all decorated in slime green and located right in the center of the mall under a massive, landscaped glass dome that is kept at a comfortable 70 degrees all year long.

Nick-Universe_WEBWe got onto every ride without any lines! Colt’s favorite rides were Avatar Air Bender as it gently throws riders 70 feet in the air and spins you around. Tak Attack was Colt’s second best as he loved the way it spun you upside down and pulls you through gravity to the sky and Brooke loved the Log Chute and…shopping, shopping, shopping!

While at Nickelodeon Universe are we came across Butterfly Bay that houses nearly 750 different varieties of butterflies and is an Eco Friendly exhibit. We also caught a glimpse of Lego Imagination Center; this is heaven for the Lego enthusiast as it is four stories high with over 90 models and tons to play with.

As the shopping center is wrapped around the amusement park, I could shop while the kids went on rides…..like this one girls??????? Yes, mom can shop in peace and quiet, of course my kids are older and I would not advise this at all with younger kids.

Aquirum_WEBThe mall is like a city that has been captured in a glass bubble. Although the grand size could be overwhelming we found everything very well laid out and I also felt very secure. Walkways are wide and it’s spotlessly clean. Every store you can imagine is here plus more! Some of the malls anchor stores are Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and Sears. There were stores that I had never seen like, American Girl, Gilly Hicks Sydney from Abercrombie & Fitch, Long Tall Sally a boutique from England geared to above average height women and so much more your head would spin!

Mall-of-America-Wide-Shot_WEBUpstairs you will find a large food court area and AMC Theaters that have comfortable high-back rocker seats as well as digital and 3D screens in select theatres.

A restaurant named Crave caught our attention with its relaxed, warm, romantic glow that made the hustle and bustle of shopping seem far away. A large glass room shows off a selection of over 125 bottles of wine and makes for a sophisticated focal point to the restaurant. The food is organic and natural and serving size is large enough to split. From brick oven pizza, sushi, steak, seafood and other American food influenced with a Mediterranean, Asian style, it’s all good. We ordered the Walleye and it was cooked to perfection. Some of you may already know Crave as they have a location near The Mall of Millennia in Orlando.

colt_WEBUnderwater Adventures Aquarium is the world’s largest underground aquarium. Home to over 5,000 sea creatures, 1.2 million gallons of water, 300 foot long, curved, glass tunnel with moving walk way where sharks and sea turtles swim all around you and over you! There is a Rock Pool where you can actually touch sea creatures like snails, crabs and sea stars. One of my favorite places was the collections of live jellyfish which is the biggest collection of jellyfish in the world. You can walk through on your own or find tours and educational programs. It’s amazing to think all this is located under a mall!

Where to stay

Exterior_WEBLocated half a mile from the Mall of America is and an extraordinary Radisson Hotel. I say extraordinary as it is not a typical traveler’s discount lodging. Built in the style of a grand Mid-West lodge, with lots of natural stone, slate and wood this impressive hotel is home to the largest indoor water park in the USA. The water slides wrap around the outside of the building making it look futuristic. The lobby ceilings go up forever and a massive stone fireplace greets guests with views of the lazy river from the water park.

Room_WEBWe ran to our room to change and were surprised to find more of a well appointed flat than a typical hotel room. Selected suites have a king size sleep number bed, a large bathroom that includes a Jacuzzi tub and separate shower. The great room has wrap around windows and a balcony to enjoy a breath of the clear mid-west air. The suite also has a large pull out sofa with a flat screen TV, dining table and chairs and …..…our very own stone fireplace! A bunk bedcove is nestled into the corner of the suite and the kids loved the privacy of this hideaway with the curtain that blocks this area off. There is so much unexpected luxury that I nearly forgot to mention the free wireless internet and the small kitchen that houses a sink, refrigerator and microwave. There are many room styles to choose from to fit every budget.

Surfer_WEBThe water park is open to the public and hotel guests and admission can be purchased at the desk. When you open the door to the Water Park it feels like an August day in Florida, hot and humid with people surfing……home away from home for a Gator!!!! This is the only place in Minnesota where people can try their hand at surfing on the Flow Rider Surf Arcade_WEBSimulator. They also have the longest indoor raft ride at ten stories tall and over a mile long. If all this makes you hungry head to Camp Many Point which is next to the water park and offers snacks, pizza and hot dogs and for more entertainment visit the 5,800 square foot arcade. In the evening relax at Split Rock Grill, located in the lobby, it offers camp fire dining as well as an elegant indoor bar and restaurant.

We were very impressed with this property; it had character, luxury, great food, friendly knowledgeable staff and the perfect location.

Facts about the Mall of America
Over 520 stores
o Spending 10 minutes in every store would take a shopper more than 86 hrs to complete
o 50 restaurants
o Over 5,000 weddings ceremonies have been performed in the Mall
o 2,779,242 square feet of shopping space
o One of the top tourist destinations in the USA

Nickelodeon Universe Ultimate ride wrist band is $29.95 but there are tons of packages to choose from. Check web site for details. www.MallofAmerica.com

Underwater Adventures Aquarium
Admission Adults $18.99 Kids age 3-12 $13.49

Crave Restaurants

Radisson Hotel Bloomington
by Mall of America