You Can Do That in a Mall? - The Mall of America Experience #90DayRoadTrip

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From the moment that I mentioned that we would be visiting the Mall of America during our #90DayRoadTrip, they were totally pumped. In fact, for the week leading up to our stop in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, it is all they talked about, and it seems they aren't the only ones who look forward to visiting this "Hollywood of the Midwest." Since its opening in 1992, the Mall of America has attracted 40 million visitors per year, that is more than all of Minnesota's other tourist attractions combined!

About the Mall of America 

Photo from

If you for some reason have not heard about the Mall of America, you are missing out. Located in Bloomington, MN., the Mall is just a short drive from both Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as Roseville where our hotel was located. It is gigantic. There are no two ways about it. In fact, 258 Statues of Liberty could lie inside the Mall of America, and it is has more shopping than you could ever desire. If you were to visit each store in the mall for just 10 minutes, it would take you 86 hours to complete your tour, and there is even more coming soon!

The MOA has obtained development rights for an additional 5.6 million square feet of mixed-use space. What are they going to put there? New shops will focus on a luxury shopping experience, hoping to attract upscale customers. There will be 20,000 feet of event space, and get this, the state's largest waterpark. In the mall!

Family Fun in the Mall of America

Apart form the incredible availability of stores for children and families within the mall, there are some key attractions that you just can't miss when visiting with children. That's right, the Mall of America is home to several full-fledged family attractions.

Nickelodeon Universe 

Home to 25 rides, Nickelodeon Universe is the centerpiece of the Mall of America, and a full-scale theme park. From a ferris wheel to three coasters and even a zipline/ropes course, you can easily spend an entire day within this theme park.

The boys and I could hardly believe we were inside of a mall as we rand from ride to ride. Don't think the Nickelodeon theme means there aren't plenty of rides fit for older children and adults, it just adds to the fun. There really is something for all ages here, from teens to toddlers.

Our favorites were the Pepsi Orange Streak, Crazy Cars and the Fairly Odd Coaster. Each child seemed to prefer a different ride, but with all day passes, we were able to get to every ride we wanted at least twice. Tip, arrive at the park right when it opens to avoid lines for the first 1 1/2 - 2 hours of the day.

My personal favorite part of Nickelodeon Universe was the Dutchmen's Deck Adventure Course. This is an additional $14.99 charge, but so worth it. I did not personally do the ropes course here, but the boys did. I did however join the boys in going on the zipline that goes down the length of the theme park and back. It is the longest indoor zipline in the United States. I also joined them on the Anchor Drop, two dual spiral slides that are several stories tall. So fun!

Nickelodeon Universe is open Monday-Thursday: 10 a.m. - 9:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. and Sunday: 10:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.. All day passes are $32.99 or you can purchase a points pass for different amounts and use them to ride the rides based on a points system for each one. The all day passes are by far the better value. 

SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium

If it weren't enough that there was a theme park in the Mall of America, it is also home to an incredible aquarium. The SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium has a wide range of interactive activities for children, including touch tanks, stamp stations with their new Dive books that can be picked up at the entrance, and fun "WOW!" facts that can be found sprinkled throughout the exhibits. For example, did you know that the trees in the rain forest are so dense that it takes rain nearly 10 minutes to reach the forest floor?

The highlight of our visit was definitely the current stingray exhibit. You can pet and even feed the stingrays, it was such a cool experience, and was fun to watch the reactions of all the kids. There was one particular stingray that was quite grumpy, and they kept stating it was because she was likely pregnant.

The SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium has one of the best Ocean Tunnels I have been to. It is 300 feet long and carries you through 4 major exhibits. They had the most amazing display of sea creatures within the tunnel, including a Green Sawfish who just loved to hang out on the top of the tunnel, and huge Alligator Gar.

Admission to SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium is cheaper if you buy it in advance online. Online saver tickets are $18.99 for adults and $15.99 for children. The aquarium is open 10am-7pm Monday-Thursday, Saturday 9:30am-8pm and Sunday 10am-6:30pm.

Moose Mountain Adventure Golf

With all of the other family fun attractions within the Mall of America, it is hard to believe they could fit even more, but they can. There is a full scale 18-hole mini golf course in the Mall of America too, that overlooks the Nickelodeon Universe theme park. Moose Mountain Adventure Golf is a fun "old north woods" inspired theme complete with a logging truck, steam train and more.

While it is similar to any other mini golf course you would visit, the fact that it is in the Mall of America and overlooking the theme park just makes it even more fun. It is a great break from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the mall, and a great way to take a bit of a slower break in the afternoon.

Moose Mountain Adventure Golf is open 10am-9:30pm Monday - Saturday and 11am-7pm on Sunday. Admission is $8.99, and a family foursome is available for $29.99.

Other Attractions in the Mall of America

The fun doesn't stop with the three attractions listed above, there are plenty of other family friendly attractions and stores to visit in the Mall of America, like the incredible LEGO store, with their legendary Pick-A-Brick wall that has over 180 LEGO elements to choose from and plenty of building stations for hands-on fun. Other family fun attractions/stores include:
  • Theaters at the Mall of America
  • The American Girl Store
  • Barbie the Dreamhouse Expereience
  • Star Trek the Exhibition
  • Universe of Light
Family Friendly Dining

Looking to have a family friendly meal in the Mall of America. The Hard Rock Cafe is the perfect dining option. Their location couldn't be better located right in one corner of the Nickelodeon Universe theme park. Music videos are always playing to keep the kids captivated, the decor is spot on and engaging, and the service is out of this world.

Food is always a highlight at the Hard Rock Cafe, and there are ample choices on the menu for both adults and children. Not a meat eater? Take it from me, the veggie burger is incredible!

Family Attractions Near the Mall of America

Photo from the Como Zoo site. 

If the Mall of America didn't completely wear you out, there are some other family friendly attractions in the area that you shouldn't miss. The Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is one of them. Free to the public, both the zoo and conservatory are worth the stop. For no fee, you will be absolutely amazed at the incredible list of animals and gardens that are available for you to see.

Padelford Riverboats are another family friendly attraction that you should make time for in your schedule. The Twin Cities flagship riverboats, you can spot wildlife like eagles and falcons while cruising through the Mississippi National Great River Park. A sunset dinner cruise could be the perfect way to end your day in the area, but daytime and non-meals cruises are available too.

If you have never been to the Mall of America, then it is a definite "must see" during your visit to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. With several full-fledged family attractions inside and more shopping options than you could ever dream up, there is something for everyone to enjoy during your time in America's largest mall.

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