Traveling to the largest shopping destination in the USA, of course I expected to find some great stores with lots of selection.
What I didn’t expect was finding so many fun rides for both children and adults, fabulous dining, and beautiful green spaces outside Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Easy Travel and Accommodations
After a quick five-minute drive from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, which was a direct flight from Canada, we were at our hotel, the Radisson Blu, which was built right into the mall. It was so easy to power shop all morning, go back for a rest and get back out there in the afternoon for a second round. Having clean, bright, modern, luxurious rooms, and not driving each day if we didn’t want to was great. They even offer free shuttles to and from the hotel to the airport and package pickup in the mall. The Radisson Blu is just one of about 40 hotel options in Bloomington, and they all offer the convenience of shuttles to and from Mall of America.
Shop Until You Drop
Upon entering the mall, four levels of stores with all of my US favorites greeted me: Nordstrom, Macy’s, J.Crew and so on. The prices were more reasonable than most stores I’ve visited on the coasts, not to mention that there was no sales tax on clothing and shoes, something my Canadian self could not believe.
Entering a Children's Paradise
Nickelodeon Universe really is a family paradise in the middle of the mall. Thirty rides and attractions can keep little ones – and not so little ones – occupied for days, year-round. How cool to be able to ride a roller coaster in Minnesota, in winter! And the fun for children doesn't stop there. The LEGO Store has the biggest LEGO structure in the world, and the American Girl store was a little girl's dream with the doll hair salon, tea parties going on at the bistro overlooking the rides, and more doll clothes and accessories than you can imagine. Families can also enjoy hours of fun at miniature golf, a ropes climbing course, flight simulators, movie theaters, and more than 400 annual events that are free to guests.
Fantastic Dining and Outdoor Adventure
The mall really surprised me with its great dining options. There are plenty of convenient food court-type options, but there were also some fantastic upscale options. Outside the mall, I had a great time at Cowboy Jack’s, which had an outdoor patio where I enjoyed a classic Minnesota “Hot Dish” and hot State Fair mini doughnuts.
I also was glad we took the time to explore the nature Bloomington had to offer. The Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, which is about five minutes from the mall, features an incredible wetland conservation area where we saw frogs and birds including a blue heron. At nearby Bush Lake, you can take a kayak out. The Japanese Garden at Normandale Community College is a beautiful, tranquil spot.
I know everyone shops online these days, but I have never enjoyed it, not knowing if the piece of clothing will fit or how the fabric feels, not to mention the tax and cross-border shipping charges when I’d shop at US stores. A trip to Mall of America is the perfect solution: an easy, fun, economical vacation that’s a treat for children and a delightful change from the everyday shopping experience for adults.