Our clan tends to gravitate towards outdoor adventures with less people and natural attractions. Our usual choice is National Parks over theme parks. However, when the mighty Mall of America in Minnesota offered to host our family for a weekend stay, we loaded up and headed north. Our whole family is so glad we chose this adventure as the Mall of America blew us away with the huge amount of family attractions, shops, and food choices.
Mall of America Overview
The Mall of America opened in 1992 in Bloomington, Minnesota, right on the edge of Minneapolis. It was about an 8.5 hour drive for us from the St. Louis area. The Mall is largest by far in the United States and features over 520 stores, 8 acres of skylights, and over 40 million visitors a year.
General Tips for Visiting Mall of America
With so many shops, restaurants, and attractions, it can be a little confusing to navigate. The mall overall is shaped like a giant rectangle with most stores on floors 1 & 2, restaurants on floor 3, and the movie theater on floor 4. There are numerous directories as well as a free app you can download to search for stores and restaurants by name and even have directions on how to get there from your current location. I just wish the app would show restroom locations!
The temperature inside the mall is 70 degrees year round. We actually found it to be pretty warm, especially in the Nick Universe area because of the large skylights. Definitely wear comfortable shoes as it is over a mile of walking around each floor to make a full loop.
There are lockers near Nick Universe and two other locations to hold your shopping bags and other valuables.
Parking is free for the mall in a variety of lots and garages. I recommend taking a picture of where you park so you can find your car again out of the 12,000+ spaces!
Where to Stay at the Mall of America
If you are traveling from our of town like us, there tons of hotel options in the area. We were provided with a complimentary stay at the Radisson Blu. The hotel has lovely rooms and a fun lobby. It also connects to the Mall directly by a sky bridge.
The morning we left we enjoyed a delicious breakfast meal at the FireLake Grill House at the hotel. The restaurant is open to the public and is located right by the Sky Bridge to the mall.
Things to Do at Mall of America
While you may think a mall is just for shopping, there is so much more to see at the Mall of America. In fact, we spent so much time exploring the other attractions that we didn’t even have time to do a whole lot of shopping at all!
Right in the center of Mall of America you can find Nickelodean Universe. Nick Universe is the nation’s largest indoor theme park with over 7 acres of amusement and 28 rides and attractions. They have a good assortment of gentle rides for younger kids and bigger thrill rides for older kids, teens, and adults. Something extra cool is that the theme park is a certified autism center with a sensory guide for all of the rides.
The ride schedule can vary each day depending on scheduled maintenance. It’s always best to check the calendar for the rides that will be open for your visit. There were several that were closed when we visited.
Each ride costs a certain number of points. You can buy an unlimited wrist band which is the best value if you want to ride more than a couple rides. Deal days are a little cheaper than weekend days. There are also bundles available if you wish to visit multiple attractions at the mall.
Our visit to the Mall of America was actually our kids first time to ride a roller coaster and they absolutely loved it! We rode the Pepsi Orange Streak coaster multiple times and it was just right for their ages with a good mix of excitement without being to wild.
We also rode the carousel, Diego’s Rescue Rider, El Circulo Del Cielo (ferris wheel), Ghost Blasters, Guppy Bubblers, car ride, and La Adventura De Azul. My daughter also loved playing in the Paw Patrol Adventure Bay play area.
I definitely recommend getting to the theme park as soon as it opens as the lines were super short. It became much busier later on, but the lines still were never super long for our visit on a Saturday in May.
Nick Universe Hours: Monday – Thursday 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Friday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Unlimited wristbands for Nick Universe are $39.99-$44.99 depending on the day. Check the special offers page for possible deals.
The Crayola Experience is a fun interactive 60,000 square foot attraction with over 20 different activities centered around everyone’s favorite crayon brand. I was expecting that we would only spend an hour or so here, but we were there over 2 hours and could have stayed much longer.
Our kids particularly liked wrapping their own crayons with custom labels, making their own coloring pages and puzzles, and crafting with melted wax. My daughter really loved the giant chalk area where it’s actually allowed to draw on the walls and both kids loved the crayon themed playground.
One hidden gem at the attraction is the Crayola Factory. Here you can watch a demonstration of how crayons are made in the factory and take one home for yourself.
The kids ended up with several freebies included in admission such as scribble scrubbies, modeling clay, and of course, crayons. There is also a Crayola store open for anyone visiting the mall.
Crayola Hours: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily
Admission is $27.99 or $25.99 if purchased online.
There were so many other fun activities that we just didn’t have time for. Sea Life is a 1.3 million gallon aquarium that includes a 300 foot long ocean tunnel. Fly Over America looks like an amazing flight simulator that gives visitors an aerial view over America. Mall visitors can also enjoy an escape room, mini golf, arcades, axe-throwing, movie theaters, and a mirror maze.
Shopping at Mall of America
It’s not a mall trip without visiting at least some of the over 500 stores. With kids, we didn’t have as much time to shop as we would have liked. I hit up a few of the women’s clothing stores while my husband went on a shopping spree at L.L. Bean.
For the kids, we visited one of the several toy store options, Legacy Toys to pick out a few new toys.
The Lego Store is also an impressive store to visit with a giant pick a brick wall, huge Lego creations, and a fun area for kids to play and build with Legos.
The last kid friendly stop for us was the M&M store. The M&M store spans two floors at Mall of America. Our kids loved picking out their own mix of candies with a variety of colors and flavors.
You can’t go hungry at Mall of America. There is every possible type of cuisine you could want from fast-food to gourmet. We enjoyed a fun meal at Rainforest Cafe. Our kids loved all the jungle themed plants and the animals that moved. There was even a “thunderstorm” every so often with flashing lights and thunder.
We topped off our meal with a treat at Dough Dough for scoops of cookie dough. Buying a flight of flavors is a fun way to try several different varieties.
Our whole family had such a great time at the Mall of America and would definitely visit again if we were in the area. There were so many great attractions and shops and everything felt safe and clean. The mall was a little more crowded then we usually prefer, but it is so large that it is easy to find a quieter area to explore.
Have you ever visited the Mall of America?
*Our family was provided with a complimentary hotel stay, restaurant and store gift cards, and wristbands for Nick Universe and the Crayola Experience. All opinions and reviews are our own.