Mall of America® (MOA) is a vacation destination in itself–a soaring, sprawling space big enough to house 258 Statues of Liberty. In addition to more than 520 stores and 50 restaurants, the mall features everything from a theme park and a mirror maze to a comedy club and a mechanical bull. So whether you’re a curious creative type seeking a taste of local culture, a family looking for all-ages entertainment, or a sporty couple eager to careen down the country’s largest indoor zip line, you’ll fall head over heels for Mall of America®–no matter if those heels are clad in vintage Chuck Taylors or the latest Jimmy Choos. The Radisson Blu Mall of America is connected to the mall by a climate-controlled skyway, making it a great starting point for your personalized mall adventure.
For the young at heart
A MOA visit is one the kids—and kids at heart—will never forget, starting with Nickelodeon Universe. The colorful, seven-acre theme park in the center of the mall offers roller coasters, miniature golf, a log chute and a Ferris wheel, plus the chance to meet some of Nickelodeon’s most popular characters.
After shaking hands with SpongeBob, head to SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, where you can make friends with stingrays and venture through a glass-enclosed shark-viewing tunnel. For a mind-bending adventure, make your way through the Amazing Mirror Maze, one of the largest in the country.
The whole family can also enjoy a stop in the beloved LEGO Store as well as the iconic American Girl store, a two-story shop featuring classic dolls, a bookstore and even a doll hair salon. Plan to have afternoon tea in the American Girl Bistro, complete with miniature teacups for the kids’ dolls.
For the adventurer
Roller coasters, sharks and mazes are just the beginning of the adventures here. At the rock-and-roll-inspired Cadillac Ranch, chow down on fiery habanero buffalo wings and test your mettle on the mechanical bull. Or if you’re truly brave, grab a bite at Dick’s Last Resort, where you’re sure to be razzed by the comical wait staff.
After your meal, hit up the Sky Deck Sports Grille and Lanes to work on bowling the perfect game. More of a baseball fan? The mall was built on the former site of Metropolitan Stadium, and you can hunt for the vintage chair that marks the spot where Minnesota Twins great Harmon Killebrew deposited a homer in 1967. The old stadium’s home plate is marked near Nickelodeon Universe, where you’ll also find Dutchman’s Deck, an adventure course that includes the country’s longest indoor zip line. If you love the feeling of flying through the air, make sure to check out A.C.E.S. Flight Simulation Center or the FlyOver America simulation ride as well.
For the creative soul
From rising comedians at the House of Comedy to the fantastical world of Eagle Anime, creative types will find a cultural paradise of inspiring art at MOA. The mall features revolving exhibits and is a frequent destination for celebrity performers and local choirs. Weekends even bring occasional salsa lessons and live music.
If you’re ready to write your next novel, swing into stationery shop Typo to pick out the perfect leather notebook, and then find a cozy spot to brainstorm with a fresh-brewed cup of specialty coffee from Coffee & Tea Ltd. Feeling crafty? Head to Lotus Beads to create your own custom jewelry with beautiful handcrafted beads from around the world. Creative kids will also love the Crayola Experience, where they can craft colorful works of art and even name and wrap their own crayon.
For the foodie
Gourmands can take an around-the-world culinary tour at some of the mall’s 50-plus restaurants. Start with “water lily” sake and a snow crab seaweed salad appetizer at Masu Sushi & Robata; hit Cantina Laredo for modern Mexican dishes, including fresh guacamole prepared tableside; pop into Paciugo Gelato & Cafe to savor a scoop of bacio (chocolate hazelnut) gelato; and end the evening with a scotch tasting at the VOM FASS culinary store.
For the next day’s breakfast, it’s hard to beat the Minnesota-inspired, farm-to-table dishes served at the Radisson Blu hotel’s chic FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar; don’t miss the Minnesota walleye hash and the brick-oven apple pannekoeken, a local favorite.
Top image © iStock.com/Sergey Tumanov