When I was first invited to Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, my answer was a resounding yes, please! A few days of shopping and entertainment inside the largest mall in America? Sounded like fun to me! But what I didn’t know then was that Mall of America, which opened in 1992 and cost over $650 million to build, would exceed my expectations in every way. I can now see why some 40 million people visit annually. It’s so much more than a mall and it’s a place I look forward to returning to. Here’s why:
Mall of America is the largest mall in the United States; 32 Boeing 747s can fit inside, to help put it in perspective for you. So, the first thing you’d expect inside the country’s largest mall is lots of great shopping and Mall of America does not disappoint. Whether you’re a casual browser or a die-hard, shop-til-you-drop type, Mall of America is sure to put your shopping skills to the test. In total, there are 520 shops – I loved my first shopping experience at Henri Bendel (the sales associate I met was so helpful and friendly and I loved the signature bag and ribbon they tie your purchase up in) and the Nordstrom Rack inside the mall is huge, with a massive selection. From Aldo to Zales, you can check out the full list of stores here.
Shopping your way through 520 stores, you’ll definitely need stamina and with 59 restaurants inside Mall of America, your toughest decision about your sustenance will be deciding where to eat – and of course, there’s something for every palate. Crave features a massive and impressive sushi bar, while Twin City Grill dishes up homemade American comfort foods. Neither tickle your fancy? There are 57 other spots to choose from so trust me: you’ll find something. And don’t worry about the calorie count; you’ll burn off plenty walking the mall. The walking distance around one level is 0.57 miles.
Radisson Blu Mall of America
I loved that the Radisson Blu hotel was connected to the mall, so when I visited during the dead of winter, I didn’t even need a coat to go anywhere. From the hotel to the shops to the restaurants for dinner, I was coat-free, which felt so much better than being encumbered with all my heavy winter gear. Besides, it’s a comfortable 70 degrees inside Mall of America year round. (Can you believe that despite Minnesota’s freezing cold winters, Mall of America does not use a central heating system? Instead, the entire space relies on the 1.2 miles of skylights and body heat from visitors to naturally heat the mall.) The Radisson Blu is currently the only hotel that’s actually connected to the mall and it has 500 guest rooms and suites. There are three different room types: Urban, Mansion and Naturally Cool. I was in a Naturally Cool room and it was the perfect fit for me and my design taste. Featuring a pale palette of neutral colours, blonde flooring and crisp white linens, the room was spacious, contemporary and a peaceful retreat at the end of the day. The hotel also offers guests a fitness center, a kids club, an indoor pool and a full-service spa. The aestheticians take manicures to the next level so try to squeeze some time in at the Solimar Spa!
Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium
Mall of America is so much more than a mall. For starters, it’s home to the all-new Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. I have to admit, of all the things to do at Mall of America, the aquarium wasn’t at the top of my list – but I am so glad I went. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my visit. Over 10,000 sea creatures call the 1.2 million-gallon aquarium home, including sharks, sea turtles and rays. Getting up close to the jellyfish and seahorses was absolutely amazing; I’d never seen a seahorse in real life! The Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium is a must-visit spot for kids and adults alike.
Mall of America isn’t just a shopping paradise for adults – it’s a playground for kids, too. Literally. At its very heart is Nickelodeon Universe, a seven-acre indoor amusement park, with 25 rides and attractions. It goes without saying that this place is popular with children but you may be surprised just how often you want to go on the SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge. There are thrill rides, family rides and rides just for the little ones.
So much more
You could easily spend a week at Mall of America enjoying all the fun things to do. In fact, it would take you 86 hours to complete your visit to Mall of America if you were to spend just 10 minutes in each store! In addition to everything I’ve already mentioned, there are movie theatres, a bowling alley, a comedy club, a Barbie Dream House experience. There’s even a chapel, where over 7,000 weddings have been performed.
No sales tax
There’s no sales tax on clothing in Minnesota. Who doesn’t like saving money?
All in all, Mall of America was so much more than I expected when I arrived and the friendly people in Bloomington, Minnesota were certainly one of the best parts of my experience. The mall, the hotel, the rides and attractions and the myriad other things to do all combine to create an experience of fun and excitement for the whole family. It’s even a great spot for a girlfriends getaway! So if Mall of America isn’t currently on your list of places to visit, I urge you to add it now.