Have you ever considered a screaming ride on a roller coaster (vertical loops included) as part of your mall experience? You can at the Mall of America — Bloomington, Minnesota’s powerhouse retail and entertainment destination. Yes, there’s shopping (and we’ll get into that), but the MOA is as much an experiential thrill as it is a retail therapist’s dream. So hold tight, your Mall of America adventure awaits!
Overview of The Mall of America
As befits its name, the Mall of America is the largest mall in the U.S. with 500 or so shops, 50 restaurants, and an amusement park with 24 rides smack in the middle. A handful of other attractions are scattered throughout. Four floors teeming with top retail brands and eateries are stacked in a loose square formation with an open central area, where thrill rides and their enthusiastic passengers are always visible. Glass skylights blanket the mall with natural light, and ample parking is available in two large structures on the east, west, and north sides of the mall.
The short version? It’s mostly all here. There are luxury brands like Kate Spade, Burberry, Swarovski, and Kiehl’s, along with mall standards like H&M, Zara, Apple, Anthropologie, Nike, and Lids. Tweens will delight in accessory havens from Claire’s and pink sparkly T’s from Justice; while teens will breathe a sigh of relief once they glimpse the familiar storefronts of Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, and American Eagle (whew).
There are a few independent shops among the fray, including our favorites:
- Mona Williams for eclectic yet chic apparel, including both vintage designer pieces (we’re talking Chanel and Gucci) and hard-to-find European designers like Baum Und Pferdgarten.
- Persepolis for biker culture-inspired custom jewelry and apparel.
- Got Kilt? for well, kilts, but kilts of all sorts. There are utility kilts (with pockets), traditional and hybrid designs, as well as those crafted from unusual fabrics and, of course, from traditional tartans.
- Vikings Locker Room for all your official Minnesota Viking needs and wants. When in Minnesota…
Entertainment at The Mall of America
Aside from the mountains of shopping here, what makes the mall so fun are its experiential attractions. We’ve included a sampling below, though a full list can be found here. And while any of these can be enjoyed independently for a price, ticket packages are also available. See here for pricing combo details. Here’s a look inside the fun:
- The Crayola Experience. Fun for the whole family, this is a hands-on attraction that includes activities like naming and wrapping your own crayon; creative play with computer animation; and getting colorful with chalk, modeling clay, watercolors, and crayons (of course). There are play areas, live dancing crayons, and a separate cafeteria for snacks and lunch. By all accounts, you can spend a day in this attraction alone. Prices run $22.99 for attendees three years old and older.
- SEA LIFE at Mall of America. Sure, it’s an aquarium with sharks, sea turtles, stingrays, jellyfish, seahorses, and other, well, sea life, but the must-see exhibit here is the 300-foot long Ocean Tunnel. Walk through this aqua-themed glass passage as schools of sharks, sea turtles, and guitarfish swim over and around you. It is an immersive rush, as there are only a few inches of glass between you and these awesome creatures. Tickets are $14.99.
- FlyOver America. If you’re a virtual reality (VR) geek like we are, FlyOver America may be just your speed. This is a top-notch flight simulation ride that offers a bird’s eye view of some of the country’s most iconic landmarks and sights. Fly between skyscrapers in New York and Chicago, through western deserts, across midwestern farm country, and over majestic mountain tops. Frankly, the immersive add-ons of wind, mist, and scents push the experience above a 10. Tickets run $19.99 for flyers 12 and older.
- Amazing Mirror Maze. If navigating a large mall isn’t maze enough for you, step into the Amazing Mirror Maze. Wind your way through a dizzying 2,500 square feet of glass and mirrored pathways, halls, twists, and turns. It took us a while to find our way out but it was a blast the whole way. Tickets are $9.05.
- Nickelodeon Universe. Perhaps the mall’s pièce de résistance, this seven-acre-sized amusement park ranks with the best of them. With thrill rides like Splat-o-Sphere, Shredder’s Mutant Masher, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Shell Shock, and Brain Surge, it really does run circles around other theme parks.
There are also less terrifying options for the littler ones (and for those of us who can only take so much speed and spin). Generally themed around Nickelodeon shows and characters, these include favorites like the more civilized El Circulo Del Cielo (a Dora-inspired Ferris wheel) or The Wonder Pets Flyboat. Tickets run $3.80 per ride or $37.99 for a day’s worth of unlimited rides.
Where to eat
Of course, it wouldn’t be a mall without food court favorites like Starbucks, Caribou Coffee, Burger King, Cinnabon, The Rainforest Café, and the rest of our favorite chains; but for something a little different try one of these:
- For tea, head to the Sencha Tea Bar, a family-owned business that specializes in fresh tropical bubble teas and a variety of single-brew or blended loose leaf offerings.
- There’s also Baking Betty‘s for a cookie-fueled pick-me-up. Our current flavor favorite is either the Pecan Pie or the S’more Stuffed. Who doesn’t love a s’more-stuffed cookie?
- If you’re looking for a casual lunch, go for the Mac Daddy at Burger Burger. That’s a beef patty with white American cheese, mac and cheese bites, leaf lettuce, red onions, and BBQ sauce. All burgers are hormone and antibiotic-free – plus they’re just really good.
- Come dinner, enjoy a fresh take on traditional sushi and robata in a modern setting at Masu Sushi & Robata. Or, head to Cedar + Stone Urban Table for an elevated farm-to-table menu and handcrafted cocktails; we’re partial to the Braised Revier Short Ribs with Stickney Hill Farm goat cheese grits and red wine demi-glace.
Directions and general information
Just off north-south artery Minnesota State Highway 77, the Mall of America is an easy 10 miles south of Minneapolis and a really easy seven miles south of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport — perfect for those who need something fun to do during a long flight delay (yes, we’ve done it). Heck, you might even consider jetting in for a day’s worth of mall fun.
The Mall is open seven days a week from 11am-7pm. We recommend getting there early to beat the crowds — especially if you’re keen on the rides in the Nickelodeon Universe. Also, consider downloading the Mall of America app for mall navigation, available for both iOS and Android operating systems.
Finally, visit the Mall of America website for updates on opening hours, event schedules, and additional mall information.