Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
The Mall of America is more than a gigantic shopping center.
Sure, you can update your entire wardrobe (sales tax-free… bonus!) in one fell swoop, but there’s a lot more going on at the Mall of America than shopping. Here are ten highlights that might not be on your radar.
1. Take a Swim
We’ve all done the aquarium thing at some point, and it can be a spectacular experience. But has it ever been a fully immersive experience? At the MOA’s Sea Life, you can actually spend an hour on a snorkeling adventure. Get up close to over 75 types of tropical fish including puffers and small sharks (eeeee!). Not extreme enough for you? SCUBA-certified adrenaline junkies can opt to hop in the water with the BIG sharks. Too extreme? Maybe you just want to stay dry and visit one of the Sea Life’s touchpools, where you can feed rays, pet starfish and sea cucumbers.
2. Catch a Flick
Transition from a day of shopping to a proper date night. There’s tons of great dining at the mall (more on that later!). After a nice meal, take in a flick at the onsite theater. For a more premium experience, see what’s playing in the adults-only theater. Kick back in your own plush, high-back rocker seat, with a pint of beer or glass of wine in-hand. The only thing missing is a pause button for when you have to pee mid-way through the movie.
3. Tire Out the Little Ones (or Yourself)
As if walking around a 4.8 million square foot mall isn’t tiring enough, there’s plenty of activities to burn off excess energy. Play a round of indoor mini-golf at Moose Mountain (special rates for foursomes!), an 18-hole adventure kids and adults will both love. For something more unexpected, visit the Amazing Mirror Maze. Navigate your way through 2,500 square feet of life-size maze of mirrors and glass. It’s one of the largest mirror mazes in the world, with endless hallways, infinite reflections, and a new twist and turn waiting around every corner. A truly mind-blowing masterpiece!
4. Bliss Out at the Spa
If you’re getting a “spa” treatment at a mall, it’s usually in one of those massage chairs at Brookstone. Here, you’ll find Solimar— a stunning full-service spa with incredible bodywork offerings, indulgent manicures and pedicures, plus an impressive list of Ayurvedic treatments. What’s that you ask? It’s an ancient healing tradition from India that treats “the complete person,” aka what you think, how you act, your physical and emotional being. You fill out a questionnaire prior to your appointment, then treatments are created specifically for you. Try essential oil-laden soaks and massages, mostly executed in complete silence. Now that sure doesn’t sound like a mall, does it?
5. Shave and a Haircut
Though spas are great for both men and women, a lot of dudes aren’t as excited about a day of pampering. Watch the guys in your life change their tune with a classic barbershop shave at the Art of Shaving. My husband tried it last time he was in Minnesota and raved about the experience.
6. Say I Do!
When you think of destination weddings, you probably think of Las Vegas, Key West or a tropical beach. But the Mall of America’s Chapel of Love has hosted over 7,000 couples as they say I do! If you’re looking for an intimate wedding (or vow renewal), you can do it at the MOA. Bonus: there’s great dining, two great hotels and a spa onsite. A mall might not sound like a romantic honeymoon, but the MOA actually delivers.
7. Sample Like a Boss
I know some people who would prefer a cocktail to shopping. But at Vom Fass, you can do both… kinda. This European store sells incredible olive oils and vinegars, but also bottles their own spirits. The best part? Everything the sell is sample-able. If you like the oils and vinegar, you can keep it PG. But if you like a little something extra, check out their selection of premium boozes. Try Irish whiskey, American bourbon, aged rum and even absinthe (yep). A half-hour in Vom Fass might make your shopping a leeetle more interesting.
8. Get Your Ride On, No Matter the Weather
Snowing? Raining? Freezing cold? Hotter than heck? None of that matters at Nickelodeon Universe—the MOA’s seven-acre indoor amusement park featuring 27 rides, attractions and longest indoor zip line in North America! They’ve got rides fit for tots, younger kids and those seeking the thrill ride experience. My husband screamed his face off on the Rock Bottom Plunge on his last visit.
9. Food Court, Schmood Court
Like any mall, the MOA does have a few food courts. And that’s great for a quick bite or when your kid (or sister or friend or yourself) is having a hangry meltdown. That said, they also offer legitimately excellent dining. Head to Cedar + Stone for local farm to table fare (the cheddar maple cornbread is to die for!), Twin City Grill for a Midwestern steakhouse experience, or Cantina Laredo for Mexican grub and margaritas. Mall sushi gets a serious upgrade at Crave, and the dishes at Zio will transport you from the Twin Cities to Tuscany. This year, the MOA will welcome Minnesota’s first Shake Shack location. I think I can already see the line forming.
10. Explore the Twin Cities
One of the coolest aspect of the MOA is how connected it is to the rest of the city. The Blue Line train hooks the mall up to the international airport, Minnehaha Falls (a beautiful park that boasts stunning waterfalls and seasonal restaurant Sea Salt), and downtown Minneapolis. If you’re staying for a few days, you can hop on the train for a mere $1.75 ($2.25 during rush hour) and make your way to the city. Depending on the time of year, take in a Twins, Timberwolves or Vikings game; explore Nicollet Mall (a pedestrian mall with shops, restaurants and more); check out a show at the Guthrie or Brave New Workshop (awesome improv and sketch comedy!); or dine at one of the city’s incredible restaurants. We especially love Hell’s Kitchen for brunch, 112 Eatery and Spoon & Stable for dinner.
Have you been to the Mall of America? What were your favorite spots? Share in the comments!
This post was sponsored by Mall of America, but all opinions are my own.