With so many fun outdoor winter activities in Québec City, it’s no surprise visitors flock…
Earlier this year, I sent my husband off to the Mall of America for #MinNOCOATa—an annual event that’s best described as the Mall of America daring travel writers to visit Minnesota with out their coat. Yes, during the winter! He’s braver than I am. Check out what he got up to!
When Samantha’s plans changed and she couldn’t make #MinNOCOATa this year, I jumped at the chance to go in her place. My best friend lives in Minneapolis and I really love the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. I wasn’t too thrilled with the no coat thing, being February and all, but that was part of the adventure!
Arrived to the excellent MSP airport and listened to a voicemail from my best friend announcing that he’s just got courtside seats to the Timberwolves from work. I’m not too into basketball, but it was a great excuse to see my buddy. I took train from Mall of America, 40 mins right into downtown Minneapolis. Without a coat, it was dead sprint into arena in less than five mins (might have regretted not bringing coat for that part). It was my first time courtside for a basketball game and wow, was that intense! Here is photo of my shoes and the sideline, had to keep feet tucked under chair or I would have seriously tripped referee (ultimate party foul?).
I usually like to start my day with breakfast and coffee. However, as a part of #MinNoCoata, we got to experience the SpongeBob “Rock Bottom Plunge” before the park opened. I like rollercoasters, but I woke up too late for breakfast and was VERY worried about having an empty stomach. I kept thinking as we went up and up that “Hey, this is a mall, shouldn’t be a big deal, right?”
Turns out, it was everything a typical rollercoaster had and more, at 9am. Happy to be done with that, next time I will keep my terrifying exploits until later in the day.
After walking off rollercoaster legs (and stomach), I made it to lunch at Burger Burger. I went with the John Wayne, which had bbq sauce and onion rings. We all agreed it was refreshing that the burgers weren’t too massive, I really don’t like it when you get a burger that you end up eating with a fork after it all falls apart and then have to take a nap.
Post-lunch, a lot of the ladies were going to the hotel spa, so I decided to try to do the manly version of that and booked a Royal Shave at The Art of Shaving.
Hot towels, close shave with straight blade, beard trim, and then some sort of clay mask thingy that didn’t make me feel ridiculous at all (ok maybe a little). These guys really took care of me and I think the ladies were a little jealous when I told them all about it!
With my freshly-shaven face, it only made sense to upgrade my style. Being the largest mall in America, that isn’t hard to do! (Plus, Minnesota has no sales tax on clothes!) I found a great Minnesota-based company called Hammer Made that does unique runs 30 of shirts per each fabric. So you don’t have that awkward moment when you and your buddy show up at the same cocktail party wearing the same shirt (hate it when that happens). Really happy with the two shirts I bought and I will be buying more online as I see shirts I like!
While walking around the mall I came across JM Cremp’s store. Their description of Traditions of American Boyhood drew me in like a magnet! For two seconds I thought about how odd it was to have a store only for boys, but then I quickly remembered the massive three story American Girl emporium. Nevermind!
Inside was a really fun collection of toys, gear and clothes that brought me back to boyhood (where do you buy marbles in 2016?). I’m looking forward to coming back with my boy soon.
First thing today was Sea Life aquarium. Yes, an aquarium IN the mall. Since this is the MOA, they made space for a massive aquarium experience. You start out with two tanks where you can actually touch different sea life.
From there, it’s tank after tank of different fish and sharks and turtles, including a cool Amazonian tank that had a fish I saw in Brazil myself a few years ago. Being a tourist, I decided to go with the shark selfie (sorry).
From there, we headed over to the newly opened JW Marriot Hotel’s restaurant Cedar & Stone. I was surprised that their menu only features ingredients sourced in Minnesota. We had a delicious lunch and the highlight was the Minnesota cheddar cornbread with maple butter. WOW!
High from my great shirt buying experience, I decided to see if I could find a new suit. I headed over to Nordstrom. I went a little crazy, but I have no regrets!
After walking around for a while I came across Flying Aces. Had to check this out so booked a 20 min test flight of a 747. This is the real deal, once you get into the simulator cockpit one of the team members acts as control tower and guides you through takeoff, inflight and landing. I landed my bird in a field safely and the control tower was pretty happy with that for a first timer! I think most people take the F15 option and fly around shooting stuff, but I wanted to fly a plane I’ve actually ridden in. Very unique and entertaining 20 minutes!
Before I headed out to the airport I needed to pick up my suit at Nordstrom. On my walk, I realized that #MinNoCoata was over and I didn’t have a coat… Fortunately they have a shop for that! I have seen Fjällräven’s gear around the last year or so, but I had never seen a store before. The parka I chose is rated for Arctic expeditions and after wearing it for two mins in the store I could believe it!
Headed to MSP airport with enough time for my favorite cocktail/meal. The “Weekender” at Ike’s! Not joking that three people wanted a selfie with it when they brought it over to me! I love Ike’s downtown location and it’s really special that the location at the airport feels exactly the same.
I was skeptical that a winter trip to Minnesota could be done sans coat, but with the ease of (mostly indoor) travel between the airport, MOA and downtown, I learned it can be done! And I was honestly shocked by just how much there is to do at the mall. If you’re planning a trip to Minnesota, why not go in the winter? I think the Twin Cities is an underrated destination—great for families, couples or a solo adventure. Though I might suggest you do bring a coat, just in case your buddy surprises you with T-wolves tickets.
This post was sponsored by Mall of America, but all opinions are my own.