Champaign, ILL - Midwest Travel Expert Marcia Frost shares why Mall of America is a vacation on its own.
It’s hard to think of going to a mall as a vacation, but Mall of America in Minnesota is more of a city than just a shopping experience.
Marcia spent three days here and probably could have done another two without running out of things to do and places to eat.
While there are a number of other attractions, three main ones should be at the top of your schedule at Mall of America.
Fly over America is an experience that is hard to even describe, except to say that it’s a must do. It’s the ride of a lifetime as you’ll feel like you are really flying across America and checking out all of the sites. It’s also appropriate for every member of the family.
Nickelodeon Universe is another site to behold. It’s a large amusement park in the middle of the mall. You don’t have to worry about weather at this theme park, which has all your favorite rides. You can purchase passes for one or two days or tickets for individual rides. (Tip: If you buy online they are cheaper.) Brain Surge was the most popular ride with my group. It’s kind of like the spinning wheels on steroids – it goes around, upside down, and back and forth.
Sea Life Aquarium is now one of my favorite aquariums. They have room after room of tunnels where you can walk around and under the fish in what they call snorkeling experiences. They also have displays about rain forests, jellyfish, and a stingray touch tank.
We stayed right at the Mall of America at the Radisson Blu. This modern hotel is connected so you don’t have to go outside and worry about the weather. The rooms are a great size and the double rooms are a comfortable option for a family of four. If you want a lot more room for just a little more, go for the junior suite. The whole hotel is very family friendly, even the executive lounge, which is well worth it for the evening drinks and buffet, and a nice breakfast spread in the morning.
For a bigger meal at the Radisson Blu, try their FireLake Grill House, which is so popular it gets a lot of patrons who aren’t even staying at the hotel. They have great cocktails and Minnesota favorites like Chicken Wild Rice Soup, and vegetarian dishes, such as the asparagus risotto, and classics such as Apple Pecan Pork. Be sure to order the popovers and save room for the Malted Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
While the mall has all your fast food favorites, there are some restaurants that you must try:
The Twin City Grill is one you’ll want to make a reservation for. The -BBQ Chicken Flatbread is a must, and the turkey dinner tastes like Thanksgiving. They also have a wonderful prime rib, as well as cheesecake and chocolate cake for dessert.
Piada Italian Street Food is fast, but interesting and delicious food. A Piada is like a wrap or burrito, in which you can put a big selection, from calamari to assorted vegetables and cheese. They also have pastas and salads. I got three meals out of my one Piada, which cost less than $10. Also try their cannolis, which you dip instead of fill.
Mall of America has a Bubba Gump. If it sounds familiar, it’s because you heard about it in the movie Forrest Gump. Check out the delicious shrimp --- especially the Shrimpers Heaven Basket -- and other seafood, and the fundraiser in conjunction with the Gary Sinise Foundation (Sinise played Lt. Dan in the film.)
Tucci Bennuch is authentic Italian. Allow substitutions so you can create your own pastas and pizzas exactly how you like. We started with the Mozzarella Bruschetta and Toasted Ravioli, then I did baked ravioli with sausage. Seafood pasta with squids! Everything was amazing. They also have terrific desserts.
Of course, Mall of America has plenty of shopping! Five floors of every store you can imagine, with free Wi-Fi throughout. There is also no tax on clothes or shoes so you can save a lot.
Check out the website for events before you go. They just had an American Cancer Society Relay for Life kickoff and they were giving out coupons from stores who were also doing donations.