Ask my kids what their favorite part of our Minneapolis weekend and they’ll tell you it was the day we spent at Mall of America. Mall of America is a one-stop destination packed with family activities, restaurants and, of course, shopping.
Disclosure: Our visit to Minneapolis was hosted by Meet Minneapolis. Some attractions were complimentary, and some we paid for. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Think your kids would like a trip there? Here’s how to make the most of a Mall of America vacation:
Where is Mall of America
Mall of America is located in Bloomington, Minn., so it’s just outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Since it’s not far from the interstate and parking is free, driving to the mall is an easy option.
It’s worth noting that it’s also a stop on the light rail. You can take the rail from the airport, even! We almost made that trip from downtown Minneapolis, but decided against it (in case we did some serious shopping).
Mall of America hours
The Mall of America is open seven days a week. It’s open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you plan on visiting any of the attractions, like Nickelodeon Universe or SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, the hours may be different. For instance, the aquarium closed an hour earlier than the rest of the mall on the day we visited, so we had planned to not leave it until the end of the day.
That didn’t work out, but that’s another story.
Always double check the hours before you go, as things change!
Rides at Mall of America
Nickelodeon Universe, the largest indoor amusement park in the U.S., is at the center of the mall. If you’re visiting the mall with kids, it’s nearly impossible to avoid it.
This was, by far, my kids’ favorite experience in the Mall of America. It’s so large, this could easily be a day itself. Yes, that’s right, Mall of America could be a two- or three-day vacation.
There are 28 rides and attractions at Nickelodeon Universe. You can opt to pay per ride or get an all-day wristband. I’m torn on recommending getting the all-day wristband, especially if you visit on an extra busy day. The wait lines can be long.
My favorite ride was the SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, a thrilling coaster that goes upside down. The Splat-O-Sphere was another fun one with a fairly short wait compared to the roller coasters.
Tip: Save the log ride until the end of your day. You will get wet…sometimes really wet.
Kid-friendly restaurants at Mall of America
I spent entirely way too much time trying to find “the best” restaurant at Mall of America. Like any mall, there are plenty of chains to choose from, and of course, food courts, but I wanted to pick some place unique to eat at during our vacation.
I consulted several sites and foodie authorities, including Eater, Andrew Zimmern, and Reddit. In the end, since we were traveling with kids, I picked Twin City Grill for our lone meal at the mall.
Twin City Grill was a great choice, though if you’re pressed for time or on a budget, this sit-down restaurant isn’t for you. However, the dark wood and cozy atmosphere made it seem like we were a mile away from the hectic mall setting.
The restaurant has a kid’s menu. The food is classic comfort food and Minnesota highlights like walleye. I ordered a delicious cheeseburger.
A few other Mall of America restaurants that might be popular with your kids:
- American Girl Bistro
- Hard Rock Cafe
- Rainforest Cafe
- And a ton of fast casual options that are perfectly kid-friendly and quick.
Shopping at Mall of America
There are more than 520 stores at the Mall of America. Like any other mall, they run the gamut from clothing retailers to candles, books, purses and more.
Here are some of the Mall of America stores that will interest kids:
- Air Traffic Toys
- Barnes & Noble
- Build-A-Bear Workshop
- Crayola Store (this is a part of Crayola Experience, so be prepared for your kids to want to go to this attraction if you visit the store)
- Disney Store
- Games by James
- Gamestop Pop Culture
- Go! Calendars & Games
- iCandy Sugar Shoppe
- Lakeshore Gifts For Growing Minds
- Nickelodeon Universe has a couple of gift shops (and my kids were drawn to them like moths to a lightbulb)
- The LEGO Store
And if your child is older and has a favorite brand, there’s a good chance that brand has a store in Mall of America.
*It’s always a good idea to double check if the store you are interested in visiting is still open before your visit.
More things to do at the mall
You can shop, you can dine, you can ride rides at Mall of America. On top of all that, there are attractions to see and do there.
Here are the notables:
- Amazing Mirror Maze
- Crayola Experience
- Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course
- Moose Mountain Adventure Golf
- Nickelodeon Universe
- Old Time Photos
- Princess & Diva Kids Fun Spa
- Rock of Ages Blacklight Mini Golf
- SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium
- The Escape Game
- The VOID
- XD Ride
- Xscape Arcade
- Xscape Entertainment Center
*It’s always a good idea to double check if these attractions are open before your visit.
Tip: We went to SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course, Nickelodeon Universe and Moose Mountain Adventure Golf. If you are short on time (ie., you only have one day), do not attempt to go to all of these!
Most unique experience at MOA
Hands down, the most unique thing we did at Mall of America was zipline through the mall. Where else can you do that?!
The zipline is at Dutchman’s Deck Adventure Course located inside Nickelodeon Universe. It is an additional fee to do, so if you purchase an all-day ride pass for Nickelodeon Universe, this zipline and ropes course are not included in it.
Both of my kids were able to zipline and they are ages 7 and 9. I did it as well and it was a rush. The zipline takes you over Nickelodeon Universe twice.
You can opt to just do the ropes course or just do the zipline. But if you want a real workout and challenge, do both.
Tip: If you have your heart set on ziplining through the mall, do this first thing. Due to the nature of ziplining (one at a time), the wait can be long.
Tip #2: Wear closed-toe shoes if you plan on doing the ropes course and zipline. They do have Crocs available to wear if you don’t, and by the looks of them, 10,000 other people’s sweaty feet have been in them.
Where to stay in Bloomington
Good news! There are about 50 hotels within 10 miles of the Mall of America, and many of them offer free shuttle rides to the mall. Some hotels have packages for MOA visitors.
There are even hotels connected to the Mall of America.
FYI: If you love water parks in your hotel, Great Wolf Lodge is very near Mall of America.
Tip: You can save up to 50% off Great Wolf Lodge Water Park stays through Groupon!
Plan a Minneapolis family trip
We’ve explored Minneapolis and St. Paul in the summer and the winter. Here are some more fun things to do and places to visit in the Twin Cities (and nearby):
A Perfect Weekend Itinerary For Minneapolis
Bakken Museum: A Minneapolis Hidden Gem
Ultimate Mall of America Guide – For Kids!
What Young Kids Like At Science Museum Of Minnesota
Christmas at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis
Downtown Minneapolis Hotel: Marquette Hotel
Where To Stay Near The Twin Cities