If you’re visiting Mall of America for the first time, here’s how to pack in all the highlights.
PARK. East side
The mall entrance puts you right near the aquarium, American Girl, and the Rotunda, which is home base for big events.
PLAY. Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium
It’s true—sharks swim beneath the MOA. The highlight of this totally legit aquarium is the 300-foot glass underground tunnel, which makes you feel like you are in the water with more than 10,000 sea creatures swimming overhead. There’s a cool jellyfish exhibit, touch pools and a play area for kids. This is no “mall aquarium” … that said, you’ll feel like you saw in all in about 90 minutes, which makes the $24.25 admission ($17.25 for kids 3-12) seem high.
Tip: Order tickets in advance online to save as much as $5.
SHOP. American Girl
A life-size dollhouse featuring museum-like displays of every doll (and Bitty Baby) in the popular and highly collectible American Girl collection as well as thousands of outfits and accessories for dolls, and doll owners. There’s even a bookstore and a hair salon … for the dolls. Don’t dismiss the bistro—the food is surprisingly good (plus free lemonade for dolls!). There’s lots to see in this two-story fantasyland, but if you’re browsing with a little girl, better bring a credit card.
PLAY. Nickelodeon Universe
Highlights of this full-on theme park in the center of the mall include thrill rides like the SpongeBob Squarepants Rock Bottom plunge, which climbs 67 feet to the roof of the mall before dropping at a 90 degree angle. There’s a carousel, ferris wheel, log chute, and plenty of kiddie and family rides. The unlimited ride wristband is the best deal if you plan to spend the day; but you can also buy points for just one or two rides. The ropes adventure course is a separate ticket, but worth it, as the tallest Sky Trail ropes course in the world—56 feet tall, with a spiral slide to get back down.
Tip: Order your wristband online to save $5. Twilight discounts when you buy an unlimited ride wristband after 5 p.m. And $10 off with a military ID.
SHOP. Nickelodeon Store
This flagship store offers the nation’s largest selection of Nickelodeon merchandise—clothes, toys, plush dolls and much more. SpongeBob, Dora, Diego, Yo Gabba Gabba are all well represented. North side of theme park.
EAT. Dick’s Last Resort
Escape “Minnesota Nice” at the restaurant where patrons pay to be insulted by waitstaff and forced to wear dorky cone hats. Fun times, especially with a big group. The meat-heavy menu features ribs, chicken, fish and plenty o’ fried appetizers.
Home to the world’s largest Lego model, a 34-foot robot, this is as much gallery as store with several elaborate displays that will wow Lego fans. That’s why it’s a mob scene on weekends. The enormous pick-a-brick wall features more than 180 types of Legos. Prices are comparable to other Lego dealers, and the selection is much broader. There are computer stations to try Lego video games, and a play area at the back of the store. Let the kids build while you sit on a bench and check email. (Caribou Coffee is just steps away.) Don’t forget the hand sanitizer.
SHOP. Peeps & Company
Not just for Easter anymore. Buy the sugar coated marshmallow chicks and bunnies year round a this company store for Just Born Inc., which also produces Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales—well represented, too. The candy logos are also stamped on everything from boxer shorts to necklaces.
SHOP. Love From Minnesota
Beyond the typical tourist trappings, this gift shop features some better Minnesota-based brands, like Minnetonka Moccasin and Thymes bath and body products.
SHOP. Rybicki Cheese
Save yourself the trip to Wisconsin and come here for cheese and Green Bay Packers souvenirs. This is one of the few independently owned stores that been at the mall since day one. Probably because there’s always cheese to sample.
PLAY. Amazing Mirror Maze
At 2,500 square feet, this is one of the largest mirror mazes in the world with a seemingly endless maze of twists and turns. $8.95 per person.
Celebrity sighting: Justin Bieber wandered through the maze when he visited the mall. Baby, baby, to get lost in the reflections with the teen heartthrob!
SHOP. Mall of America Gift Store
You no doubt walked a couple of miles of corridors to get here. Now get the t-shirt to show for it. Find the MOA logo on clothes, keychains, shot glasses, and all the usual tourist trappings. If you plan to stick around for serious shopping, pick up a MOA coupon book for $9.95.