My husband and I enjoyed our trip to the Mall of America. This is damn near a miracle since we are not mall people. After twenty minutes in a mall, Kevin generally gets so depressed he physically slows down – his walking pace slows, his shoulders hunch, and I have to drag him along to finish our shopping, especially at Christmastime when the mall is packed with families.
I liked malls growing up because malls were less depressing then. There used to be fun stores like Borders and the Warner Bros. Store. There used to be excellent arcades. My brother and I used to walk around Sears pretending to shop for appliances. It was weird and fun and there was a Taco Bell, which was pretty much the best thing for a 13-year-old at the turn of the millennium.
Today malls in America are pretty much dead, especially my hometown mall. Going to the mall is to be avoided at all costs. If necessary, a mall trip must be undertaken with copious amounts of coffee followed by a nap.
So what possessed a pair of mall-haters to go hangout in the largest mall in the United States? Well, we were in Minneapolis and it was raining and it seemed like the thing to do. Every local we met recommended a trip to the mall. It is one of the top tourist attractions in the country, about 40 million people visit each year. Many people travel to Minnesota just for the Mall of America. They fly in, stay at a nearby hotel, and see little if nothing other than the airport, hotel, and mall. You could actually have all of your basic vacation needs met by spending a weekend there. Kevin and I expected to spend maybe two hours, but ended up sticking around for about five or so.
We arrived around 10 am on a weekday morning so the mall wasn’t crowded but there were just enough people around for great people watching. We entered the mall near Nickelodeon Universe, the indoor amusement park.
We planned absolutely nothing about this experience in advance, which was great for us since we love making fun of things while walking with a coffee to go. But if you want to make sure to hit certain attractions, the Mall of America has a handy online visitors guide. We spent our first hour happily ambling about discovering the enormity of the mall while sipping on lattes from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
Perusing the four floors of the mall, we ascended and descended countless escalators while deciding that we would not like to come to this mall if we actually had to do some shopping. It wasn’t that the mall didn’t have the stores we would shop at, it was just so big that we feel like there must be a more efficient way to purchase clothes, shoes, books, etc. We passed at least five baseball cap shops (three of them were Lids), at least two Mall of America Gift Stores, the standards like Macy’s, restaurants too numerous to count, a wedding chapel, Barbie and Star Trek exhibits, an aquarium, numerous Caribou Coffee shops, and even a shop devoted to marshmallow Peeps.
When our coffee ran out, we retreated to the aquarium, which was actually fantastic and deserving of a separate feature her on the blog. After that it was lunch at Hooters, deciding the Star Trek exhibit wasn’t worth our money (let us know if we were wrong!), and getting lost trying to exit the mall parking lot to get to the light rail station (we gave up and used Uber).
Overall, we both agree that if you’re in the Twin Cities, go to the Mall of America. It’s really something these days just to see a mall that isn’t dying. In fact, the Mall of America is expanding! It was a real throwback to a time when I liked heading to the mall. Kevin didn’t even go into his mall depressed mode. When I asked him why he said it was because we didn’t need anything and only went in two stores: L.L. Bean and a store specializing in things about writing.
However, we both also agree that it’s just a mall and not worthy of a special trip just to visit it and we’re not sure why it remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in America.
If we’re ever back in the Twin Cities, we’ll probably go again if we have a rainy day and try some of the activities we missed like LEGO Land, the mini golf course, and the roller coasters in the amusement park. We skipped the rides this time because no one wants to ride a roller coaster after a lunch of pretzels dipped in beer cheese and chicken wings.
Have you been to the Mall of America? What did you think?