I am no fan of walking around shopping: I normally go to a store with a clear target of what I am going for – no strolling around for me. Online shopping also has had an impact in my shopping mall visits, sometimes eliminating heading to a store. So, in short, going to the mall is not something I like doing. Well, except The Mall in Washington, D.C., which is not really a mall but a collection of open spaces, museums and monuments – a great place for a walk or a run for sure!
But I digress. Malls are not my thing. Until I saw what is in the Mall of America (MOA). During my recent visit to Minneapolis I decided to park my mall bias and see what the MOA was all about since it is the largest mall in the U.S. With that qualifier, I’d thought the least I’d do is go to see what the buzz is about and get some exercise in with a good amount of walking.
Getting there is easy
The first good surprise was how accessible it was. If it had been too much of an effort, maybe my curiosity would have lost to my “laziness” but the MOA is on the light rail line which makes it a short ride from downtown and one stop away from the airport. I did some research and found out there was storage for luggage at the mall so I decided to go there straight after landing in Minneapolis. Sure enough, one of the places to leave luggage is located by the entrance to the mall closest to the light rail stop. Well done.
There are tons of stores from locally-headquartered Best Buy to Eddie Bauer (my favorite clothes) to tourist souvenir shops to large department stores to boutiques to Apple and Microsoft stores (that almost face each other across the aisle!). There is every kind of shop you could be looking for. But my favorite shop is the Lego store!!! Pieces and sets galore as well as some massive pieces hanging up high!
More than shopping
As I walked in, I first ran into an atrium area with a stage and two massive silver Christmas trees on either side of the stage. This is where I first confirmed that the MOA is not just about shopping. It is an entertainment center, not just a shopping center. Shopping is maybe the anchor business but it is just part of a series of entertainment options for young and old. Famous acts perform and other presentations, like book signings, take place at this stage.
The “corners” of the mall also have smaller atria and these also have music or other similar activities. Of course, the mall houses movie theaters. Finally, the top level has bars and clubs. I did not get to experience these entertainment options but I hope to some time.
Entertainment does not end with these. There is a nice aquarium, Sea Life, also near the entrance closest to the light rail. It has a long tunnel that goes under the tanks and it is fun to watch the sea life from below.
So what’s in a mall?
I don’t know what the answer is in general, but what is in THIS mall, its pièce de résistance, is what is at the center of the mall. As you may know, the center of the MOA has an amusement park: Nickelodeon Universe.
From a Ferris wheel to a carousel to a rope course to a roller coaster, this is an amusement park for real!
I definitely left the Mall of America completely understanding why people love going there, including people who come from other countries to experience it. It can easily keep a visitor occupied for a few days with a great range of options on what to do. And… I hear more is coming!!