“The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America” ~ Tips for Visiting the Largest Mall in the USA

Travel Mamas sometimes receives compensation and/or hosted travel and sample products related to blog posts. This story may include affiliate links for which we receive a small commission at no extra cost to consumers. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases. Be sure to check with businesses and locations regarding travel restrictions and safety precautions before visiting.

If you love to shop and want to visit the largest mall in the USA, or if you're planning a trip to Minnesota, you need to read The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America. This informative book is filled with handy tips for visitors to this mega entertainment complex of stores, restaurants, aquarium, and indoor amusement park.

The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America

Once upon a time, I spent 60+ hours every week at the Mall of America. No, I'm not that addicted to shopping. In my 20s, I worked as a retail clothing store assistant manager and a part-time cocktail waitress at this mega mall. I visit Mall of America every year when I return to the Twin Cities to visit relatives. But I am no longer an expert on all there is to buy, eat, drink and do at the MOA (as it's affectionately known to locals). The true expert is my friend and fellow travel writer, Beth Blair. She knows all there is to know about this shopping and entertainment mecca in Bloomington, Minnesota. I asked her some questions about The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America to give you the inside scoop.

What was the inspiration behind The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America?

The Unofficial Guides series added this title to their lineup due to the recent opening of Phase II expansion and its 40 million annual visitors. There has never been a traditional guidebook written about it until now. Being that Mall of America has been my local mall for many years, I was the perfect fit for researching and penning it.

In researching this book, what was your most shocking discovery about the Mall of America?

Several years ago there was a contest for who could ride/stay on Nickelodeon Universe‘s Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge the longest. The final two competitors were men who rode the roller coaster for nine days, which came to 194 hours and 2507 rides! They did have breaks for basic living necessities like eating and the restroom, but no showers. Neither was giving up, so the radio station hosting the giveaway and Mall of America declared both men winners. They won a cruise, cash and a lifetime pass to the theme park.

Roller coaster at Nickelodeon Universe in Mall of America (Photo credit: Beth Blair)

Roller coaster at Nickelodeon Universe in Mall of America (Photo credit: Beth Blair)

What are three key points you think shoppers need to know before visiting the Mall of America?

  1. Don't overdress. Leave your jacket at the hotel, in the car or rent a locker. Also, dress for easy changing if you're planning on trying on clothes.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes.
  3. If you're not shopping with a stroller or wheelchair, skip the elevators and opt for escalators. It will save time and prevent long lines at the few elevators.

Why do you think The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America is necessary for visitors to this mall?

Speaking from personal experience, it's easy to miss a lot of stores and attractions. The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America breaks down the experience with planning, transportation, where to stay, and even parking. In addition to traditional tips, the guide includes insider information from where to nurse babies, teen curfews and to pet boarding and doggie day care options. Also included are fun things like birthday party options, educational experiences (including Boy and Girl Scout opportunities) and, my favorite, a scavenger hunt. Additionally, everything is ranked, rated or defined, including the rides in Nickelodeon Universe.

An entire store dedicated to Peeps sweets in the Mall of America

An entire store dedicated to Peeps sweets in the Mall of America (Photo credit: Beth Blair)

Could you share with us a few of your personal favorite attractions, stores and restaurants in the Mall of America?

My favorite attraction is the new (2016) virtual flight ride, FlyOver America! 

I have a lot of favorite stores at Mall of America. VOM FASS is unique because it has a wide variety of spirits, liqueurs and wines plus oils, vinegars and spices. Another store worth a mention is ME3D, where guest can have personal figurines produced of themselves and their families (the new selfie!). Nordstrom is always a lovely experience. Meanwhile Nordstrom Rack is fantastic for deals. Bargain shoppers will appreciate Old Navy's nice-sized clearance room. Barnes & Noble is a nice escape for relaxing in a quiet location with cup of coffee.

One of my favorite fast-food restaurants is Piada Italian Street Food. Their chopped salads are the best! For sit-down restaurants, my grade school daughter votes for the American Girl Bistro. Meanwhile, I love Twin Cities Grill for fresh and flavorful dishes. When you're ready for a snack, Doc Popcorn on the third floor is an affordable and delicious snack. Or choose Paciugo, a gelato shop.

One of the guide author's favorite Mall of America shops, Vom Fass

One of the guide author's favorite Mall of America shops, Vom Fass (Photo credit: Beth Blair)

Is there anything else we should know about The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America?

I'm pleased to hear readers are saying, “I didn't know that!” Most people assume Mall of America is simply a giant mall. It is a massive shopping center, but it's so much more. Four out of 10 visitors are tourists. Oftentimes you will see shoppers pulling their luggage because the mall is a stop on the light rail that connects to the airport.

The purpose of this guide is to help shoppers plan their day so they will have time to experience the entire mall and all it has to offer. For example, if your kids love to ride rides more than anything, let them enjoy the day in Nickelodeon Universe, then plan SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium or Crayola Experience for another day. If your husband hates shopping or just wants to watch the game, the books provides hints for him on where to go. There's also information on where to find lockers, currency exchange, ATMs, and phone chargers, as well as stroller and shopping car rentals.

My Take on The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America

As someone who has spent a ton of time at this mall, I was surprised by how much I learned from this book. It was obvious how much thorough research went into The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America. Beth included lots of quick, useful tips from locals as well as her own take on all things MOA. It makes a fun, quick read that you can highlight and bookmark to optimize your time at Mall of America.

The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America's author, Beth Blair, with her youngest daughter posing with Nick characters in Nickelodeon Universe

The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America's author, Beth Blair, with her youngest daughter posing with Nick characters in Nickelodeon Universe (Photo credit: Beth Blair)

About Beth Blair, author of The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America

Beth Blair is an award-winning freelance writer. As a former flight attendant and mother of three, she focuses on family travel, airlines, aviation, and lifestyle topics. In addition to being the author of The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America, she also authored Break Into Travel Writing. Currently she is based in Minnesota.

I know a thing or two about the biggest mall in the USA too! Read my picks for 30 fun things to do at Mall of America.

A Note from The Travel Mama: I received a complimentary copy of The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America for the purpose of this blog post. This story includes affiliate links. Your purchases help keep TravelMamas.com a free resource for readers like you!

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin, MBA, is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular travel blog, TravelMamas.com. She is an expert in travel with kids and without. As the author of the book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents how to make the most of traveling with babies and children. Colleen loves sharing tips on hotels, cruises, spas, theme parks, and global lifestyle topics. When she is not traveling the world, she lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. A great place to destination shop with family!

  2. Mall of America was a great place to destination shop with my mom and sister.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Kelly – I’m glad you enjoyed shopping MOA with your family. There’s so much for everyone to see, do, and buy there!

  3. just amazing,
    Its is sooo impressive and attractive, i can’t wait for my vacation, best family place, In my coming vacation i was planing to visit Disny with my family but after going through you blog I think this time I am going to USA. and one day is for sure not enough to visit that mall.
    My wife would spend a whole year in there. lol
    thank you for such a good recommendation.

  4. Sarah Bailey says

    I have never been to Mall of America but it seems like so much fun. I would love to take a trip!

  5. aziel morte says

    I haven’t been there, what a nice place and sounds like you had a great day. Love to go there soon

  6. Ann Bacciaglia says

    I have always wanted to go to The Mall of America. I can not imagine riding Spongebob Squarepants Rock Bottom Plunge for nine days! I think they both deserved to win.

  7. There’s a roller coaser in the mall, asy what?? I have heard it’s fabulous there, now that I’ve had the inside look, I believe it. 🙂

  8. Toni | BoulderLocavore.com says

    I would love to see the Mall of America with my kids! Thanks so much for these tips and trivia! I didn’t know all that, really! Now I’m super excited to see all those!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      The author definitely did her research when writing “The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America”!

  9. The Mall of America has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I am hoping we can get there before the oldest goes off to college next year. I’d definitely want to read the guide before hand so we know what attractions and sites to head to first.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      “The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America” will be quite handy for planning your trip, I’m sure!

  10. Pam Wattenbarger says

    I definitely could not have stayed on the rollercoaster for that long. That is so intense!

  11. Kita Bryant says

    I’ve never been there. I’m jealous you got to go so much!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Most of my time logged at the mall was for work, but I always enjoy shopping and visiting Nickelodeon Universe!

  12. Melissa @ the Staten Island Family says

    This book is a must have for anyone going to visit the mall of America! I would love to check out that store where they make little figures of one’s likeness and so many places to shop and well it seems like it would be a great adventure! Thanks for the heads up!

  13. Janell Poulette says

    Holy cow, I didn’t realize it had a roller coaster! I would love to visit there some day, and ill remember your tips when visiting.

  14. We’ve never been and it looks really incredible! My kiddos would love to see that PEZ store!

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      It’s actually a Peeps store, but I’m it’s stocked with all sorts of candies your kids would love!

  15. Tonia @TheChattyMomma says

    I have to take my family to this mall. It’s so amazing. I love that you can have a full day of entertainment and shopping all in one spot.

    • Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

      Indeed – Mom gets to shop and then you can reward the kids with a trip to Nickelodeon Universe!

  16. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    This is all such great info. I’ve been to Mall of America, and man… It is SO huge, you almost need a guide!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.