The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America (Book Review)

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, an aquarium, and an indoor amusement park. Here is an interview with the book’s author, Beth Blair.

The Unofficial Guide to Mall of America

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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.

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)

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 offers insider information from where to nurse babies, teen curfews and to pet boarding and doggie daycare options.

Also included are fun things like birthday party options, educational experiences (including Boy and Girl Scout opportunities) and, my favorite, a scavenger hunt. Plus, 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?

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 book 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.

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.

My Review of Beth’s guidebook

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.

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 this blog post. This story includes affiliate links. Your purchases help keep a free resource for readers like you!

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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. 🙂

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

  4. 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.

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

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

  5. 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!

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

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