Mega Milestone: The Mall of America Turns 20
By Amanda Fretheim-Gates, Chrissy Sarinski, Molly Schelper, and Joel Schettler
On Aug. 11, 1992, the nation's largest mall opened its doors in Bloomington, Minnesota. Today, the Mall of America (MOA) has not only become the state's top tourist destination, but, according to Travel + Leisure, America's most visited shopping mall. Today, the 2.5 million-square-foot MOA includes more than 520 stores, a seven-acre amusement park and 20 sit-down restaurants on its four floors.
Though its size is intimidating, visiting the mall is easy. The mall has more than 20,000 free parking spaces and its own transit station on the Hiawatha Light Rail Line. Residents and visitors may travel from the mall's underground station to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and downtown Minneapolis on a 13-mile passenger train line. Let us guide you to some of the best shopping, dining and entertainment under one roof.
1. Crave: Hungry shoppers love the South Street Dining area of Mall of America. This third floor corridor features numerous dining options, from sit-down restaurants to counter-service cafes to fast food. Among these is Crave, which serves up burgers, salads, steaks, seafood, pizzas, and sushi. Third Floor South, 952-854-5000, www.craveamerica.com
2. Dick's Last Resort: This new addition to the fourth floor comes with an extra helping of sass. The attitude is clear: "Come on in and let us abuse you, 'cause that's what we do best," reads the website. Start with finger foods like gator bites, macho nachos and wicked calamari before turning to the "dinna" menu. Fourth Floor South, 612-276-6995, www.dickslastresort.com
3. Pardon My French: Pardon My French offers a low-key dining option. The menu at this French bakery and café features sandwiches like the croquet madame, PMF burger and prosciutto deja-vu along with delicious soups and salads. First Floor North, 952-854-2233, www.pardonmyfrench.eu
4. Tucci Benucch: Since the day Mall of America opened, Tucci has been crafting classic Italian cuisine. Start with a Tuscan salad, then move on to the goat cheese and kalamata pizza, hand-pulled mozzarella and tomato bruschetta or crispy calamari. Entrees include Tucci's classic carbonera, the famous baked spaghetti and chicken sostanza. First Floor West, 952-853-0200, www.tucci-benucch.com
5. Twin City Grill: This American grill features beautiful mahogany paneling and a menu of delicious steaks and salads. Try the hickory-smoked barbecue, prime rib or pan-sautéed almond-crusted walleye paired with a cocktail like the Minneapolis Manhattan or Up North Crush. First Floor North, 952-854-0200, www.twincitygrill.net
6. No Tax on Clothes & Shoes: It's true! Minnesota is one of the few states without sales tax on shoes and apparel. When you consider the amount of tax in other top cities, this could equal a savings of up to 7 percent or more. So, get shopping!
7. IKEA: The affordable Swedish home furnishings store sits adjacent to the mall. Dine at the café or peruse the store for big items like desks, beds and cabinetry or accessory like dishes, artwork and lighting. Across Lindau Lane from Mall of America, 952-858-8088, www.ikea.com
8. Teen Shopping: Your teenagers will flip for all the stores just for them in Mall of America. Spots like Aeropostale, Garage, H&M, Delia's, Forever 21 and Hot Topic offer the latest fashions.
9. High-End Fashion: Minnesota doesn't get the credit it deserves when it comes to high fashion. But not only do we have a smattering of local designers (who've even appeared on Project Runway), but MOA offers a whole wing devoted to brands you might find at Fashion Week: Burberry, Michael Kors, Armani Exchange, Vera Bradley. All the big names are here, plus many more.
10. Always Something New: With 520 stores, Mall of America always has something new opening up. In the past year, shops like Desigual, Ecco, Merrell, Dr. Martens and Tilly have opened doors at the mall. Coming soon: Carhartt, Henri Bendel and Juicy Couture.
11. Nickelodeon Universe: Nickelodeon Universe, the first ever Nickelodeon-themed amusement park, not only has more than 30 rides, arcade games and attractions spanning seven acres, but it is the nation's largest indoor family park. Center Court, 952-883-8800, www.nickelodeonuniverse.com
12. A.C.E.S. Flight Simulator: Soar through virtual skies in the same airplane models designed and built for the world's largest defense contractor. This is no ordinary "ride"—the simulator is completely in your control, while the wrap-around view and large domed projection screen gives you the sensation of flying a real airplane. Third Floor East, 952-854-5391, www.flyaces.com
13. American Girl: With options for shopping, dining and primping, the American Girl store is the perfect place for a girl and her doll. Treat your favorite American Girl doll to a makeover and a meal at the bistro or shop for dolls and doll accessories. In-store events include scavenger hunts, crafts, a viewing of American Girl's newest film and more. Center Court, 877-247-5223, www.americangirl.com
14. Moose Mountain Adventure Golf: You'll feel as if you've stepped out of the mall and into a whimsical version of Northern Minnesota when you hit the range at Moose Mountain Adventure Golf, an old-time north woods themed 18-hole miniature golf course. Third Floor North, 952-883-8777.
15. Rick Bronson's House of Comedy: For some serious laughs and a Las Vegas-style production, look no further than Rick Bronson's House of Comedy. This stand-up comedy club has hosted both national and international acts. Shows Wednesday through Sunday plus Hit or Miss Tuesdays with local comedians. Fourth Floor East, 952-858-8558, www.houseofcomedy.net
16. Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium: Come face-to-face with sharks, stingrays, eels, a giant octopus and 10,000 other sea creatures at Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. In its 30 display tanks, Sea Life Minnesota houses endangered creatures, ones that have been rescued and cannot be reintroduced into the wild, or ones born and bred as a part of conservation projects. First Floor East, 952-853-0612, www.visitsealife.com
17. Lego Store: As the first Lego retail space in the U.S., this newly remodeled store features innovative displays, in-store events and consumer-friendly play areas. Kids can see eight larger-than-life models, including a more than 34-foot-tall robot, or play with the giant pick-a-brick wall, which has 180 different Lego elements. First Floor South, 952-858-8949, www.lego.com
18. Theatres at MOA: The Theatres at Mall of America not only offers the latest films, but also the best in theater design and amenities. Check out its 3D theater with D-BOX seats, the VIP Theatre (for guests 21 and older) and STARBAR, the full-service lounge. For family fun, there is a free kid-friendly flick screened every Saturday morning. Fourth Floor South, 952-883-8900, www.theatresmoa.com
19. Sky Deck Sports Grille and Lanes: Head here for some non-stop entertainment fun. Sky Deck's 30,000-square-foot space contains 12 bowling lanes, video games, billiards, air hockey and much more. After you've worked up an appetite playing, feast on a burger, flatbread pizza, wings or any of their other menu items. Fourth Floor East, 952-500-8700, www.skydecklanes.com
20. Rotunda: Mall of America has hosted more than 400 events, many in its Rotunda, an open entertainment area located on the first floor, including everything from movie-star autograph signings to music concerts. First Floor East.