One of our favorite places to go for a weekend getaway is the Mall of America. There is so much to do, you could really make it a week long affair, but I suggest just an extended weekend purely out of cost. If you are not careful, and don’t visit with a budget in mind, you may find your wallet more than empty when you are done.
With so many options to choose from, families could even go broke with just a weekend’s worth of activities. This is why we try to find things that are either free or don’t cost a lot of money. I created a list of things to do at the Mall of America that don’t break the bank.
Dough Dough is a fairly new shop at the Mall, and I am glad it has arrived. I do not know anyone that does not like to sample cookie dough, and at Dough Dough that’s exactly what you do. Except this cookie dough is made without eggs, so it is safe to eat without cooking. They serve numerous kinds of cookie dough, and since there are free samples you can see what you like before you make your final decision. Dough Dough is located on the Third Floor nears Sears.
Lindt Chocolate Shop
This happens to be my family’s favorite type of chocolate. Whenever we happen to be at the Mall of America, we always have to stop in for a quick free sample. We might also end up taking a few bags home for later too. Lindt is located on the Second Foor on the South Side of the Mall.
Vom Fass is a German retailer that deals in cooking oils, vinegar, wine, spices and other spirits. They offer some cooking classes. Though they do not run within our twenty dollar attraction budget, they do look interesting. Vom Fass allows its customers to sample their products prior to purchase, so we usually stop in to taste some of their creations. They are located on the Third Floor on the North Side of the Mall.
Universe Of Light Show
Most nights the Nickelodeon Universe is turned into a smoke and laser lights display with music. For the best viewing, you should be on the main floor in Nickelodeon Universe facing the food court area. The display runs after the park has closed for the evening.
Live Event Stage
The mall has over 400 live events each year on the stage located on the Main Floor in the Rotunda. Events include shows such as, Music in the Mall, School Performances, Holiday Concerts and much more. Check out the Mall of America website for show times and dates.
Toddler Tuesdays are also in the Rotunda on the main stage. They include various events and activities geared to the youngest of audiences.
Smaland at Ikea
Ikea is located near the Lindau parking lot of the Mall of America. They have a play area perfect for when the kids need to let off some steam. The recommended age for Smaland is 3 to 11 years old and toilet trained. Parents can relax from a long day of shopping while the kids enjoy the play area. This attraction is free for one hour, and sometimes there can be a wait to get in.
The Lego Store is located on the Main Floor just outside of Nickelodeon Universe on the South Side of the Mall. If you have Lego lovers in your house, you will not want to miss seeing the huge statues made completely out of Legos. The best part, is mom and dad can relax and let the kiddos build creations to their hearts content with the free Lego play area.
Disney fans will need to see the Disney store. The kids will find large televisions playing their favorite Disney movies, as well as a place to color pictures of their favorite Disney characters. This is a great place to take the kids when they need a break in their day. The Disney Store is located on the First Floor near the South Entrance, which seems like the perfect location. The kiddos can unwind with some colors before you have to leave for the day.
Character Meet and Greets
Nickelodeon Universe is home to some pretty famous characters, and your child will have the chance to say ‘Hi!” Sponge Bob, Dora, Bubble Guppies, Paw Patrol, and so many other beloved characters will be waiting to meet your child when they visit Mall of America. Don’t forget to bring your autograph book. There are photographers on hand to take pictures for a fee, but you are also welcome to take your own photos for free. You can find the character spot in Nickelodeon Universe.
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble as lots of cozy spots for you to relax with a good book or magazine. They also have a wonderful children’s area where kids are encouraged to look at the books before bringing them home. Barnes and Noble also has numerous events throughout the year that your family may want to take part in such as story time, Dr. Seuss’ Birthday and others. You will find Barnes and Noble on the First Floor on the East Side of the mall near the entrance to the East Parking Ramp.
You may want to relax with a mini facial from Sephora. You will need to access their website to schedule a time, but the price is exceptionally good. It is free. You will find Sephora on the Second Floor West near Macy’s.
Free Technology Classes and Demos
The Apple store gives its customers the chance to check out all the new Apple technology. They also have free classes and workshops you can be part of, and the best part is that you do not have to have your own gadgets.
Apple will provide anything you need to take the class, just to borrow of course. They even have classes for teens and elementary school age children, which peaked the interest of my kids for sure. You can find the Apple Store on the First Floor near the South Entrance. Don’t forget to schedule a class by visiting their website.
The Microsoft store provides all the same fun as the Apple store, but of course features Microsoft products. They have the awesome new gadgets to play with and offer classes and workshops to sign up for. Some of the workshops are even on a drop in basis. If you wish to participate in one of their classes, it is advised to sign up ahead of time on their website. The Microsoft store can be found on the First Floor near the South Entrance.
Verizon Destination Store
If you have never been to a Verizon Destination Store, you are in for a real techy treat. Interactive walls, futuristic treadmills, and virtual reality at its finest. This will have even the savviest of tech gurus salivating at the possibilities. I must say I was pretty impressed by the video tour on their website. Even if you are not a Verizon customer, you may want to check out the store’s seven interactive areas just for the fun of it. You can find the Verizon Destination Store in the South East Corner of the mall on the Second Floor.
Window shopping is always free, but you may also want to take a look at the stores listed below for some nice deals that are great on the family budget too.
One of my kids favorite places to check out is Build-a-Bear, so when I found out that they have a deal that is under $20, I was pretty happy about it. The Super Smiles Package includes a furry friend and a t-shirt for said friend for only $18. I don’t think that is too bad seeing as your child will get to create his or her new little friend. You can find the Build-a-Bear workshop on the First Floor on the East Side near the Rotunda. They also have a kiosk in the mall as well.
American Girl Doll
For the American Girl Doll lovers in your house, Mall of America has a very large American Girl Doll store complete with a cafe and a doll spa. Though the dolls are quite a monetary investment, once you have the doll, the services are fairly reasonable. In fact, your doll can enjoy the Doll Pampering Plus service for only $5 or a Wellie Wishers Tea Party for only $13.50. I was also impressed that American Girl has special needs accessories as well, such as a hearing aid for only $14. The American Girl Store can be found on the Second Floor in the Nickelodeon Universe.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, “Lego is Life” in our house. There is no way we are leaving the Mall of America without a trip to the Lego Store. While Legos are awesome, they are expensive, so we usually limit new sets to birthdays and Christmas. This leaves sad kids when we tell them they can look but not buy. However, Lego has a wonderful compromise. You can build 3 mini-figures for only $9.99. This makes everyone happy including my wallet. The Lego store is on the First Floor near Nickelodeon Universe.
Free & Inexpensive Classes
If you have ever thought about taking a fitness class, but were afraid to pay money for something you might not enjoy, go to Athleta. They offer free in-store fitness classes. The choices include yoga, Pilates, core workouts and many others. This could make a cheap and fun couples date too. Athleta is located on the First Floor near Macy’s. If you would like to take part in a free class, you can check out their website for dates and times.
If your family is like our family, camping and outdoors are a big part of what you do. We love to learn about new techniques and equipment that make outdoor activities more fun. L.L.Bean offers Free Classes on Outdoor Adventure Topics that you may want to check out. L.L.Bean is located on the First Floor in the South East Corner. To take a class, you will want to sign up on their website.
Lotus Beads and Jewelry
Handmade jewelry has been all the rage for quite some time now. I personally would not have the first clue about how to actually make a piece of jewelry though. When I found out that Lotus Beads offers jewelry making classes, I was intrigued. There are numerous classes that are $20 or less, but you will want to note that the materials are an additional cost. To schedule a class, visit their website. Lotus Beads can be found on the Third Floor on the North Side of the mall.
Family Friendly Attractions
Amazing Mirror Maze
If you like a challenge, the Amazing Mirror Maze might be a fun option. This is a 2,500 square foot mirror maze that is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It costs just $8.95 per person, but you can usually get an even cheaper deal with Groupon. You can find the Amazing Mirror Maze on the Third Floor on the North Side of the mall.
Moose Mountain Adventure Golf
Who doesn’t like a little mini-golf? This is a relatively inexpensive treat for the whole family at just $10.99 per person or $34.99 for a family four pack. Located just outside the Nickelodeon Universe, this may be a good option for those that don’t have time to go on lots of rides while visiting the Mall of America. You could stop and take in the characters, and then venture to Moose Mountain for a little mini-golf. Moose Mountain is located on the North Side of the Third Floor.
Rock of Ages Black Light Mini Golf
For the more adventuresome, there is also black light mini golf at Rock of Ages. It has the same pricing as the Moose Mountain at $10.99 a person or $34.00 for a family four pack. The only real difference is the cool lighting and effects while you golf. You can find Rock of Ages on the Third Floor on the East Side of the Mall.
Minnesota Children’s Museum
If you have ever been to a Children’s Museum, you know about the types of wonderful, interactive areas that await. If not, you are in for a treat. Please note that this is a much smaller version of the Minnesota Children’s Museum than the one in St. Paul. However, it does offer numerous learning activities that will please those of all ages. The single day fee is just $12.99 per person, but there are also membership options if you will be a frequent visitor.
This used to be the Sky Deck for those that are familiar with the Mall of America. It has been re-imagined into GameWorks, a family friendly place to play and eat during the day, and an adult fun zone at night. The most budget-friendly option that GameWorks has is the Game On Combo. You will get one entree and one hour of unlimited game play for $15.99, which seems like a good deal. They also have black light bowling as well. Like I mentioned before, GameWorks is not for kids after 9pm when you have to show an I.D. to be there. GameWorks is located on the East Side on the Fourth Floor.
Fly Over America
We are huge Disney fans, and one of our absolute favorite rides is Soarin’. Now we won’t have to wait for our next trip to Disney in order to ride a flight simulator such as Soarin’. Instead, we can head over to the Mall of America and take a ride. Fly Over America simulates flying in a hang glider and takes you to several sites across the US. It costs $18.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids, but the fact that it is a 26 minute ride makes up for the price. Fly Over America is located in Nickelodeon Universe.
Let’s get ready to get creatively messy! According to their website, people spend an average of three hours here, so make sure to plan accordingly. I can see why, as there is so much to do. You can even create your own Crayola crayon to take home with you! There is an onsite restaurant for when you get hungry as well. The fee is $19.99 for a day pass, but seems well worth it for an afternoon of creative fun. You can find the Crayola Experience on the South East Corner of the Third Floor.
Sea Life Aquarium
This is a family favorite and a must see with every visit to the Mall of America. It is not often that you actually get the chance to walk into an aquarium without getting wet, but you can here. There is a tunnel through the aquarium that allows you to be up close and personal with the fishy residents. They do have a behind the scenes tour for an additional fee, but we find this is not necessary. Our favorite features are the touch ponds. Make sure you have your camera ready for some really fun pictures. The fee for an all day general admission pass is $20.00 for adults and $15.00 for kids 3-12 if you book online. Those 2 and under are free. You can even access their website and purchase discounted tickets from your smartphone while you are at the Mall of America. Sea Life is located on the First Floor near the East Entrance.
I think that the most awe inspiring thing to see at the Mall of America is the seven acre indoor amusement park. With more than 30 rides, you are sure to find something for everyone. All day passes are available, but to keep within our $20 or so budget, we chose to purchase points. Each ride has a point value of 3 – 6 in order to ride. An 18 point pass is $20.99 which can get you up to 6 rides depending on the point value of the rides you choose. You really can’t miss the Nickelodeon Universe, as it takes up the entire middle of the mall, and is sort of the center of attention.
Please note that Sea Life admission can be combined with an All-Day Pass to Nickelodeon Universe and is $45.99 when purchased online. If you plan on attending both attractions on the same day, this may be a good deal for you. For more information, you can check out their website.
If you are planning a family weekend to the Mall of America, you may want to check out this list of free or reasonably priced activities. It is easy to have fun with your family without breaking the bank. Click Here for more weekend getaway ideas. And don’t forget to share this post so other’s can benefit as well!