A weekend trip to Minneapolis includes Mall of America.
by MilwVon on January 16, 2007
This is an outstanding, value-priced hotel with a wonderful location near the Mall of America (less than 10 minutes away). All room rates include a complimentary breakfast that is a bit more expansive than your usual continental breakfast of cereal, donuts, and juice. Cooked-to-order waffles were a real delight!I must admit, however, that we did not like the location where they serve their breakfast. It was in the deck area around the indoor swimming pool. The first day wasn't too bad for us, but the second had a very strong chlorine smell. Not very appetizing for breakfast!The rooms were nicely furnished and seemed to be updated. The bedding in our room was two queen beds, which were very comfortable. Because we travel with our own pillows, we didn't have to worry about comfort, but the pillows provided seemed to be fine.One of the best features of this hotel is the Outback Restaurant in the lobby area! We love Outback and to be able to enjoy a casual dinner and cocktail (or two) without having to drive afterwards was perfect. WallabeeDarned is my beverage of choice and I enjoyed two of them :)Rack rate on the room was from $129 to $179 for two adults. We had a special rate through Bluegreen Resorts, as we had signed up for their timeshare presentation, which provided us the room for 3 days and 2 nights for a bargain price of under $100!If for no other reason than the location, we would highly recommend the Comfort Inn of Bloomington to anyone who is planning a shopping trip to the Mall of America.
by MilwVon on October 14, 2006
Arriving to the Mall of America on empty tummies, we were ready for lunch. Oh my at the options and expansiveness of the mall itself. We headed towards the amusement park area as that was where several of the snack type places were located. Unable to find Cousins Subs upon our arrival to the center of the complex, we opted for the first place that we found.. Creepy Café. With just a couple of weeks until Halloween, this seemed like the perfect place to enjoy a sandwich and beverage. The decor was definitely ghost and goblins, with a very fun “fright night” atmosphere. The servers were all wearing “I’m with creepy ” t-shirts. Jodi was ours and she was a lot of fun, even posed for a photo with my “my creepy” hubby David.Now time to get down to ordering. It was mid-afternoon so sandwiches seemed most appropriate although their menu did have dinner options including chicken, prime rib, and pasta. For us it was the prime rib open faced sandwich with fries. Served au jus, it was a decent portion for the $8.95 charged. Other options for sandwiches included burgers, grilled chicken, and salads.In talking to our server I asked about the theme of the restaurant. She told us that it used to be the steak house (explains the full service bar up front) and that it had been Creepy’s for about a week. She said it would become the Polar Express after Halloween until sometime after the first of the year. After that she wasn’t too sure what the theme would be. It was a relaxing and fun place to stop in for lunch. Given all the screaming kids out in the amusement park, it was actually very nice to be away from them enjoying a bite to eat.
Who would think a shopping mall is an “indoor theme park”?? Well that is how they market Mall of America, aka MOA. I suppose given that they do have a 30 ride indoor amusement park complete with arcade games, that would qualify it as a theme park. Or would it because the “theme” is shopping?? I guess I don’t know.Three floors, four huge department stores, and over 500 specialty stores; this place is a shop-a-holic’s dream destination. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a shopper and that many options send me on sensory overload. I mean really . . . how many shoe stores do you need? Famous Footwear and DSW Shoe Warehouse should be plenty! Twenty-five plus five athletic shoe stores are just too many. I guess if you can’t find the right style, color and size here, it simply does not exist!Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Sears and Nordstrom each anchor a corner of the mall. They say that if you walk the entire square of a floor of MOA, you will log about one mile. On this day, we did our mile’s worth on the second floor and called it a day, especially since we were not shopping for anything in particular. It was more of a “How can you go to Minneapolis for a weekend and NOT go see Mall of America?”It was a bit strange seeing a storefront for the local Native American casino, Mystic Lake. With over 100 black jack tables, slot machines and bingo it seemed to be a bit tame for our gambling interests. They have headline entertainment out there, however, with Kelly Clarkson performing on New Year’s Eve this year. Tickets are still available.MOA is a great destination if you want to get in your power shopping, given that it is very accessible from the Minneapolis Int’l Airport. Northwest is their hometown airline and does its civic duty in promoting local tourism for the mall. There is light rail from the airport out to MOA so leave your car in Milwaukee, Chicago, Des Moines or wherever in the Midwest you come from. Parking is a bit crazy so be prepared to jockey for a space . . . or do yourself a favor and consider using shuttles or other free transportation available in the area. We were at the Comfort Inn, who did have free transportation to and from MOA.
As part of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, this bright indoor amusement park has rides for kids ages four to mid teens. There is one roller coaster that seemed to be a pretty decent ride, but since we had just had lunch we passed. Many of the rides seemed too close together for my liking. I don’t know that I would have enjoyed spinning or flipping or going down a river canal feeling like I might be ejected into the neighboring ride.Make no mistake about it, kids were having fun! You could hear their laughter and shrill screams throughout the place. Older kids like young teenagers seemed to also enjoy hanging out with their buds, although there wasn’t that typical mall feeling of mall rats taking over the place. I think MOA security does a good job of making sure people stay on good behavior while here in this family oriented area. And speaking of families, I was impressed to see that they had two child care areas where you could drop off younger kids to have professional babysitting while moms and dads enjoyed the rides or other activities with kids old enough to have fun.All of the rides are priced based on points. The higher the points, the more costly is that ride. Individual point tickets are available as well as in point packages. A five point roller coaster would cost you approximately $4 at the 80 cents per point base price. For just $24.95 you can ride all you can ride, as many rides as you’d like for as many times as you can handle in one day. Season passes are also available: $79.95 for kids shorter than 47" and $99.95 for all who are four feet tall or more.Post Script: I had always heard and thought I knew this park to be called "Camp Snoopy" but wasn't sure why there were no references to that name anywhere in the Mall. Some Internet research did turn up that this amusement park was known as Camp Snoopy but no longer. I am guessing that is due to one of two reasons: (1) Knotts decided not to renew their naming sponsorship agreement and when Pepsi stepped up, a name change was in order . . . or (2) Camp Snoopy sounded to juvenile for the target audience that MOA wanted to appeal to.Then I found this piece on The Onion's Web site and the mystery was solved . . . www.theonion.com/content/node/31031. Good for a nice belly laugh, but that's about all.I guess I'm sticking to explanations 1 or 2 above.
This was a quick weekend getaway to visit one of those timeshare presentations near the Mall of America (MOA) in Bloomington, Minnesota (right by the twin cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis). For just 79 dollars, we got two nights at the Comfort Inn less than a mile from MOA, plus $25 in a Visa gift card. It was worth our time to make the trip up here, especially since we had never seen or been inside the mall.Driving up from Iowa, it took us exactly 3 hours to reach Minneapolis. The crisp fall afternoon was especially nice for a road trip. Farmers throughout Iowa and Minnesota were working to bring in their corn crops. Soybeans must have been wrapped up last month. I was disappointed that we didn’t see prettier fall colors. Maybe it is just that we don’t have nice deciduous trees in this part of the Midwest. I know in Wisconsin and Virginia fall is all about the red and gold leaves in October.With the timeshare presentation behind us, we enjoyed a Saturday afternoon at the Mall of America. It took us forever to decide what to do for lunch since we really didn't want fast food or sub sandwiches. We finally found the seasonal "Creepy's Cafe" in the park area, which was appropriately themed for Halloween.On Saturday night, we thoroughly enjoyed dining at the Outback Restaurant that was located in the lobby level of our hotel. It was nice to enjoy adult beverages and not have to worry about driving home!There is the Mall of America shopping and amusement park, complete with many dining options and restaurants. If you are a shopper, this is the place for you. With over 500 stores and four large anchor department stores, you must be able to find whatever you seek or it simply does not exist.Our Comfort Inn hotel had a rack of tourist information fliers for everything from dinner theaters, art museums, and casinos to the infamous SPAM museum. The most interesting of the attractions was the American-Swedish Institute, located in downtown Minneapolis. Housed in the Trumblad Mansion founded in 1929, this elegant museum provides a glimpse into the lives of over 150 years of Swedes in Minnesota. Unfortunately, they were only open 1 to 5pm on Sunday so we had to pass. Had we planned it better, we could have visited on Saturday, when their visitors’ hours are from noon to 4pm.Minneapolis and the surrounding areas are very easily reached via Northwest Airlines or by car. We did the car thing, but almost all flights I take out of Des Moines include a side trip through the NWA Minneapolis hub. You can plan your flights through here to allow you enough time to take the light rail to MOA. Give yourself at least 4 hours!The light rail has really made Minneapolis a tourist and convention destination, as it also goes to the downtown area of the city. If you don’t want to rent a car, you can easily get by without one. I was in Minneapolis in the summer of 2004 for an industry meeting, and thoroughly enjoyed my time and experience without a car. The convention center, hotels, and a lot of wonderful restaurants are all within walking distance of one another!
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