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!