The Mall of America opened on August 11, 1992. I clearly remember the day because for months we had been seeing commercials about the Grand Opening. We dropped everything in our small western Minnesota town, loaded our car, and drove three hours to be a part of this historic moment. We could have used a Mall of America Family Guide on that first visit!
Once at the Mall of America we cuddled up to Charlie Brown and Lucy at Camp Snoopy. Ice cream and candy shoppes dominated our sweet tooth. The Rainforest Cafe lived on the 1st floor, and Nordstroms and Tiffany’s elevated Minnesota’s retail scene. In the almost 30 years of the Mall of America’s life, changes have occurred, but the spirit of the mall has stayed the same.
Attractions of America lists the Mall of America is Minnesota’s #1 tourist destination, and it is followed by Como Park, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the North Shore, Split Rock Lighthouse, and the Cathedral of St. Paul. The Mall of America is a popular place to explore if you are a kid or a grown-up which makes it great family fun.
Each loop around the mall, on Levels 1-3, is a half mile which means you will easily get your steps in for the day (however unintentionally). Level 4 is smaller than the other floors.
We offer you the Mall of America Family Guide, Floor By Floor, like I would have liked to had my first visit.
If you are looking for quick use of the Mall of America Family Guide, click on the floor you are most interested in learning about.
If you never get off the first floor of the Mall of America, you will leave fully satisfied with no sense of disappointment. There is so much on the first floor that you can spend your entire day there. With multiple open areas–like the Rotunda– for concerts, fundraisers, and other entertainment (crazy hair stations!), there isn’t a lack of activity. However, if you do come across a space that is clear, it’s a great time to catch your breath before you dive back into the mayhem of the mall.
Nickelodeon Universe – The Mall of America Rides
This is the beating heart of the Mall of America. It’s the country’s (if not the world’s) biggest indoor amusement park. Due to our severe winters, we Minnesotans have created a way to bring a little more summer and sunshine into our lives during the darkest months of the year. Look for a haunted house around Halloween.
Prices resemble what you would find at any other amusement park. So budget accordingly. Rides are based on a points system. Each ride is a certain number of points. You can begin with purchasing 3 points for $3.80 or 84 points for $73.99.
Ways to save at Nickelodeon Universe: If you are planning on being at the park for awhile, consider a one-day pass ($36.99) or a two-day pass ($49.99). There are other promotions including Toddler Tuesday (5 hour wristband for toddlers on Tuesday for $12.99). Go after 6 pm to receive the Twilight Savings–wristband is $29.99. There is also a military discount–$10 off an unlimited ride wristband.
While you need to get in line for this fun aquarium experience on the 1st floor, you will travel into the Mall of America’s basement to enjoy the animals who live under the sea.
There is so much to say about Sea Life I don’t even know where to begin. With dozens of different experiences to have at Sea Life, you can keep coming back for more. Watch the different species, snorkel with the fish, feed the rays, tour behind the scenes, and listen to the daily talks about the Sea Life residents. The newest attraction is called “Brave the Rainforest.” If you like bugs, snakes, and other creepy crawlies, this is for you. For me, it is NOT.
Price at the gate: Ages under 3, FREE | Ages 3-12, $18.99 | Ages 13+, $25.99
Ways to save with Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium: Purchase tickets online and save up to $8 per ticket. Purchase a Combo Pass with other attractions around the Mall of America to save a bundle. Other options include an Annual Pass/Membership. Watch for other promotions throughout the year.
While you will find this attraction in Nickelodeon Universe, it could be anywhere in the mall since it’s not technically a part of the park. What happens at Flyover America? While you are comfortably seated in a theatre, you are surrounded by a screen (similar to the Omnitheatre at the Science Museum of Minnesota). For 10 minutes, you take your journey without ever leaving the mall, but you feel like you have traveled across our beautiful country. Children must be 40″ or taller.
Price at the gate: Ages 13+, $19.99 | Ages 12 and under, $15.99
Ways to save at FlyOver America: Purchase online for the discounted rate. Online tickets are $17.98 (adults) and $14.38 (children)
Think roller coaster and video game all wrapped up into one all-encompassing experience. Virtual Reality mixed with a roller coaster choose from different adventures to master and enjoy.
Price: One ride is currently $9.99. You receive a discount per ride if you purchase a combo.
Ways to save at XDRide: Watch Groupon for more deals, though I haven’t seen anything that is better than the combo price from XDRide itself.
1st Floor Retail Shops
LEGO Store (a/k/a The Mall of America Play Area)
Got a LEGO lover in your family? Even if you don’t, you will enjoy this destination in and of itself. Looking for one specific brick? Check the Brick Wall? Want to see completed series on display? Check out the galleries. Want to build with LEGO? Sit at one of the tables: Duplo for the younger set and standard size for the older ones. We personally can spend hours at the LEGO store and be perfectly happy.
Book a party here for your little bakers and enjoy all the yummy DIY treats your heart desires. The Mall of America’s Build-A-Bear Bakeshop is the first ever of its kind to pop up.
The first time I entered a Build-A-Bear Workshop, I was in heaven. I was an adult, but it didn’t matter because I loved everything about this shopping experience. From choosing your bear to adding its heart and stuffing, from choosing its outfit and accessories to giving it a name. It was pretty basic then. Even with all the lines Build-A-Bear has developed, the overall goal is to give you a hug. And I love it. Depending on how much you want to spend, this can be a pricey shop so you may want to set a budget ahead of time.
iCandy Sugar Shoppe
MOA has had a variety of candy shops throughout the years. This is the current sugar bomb. If you have a sweet tooth of any kind, you will find something you love here.
Mall of America’s second floor focuses more its retail offerings than its entertainment value. We usually head to the second floor when we want to get some serious shopping done. Of course, each floor houses many retailers we want to check out, but we use the second floor as a way to chill out and do some window shopping or retail therapy.
2nd Floor Retail Shops
I love this shop and everything about it. With two boys and two girls, I am on the lookout for gifts and ideas all the time. This shop takes childhood back to its roots with farming, camping, imaginative play, and toys that inspire creativity.
Air Traffic Toys:
Interested in gaming of all sorts? You will want to spend some time in this shop that features board games and strategy games and puzzles and the biggest nerds on the planet who are also the coolest kids on the block! Games for the youngest members of your family to the oldest.
If any younger kids are interested in accessorizing their outfits or getting their ears pierced, Claire’s may be your go-to.
Like Mall of America’s first floor, the third floor is packed with things to do. Find interactive events and great shopping on the third floor, or chill out with the most substantial selection of restaurants in the whole mall.
3rd Floor Attractions
Remember in the 80’s and 90’s when arcades were all the rage? Go back in time or relive your childhood at this arcade. Price: It’s an arcade. Set a budget and stick to it.
Escape Rooms are all the rage right now, and the Mall of America is not going to be left out. Choose from a variety of games including The Heist, Prison Break, Gold Rush and more. For each game you have 60 minutes to solve the puzzle and escape the game. This attraction is the north side of East Broadway (the opposite end as the Crayola Experience). You must reserve a time slot for your game.
Price: $35.99 pp, Mission to Mars $39.99
Ways to save at The Escape Game: From Now until December 31, 2019 book a game Monday-Thursday for 10% off.
This is one of the most cost-friendly attractions at the Mall of America. And probably one of the most hilarious (or aggravating depending on your perspective). I am a klutz and walk into windows and mirrors in normal-day life. I’m sure if this is the best idea for me, but it would be entertaining for anyone else in the maze with me. This 2500 square foot maze of mirrors and lights will keep you on your toes with lots of fun.
Price: $8.95 pp
Ways to save at Amazing Mirror Maze: Groups rates are available.
Mall of America hosts one of the most interactive coloring experiences in the country. Name and wrap your own crayon and animate your drawing are just two of the over 20 activities you can watch and learn about. My personal favorite is the Crayon Factory Show. Great times will be had by all, but best for the toddler and preschool set in your house.
Price: Ages 3-65, $21.99 | Ages 65+, $16.99 | Ages 2 and under, FREE | Annual Membership, $30.99
Ways to save at Crayola Experience: Groupon runs deals fairly often and you can find an Annual Pass Deal on Crayola’s Website.
When I was a kid, one of my family’s favorite things to do on vacation was to get an Old Time Photo taken in Deadwood South Dakota. While the Mall of America is no Old West Town, you can still make fun memories with your kids doing this very thing. You will find Old Time Photos on East Broadway with portraits taken by Professor Z’s Photography. You can choose from many different time periods including the Roaring 20’s or the Renaissance or the Civil War.
Prices: Vary per package, $10/session fee pp
Ways to save at Old Time Photos: Various deals are offered on their webpage.
Have you ever played blacklight mini golf? It’s an experience for sure. It levels the playing field for everyone involved. You can find this mini golf experience next to the Xscape Arcade.
Price: $11.99 pp, children ages 5 and under are free with an adult purchase
Ways to save at Rock of Ages Mini Golf: Buy a family four pack for $38.99 a reduced rate per person, game is $9.75 for each additional player.
Traditional mini golf is always a family favorite. Adventure through this whimsical course and leave with huge grins on your faces. It is also fully accessible for everyone in your family.
Price: $11.99 pp, children ages 5 and under are free with an adult purchase
Ways to save at moose Mountain Adventure Golf: Buy a family four pack for $38.99 a reduced rate per person, game is $9.75 for each additional player.
3rd Floor Retail Shops
Games by James
We are huge fans of Games by James. As a part of their Victory Points Program, we earn points for every purchase we make. In our honest opinion, it doesn’t take very long to earn enough to redeem the reward. And we don’t buy games on a regular basis. We have game suggestions for you if you’re just getting started. Otherwise, they have so many knowledgeable staff who LOVE their job.
Mall of America’s fourth floor gears the entertainment for a grown-up crowd. I’m not saying that you can’t bring your kids. With places like Gameworks, families are invited to spend time together. It will be more enjoyable for families with kids who are a little bit older (say 9+). Check out these attractions to learn more about what they offer and the deals you can find to make them more affordable.
A family-friendly arcade and restaurant.
Grown-up comedy for grown-ups.
Great movies and yummy food for everyone.
Special Events and Amenities
Check out the Mall of America’s special events schedule to learn about events that are happening around the mall. In the past, they have had a skating rink and Ice Castles during the winter and there are other activities throughout the year as well.
Family-Friendly Amenities – Family Restrooms, Mother’s Room
Family Restroom: Level 1 N, S, E, W Entrance
Level 2 N Entrance
Level 3 Entrance
Mother’s Room: Level 1, North, Central Parkway | East Entrance
Level 2, Nordstrom
Whether you are a local with inside tips or a visitor who had a great (or not so great experience), we want to hear your tips and favorite Mall of America stores. What are your favorite things to do at the MOA? Leave a comment for the next reader!