Yes, I'm still talking about our road trip last summer. In case you've missed anything, here's a list of my road trip posts to date:
- Road Trip Success
- Let the Road Trip Fun Begin
- South Dakota Supreme: Part 1
- South Dakota Supreme: Part 2
- The Road Trip Continues Into Alien Territory
- Travel Tuesday: The Road Trip Continues Into Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
- Travel Tuesday: Washington Reunion
- Travel Tuesday: Glacier National Park
- Travel Tuesday: The Road Trip Continues Into North Dakota
After having some fun in North Dakota, we were headed for the one place Bethany had been looking forward to visiting for months: the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota. We took her to national parks and monuments, and she was most excited about a mall. I can't complain, because she had fun every place we went, and also...I was looking forward to checking out this massive mall too!
Knowing that Bethany really wanted to go to the Mall of America, I made sure to plan a route home that would take us right to it. Throughout the trip planning process, keeping the kids involved, interested, and happy was a top priority. I wanted them to be excited about the trip, and the way to do that was to make sure we did things they were interested in doing. To conserve money, we reserved a hotel room in St. Cloud, which is about an hour and a half north west of Bloomington. Instead of paying top dollar for a tiny, crappy room near the mall, which is a huge tourist destination, we paid a very reasonable rate for a big, comfortable room and dealt with making the drive to the mall in the morning. It was definitely the way to go. Although it would be pretty cool to stay at the hotel that's located within the mall!
My thoughts about the Mall of America: It's big. It's clean. There are lots of stores. It's a mall.
Actually, although it is just a giant mall with some extras thrown in for fun, we had a really great day at the mall. Connor was happy to build his own mini figures at the LEGO store. Lucy was happy to pick out an outfit for her Bitty Baby at the American Girl store. Mathilda was thrilled with the Nickelodeon characters. Bethany was excited to do some back to school shopping at the Mall of America. Nobody complained that we opted to just look at the amusement park and not spend money on rides. Nobody complained that we ate at the food court instead of Rainforest Cafe. It was a nice, happy, air-conditioned day.
It is pretty surreal to see the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park right in the middle of a mall. You don't have to pay an admission fee, you just pay if you want to go on rides. So we were free to walk around and check everything out. Characters were walking around for photo ops. Maybe if we hadn't been so pressed for time, we would have let the kids go on a ride or two. But as it was, with just fitting in lunch and the shopping that each kid wanted to do, we spent several hours at the mall and then really had to move on.
The LEGO store was pretty awesome because there were several large brick sculptures around it and on top of it, many of which could be seen clearly from the food court on the next floor.
This is definitely a mall that would require a few days to truly check out every nook and cranny. We were happy with the stores we went to, but we definitely missed quite a few. Something that I would have liked to have seen was the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, which is also located directly within the mall.
I would really like to return to the Mall of America. I even think it would be fun to make a trip just to go back to school shopping. It's about a 12 hour drive from home, so that might be a bit extreme. But it would be fun!
|Somewhere in Wisconsin|
Not long after leaving the mall, we found ourselves crossing into Wisconsin, our 12th state of the trip. We spent our last night of vacation at a hotel in a small Wisconsin town, with a view of corn fields. On the way there, we drove past the Wisconsin Dells, and at least one of my children had the nerve to complain that we weren't stopping. Because, you know, we hadn't done enough throughout the course of our trip! I thought that was kind of funny, but to put a positive spin on it, at least they were ready and willing to do even more! I didn't burn them out too badly, I guess.
By the time we woke up on the final morning of our trip, we were getting antsy to get home. The kids were missing Chris, and as always, the final stretch home was the longest. But what a trip! We had such a fantastic time, from beginning to end. I can't wait to do it again!
|Connor is making his own mini figures at the LEGO store at Mall of America|
|LEGO helicopter at the Mall of America|
|Nickelodeon Universe - Mall of America|
|Mall of America|
|The closest we got to meeting Dora at the Mall of America|