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Family Vacation: Chicago to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota

Updated on January 13, 2016

What is your favorite area in the Mall of America?

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Chicago, Illinois to the Mall of America, Minnesota

If you've never been to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, and you love shopping malls, aquariums, and amusement parks, this is a must visit. My wife and I recently had about 24 hours after dropping our daughter off at a college visit and decided a trip to the mall was in order.

Being from Chicago, Illinois, large malls and indoor amusement parks are not uncommon. After all Old Chicago was a great indoor amusement park and Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg was one of the largest in the world in its time.

Even though I have been around these structures in Illinois, I wasn't prepared for the magnitude of the mall or the grandness of the indoor amusement park.

All pictures are my own.

Finding a Hotel Near the Mall of America

There are many hotels near the Mall of America, so you basically choose one based on your preference, price, and any other amenities you need. I typically start at to find the right hotel.

Many hotels have a shuttle than runs to and from the mall all day, so you don't have to worry about parking, you just need to time your visit so you make sure you don't miss the shuttle. We visited in the middle of winter, but I assume, there are some hotels that are close enough to walk.

In addition to shuttles, many hotels have a shopping package that includes a coupon book and / or gift cards. For example, for an additional $15 you can get a $20 Mall of America Gift Card and a coupon book (typically costs $9.95 online).

What can kids do at the Mall of America?

Even though Mom will like the shopping and Dad will like the food, there are a number of things for kids at the Mall of America.

  1. Nickelodeon Universe - The indoor amusement park is one of the main attractions for kids. With three roller coasters, a log ride, a ferris wheel, and various smaller rides. This will keep every kid busy for a couple of hours. With the day long pass, they can go back again and again while Mom does her shopping.
  2. Movie Theaters - Need a break from shopping and everything else in the mall, the 14 movie theaters are bound to have something for the whole family.
  3. Stores - There are many stores geared towards kids that will keep them entertained like the Lego Store, the American Girl Store, and candy stores.
  4. Food - When it comes to food, there are many options, from sit down restaurants, to ice cream, cookies, and a variety of fast food restaurants mainly on the third level of the mall.
  5. Aquarium - On the ground floor of the mall, is a small aquarium with a great shark tank. This is a great thing to do when you first enter the mall, and not something to do when the kids are restless. There is a separate charge to enter the Mall of America Aquarium.

My favorite Store at the Mall of America - I am a lego fanatic, so the lego store was on my list to stop by. And it didn't dissapoint. However, the bigger thr

Click thumbnail to view full-size

How to get to the Mall of America from Chicago

Traveling from Chicago, there are three options to get to the Mall of America.

  • Drive - Driving to Minneapolis takes about 8 hours from Chicago, Illinois. The drive takes you through Wisconsin and past the Wisconsin Dells.
  • Fly - Flying to the Minneapolis is a great option, as the mall is right next to the airport. If you find a hotel that has shuttles to the mall, then you won't even need to rent a car.
  • Rail - There is a train that goes from Chicago to Minneapolis. The train station is farther from the mall than the airport. You will also have to coordinate your schedule when the train arrives.


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