a resident of Minneapolis for quite some time, I would speculate that the Mall of America is one of the most loved and simultaneously hated places for many Twin Cities locals. While I'm all for its icon status in American mall culture, the celebrity meet & greets (and occasional random spottings), events and business that it brings to the Twin Cities, I am guilty of also hating on the mass amounts of tourists that inevitably make driving there on a weekend a nightmare. Typically, you can only catch me there between Monday-Wednesday from 7-9 (my low-traffic sweet spot). HOWEVER, I recently spent an entire day there over Memorial Day weekend and had such a great time that I might have to go back on my weekend policy. The energy that courses through the mall when its brimming with people is really unmatched and helps make the experience so much more of an "experience." See in following the tourist-oriented things I typically avoid that I had a wonderful time doing, hastily documented through my iPhone.
But first, a drink at Kokomo's Island Cafe, where it's always Spring Break!
After a few libations to get the day started, I trekked into exhibition territory, where the CSI Experience and Barbie Dreamhouse provided more fun than would be expected for a 20-something "adult." Really though, the CSI thing was insanely fun and I even correctly solved Penny's murder! Poor Penny. She didn't know what was coming (SPOILER ALERT: she was poisoned by her jealous best friend!) Also, Barbie's pink palace should be an airbnb.
Next up on my list of to-do's was a bit of shopping (I was in a mall, after all) followed by an impromptu round of mini golf and a spin on my favorite child hood ride -- The Paul Bunyan Log Flume! I'm still a little sad that the MOA amusement park doesn't bear the name of Camp Snoopy any longer, but the experience was still the same and I noticed that Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox hasn't aged a bit! Must be all that fresh Mall of America air they've been breathing in all these years.
By this time, I had been at the mall for a number of hours and not only did I need to sit down, I was starving (and thirsty)! Thankfully, Benihana had just opened up at MOA and I love the hibachi experience about as much as I love the Twin Cities, so we pulled up to the first table we could find and had an insanely fun time. If you've never been to Benihana, they really do set the standard for hibachi. Not only are their chefs highly skilled at the grill, I've never had one that without an exceedingly friendly personality to match. And the best part is that by the end of the dinner, I had made 5 new friends around the table. How (Minnesota) nice is that?
There you have it. A day at the mall being a tourist in my own city. I laughed, I drank, I shopped, I saw. And I left with a renewed view on what is truly a gem to have in Minnesota. Now go have a day at the Mall of America of your own! You'd be surprised at the fun you'll have :)