Bloomington is a mid-sized commuter town bestrode by the largest mall in the United States – appropriately named The Mall of America. This colossal shopping and entertainment complex is the town’s main draw, containing a dizzying array of stores alongside an indoor amusement park, adjacent water park, subterranean aquarium and heaps more. A luxury hotel adjoins the mall, and many visitors make it a multi-day trip.
Beyond the massive mall, there’s also a community ski area a few miles from the town center, as well as plenty of accessible parkland. The refreshingly tranquil Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge can be reached by car in a leisurely 30 minutes. Bloomington is only 10 miles south of downtown Minneapolis, and so is a convenient base for exploring that city too.
Just as it sounds, Nickelodeon Universe is a brave challenger to the throne of Disney World. It has the same chunkily-costumed characters moseying around, with Spongebob displacing Mickey, and the same colorful collection of rides based on popular TV shows. Climb aboard the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Shell Shock, or strap in for Spongebob’s Rock Bottom Plunge. Located in the Mall of America, it’s obviously far smaller than Disney, but kids are still likely to be screaming for more. Open seven days a week.
This wildlife refuge protects more than 14,000 acres of Minnesota land, encompassing a real diversity of habitats: floodplain forest, tallgrass prairie and marshy wetland. This diversity gives rise to a wide variety of wildlife: birds, mammals and reptiles can all be encountered on one of the refuge’s many hiking routes. Wild and peaceful, escaping here is the perfect antidote to the clamorous Mall of America.
Photo via their official FB page
Only a few miles from the center of Bloomington, this groomed ski and snowboard area is perfect for an afternoon on the slopes. It has nine trails in total, with a preponderance of easy and intermediate runs, and although there are a couple of trickier trails the more advanced may wish to spend their time inventing challenges in the terrain parks. Cross-country skiing is allowed earlier in the morning, while the center’s ski school is a convenient place to learn the ropes.
On the first floor of the Mall of America is this classic American grill, perfect for a respite from the relentless shopping and entertainment. It has a broad menu of meat and fish, a decent kids’ menu, an impressive number of gluten-free options, and even manages a vegetarian dish or two. The bar is also well-stocked with craft beers, cocktails and wine.
A concierge, fitness center, conference room, indoor pool and two ornate ballrooms are all part of the package at this branch of the Radisson Hotel. It’s also the only hotel directly connected to the Mall of America, so if you want immediate access to all that shopping and entertainment, then the Radisson is undoubtedly the best place in town.