Thank you to Crayola Experience for providing us with complimentary tickets.
We wanted to use the long Fourth of July to get out of town as a family. Knowing we’ll be welcoming a new baby in just a few, short months, we’re wanting to make the most of our time together as a family of four. We decided to take a roadtrip to Bloomington, MN, the home of Mall of America. And gosh there are so many things to do in Bloomington, MN… especially if you have young kids/toddlers.
Crayola Experience / Mall of America
I asked people for their recommendations (in my Instagram Stories) and the number one suggestion was the Crayola Experience at Mall of America. They’re open 10am – 6pm every day and you can come and go throughout the day. You cannot take in your own food/drink, but they do have snacks and a cafe available there. (Or you can leave to eat and come back.)
Their staff said it takes about 2 hours if you want to visit each activity, but I feel like we would’ve spent closer to 3 hours there if we did everything! It really was perfect for kids Blaire’s age (she’s 5). She was able to do each of the areas herself and was interested in everything. Ben (he is 2) loved wrapping the crayons, coloring the Scribble Scrubbies, Scribble Square and Toddler Town. (You can read about each area here). Children 2 and under are free. General Admission for 3+ is $21.99, but was $17.99 when purchased online vs. at the experience.
Nickelodeon Universe / Mall of America
I wasn’t sure there would be much for our kids since most of the rides seemed geared towards teens and adults, but I was pleasantly surprised! First of all, no matter your size/age you can get in line to meet various characters throughout the day. They have a character schedule online and each character is there for 30 minutes. We didn’t wait in line for more than 10 minutes for any of the characters we met. And each time there was someone extra. We thought we’d just see Chase but saw Chase and Marshall and then thought we were seeing Gill from Bubble Guppies, but we were able to see both Gill and Molly.
There were tons of rides both kids loved! Online and on each of the ticket kiosks the rides are grouped together by the size required to ride, as well as the size required to ride without a chaperone. The good news is if your child requires a chaperone for that ride, the chaperone is free. If you want to do a bunch of rides, the wrist band is definitely the best value!
In addition to Nickelodeon Universe there are also two mini golf courses located inside the mall. The kids had never played before, so it was fun to take them. Jason scores a hole in one on hole 18, so he won a free game. He and Blaire went back the next night and she even got a hole in one that round!
We all loved this zoo! We went about 45 minutes after they opened. The line to get in was short and the only congestion was when we were walking through the first few exhibits. It was hot and humid, but there was lots of shade and they have stands with snacks, drinks, popsicles, etc. all throughout the zoo. I think we spent the most time in the farm area, even though we live in Iowa and see farm animals fairly often. Haha! I think it’s because they could so close to the farm animals and were able to pet them. There is a fun splash pad just inside the entrance to the zoo, so if it’s a hot day, definitely bring towels and swim suits for the kiddos. There are restrooms right there to make it convenient to change them.
Minnesota Twins Game / Target Field
This was the first MLB game either of our kids have ever been to. We have a minor league team in our hometown and they love to watch them play, but Blaire was blown away at the size of the stadium. It definitely got bonus points for all of the Target logos. We went on a Sunday so it was “kids day”. Kids meals were only $4 (for a hot dog, chips and a drink), there were games in the Target Plaza before the game and up until the 7th inning, autographs before the game and kids can run the bases after the game. The kids loved playing in “T.C.’s Clubhouse,” a playland type area where kids can play for free. We made it until the top of the 8th inning. It was hot, Ben fell asleep on Jason and the game was tied, so we decided not to stay to run the bases. It worked out in our favor because the game went into extra innings. Instead we went back to our hotel and the kids were able to meet the Bubble Guppies at Nickelodeon Universe.
The stadium does have Mother’s Rooms on a few levels, which I was excited to check out because I LOVE to see places thinking about the needs of mothers and babies, especially nursing moms who want privacy while feeding. The rooms were overflowing and they were cooled by a fan on the wall, so they were really hot and there was always a wait to be able to go in and sit down.
Pro Tip: Definitely head to the outfield to hunt down a bucket of fresh mini donuts.
We stayed at the Radisson Blu at Mall of America. It is attached to the mall, so it was really convenient! Jason got a really great deal through Priceline. We booked a King Room but they only had a Queen Room for us when we checked in. Each of us slept with a kid and I actually slept better than I do at home (where everyone climbs in our bed by morning). We tried the pool one night but were only able to make it for 20 minutes. It says it’s a Saltwater pool, but I swear my eyes burned so badly from chemicals in the air! I didn’t get in the water because it was cold and really crowded — two things kids don’t care about! Haha. You can park your car for free in the mall’s garages, you just have to fill out paperwork at the hotel’s front desk so security knows you’re staying at the hotel. Or you can pay to park in the hotel’s garage — around $20 per night. Overall it was a great hotel. The staff was all so nice!
If you are looking for a fun, family-centered place in the Midwest, I’d definitely recommend Bloomington, MN / Mall of America! It was an easy drive from Iowa, the weather is beautiful there and the kids loved it.