6 Reasons to Return to the Mall of America | Midwest Living

6 Reasons to Return to the Mall of America

Anyone craving a colorful escape from winter can find weatherproof, fresh fun at the Mall of America as it wraps up a $325-million expansion. The massive project includes family attractions, revamped shopping and dining options, and the JW Marriott that rises above the north entrance. Here’s a look at what’s new.

Take flight Guests buckle into seats with their legs dangling in front of a domed screen for simulated flights above New York, Hawaii and Minnesota at FlyOver America. Fans blow wind in your face and even waft a few scents (like pine as you fly over a forest) on your virtual journey. Strikingly similar to Epcot’s Soarin’ ride at Walt Disney World, FlyOver America opens in April at Nickelodeon Universe. flyover-america.com

Photo courtesy of Mall of America

Live luxe In November, JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America opened the doors to its 342-room hotel, which anchors the Central Parkway, an expansion focused on high-end retailers that should open later this spring. The hotel’s Cedar and Stone, Urban Table restaurant serves some of the best food in the mall. Its farm-to-table menu includes 12-hour braised shortribs with cheddar grits, baked butternut squash gnocchi and drinks such as an old-fashioned mixed with garam masala syrup. jwmarriottminneapolis.com

Spin and zip With glowing green orbs to give it a mad-scientist feel, Nickelodeon Universe’s newest ride, Shredder’s Mutant Masher, has been furiously swinging riders on a giant, spinning pendulum since it opened in November. Keep an eye toward the skylights to watch riders zoom across the 400-foot-long Barnacle Blast Zip Line. It’s billed as the longest indoor zipline in North America. nickelodeonuniverse.com

Fresh colors See how Crayola crayons are made, create and name your own color, and make souvenirs with melted crayons and spin art at the Crayola Experience. The attraction’s 26 hands-on art and interactive stations open in late spring. crayolaexperience.com

Photo courtesy of Mall of America

Dig in Rainforest Cafe, known for its animatronic elephants and recurring thunderstorms, relocated to the third floor and reopened January 22 after a year of transition. The move clusters the mall’s larger restaurants together, including Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, which opens its beachy restaurant this spring.

More to sea A touch pool with dozens of stingrays and a few guitarfish anchors Sea Life Aquarium’s $2.2 million expansion that opened last spring. Pay a little extra to feed shrimp and small fish to the rays. Look for sea stars, sea cucumbers, prawns and ruby-red sea anemones at the nearby Pacific Northwest touch pool. visitsealife.com

Travel writer, guidebook author and photographer Lisa Meyers McClintick (LisaMcClintick.com) is based in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

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