More than 500 stores already give shoppers lots of reasons to visit Mall of America in November and December. But when you’re ready for a little extra holiday dazzle, here are 10 places to find it:
1. Holiday Music Festival. Enjoy free entertainment from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily in the Rotunda between Nov. 26 and Dec. 26. On Toddler Tuesday mornings, the Rotunda features kid-friendly characters, stories and crafts from stories such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Polar Express. mallofamerica.com/events
2. Here Comes Santa. Santa officially arrives at the Mall on Thursday, Nov. 9, with activities in the Rotunda from 5:30–6:30 p.m. (face-painting, balloon sculptures, coffee, cookies) and a grand entrance by Santa at 6:30 p.m. The Rosemount High School Marching Band will perform, and holiday lights will be turned on at Nickelodeon Universe. mallofamerica.com/events; nickelodeonuniverse.com
Photo courtesy of Mall of America
3. FlyOver America. This popular flight simulation journeys north during a special holiday film that follows Santa to the North Pole, Nov. 24-Jan. 2. flyover-america.com
Photo courtesy of FlyOver America
4. Black Friday. Participants in the Thanksgiving morning Walk to End Hunger (walktoendhunger.org) get a sneak preview via window shopping of Black Friday deals when Mall stores reopen at 5 a.m. The first 200 shoppers lined up at the north entrance receive a mystery gift card worth $10 to $100. Scratch-off prizes will be given out daily through the weekend.
Parking tips: Try reserving one of a handful of spots through My Park (first time is free with MYPARK1; usemypark.com); using valet service at either hotel or the north entrance (952) 883-8476; or call for Uber service at five mall locations ($15 off with MALLOFAMERICA code; uber.com).
5. Mall of America hotels. Enjoy perks such as package pickups as you shop, discounted attraction tickets and mid-day naps with a stay at the elegant JW Marriott (marriott.com) or funky Radisson Blu (radissonblu.com) attached to the north and south sides of the Mall. Radisson Blu kicks off the season with Shop in your Slippers on Black Friday, North Pole packages, and a visit with Santa and reindeer Dec. 9. JW Marriott sets out travel beds for American Girl dolls and offers Nordstrom packages that can include a personal shopper. Non-guests can enjoy some of the mall’s best dining with J.W. Marriott's Cedar + Stone and Urban Table or Radisson Blu’s FireLake Grill House and Cocktail Bar. Both hotels serve special holiday and New Year’s dinners.
6. Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium. A holiday-themed Sharks After Dark features a nacho bar, music and a chance to watch sea creatures from 9–11:30 pm on Friday, Dec. 8. The event includes a four-hour GameWorks card. visitsealife.com/minnesota
7. American Girl. Girls ages eight and up can take their dolls (and grown-ups) to a Holiday Tea from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Nov. 26, Dec. 3, Dec. 10 and Dec. 17. Activities include having snacks, making cards and creating a fleece headband. Reservations required. americangirl.com
Photo courtesy of American Girl
8. Build-A-Bear Workshop. Kids and parents can feel good about making a stuffed bear (or reindeer) at no charge to donate to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation Dec. 1-3. On other weekends, staff will read holiday poems and teach kids how to get on the Nice List. buildabear.com
Photo courtesy of Build-a-Bear Workshop
9. Great Wolf Lodge. The national water park resort that began in Wisconsin Dells opens its first Minnesota location Dec. 15. The $35 million renovation of the former Radisson Waterpark of America near MOA includes 404 family suites, a ropes course, climbing wall, MagiQuest interactive adventure game, mini bowling, ice-cream-themed nail spa and Barnwood, a new restaurant with small plates and craft cocktails. greatwolf.com
10. Crayola Experience + Store. Most Mall stores and restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but this hands-on attraction stays open. Kids can head to different stations to make crafts, grab treats and go on a holiday scavenger hunt. crayolaexperience.com
Photo courtesy of Lisa McClintick.