Can’t jet away for Spring Break this year?  Don’t Trip!

JW Marriott Mall of America
Mall of America is a quick and fun Midwest weekend destination. There is a guarantee of shopping all your favorite brands, but that’s just the start. There are so many other reasons to visit the Mall of America aside from shopping.

I must admit that Minnesota was not on the top of my list for vacations. Despite that when our friends invited us to join them on a family weekend getaway, we were all in.  Much of our social life is directed by our kid’s playmates and our friends have two daughters whose ages mirror our own kid’s ages. Don’t bypass Mall of America (MOA), if you’re looking for Midwestern Family Fun!

Getting There

Coming from the Madison, Wisconsin area it was about a four-hour drive to Bloomington. If you prefer to fly, MSP airport is very accessible, only a few short miles from the mall. The mall has a plethora of activities and entertainment for all the ages, making it an ideal weekend for your family.

JW Marriott BloomingtonIn Good Company

I’d like to take the credit for what turned out to be an engaging weekend away but all hail to Scotty. We met Scott and Jess when they moved into our old neighborhood, they bought the house across from ours. Over playdates and game nights we became solid friends.  We also have some family in MN.  Of course, we arranged to meet them out for dinner and drinks too.

Considering that we had four small children in our group, we recruited my teenage niece Courtney to tag along as our babysitter for the weekend. An idea our friends brought to the table, genius! We decided on a flat rate for the weekend and split her cost between the two families. We also covered her food and rides. This gave us an opportunity to enjoy our family during the day and adult entertainment at night.

Celebrating Misha Vampire Style

It turns out that the weekend we chose landed on Misha’s 5th birthday. Might as well double down and call it a birthday trip.  She turned five and wore an adorable birthday outfit from her aunt and uncle. As we walked around the mall fellow shoppers wished her a happy birthday, making a girl feel really special!

Misha requested a Vampirina theme for her celebration. We ordered a pizza to the room and I brought a Vampirina cake with us on the road trip.  Additionally, I bought some fun activities for the girls to do in the hotel room with the babysitter in the evening.  It was a pseudo hotel sleepover party. Once we returned from our evening activities our sleeping friends were returned to their own suites.

After Pizza and Cake, the girls did manicure and pedicures with the assistance of the sitter. They enjoyed some board games and watched a little TV. What more could a kid ask for?

Vampirina Birthday ThemeVampirina Party Pack:

Vampirina Sparkly Nail Polish Set

Vampire Teeth

Cooties Board Game

We also gifted Misha a Lite Brite which was a hit!

Amusement Park

Scott and Jessica have a way of taking me out of my comfort zone every time we meet up. Last summer it was diving off their diving board into their pool. I am a moderate level swimmer at best, having taken adult swim lessons when I was pregnant with Misha. When we visited our friends in Indiana they also took us Axe throwing. At the end of the day, aren’t we all looking to escape the mundane routine and feel an adrenaline rush?

Nickelodeon Universe

Clearly, Scott married up when he met Jess, yet she has found the ultimate entertainer in him. (A little inside humor because we love to rattle his cage and I hope he reads this post). Under the direction and pressure of Scott I agreed to zip line at 58 feet above the Nickelodeon Universe Themed amusement park, it was quite the thrill. The park also offers a ropes course; these activities are add-ons and carry an additional fee to the park passes. The scariest part was climbing to the top.


One of our daughters is adventurous, the other one does a serious risk analysis before agreeing to anything. It was nice that the rides at Nickelodeon Universe in MOA ranged in their fear factor, so everyone could pick a ride at their comfort level. You can buy tickets to ride a couple of the options or if you’re a serious thrill seeker an all-day wristband or all weekend pass is available to purchase.

Adult Entertainment

We weren’t going to escape this weekend without trying something new with this set of friends. With no shortage of options, we had a hard time deciding what to do with our kid-free evenings but settled on an Escape room. With our competitive nature, we were able to get out with time to spare.

If you’re not into using that much brain power on vacay there is a comedy club within the mall, a movie theatre, plus plenty of bars and restaurants.  Our favorite for dining was Cantina Laredo.  We also liked the Game Works bar.

Where to stay?

For once, I didn’t have to do all the research on where to stay. Good ole Scotty boy had some Marriott points that he shared with us and our family stayed in adjoining suites at the JW Marriott. The girls and our niece shared a double queen, James and I had a king across the hall.  What was neat was we were the last two rooms at the end of the hallway with large doors cutting off the corridor.  The last night after we returned from the game works bar with kids sleeping in both suites we pulled chairs into our private hallway vestibule and took care of that extra cake!

The JW Marriott at the Mall of America is attached to the mall. This was convenient, as we could park and plant it for the duration of our stay. I wouldn’t say this was a budget-friendly hotel however we thoroughly enjoyed using the member benefits such as the executive lounge with breakfast, snacks, and bottled waters that came with our friend’s loyalty program. The girls swam and we had the entire pool to ourselves.   While we all want to be in the Caribbean right about now, the MOA makes for a sweet alternative if you just need a midwest break.


Need more midwest travel ideas, check it out.