11 Things to Do at the Mall of America (that don’t require a car!)

A few months ago, we packed our suitcases, loaded up the kids, and bravely boarded a train with grandparents, cousins, an aunt, and an uncle for an 11 hour train trip to Minneapolis and the Mall of America.

How did we end up on this train trip? Well, with four kids four and under, our group decided we didn’t want to travel far with the kids strapped in their car seats, which meant a long road trip was out of the question. As we looked into other options, we found that a train trip would be fairly affordable. And on a train, the kids could get up and walk around! (We knew this because we had already taken one epic train trip that year, and the kids loved it! Read our train travel tips HERE.)

But what were we going to do once we made it to Minnesota? Could we manage without a car?

As it turns out, the answer is yes, it is possible to take a Mall of America trip without a car (especially when the weather is nice). Here are 13 ideas to get your started if you’d like to take a Mall of America trip of your own.

Nickelodeon Universe. The Nickelodeon Universe theme park (located inside the Mall of America) was a major draw for our family. A lot of the rides are perfectly suited for toddlers and preschoolers! And on Toddler Tuesday you can purchase a relatively inexpensive wristband (currently $11.95 plus tax) that allows kids to ride on 13 of the smallest rides an unlimited number of times. On rides that need a chaperon, the adult rides for free. So we spent five hours playing at NU and paid just over $50 for 10 people. (Admission is free.)

Nickelodeon Universe: Things to do at Mall of America with Kids

Currently, the Toddler Tuesday wristbands include:

  • El Circulo del Cielo,
  • Log Chute
  • Crazy Cars
  • Carousel
  • Ghost Blasters
  • Back at the Barnyard Hayride
  • Backyardigans Swing-Along
  • Blue’s Skidoo
  • Bubble Guppies Guppy Bubbler
  • Diego’s Rescue Rider
  • La Aventura de Azul
  • Big Rigs
  • Pineapple Poppers
  • Rugrats Reptarmobiles
  • Swiper’s Sweeper
  • Wonder Pets Flyboat

Character Meet & Greet. SpongeBob, Dora, Diego, Blue, and the Ninja Turtles make regular appearances  at Nickelodeon Universe! See the schedule here.

Ikea. We stayed near the mall and found that IKEA was within walking distance (for the adults–the kids wanted/needed strollers) of our hotel. We love shopping at IKEA; the kids love the Smaland play land.

SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium at Mall of America. Another attraction inside the mall is the Sea Life Aquarium. The kids loved touching the sting rays and stamping their Sea Life passport as they made their way through each of the rooms and exhibits. At the end, they each received a Sea Life medal for finding all of the stamps. (And while the medals may not look like much to the adults, our girls are still wearing and playing with them three months later.) The adults were hugely impressed by the shark tank. It reminded us a lot of  our trip to Shark Reef in Las Vegas.

Sea Life Aquarium: Things to do near the Mall of America with kids

Moose Mountain Adventure Golf. We didn’t make it to this MOA attraction (mini golf requires a bit more coordination than our tots currently possess). But the all-weather course looked like fun!

American Girl Store. Our girls aren’t quite old enough to understand the American Girl craze, but we rode on the train with several moms and daughters who were making a pilgrimage to the American Girl store and the American Girl Cafe.

Your hotel pool. We have no pool in our life at home, so we always make a point to choose a hotel with a pool when we travel. It doesn’t matter how small (or frigid) the pool feels, it’s always a hit with our kids.

Rainforest Cafe. This iconic restaurant was closed during our visit, but it should be reopening soon. It’s quite the sensory experience!

Water Park of America. The Mall of America water park wasn’t exactly close to our hotel, but we put the kids in the strollers and made the trek in about 25 minutes. If the weather’s too cold or the walk is too daunting, this might be the time to take a taxi! We spent all day at the park; I think the Water Park of America was one of the coolest indoor parks we’ve visited.

Ride the Metro. You city folk might not find this adventure quite as novel as we did, but our kids loved riding the light rail.

Hyland Lake Park Reserve. We took the metro to the this BEAUTIFUL park and waterfall. It was a treat to be outside after spending the previous days inside the mall. In addition to the waterfall photo ops, the playground, and the hiking opportunities, there’s also a free splash pad (which was actually a splash pad/shallow pool) for kids!


All in all, we found plenty of things to do at the Mall of America, AND we managed without a car! Special thanks to Adam of  Visit Flyover County for convincing us to consider the Mall of America with his post on on why the Mall of America is better than Disney World.

Things to do near the Mall of America with Kids


Leave a Reply