Family Fun Adventure All Around Bloomington, MN!

Disclosure: I grew up in Minnesota, so I know the area quite well, but during my TBEX Conference Experience I was invited on a FAM Trip with Bloomington, MN to showcase all the fun with my other half in tow!


I have so many fond memories of growing up all around Minnesota!  Going to various family fun places throughout my childhood, and while my younger siblings grew up.

BUT, this past May was pretty special when I got to show some of the Family Fun Adventures to my other half while he was in town.  It was only his second visit to Minnesota, so we had to make it memorable!

The best part of all these places is the proximity to the Bloomington, MN area!  Bloomington has so many great hotels to choose from, it’s a great place to stay while visiting Minnesota.

Mall of America: Sealife Minnesota Aquarium

Whenever someone would visit from afar, I’d always have to show them the Mall of America.  I MEAN, it is the largest mall in the US, and every year they add something new.  I remember when the Aquarium was first put in at the mall.

Who would have thought, an entire Aquarium could fit into a 4 story mall, and not only that, an underground Aquarium, at that! My other half is a huge fan of Aquariums too, so it was awesome seeing his reaction at the various exhibits in Sealife Aquarium:

Some favorites included:

The Stingrays Touch Pool:


Of course, we couldn’t just stop at touching stingrays with our fingertips, we had the opportunity to feed them as well.  The cool thing is that they swim right over you as they grab the food between your fingers. You have to try it if you haven’t done it before!

The Jellyfish Exhibit:


I don’t know about you, but jellyfish always fascinate me!  And Aquarium’s always doing such a great job of exhibiting these fascinating creatures.  Sealife Aquarium was no different.

Walking through the Shark Tunnel:


I don’t know about you, but having Sharks swim above you is such an awesome experience!  I get fascinated by looking at their mouths.  Creepy, I know!

My other half’s favorite part of the Aquarium was the portion where they showcased all of the Minnesota fish together.  So many of these fish were new species to him so he really was fascinated with that exhibit:


After spending time at the Aquarium you could easily spend the rest of the day at the Mall of America, enjoy some of the rides in Nickelodeon Universe, eat at some of the new restaurants at the mall, or just spend some time shopping!

They also have family attractions such as the American Girl Store, The Crayola Experience, and a movie theater on the 4th Floor!

The Mall of America is currently home to 2 great hotel options too: The Radisson Blu Mall of America and the JW Marriott Mall of America.

The Minnesota Zoo:

About 30 minutes away from Bloomington is the Minnesota Zoo. It’d been years since I’d been there last.  I grew up about a mile down the road from it.

But, let me tell you, this visit was pretty special, that after visiting other zoos across the US, I’ve come to realize how special this zoo really is.  The Minnesota Zoo has been renovating the zoo in the last several years bringing in some great new exhibits.

And as you walk through the zoo, you can really tell: BUT one thing we weren’t expecting as we walked through Russia’s Grizzly Coast was this:


Walking around the corner in the Grizzly Bear exhibit, and in the viewing area, a pond of water was front and center with this greeting us.  We watched him for a good 30 minutes swim around the pond, and just enjoy the water.

It was an incredible site to see, and made our zoo experience a GREAT one.

BUT, another cool thing happening at the Minnesota Zoo through Labor Day is the Dinosaur Exhibit:

This exhibit does cost an additional 5 dollars, (4 dollars if a member!) but completely worth it: Dinosaurs that mechanically move around, and as you walk through, there may just be a few surprises waiting for you:


My other half said after his Minnesota Zoo visit that it was his best zoo experience yet!  That’s saying a lot coming from him.

And while at the zoo, I had to walk him through the Medtronic Minnesota Trail, my absolutely favorite exhibit at the zoo.  Since he didn’t grow up in Minnesota, this trail meant a lot to me as I showed him the various wildlife we grew up around: Wolves, anyone?



If you guys haven’t heard about the Bloomington Big Ticket Adventure Pass: you need to!  This ticket gives you admission into a variety of places around Bloomington to use for 3 Days! Places include: Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, The Minnesota Zoo, IMAX at the Minnesota Zoo, Science Museum of Minnesota, and Water Park of America.  It’s a great deal.  For more information, visit  Big Ticket Adventure Pass.


Chanhassen Dinner Theater:


Let me tell you a secret: Minnesota has GREAT theater.  There is a ton of acting talent all around the Twin Cities area, but, there’s a pretty special place that all the locals know about, and of course, I’m letting you in on this secret now too.

Let me introduce you to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater:


This dinner theater has been running in Minnesota since the late 1960’s, and is the largest running dinner theater in the State.  BUT, let me tell you, they put on top notch shows and performances throughout the year.

They are currently showcasing Beauty and the Beast through September 24.  Beauty and The Beast is a GREAT outing as a couple, a family, a girlfriend’s getaway, or to celebrate that special occasion.  The dinner theater will make your night memorable in every way possible! And I dare you to not sing along with, “Be Our Guest.” The show will have you entertained throughout the evening.

Before the show starts you are treated to dinner from a full menu right in the theater area.  Dinner seating begins 2 hours before every performance.  And may I suggest the “Famous Chicken Chanhassen,” as an entree.  A Chicken breast stuffed with Minnesota Wild Rice, this girl’s favorite!

And psst: Make sure you save room for dessert:


A full bar menu is also available prior to the show to enjoy with dinner: beer, wine, and cocktails are available.

A night at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater leaves many guests with memorable experiences, and is definitely worth putting on your must visit list when visiting Minnesota!


My other half had a great time in Minnesota and here are a few of his thoughts:

Sea Life Aquarium:

“I really enjoyed the Aquarium.  I’m still amazed that there’s an aquarium right inside the Mall of America.  I definitely enjoyed the jellyfish exhibit, but my favorite part was the Minnesota Lakes Exhibit as these were fish I wasn’t as familiar with.” -my other half.

The Minnesota Zoo:

“This was, by far, my favorite zoo experience.” -my other half as he was exiting the zoo.  He couldn’t believe how up close he was to the Grizzly Bear, and he was quite partial to the Minnesota Wolves too!

Chanhassen Dinner Theater:

“It was my first time experiencing a dinner theater.  I was really impressed by the talent of the performers!  And it was a very enjoyable show and experience.” ~my other half.








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Paso Robles Newcomer: Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Disclosure: I was invited out to Allegretto Vineyard Resort.  However, let me tell you, this resort left me speechless in all it has to offer. Post may include affiliate links. 

If you reside in Southern California, you may be very familiar with the Ayres Hotel Group.  I knew it was a hotel brand I recognized whenever driving throughout Los Angeles.  Their attention to detail in their hotels was always showcased in all their properties.

But when Douglas Ayres visited Paso Robles, he instantly fell in love with the area!  And he had a DREAM, to build a luxury Ayres Resort in the area.  This was the beginning foundation of Allegretto Vineyard Resort which officially opened this past fall in Paso Robles. This resort was truly MEANT for everyone.  Throughout my stay, many families were there enjoying all that the resort has to offer.


Allegretto, which means, “With Joy.”  And, it is their vision to elicit joy to every guest that walks through their doors.  Upon entering the resort, a very calm presence lies on the outside of the building, but as soon as you enter, all details come out:


Upon first entering, you will be struck by the details of the front foyer of the Resort.  As you walk in, please look up, and be in awe, just as much as I was, at the intricate paintings within the foyer. Once inside, you will be instantly drawn to the staircase, and the light that hangs over it, which was brought in all the way from New York.  The light even changes color at night.


After checking in, you’ll head to your room, with plenty of help, if you request it.  From there, you decide where you want to go:


There are a variety of room options from King Size Rooms, to full suites, to Terranza rooms with patios that open up into the Courtyard or Gardens area.  Picking your room is half the fun!

The Pool Area:

Probably one of the most popular areas to hang out during the hot summer months: The Pool Area, which offers Cabines for guests to reserve for a day at the pool.


The pool also has their own bar area where you can order drinks from throughout the day.

The Gardens:

Surrounding the property is a Garden Area, with various areas to nestle into.  Whether you want to grab a book and sit on one of the swings throughout the property, or just enjoy a bit of quiet within the gardens.

A fun fact: There are over 250 Olive Trees planted all around the property. There is also a Vineyard, and you will even find some vines throughout the property.

There is even an area designed specifically for Chef Eric Olson of Cello Restaurante & Bar.  The restaurant right on the Resort property.

The Chapel: Abbaye de Lerrins

The Resort also hosts a Chapel, which is open to hosting private dinners, yoga events, meetings, weddings and more right on the property.

It’s especially beautiful right around Sunset:



Tasting Lounge:

Probably one of my favorite rooms of the entire property.  And it is because of the backdrop behind the Tasting Bar.  The design made out of Books!


The Tasting Lounge will be opening within the next month at the Allegretto Vineyard Resort where you will have the opportunity to taste the Allegretto brand of wines during your stay.

The Courtyard:

The Courtyard was the first thing that grabbed my attention.  Looking out the window in my room, I was instantly drawn to it.


Whether you grab a drink from the Bar area then head to the Courtyard, or late in the evening, hang out in the courtyard around the fire pits, it is a place of gathering.  And a place your family and loved ones will enjoy spending time in.

Some rooms even have Patios that face out into the courtyard, where you can enjoy your morning coffee or breakfast from.  The Restaurant does offer Room Service although only open until 8pm each evening!

The Sequoia Library Room:

Just to the side of the main entrance lies the library room.  Upon Entering you will be drawn to the GIANT cut out piece of Sequoia that lies within the room, with the markings showcasing HOW old this piece of tree, and all of the history that has happened during its year of life.


There are also bookcases with books upon it that are there for guests to read during their stay at the resort.

Various places to sit surround a beautiful fireplace, and it’s truly a nice touch to the resort.

The Bar Area:

Within Cello Restaurant & Bar lies a bar.  This bar has a complete mixologist program which is coming out with some pretty amazing cocktails.

If cocktails are your to go to, a stop into the BAR is a must while you stay at Allegretto Vineyard Resort

Cello Restaurant & Bar:

Cello Restaurant & Bar is open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner throughout your stay.  Opens from 7:30am to 8pm daily.


A complete post about the Restaurant offerings will be included in a future post.  But, during your stay, please plan on breakfast or dinner within this restaurant.

The Spa:

No luxury resort is complete without a Spa attached.  And Allegretto Vineyard Resort has you covered at Spa Allegretto.

Choose from massages, scrubs, or face treatments during your stay.  And, for a true relaxation experience, you must include a visit at the spa.

Private meditation area is available during your appointments for use.

Art Tour:

There are various art sculptures throughout the resort, and I highly recommend taking some time to explore the various sculptures found throughout the property.  Trust me, you’ll find something new every time you look.

Allegretto Vineyard Resort also has many meeting rooms, dining rooms, and areas for hosting special events, dinners, or meetings.

And it should definitely be on your list when booking your Paso Robles Getaway or Wine Country !





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Show YOU Care with VivaRoses!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of VivaRoses.  All opinions are my own, and this was my experience.

Being in California, and having most of my family back in Minnesota, I’m always looking for new ways to show that I care.

This past May I knew I was headed to Minnesota to head to a conference, and to also visit family while in town.  With that being said, I knew it was the perfect time to send flowers to my mom.  Not only would she appreciate the gesture, but while in town, I could also enjoy the beauty of flowers, a true win win!

That’s where VivaRoses comes into play.  Their small family farm in Central California, creates fresh, vibrant roses for your loved ones to enjoy throughout the year:

Take a look: The In Perfect Harmony Bouquet shown below:


They come in bouquets of 50! That was enough for 2 full bouquets to showcase all over your home:


I was a little nervous about sending flowers from California to Minnesota, and if the flowers would be able to handle it.  Surprisingly, with a 3 day air-time, the flowers arrived perfectly intact, and still lasted a week after arrival.

Plenty of time for enjoyment! And it of course was amazing seeing them all come to life throughout the week.  My mom truly enjoyed them, and seeing her happiness of the flowers made sending them even more awesome!

I’d definitely recommend VivaRoses the next time you’re looking to send flowers to someone special in your life.  Perfect for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Special Occasions, or Just Because.

If you’re looking to try out VivaRoses, good news! Get 15% if you try before July 31, 2016. Coupon Code Here.



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