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.