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Shirtsleeve fun in the winter in Minnesota

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By Wayne Lazarus on December 30th, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

A friend told me recently about a trip he surprised his family with to Bloomington, Minnesota. In the middle of winter they toured the 1.2 million gallon Underwater Adventures Aquarium, saw Bodies…the Exhibition and handed their son an all-day pass to Nickelodeon Universe, the seven-acre amusement park — all in the 70 degree comfort inside the Mall of America.imagedata.aspxIf my friends had been unmarried, they could have remedied that at the wedding chapel, where some 5,000 other couples have tied the knot. As it was they enjoyed the comedy club and several of the 50 dining establishments, not to mention the over 500 stores. Had they checked the calendar before making their reservations, they might have scheduled their trip to coincide with the Taylor Swift concert, one of the 350 special events scheduled each year at MOA.

The temperature in the mall is maintained without a central heating system, just one of the environment-friendly aspects of this mall. (MOA vehicles are powered by re-used cooking oil from the restaurants and 30,000 live plants and trees keep the air fresh.) Other than the walk across the parking lot to their motel, my friends didn’t need their coats. Many of the motels listed in www.motel.com offer complimentary shuttles to and from both the airport and the Mall of America — so even that walk across the parking lot isn’t necessary. (If you do drive, you’ll be glad to know that the parking is covered.)MallofAmerica

But don’t worry about that shuttle preventing you from getting exercise. A walk around one floor in this four-story complex is .57 miles. You can elevate your heart-rate by speed-hiking through the mall, then keep it pounding piloting a P-51 Mustang at the ACES Flight Simulation or by virtually driving 200 miles per hour at the Silicon Motor Speedway. The newest interactive adventure at MOA is MagiQuest, which opened this past September. Participants use their “wand” like a wireless controller as they move through various worlds slaying dragons, dueling goblins and earning power. A perfect metaphor for this out-of-the-world place.

(Photos courtesy Mall of America. Used with permission.)

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