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Turn a Visit to the Mall of America into a Full-on Vacation


By Stephany Wiestling

The trend this summer is to vacation close to home. Make it a long weekend, or extend it out even further by exploring some of the attractions in the surrounding area.

Radisson located across the highway from the Mall of America. (952-854-8700) Hotel guests are guaranteed entry to the adjacent Water Park of America, a new indoor water park claiming to have the longest water slide in MN.

Inside the Mall of America, visit:
-Underwater Adventures Aquarium is located under the East entrance. (952-883-0202) Discovery's travelchannel.com voted it "World's Best Shark Encounter". The 300 ft glass tunnel allows you to be surrounded by 4,500 sharks and other sea creatures without getting wet.
-Nickelodeon Universe (952-883-8600) is the indoor theme park in the center of the mall. Children can meet their favorite Nickelodeon characters, and enjoy thrill rides no matter what the weather.
-Lego Imagination Center is near the South entrance at the edge of Nickelodeon Universe. See some amazing things people have built with Legos and build your own creations.

Beat the heat with a trip to the beach, outdoor water park, or souped-up community pool:
-Bloomington Family Aquatic Center (952-563-4634)
-Richfield Outdoor Pool (612-861-9355) Both of these community pools have zero depth entry for small kids and big waterslides for older kids.
-Cascade Bay in Eagan (651-675-5577) huge outdoor water park is located 10 minutes south of the Mall of America.
-Lake Nokomis for a day at the beach. There is a great playground and picnic areas to round out the fun.

When you want a break from shopping, spend a day at one of these nearby attractions:
-MN Zoo in Apple Valley -- Dolphin show, new bear exhibit, splash pad, and petting farm make this a rain or shine family day.
-Valleyfair in Shakopee -- an outdoor theme park that's fun for all ages. Roller coasters, thrill rides, water park and fireworks. Need I say more?
-Historic Fort Snelling -- Live a bit of history with costumed guides reenacting life in the 1820's daily through the summer and on weekends May, September and October.
-Take the light rail into Downtown. Take in a ball game, see a show... downtown is a vacation destination all it's own.

Stephany is a travel writer mom who lives in Minneapolis and loves to explore this and other cities with her family. You can find more travel tips at Stephany's website, BestKidFriendlyTravel.com.

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