With more than 520 stores, a theme park featuring 25 rides and attractions, an aquarium housing more than 10,000 sea creatures and more than 400 events held each year, it is not hard to see why Minnesota’s Mall of America gets more than 40 million visitors annually. This megamall is a huge draw for its size – 32 Boeing 747s could fit inside the mall as could seven Yankee Stadiums. But the big question is can you visit the Mall of America on the cheap? You sure can, and we’re sharing some of the best ways to spend time at this popular attraction without breaking the bank.
Play with LEGO at the LEGO store
LEGO-lovers of all ages will love the LEGO store at the Mall of America, which features eight mega-size models including a LEGO robot that stands more than 34 feet tall, and a variety of play tables where visitors can make their own LEGO creations for fun. LEGO is hard to resist and whether you buy something or not, spending time getting creative is a great way to enjoy the mall that doesn’t cost a thing.
Find a deal by checking out the Deals page
It pays to check the Deals page on the Mall of America website each week to see where you can save your money. Special offers and exclusive event promotions are announced regularly as are sales at popular retailers and discounts on mall attractions. You can also purchase a Mall of America coupon book featuring more than 200 offers that provide more than $1,500 in combined savings on goods, services and food.
Visit on Toddler Tuesday
Parents with toddlers should aim to visit the Mall of America on a Tuesday. From 10am until noon this fun program provides events, free entertainment and discounts that cater towards toddlers. Events include special character appearances, arts and crafts, story time and more. Check out the brochure to get information on upcoming Toddler Tuesday events.
Kids eat free on Tuesdays
Also on Tuesday, kids under the age of six eat free with the purchase of one adult meal. There are 20 participating restaurants to choose from including Villa Pizza, American Girl Bistro, Twin City Grill, Hard Rock Café and Tony Roma’s.
Save on rides
Nickelodeon Universe, the theme park in the center of the Mall of America, offers a few ways to save on rides. On Tuesdays toddlers get a special five hour wristband for $11.95 + plus tax, and anyone else can take advantage of Twilight Savings, which gets you an unlimited ride wristband for $21.99 after 5pm daily. Nickelodeon Universe features seven acres of attractions, rides and entertainment. Note that admission to Nickelodeon Universe is always free, so if you don’t plan on trying out any rides you can explore the theme park without spending money.
Get some exercise on a walking path
The Mall of America is a popular spot for walkers, so why not get some exercise while you shop? Signs hanging from the ceilings throughout the mall guide walkers on one mile, 5K and 10K walking paths known as the Mayo Clinic Mile. Maps of the routes and healthy walking advice from Mayo Clinic can be picked up at information desks throughout the Mall.
Get even more active with the Mall Stars program
In addition to walking paths, fitness-minded mall visitors can join the Mall Stars program for $15 per person or $25 per couple. This unique program provides several features worth taking advantage of like swipe-card technology to track and record the time you spend walking at Mall of America. Simply swipe when you enter and when you leave. Other perks include monthly reports showing walking time and calories burned, free monthly Mall Stars meetings with coffee, breakfast and speakers on a variety of health topics, and discounts at various stores and restaurants.
See a free (or discounted) movie
The movie theater at the Mall of America offers free family movies Saturday mornings at 10am on a first come, first served basis. You can check the website to see what movies are coming up to plan your visits accordingly. In addition to free family flicks on Saturday mornings there is also a Saturday night “Date Night” package. This includes two general admission tickets, two large sodas and a large popcorn for $25. But if Tuesday doesn’t work for you, you can always go on Wednesdays when movies are just $6 all day long.
Take advantage of happy hour at the theater
If you are seeing a movie and feel like having a drink before or after the show, take advantage of happy hour at the theater. Every day from 4 to 6pm and from 9 to 11pm at the STARBAR, in the lobby of the theaters, there are discounts on wine and beer. It’s $3 for domestic tap and bottle beer, and $4 for house wine.
Do some browsing or window shopping
With more than 520 stores on offer for people of all ages and interest levels, there’s plenty of opportunity to browse without buying. If you have kids, stores like American Girl, the LEGO store and Build-a-Bear are great places to wander around to check out some of the fun, colorful items they sell.
Get a meal deal
It’s easy to save money on meals at the Mall of America, which has a wide variety of places to eat. Several restaurants have special deals on food and drinks at various times and days of the week. Deals include discounted appetizers, drink specials and discounted meals. Some participating restaurants include Kokomo’s Island Café, Famous Dave’s BBQ, Cantina #1 (which also has salsa dancing on Saturdays), Ruby Tuesday and CRAVE.
Did we miss anything? Let us know if you have other idea for free and cheap things to do at Mall of America!
Lead photo: Mall of America®