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Mall of America: Miles and smiles — under one roof

Published: Sunday, March 16 2008 12:17 a.m. MDT

Other "big" rides include a spiraling coaster called Timberland Twister, a Log Chute and a Skyscraper Ferris Wheel. Beginning March 15, a new "Nickelodeon Universe" will offer several new rides, including SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge, a Splate-O-Sphere and Avatar Airbender.

We never made it to the aquarium, or the multi-plex, the LEGO Play Area, or about 300 of the stores. But, it was nearing 8 p.m., and our arms were full of shopping bags. Our last stop near the door was at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a caramel apple, which we shared on the light rail back to our hotel. My daughter's nickname is "Loved By The Mall," and she truly earned it that day.

Tips

• The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is less than two miles from Mall Of America, and can be accessed by light rail. Also, more than 35 nearby hotels and motels offer free shuttle service to both the mall and the airport.

• Wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared for lots of crowds, kids and mega-strollers.

• Prioritize the stores you want to visit, but allow enough flexibility to browse interesting finds along the way.

• If you're going in a group, make sure everyone has a working cell phone, or schedule places to meet every so often. Letting everyone wander on their own and hoping you'll all meet up sometime won't work.

• Maps throughout the store help you figure out where you are. But keep in mind that there are two or more of some shops and eateries. My daughter called on her cell phone and told me she was standing next to the Caribou Coffee shop. But when I got there, she was nowhere to be found. Turns out there are three Caribou Coffee shops in the mall.

Entertainment

Underwater Adventure: It's the world's largest underground aquarium, with more than 4,500 sea creatures and a virtual submarine tour.

Admission fees: Age 2 and under, free; ages 3-12, $9.95; adults, $16.95.

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

The Park at MOA: A 7-acre amusement park with more than 30 rides.

Admission: An unlimited ride pass is $24.95 per person; individual rides and reduced-fare group rates are also available.

Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m.

LEGO Play Area: This four-story LEGO showplace contains thousands of LEGO bricks to play with, models to look at and sets to buy. Admission is free.

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