A Massive Mall
The Mall of America made a nationwide splash in 1992 when it opened its doors as America’s largest shopping destination. Today, after numerous expansions and renovations, the mall is still the largest shopping and entertainment complex in the United States under one roof.
A group of shoppers could easily spend several days exploring this mall, which has more than 400 retail stores. But the attraction extends beyond shopping: Epicureans can enjoy a meal at one of 60 restaurants at the complex, and cinephiles should be able to find something that piques their interest at one of the mall’s 14 movie theaters. There are also a number of activities and attractions at the Mall of America, including the Nickelodeon Universe indoor amusement park, the Minnesota Sea Life Aquarium and a miniature golf course.
The mall is technically located in Bloomington, a suburb of twin cities Minneapolis and St. Paul that straddle the Mississippi River. Since there’s no sales tax in the state, mall shoppers can find great duty-free values.
An Eagle Sanctuary
In the 1800s, the southeastern Minnesota town of Wabasha was one of the busiest steamboat landings on the Mississippi River. Today, tourists go to the area to visit the National Eagle Center, a year-round facility dedicated to protecting the American bald eagle and educating the public about these beautiful creatures.
The upper Mississippi River valley is one of the country’s most eagle-rich areas, and many eagles build their nests in the tall trees along the river near Wabasha. The Eagle Center’s interpretive facility sits right on the banks of the river and features a large viewing deck where visitors can often see wild eagles nesting in the treetops or flying overhead. Although there are eagles in the area year-round, winter is the best season to see them, as hundreds of eagles migrate to the area during the cold-weather months.
The Eagle Center is also home to five rescued eagles, and groups can see them up close during the various interpretive programs that take place there throughout the day.
Northfield Vintage Band Festival
A short drive off of the River Road and south of the Twin Cities, Northfield is a quiet college town on the banks of the Cannon River. For four days in August, though, the city becomes Minnesota’s hub of history and music during the Northfield Vintage Band Festival.
The festival celebrates music and history with performances by brass bands in public spaces all over town. The lineup includes regional, national and international vintage bands, many of which perform in replicates of period military uniforms from the Civil War and the late 1800s. Groups will also find many concertgoers dressed up in vintage costumes; adventurous visitors can even rent their own costumes to join in the festivities, if they wish.
The Northfield Vintage Band Festival takes place this year August 1-4. In addition to the concerts, the festival features a vintage dance that is open to the public, as well as live vintage band music performances at local pubs and restaurants after the official concerts end each day.