Let the other suckers sit in that bumper-to-bumper traffic in an attempt to flee the city this summer. Why not gather some friends and try a little staycation in exotic Bloomington? I know, stay with me, I promise we’re going someplace fun. The brand new Radisson Blu is a stunning location and I’ve got all the tips to make a grown-up trip to the Megamall a luxury-filled weekend.
The Radisson Blu is unlike any other hotel outside the twin city limits. The exterior is reminiscent of the Guthrie Theater with a bridge acting as a skyway to the mall. Courteous valets greet you at the entrance as you step into the stunning foyer. There are enormous hanging basket chairs in front of a fire. The entire space is filled with intriguing art.
The rooms are spacious and the beds are deliciously comfortable. Acting as a headboard are framed Minnesota art installations. Ours was capped with Bob Dylan, Joe Mauer, and images of the Grain Belt sign. Every inch of the space is touched by what is awesome about Minnesota and is remarkably snark-free.
Downstairs, the FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar also celebrates the local. While everyone seems to want to get on the local bandwagon, FireLake is actually using not just local ingredients, but also local booze in their mixologist-style cocktails. Gather friends for a shop-plotting mission over small plates and adult beverages. The flatbreads are actually crispy bread, rather than crackers or pita bread masquerading as pizza. The salmon pastrami is served with ethereal pancakes, so divine and delicious we could have eaten twice as many. If you’re eating light, don’t miss the gathered greens salad, studded with candied nuts and Northern Lights blue, creamy blue cheese.
The room is decorated with reclaimed wood and has plenty of huge tables and cozy booths for camping out and plotting your mall attack strategy.
This is key to a successful Mall of America trip: planning for a fanny pack-free experience. While the Nickelodeon Universe is filled with children, the rest of the sprawling Megamall is packed with choices for the discerning shopper, which is why you’re best shopping with a crew of friends. Good friends. Friends that will honestly tell you if those pants make your butt look fat (they totally don’t).
Make like a VIP and get in touch with Sara Rogers through the Mall of America. She’s a trend specialist who can be hired as a personal shopper. While they do have a Gap, this mall isn’t your average experience; this is a go-big-or-go-home experience. Check out the luxury shopping at Burberry, Stuart Weitzman, Armani Exchange, Henri Bendel, not to mention the tech shopping to be done at the Mac store. (Although, they’ve got bargain hunting spots like Nordstrom Rack, DSW, and Marshall’s as well.)
When the bags start to get heavy, take a protein break at Masu Sushi and Robata. It’s slightly smaller than the Nordeast Minneapolis location, but it has all the same cool-kid zing and pop as the original restaurant. They also have the drink list. The cocktails are as fun to order as they are to drink, like the Godzillita, a spicy ginger plum margarita, or the Double Precious, a sparkling jasmine gin, elderflower martini. The drinks were originally designed by drink master Johnny Michaels, author of the Northstar Bartenders Guild book and main bar man at La Belle Vie. James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee is also involved at Masu, so you know the food is serious business. Start with the duck gyoza, its tender exterior is packed with flavor-rich, succulent meat. Follow it up with some of their spicy Firecracker roll and a huge bowl of soul-assuaging ramen.
After all wellness has been restored from the hardcore shopping, it’s time for some entertainment. That means heading up to the fourth floor. There’s a VIP theater where you can enjoy beer, wine, and real food while watching a first-run flick. Or check out a show at the House of Comedy. Many people don’t realize that Minnesota is an incubator for some of the best comedy talent in the country. Check out some stand-up and prepare yourself to laugh until you cry.
Or, check out one of the monthly wine and cooking classes at Napa Valley Grill for $52 a person. Participants learn about a Napa Valley vineyard, tasting along the way, and watch a three-course cooking demonstration led by Executive Chef Preston Anderson.
When your day at the mall is done, head back to your room for some chill time, or perhaps one last cocktail at FireLake. Then again, if you want to bring the party to the room (or just lounge and watch reruns of Girls), there’s even a wine and liquor shop in the mall: Old Vine Spirits. Tons of wines and they even do samples.
If there is even one thing missing from this little local adventure, just reach out to the concierge at the hotel. Radisson Blu is incredibly helpful, friendly and welcoming. Where else could one have such an overtly friendly, fun and raucous experience that right here in Minnesota?
2100 Killebrew Drive, Bloomington
Mall of America
8100 24th Ave S., Bloomington
To contact the mall about a personal shopper or a visitor’s guide call (952) 883-8800
Inside the Mall:
Masu Sushi & Robata
344 South Avenue
Theatres at Mall of America
401 South Avenue
House of Comedy
408 East Broadway
Napa Valley Grille
220 West Market
Old Vine Spirits
326 West Market