If you are looking for affordable family vacations, I highly suggest a Mall of America vacation. The Mall of America activities are not only affordable but also centrally located. If you did not know I am a single mom and I love balling on a budget.
Apart from my balling on a budget includes going on affordable family vacations with my son and doing it in the most cost-effective way possible. Which brings me to the point of this post. Not only am I going to talk about my trip to the Mall of America but I am also going to give you my top tips for visiting Mall of America even if you are a tight budget.
When we went on this trip it is not like we just sat in the hotel all day. NOPE. We went to a ton of attractions, did a lot of activities, including the aquarium, water park, and amusement park. All of these for under $500 (which includes the travel to get there). Also, one of the best things about Mall of America is that all of the above things I mentioned are inside and you can pretty most go any time of the year. So why don’t we get into it shall we.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #1 ~ Fly Cheap
I found an awesome deal to fly to Minneapolis, MN for only $100 round trip. I live in the DC area where there are 3 pretty major airports that one can fly out of. If you live in a major city like I do with a couple of airports always look at each airport to find the cheapest travel fair. Depending on how close you are a train may be a good option which I used for my cost-effective trip to New York or a bus which I also used to go to New York or a different occasion.
Both are cost-effective choices if you do not want to splurge on a plane. Another good idea is to fly out on a Thurs and come back on a Tues. Flying on these off days will actually save you a lot of money because most people want to fly out on Friday and come back on a Sunday or Monday.
Anyway, I booked two tickets on the airline Spirit at the Airport BWI. BWI is actually the farthest airport away from me and I had to drive past two Washington Airports to get there. But it had the cheapest price. Now back to Spirit airline. This airline has a lot of bad reviews but is crazy affordable. This airline will work if you want to save money. This airline will not work if you are traveling long distance and want to be comfortable.
The seats are paper-thin, really close together, there is no wifi, or TV. Unlike other airlines a carry on is considered a backpack. If you want to carry an actual regular size carry on you have to pay $45 each way. There are also no snacks or water for free you would have to pay. My point here is that it is a great way to save money if you do not mind missing out on the convenience of a typical airline then Spirit is for you.
The service on the airline was not bad the crew was really friendly. So if you can manage to fit all of your travel items in a book bag or tote bag then you can avoid luggage cost and reap the reward of a cheap ticket. Also, try to book a few months in advance (which is what we did) that is how you can reap the reward of a cheaper ticket. As for me, I will not be taking Spirit airlines again I would rather just pay the extra money.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #2 ~ Sleep Cheap
Getting a hotel near the Mall of America can be quite pricey. We chose to stay in the Quality Inn and Suites, which was about $85 per night. Which for the area was not that expensive and it has a free shuttle that will take you to and from the Mall of America and a shuttle to and from the airport. So you will not need to rent a car at all (which is a great way to save money).
It also has a free hot breakfast which cut down the cost of eating out. As another affordable tip, I took yogurt and even some of the fresh fruit back to my room so that my son and I would have snacks for later or while we were out. Instead of always having to stop and buy food. Right next door to the hotel is a Denny’s AND a full-size bar in a separate area, which is a good eating option or drinking option for adults.
I went with another fellow single mom and we wanted some time away from our kids so we went over to the bar next to Denny’s and actually had a pretty good time. It was not like it was super full or anything but the drinks were affordable, it was not crowded, and it was a great place to have some adult on and one time and conversation. In addition, there is a Wal-Mart next to the hotel as in you can walk there.
This is always a great way to save money on food. There is a microwave in the room. I did get a few groceries and snacks for the room so that if my son got hungry we could just heat up food in the microwave. You can eat breakfast in the hotel, carry snacks with you while you are out, eat lunch while you are out, and when you come back to the room you can eat dinner with the food you received from Walmart. Meaning that you will only be eating out one time a day instead of three.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #3 ~ The actual Mall of America
It would not be Mall of America vacation if you did not tour the mall. The mall is HUGE and you are probably not going to get to the whole thing in a day. Since this is a family vacation I did not do tons of shopping in the mall. We were visiting mall of America for its attractions and not to just shop.
Plus, since we were on Spirit Airlines we had very limited amounts of space to carry things back in our carry on. So there was no room to just buy things. To make the most of your visit to the mall in the most cost-effective way possible I suggest getting there early like as soon as the mall opens.
The reason for that is because they start giving out FREE stuff! For example, my son and I went to the Lego store as soon as it opened and he got some free Lego packs. They only give it out when the store opens until they run out of free stuff which is like within the hour. So it is better to just get to the mall early. You get free stuff and it will give you more time to explore the actual mall.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #4 ~ Water Park of America
This water park is in the Radisson hotel. We actually walked to the water park from the hotel we were staying at. It was about a 15 minute walk. You can get half-day admission or all-day admission. We end up getting the half-day admission, 11am-4pm. Not only is it cheaper but you can complete everything that you need to do in that time frame. The cost for a half-day ticket is $33.
However, we ended up getting a Groupon deal for way less than that since it was 6 of us going. We probably spent about $12 per person. So I suggest you check their website or Groupon for deals on this water park. The park has a few slides, a pool, a kids play area, Jacuzzi, lazy river, wave pool, and a surfing machine. You can watch my son’s video above to see how cool that machine was.
For food there was a Dairy Queen. I suggest bringing your own lunch as the Dairy Queen was very packed and it took about an hour to get our food, even though it is a fast food place. Not only will bringing your own food save you money but also time. They also have locker rentals for $10. You really do not need them as there are plenty of places to put your things and people will more than likely not bother them, especially if one person sits with the belongings. That way you can choose to just save $10.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #5 Aquarium ~ Sea Life
Sea Life is the Mall of America aquarium. I ended up getting a joint Sea Life ticket with a Nick Universe ticket. This totaled $45.99 for entrance to both. So if you know you want to go to both then I suggest you just buy the joint ticket as a way to save yourself some money. Also with the joint Nick Universe and Sea Life Ticket, you can ride as many rides as you want at Nick Universe as opposed to just getting individual tickets for the rides.
It is well worth it. Sea Life is a wonderful indoor aquarium and it is a very interactive experience for kids. This aquarium was a pretty fair size for it to be indoor. Once again you can look at my son’s vlog video above to see more of the aquarium.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #6 ~ Nickelodeon Universe
The combo ticket for sea life and Nick Universe meant that you get an all-day pass for unlimited rides at the indoor theme park. My son was 8 at the time and he was able to get on all the rides, including 3 roller coasters. For this to be an indoor theme park they have a lot of rides for it to be an indoor park. You will not be disappointed.
We choose to go on a week day and so the lines were not long . We never waited over 10 minutes for a ride. We were able to get on all the rides and the good thing is that since it is indoor you do not have to worry about the weather or rides shutting down because of rain or something.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #7 ~ Dutchman’s Deck
This is in Nick Universe, but is a separate ticket. It cost $15.99. Dutchman’s deck is a full obstacle course and includes a zip-lining option as well. My son was able to do the zip line and the obstacle course. You have to be 48 inches to get on the ride and wear closed-toe shoes. It is a good option for some physical activity as well as you can choose what obstacles you want to go on when you are in the course. This is a really fun activity but if you want to save some money it is not a must.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #8 ~ Mirror Maze
This was another Groupon deal that with six people it came out to about $4 per person. It is also in the Mall of America. Its pretty good when you can visits one place and get all of your needs met. It was quick little detour we took as we went through the mall. It took maybe 5-10 minutes to go through. And it is a fun maze for all ages, even for me. I thought I was following my son and ended up running into a mirror. Without the Groupon the regular ticket price is $8.95.
Mall Of America Vacation Tip #8 ~ Hard Rock Café
If you really want to save money then you can choose not to eat out at all. But since it is the Mall of America I would really try to eat out somewhere as they have a few food courts in the actual mall. For our eating out session, my son and I went to Hard Rock which was by Nick Universe. It was not packed due to it being a week day, but they had good décor and music playing on the monitor. The kid’s meal was $6.95 so it is an affordable option.
Okay that is about it, it was a good time, we did a lot of activities and as you can see everything was pretty affordable. If you know someone who is looking for an awesome yet affordable family vacation share this post with them.
Last but not least as a single mom I love making the most out of life which is why I have a single mom book (click here to buy) specifically to encourage single moms to make the most out of life as well. I want to give you the first chapter for free. So click here or the picture below to get it.