What to do after days and days of bitter cold followed by foggy wintry days? Head to the Mall of America. I’ll admit, as a local the “awe” factor has somewhat faded over the years, but really it is a great place to meander about. There’s always great people watching, there’s some unique restaurants, like Twin City Grill and Tucci Bennuch, along with a multi-screen movie theater and an indoor amusement park…all under one roof!
In recent years, the mall has undergone significant renovations, including the addition of two new hotels. The Radisson Blu opened a few years ago and offers a modern setting connected via skyway to the mall. In late 2015, the latest expansion opened. While there’s a lack of new tenants in the crisp, modern and very white new addition, the J.W. Marriott has opened…and there’s a sign up promoting the first Shake Shack is coming to Minnesota!
I checked out the new expansion this weekend. I found the architecture quite nice and the new hotel has a lovely bar and restaurant. I was sad to see the newness didn’t have a lot of new retailers to discover…but yet, it’s exciting to see there’s plenty of room for new additions and I look forward to future announcements.
Bar Area at the JW Marriott
The lobby at the new JW Marriott Mall of America
Plus, while I was there I couldn’t help but enjoy the signature Punch at Tucci Bennuch, complete with an orchid. It was a little tropical getaway for my tastebuds!
The state’s been hit by an arctic blast this week…which has put me in cooking mode! My go-to destination when I’m ready to do some serious cooking is Lunds & Byerly’s, a local chain of upscale grocery stores throughout the Twin Cities metro area. When I can’t be out exploring, I love experiencing new flavors and trying out new recipes—and the aisles of Lunds & Byerly’s are an ideal way to treat my tastebuds to an adventure. This weekend, I made a Kalbi Pork Tenderloin (a featured item from the meat department), an Asian chopped salad (Buy One, Get One offer), Chicken Marinara Pasta (with Lunds & Byerly’s own sauce) and my special Mexican Chicken Soup recipe. Plus, I tried Pennywise Wines as they were on the Buy One, Get One Free deal as well! Thanks to one trip to Lunds & Byerly’s, I was able to get all the ingredients in one place and stay in from the below zero temps.
Now if we could just get the temps to rise above zero…
One of my favorite places in the entire state is the Minnesota Zoo (it’s actually one of my faves in the world, honestly). Whether it’s the middle of winter, spring, summer or fall I LOVE going there. I think they do a wonderful job of creating respectful habitats for the animals, while offering daily enrichments AND doing their part to help with conservation efforts. There’s a lot of animals throughout the property, but I have to say I’m rather partial to the sea otters, prairie dogs and beavers. Their enclosures allow you to get up close and personal with the species, while gaining insight on the roles and importance of the animals in our daily lives.
Sea Otter swimming
Love this face!
Sea Otter Snacktime
Otter saying “hello!”
Mother and baby Snow Monkeys in the sunshine
I find visiting on mild winter days to be especially nice, as the crowds are smaller and the snow in the outdoor exhibits provides a great backdrop for seeing the animals…it’s one of the few times you can really see the tigers in the Tiger Base Camp.
Two Tigers in the Tiger Base Camp
Moose in snow
Tiger Base Camp
Tiger Base Camp in winter
I’m looking forward to my next visit…as soon as the arctic blast subsides!
I’ll be honest…January days in Minnesota can be downright cold and gloomy. So I decided to kick off my year with a visit to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omnitheater, for the Humpback Whales film. Fascinating and stunningly filmed, the show indulged my passion for humpbacks—giants of the deep that sing, breach and exhibit amazing behaviors. It was an ideal way to cut the chill of the outdoors and be transported into a unique underwater world. The show will be part of the museum’s Omnifest through early March. I highly recommend a visit! Next time, I’m going to give myself plenty of time to check out the dinosaur bones and other exhibits.
Happy 2016! Where did 2015 go? I spent the year coming up with all kinds of great ideas to blog about…and then…well…they were so good they had to wait until 2016 to see the light of the web!
To start the new year I’ve decided my blog is going to get a new feature, Minnesota Mondays. Each week I’ll share a place in my home state with a special meaning, event or unique activity. So stop by on Mondays to discover my new feature…and cure that weekly case of the Mondays.