Mall of America® is just one of the many travel treasures to explore when visiting Bloomington. Along with the many fun activities at the Mall, there’s plenty more attractions in the south metro that can be reached on two wheels. With designated bike routes and commuter paths along the streets here, it’s easy to spend several days seeing the sights.
Mall of America
Mall of America is a must-see spot for shopping, entertainment, and attractions, and also serves as the perfect starting spot for a bike tour of East Bloomington. Store your bike at one of the many bike racks, then step inside for shopping or a quick meal. There are even lockers available to hold your bike helmet and gear. Riders traveling via Metro Transit get dropped off near MOA®’s east parking ramp, which also holds several bike racks. For more information about getting to Mall of America, visit their website.
Northwest Airlines History Center
Northwest Airlines History Center is just a mile east of Mall of America inside Crowne Plaza AiRE MSP Airport Mall of America. The museum honors Minnesota’s hometown airline with over 4000 aviation artifacts dating from 1926-1988. You will find information on air routes, aircraft accidents, hijackings, and more, plus information on Northwest’s involvement in World War II. In the airlines correspondents section, discover communications with aircraft manufacturers and aviators like Amelia Earhart. There are also newspaper accounts of the 1989 takeover of NWA Inc. View this video to get a preview of what you’ll see at the Northwest Airlines History Centre.
If the weather isn’t conducive for bicycling to the museum, consider taking the light rail from Mall of America. Crowne Plaza AiRE is across the street from the 34th Avenue station.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
A short distance east of Northwest Airlines History Centre and across the street from Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport Mall of America is the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center. The Visitors Center has information on the wildlife that calls the refuge home. In the theater and interactive exhibits, kids can learn about the wonders of the natural world. There are also several large murals that are actually made of tiny pictures of animals that can be found in the refuge. When you step outside, you will find a stone observation deck with two telescopes. Here it’s easy to focus on the flora and fauna across the river valley while relaxing in natural surroundings.
Within the Wildlife Refuge, there are dozens of miles of well-managed trails to walk or bike. A local favorite is a dirt road known as the Long Meadow Trail, which takes you up the river valley to the old Cedar Bridge and beyond. Along the trail you will pass by fields that grow long grass, trees that every now and then shelter you from the blazing sun, waterfowl in the wetlands, and a bridge that takes you over the Minnesota River. Before you visit the Wildlife Refuge, review their trail maps to plan your route.
MSP Aircraft Viewing Area
Another popular East Bloomington destination is the MSP International Airport Viewing Area. Located in the heart of MSP’s airfield, this completely free attraction provides spectacular views of aircraft taking off and landing at MSP. The viewing area is open dawn to dusk, every day, and is accessible by bike via side streets in Bloomington. Visit MSP Airport’s website for directions on how to travel to the viewing area from Mall of America or other locations in Bloomington.
This article was adapted from a blog post written by Russ Lowthian of HaveFunBiking.com.