Out-of-town shopping

Mall of AmericaMall of America

Independent local travel advisor Jack Leaf presents a guide to Minneapolis in the USA, home to the Mall of America, a shopping centre more than twice the size of Westfield Stratford City.

As a travel agent, I am fortunate to enjoy lots of interesting travels, and was delighted last summer when invited to join a trip to Minnesota in Minneapolis, primarily as guests of the Mall of America to celebrate their 25th anniversary. We were also hosted by Radisson Blu, one of the hotels directly linked by a walkway into the mall, making it an attractive location regardless of weather, which can range from bitterly cold in winter to outrageously hot in summer.

Since opening its doors in 1992, Mall of America has revolutionised the shopping experience of tens of millions of visitors each year. A leader in retail, entertainment and attractions, it is one of the top tourist destinations in the country and is known around the world. With over 520 stores, from fashion and food to tech and toys, there's something for everyone. With constant innovation, I look forward to my next visit and seeing how it changes. Aside from the retail experience, the mall strives to be environmentally friendly. For instance, it uses solar energy combined with heat generated from lighting, store fixtures and body heat to maintain a constant 70°F rather than a central heating system.

After meeting the senior director of international tourism, we enjoyed FlyOver America, a 3D 'ride' over America, where I felt like I was truly soaring through the sky. We spent two days in the mall, shopping and eating, and enjoying the Nickelodeon Universe.

Not to be missed is a short drive out to Stillwater, the birthplace of Minnesota, and dinner aboard a steamcruiser. As the sun sets over this historic town and its numerous buildings listed in the National Historic Register, it comes alive with bars and restaurants; they even boast The Velveteen Speakeasy.

The city of Minneapolis is underrated by us Brits. It is a beautiful city, actually a twin-city joined to St Paul's across the river. The city highlights tour was indeed a highlight, as we were driven through historic neighbourhoods, past the Minnesota State Capitol and historic Fort Snelling. There were a few photo stops, such as at the stunning Minnehaha Falls and the Guthrie Theater.

One of the most recent attractions to the city's sightseeing has arisen from tragedy: a visit to Paisley Park and the home of the late musician Prince. I experienced first-hand what it was like for Prince to create, produce and perform inside his private sanctuary. If space allowed, I would tell you more about the Prohibition Bar in the W Hotel, the Dakota Jazz Club and more, so please do call for more insights.

jlJack is based in Snaresbrook – visit destiny-travel.co.uk or call 020 8989 6764. For more information on Mall of America, visit wavidi.co/moa

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