Explore Minnesota Shopping This Weekend
The St. Cloud area has many great shopping opportunities but St. Cloud isn't the only place to take part in Black Friday shopping in the state. Jake Juliot from Explore Minnesota joined me on WJON to highlight some great holiday shopping spots.
Mall of America
Mall of America in Bloomington is so much more than a mall; it’s a destination. Although it has 520 stores and 60 restaurants, it also features dozens of fun attractions including a 13-screen movie theater, an indoor theme park, a simulator ride that “soars” over national landmarks, Minnesota’s largest aquarium, arcades, mini-golf and a whole lot more.
Find fun and excitement at The Fair on 4, where your family can savor fair-inspired foods like cheese curds & house-cut fries, compete in axe throwing (with parent or guardian), drive a go-cart and more.
Spanning more than 24,000 square feet, M&M’S Mall of America location pays homage to the state, featuring Minnesota-themed M&M’S products while dipping guests into a free-to-enjoy interactive M&M’S experience. This “sweet” store includes a series of cool components unique to the M&M’S Mall of America location, including “Peanut Peak,” a rooftop celebration of local landscape inspired by marvelous Minnesota views. The store also features a personalization station, signature M&M’S, “Wall of Chocolate,” photo ops with larger-than-life characters and exclusive in-store merchandise.
MOA’s popular indoor theme park, Nickelodeon Universe, is home to 27 attractions and counting including the longest indoor zip line in the country, and a nightly light show. Attractions feature your favorite Nickelodeon characters from Spongebob SquarePants, Blues Clues and Paw Patrol. Learn more about the attractions at Nickelodeon Universe with our guide to the park.
Adjacent to Nickelodeon Universe, FlyOver America simulates soaring over national landmarks. The seats move and swing gently, creating a sense of flying. The immersive experience features wind, mist and scents to enhance the images on the screen. Next to FlyOver, the 5D Extreme Attraction gives riders the choice between a wild ride through a mystery mine or a trip underwater with prehistoric beasts.
At SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, the newest exhibit takes visitors into the rainforest for face-to-face interaction with cockroaches, piranhas, crocodiles, snakes and other creepy critters. Another family favorite, Crayola Experience offers kids 25 hands-on activities like naming and wrapping their own crayons, as well as a massive retail store.
Great Places to go Holiday Shopping in the Twin Cities
PATINA, MINNEAPOLIS, ST. PAUL & SUBURBS
A go-to for holiday, birthday and shower gifts, this popular and adorable shop has locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Eden Prairie, Golden Valley and Woodbury. Find everything from Minnesota-themed baby gifts to jewelry, bath products and playful housewares and accessories.
GOLDEN FIG FINE FOODS, ST. PAUL
Owner Laurie McCann Crowell studied under Ina Garten, then went on to develop her own line of specialty food items, which she sells at Golden Fig. No one will turn up their nose at her anything-but-ordinary gift boxes and snack packages, specialty dips and seasonings. It’s truly a taste of Minnesota.
I LIKE YOU, MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL
Shopping here is like a walk in the park—complete with AstroTurf carpeting and a front-window swing in the original Northeast Minneapolis shop. Owners Sarah Sweet and Angela Scandin are the queens of local goods, from cards to books, T-shirts to onesies, jewelry, accessories and kitchenware to things you didn’t know you needed but aren’t leaving without. The St. Paul location is next door to another local favorite, Spyhouse Coffee.
GALLERY 360, MINNEAPOLIS
Find a true collection of art, featuring both prolific and up-and-coming artists of all forms, at this southwest Minneapolis gallery. Find paintings, jewelry, mixed media pieces, sculpture, photography and more, all curated by owner Merry Beck.
BLACKBLUE, ST. PAUL
This shop on the cute Selby Avenue boasts sharp menswear, including Red Wing boots, plus a few things for the ladies and a couple of killer collaborations with Duluth Pack and Faribault Woolen Mill.
Up North Finds – Great Shopping in Northwest Minnesota
This town’s classic Main Street bustles with up-north boutiques selling everything from cozy flannel pajamas and moose-themed decor to cribbage boards shaped like local lakes. Looking to outfit your “man cave”? Don't miss Toys for Boys on Highway 34 west of town. It’s loaded with 1950s and ’60s collectibles (think Betty Boop and Elvis), jukeboxes, pedal cars and vintage garage signs.
Keep a camera handy for the 150 sailboat sculptures, murals and utility wraps that decorate this popular resort town. Browse for gifts at Red Willow, find a new fabric at Red Pine Quilt Shop, or pick up something one-of-a-kind at Sulaine’s Antiques.
Artistic gifts and vibrant interpretations of Red River Valley landscapes are on display at the Rourke Art Museum in a historic former post office. To tap into the area’s Scandinavian roots, head to the Hjemkomst Center. Tucked into an oxbow of the Red River, the iconic museum was built around a replica Viking ship that sailed to Norway in 1982, and offers a gift shop rich with cookbooks, history books and crafts.
Few visitors can resist a selfie with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Big Blue Ox on the shore of Lake Bemidji, but don’t miss a stroll across the street to stores that reflect the city’s heritage and culture. Find thick wool blankets and lumberjack-inspired clothing at Bemidji Woolen Mills, Native American crafts at Morell’s Chippewa Trading Post, and a variety of gift and souvenir shops—with the added bonus of artsy sculptures scattered throughout downtown.
For local artwork, check out the 1917 Old Schoolhouse on the city’s southern edge or the Great River Gallery.
Take a stroll among late-1800s buildings on Crookston’s South Broadway to find treats such as Chippers: salty-sweet chocolate-covered potato chips with a satisfying crunch. They’re a fitting combination in a region known for sugar beets and potatoes, and they blend in well among more traditional chocolates and sweets at the century-old Widman’s Candy Shop.
Other stores, such as Willow and Ivy, carry a variety of gifts and antiques that often reflect the area’s agricultural heritage.
A rainbow of kayaks outside Reed’s Sporting Goods set the stage for outdoor fun that begins less than a block away at Walker’s Leech Lake, one of Minnesota’s largest bodies of water. The store is a good place to start for on-the-water advice, tackle and outdoor gear (especially ice fishing or International Eelpout Festival essentials).
Walker’s downtown also attracts shoppers with clothing boutiques, purveyors of kitchenware and locally harvested wild rice, an old-fashioned candy shop, and galleries featuring loons, north woods art and photography.
If you'd like to listen to my conversation with Jake Juliot it is available below.