Minnesota, Where We've Been

The Minnesota State Fair and Mall of America

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The Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair is the second largest state fair in the U.S., trailing only behind the State Fair of Texas. Spanning what is equivalent to eight city blocks, the fairgrounds opens its doors every year at the end of August to early September. 

Just look at those crazy crowds!

Vendors are on every street corner selling everything from waffle hotdogs with pickles and cheese curd tacos. What even is that?! We bypassed the odd foods and went with the standard fare. The kids were hankering for something cold and sweet on this hot day, so they got to pick a couple of treats for themselves and they both went with the frozen malts which they said were really good. 

There were a number of free shows to sit and watch. We stopped in on a comedy / magic show in progress. It was ok, but perhaps designed for a younger audience so we didn’t stay long. We also sat down at the amphitheater to hear some music. They must have had about 40 bands come and go throughout the whole time of the fair according to their flyer. I’m not sure who we were listening to, but they were decently good.  

There was a section in the middle dedicated to rides for kids. Bungee jumping on a trampoline, spinning coasters, mirror mazes, just about something for everyone. I gave the kids the option to do a ride or select a second treat. Which do you think they went for?

The fairgrounds are so spread out, that they have a skyride as an option to get across it. 

There’s a barn dedicated to birthing animals. There were a few very pregnant mamas in some of the stalls and others a couple day old babies lying cozy in the hay next to their mamas or taking their turn at getting milk by stepping over their siblings. 

There were parades going up the main street with school bands playing, stilt walkers waving to the crowds, and other fun amusements along the way.

There was a sweets building at the far north side that gave you the history of candy and chocolate. There were lots of opportunities for selfies inside, but the kids loved the ball pit area. They buried themselves in the balls and pretended to swim through them.

Have you ever come face to face with a rainbow unicorn? Ellie has!

That’s Ellie enjoying her second sweet. Can you guess what it is?


Mall of America

Ever since the kids were little and we heard about this place, we had been wanting to come. Life had other ideas so it never materialized until we started on this trip. 

This is the Mall of America. It spans a half mile in both length and width with a theme park located in the middle.

The theme park is the Nickelodeon Universe and has attractions for both the little kids and thrill rides for the “older kids.”  It’s actually surprising how many rides they were able to compact into the space. 

The tickets are bought from these orange machines found on each side of the entry points. You can either buy an unlimited wristband or purchase a single ride ticket for about $6 each. 

There are several coaster rides in different sections, but this one went across the length of the park weaving around a number of other rides. 

The Spongebob ride was a little crazy as it not only goes on the track, but the car also spins independently of the direction the track is taking it. Talk about woozy! We let the kids have at it.

We did some research and found out that The Mall of America apparently doesn’t have a heating system. How can that be for a mall located in the middle of Minnesota? Surely it would get cold in winter. But apparently the mall uses the heat from light fixtures and people to maintain a constant 72 degrees in the winter without the use of an HVAC system. The skylights also help to trap the heat from the sun on sunny days.

Back to the rides… check out that 4 story slide! 

I thought this one was pretty neat, although no one in our group tried it. It spins you in a circle while you control the seat you’re sitting in by levers on the wings. You can flip in all directions by moving each of the wings independently, even upside down.

This was another nope from the queeziest of us riders, but again, the kids were all over it. The seats on this huge skateboard ride spin and it goes back and forth along the ramp rails.

That was a very cool experience, but at over 83,000 visitors per day, the Mall of America can see a lot of traffic. Just like the busyness of the State Fair, it was good to leave and get back to our more temperate campground. Though even that was not as quiet as we would have liked.


Veterans Campground

Veterans Campground is a campground for military veterans, active duty, retired, and families. A lot of the people here seem to be long term stays.

There is electric, and water at many of the sites. Sewer costs $20 per dump. Those who are short stays don’t need to pay to dump, but they keep the dumps locked so you have to go in and ask for it to be opened. They also ask for a donation for short termers for that service.

The site they assigned us just barely fit our fifth wheel. We had to cut into a neighbor’s property to be able to fit in and get out. Nose to rear we were maxing out the site and the single lane road in front was not easy to get in and out of.

On the weekends, the campground gets quite rowdy with people yelling and partying at the pavilion. Lots of alcohol and drinking. People going by in golf carts carrying bottles of alcohol.

Only 3 women’s shower stalls for 156 sites, no laundry.

On a positive note, they did have a few things for the kids to do like kickball, basketball.

Everyone was nice, but it just seems like this place caters to a certain demographic and even though we are veterans too, it doesn’t fit our family’s usual choice of campground.

We had a tree right behind our site so we were unable to use Starlink. We had 3 bars on the Verizon phones and 4 bars with the cell antenna. AT&T was 4 bars with the cell antenna.