Our first stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota was the Mall of America. It was a literal dream come true for Luke and me. “Oh Kelsey, it’s just a mall, calm down.” you think to yourself. But here’s the thing, Luke and I remembered reading about the Mall of America in the Guinness Book of World Records when we were kids. It described in details all the rides, mini golf, and eateries. As a kid this was pretty exciting stuff so when I say we were pumped, we were indeed pumped to see this place.
Mall of America expands over 96.4 acres. Enough space to fit seven stadiums. There is a huge food court and full size restaurants like Rainforest Cafe (where you can also delight your inner child.) They even had an Alpaca themed store for goodness sake! If you didn’t know alpaca hair is quite soft.
The Lego store was also massive, with a colorful wall of pick-your-own blocks and giant Lego men hovering above our heads.
We stopped by the Crayola experience because it was too colorful a place to pass up. Most activities were closed but they had some neat products I’d not seen anywhere else.
Lastly, a delicious iced Caribou coffee before we said goodbye to Mall of America. Caribou coffee was the first iced coffee I tried as a kid (yes I’ve drank coffee religiously since sixth grade) and it was just as delicious this go around.
Next stop, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Irene Hixon Whitney bridge. This is where you will find the iconic Minneapolis spoon and cherry along with some other great works of art.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory was a blast! Located in Minneapolis we didn’t think we’d get to visit this FREE zoo and conservatory because you have to make reservations several days in advance (only allowing limited numbers and it is a one-way walkthrough of the grounds). However, I called and they said that sometimes last-minute spots will open up so just keep an eye on the website. Lucky for us, they did! We headed to Minneapolis from our campground at 9:30 am and made it to the park traveling through only a small bit of rain. It was a rainy day once we arrived at the park but that didn’t seem to stop the animals from coming out. Again, we lucked out because we just happened to pack two raincoats (whew!).
We first walked through the zoo portion of the park and then finished up with the conservatory, Luke was quite enthralled with the variety of tiny trees. The staff was so kind and informative! A worker in the conservatory took the time to tell us about several varieties of plants and what they could be used for.
Minnesota State Public School Orphanage Museum
The Minnesota State Public School Orphanage museum was a melancholy day trip but packed with so much history. As we arrived at the museum we were taken aback by how large the front building was, and how well maintained the grounds were! Though no longer an orphanage the front building holds city hall and the Orphanage Museum. Unfortunately, the indoor portion of the museum was closed but we were able to take the self guided walking tour outside.
All of the old buildings have been so wonderfully preserved and put to new uses, from daycare to tennis courts!
I wanted to make sure we stopped at the state school children’s cemetery to pay respects and educate ourselves about these lost babies. 198 children are buried here, unclaimed by family. Few ever had a flower left on their grave.
1886-1945- During the 59 year history of the State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children, over 300 children died while under the state guardianship; 198 are buried in this cemetery, unclaimed by family. Some were buried under the cover of darkness because of contagious disease. Few, if any, ever had a flower on their grave. The average age at death was approximately 4 years old.
Causes of death
Causes of death included diptheria, measles, drowning, TB, cancrum oris, anemia, diarrhea, exhaustion, and marasmus. Marasmus is defined as “wasting and emaciation of an infant for no discoverable cause.” Today we would say “failure to thrive for lack of love.” Children also died from accidents (one killed by an elk, another a football injury), and a ruptured appendix.
In the early years, tombstones were erected. For unknown reasons, the state discontinued this practice. Children were then simply buried with their identification number etched on a cement slab.
In 1993 with the help of many community volunteers and contributors, the memorial (pictured below) and 151 named crosses were erected for those children buried only by a number. The memorial and crosses were dedicated in a community observance July 3, 1993.
We learned so much at the Orphanage Museum. I am thankful for the preservation of such an important part of history.
Now for something a little more light-hearted! The Spam Museum! Located in Austin, MN is the spam museum. It will teach you all about the history of the wonderful canned luncheon meat. There are also two special flavors not available anywhere else in the USA! Can you guess what they are? The Spam museum offers free admission so come on down! * Special flavors; SPAM Tocino, inspired by a sweet barbecue-flavored sauce common in Filipino dishes and SPAM Mezclita, a pork and cheese spread that pays tribute to the Puerto Rican staple mezcla.
On to the next stop! Our time in Minnesota was memorable but we’re moving faster these days as cold weather is approaching in the coming months and we’ve got more states to see. Have a great week friends and we’ll have more adventures to share soon! Last week’s post here.