Using the Minneapolis Skyway System

Man walking through glass and steel Skyway at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Minnesota, Midwest, USA
••• Skyway at the Minneapolis Airport. Barry Winike/Getty Images

If you've never been to Minneapolis, you may wonder why there are so many skybridges between downtown buildings. These skybridges, known as the Minneapolis Skyway System, form an interconnected system of pedestrian footbridges that make downtown much more livable during Minnesota's extreme winters.

Whether it's freezing cold or horribly hot and humid, the skyways are a climate-controlled haven. Yes, locals may look like hamsters in an exercise run, but it's bliss to leave a coat at the office in winter and not worry about overheating in summer.

Within this system, you can travel from your hotel to restaurants to stores and to office buildings without having to go outside.

Both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul have a skyway system linking buildings and attractions. The Minneapolis Skyway System links 69 city blocks over about nine miles, making it the largest system of its kind in the world.

Before you visit, make sure to get a Minneapolis Skyway map and study it closely. This essential piece of travel equipment will make navigating downtown much easier and ensure that you don't get stuck out in the heat or cold.

Getting Into the Skyways

The glass skyway tunnels are obvious. Getting into them can be less so. Some buildings have "Skyway Connection" marked on their doors, but it's generally assumed that you know the way in.

Here are a couple tricks to get in: Go into any building with tunnels going in and out on the second floor, and the way to the skyway will be marked.

If it's rush hour or lunchtime, just follow the crowds.

Navigating the Skyways

Navigating the system can be tricky. Most skyways look similar, and there are only a few signs and fewer maps. It's also easy to get disorientated in the skyways because most office buildings and tunnels look the same. Add distracting shopping malls and attractions and it's easy to get lost if you're unfamiliar with the system.

A Minneapolis skyway map is a must-have.

Minneapolis Skyway Maps

If you're in Minneapolis and don't have a skyway map, get the Downtown Guide magazine, which has a skyway map on the back. You'll find this free publication widely distributed in magazine racks within the skyways. Until then, check out this map of the Minneapolis Skyway System or download the map app for iPhone or Android.

When Are the Skyways Open?

The skyways aren't open 24 hours. Their hours are dependent on the hours of the linked buildings. Most are open from early morning to late night. The skyways usually close in the early evening on Sundays.

Buildings and Attractions Linked by the Minneapolis Skyways

Now you know all about using the skyway. Where do you want to go?

  • IDS Center Crystal Court
  • 266 South Sixth Building and the Wells Fargo Building
  • Target Center
  • Nicollet Mall
  • City Center Mall and Gaviidae Common
  • Historic State Theater and Orpheum Theater
  • Block E Entertainment Mall
  • Parking ramps
  • Hotels including the Grand Hotel Minneapolis, Westin, Hampton Inn, Crowne Plaza Northstar Hotel, Millennium Hotel, Radisson Blu, Hotel Minneapolis, Loews Minneapolis Hotel and Hotel Ivy