The best-kept secret in Minneapolis is the Skyway’s. They aren’t exactly a secret. They’ve been around forever and have changed the makeup of how we get around downtown. However, locals seem to the some of the only people using them. When the average temperature in winter can be close to 20 degrees, the MPLS Skyway’s seem like the only way to get around. The problem is people that don’t regularly use them, find them incredibly confusing. Until now. I’m going to show you how to use them like a local.
The MPLS Skyway’s
Minneapolis Skyway System is a pedestrian walkway system that connects downtown buildings. It is the largest continuous skyway system in the world. The system is climate controlled and links 69 blocks over seven miles. The Minneapolis skyway connects hotels, restaurants, and Stadiums, including US Bank Stadium.
*Photo by Joe Bielawa
Think of the MPLS Skyway system as a giant Casio. They lure you in with all kinds of flashy lights and the promise of wealth, or in the skyway’s terms, safety and warmth from our harsh climate. But once in, you find yourself in a labyrinth of restaurants, retail, and other distractions. Most City dwellers love these features. Those that work downtown know all the turns and routes to get you to the best eatery. They can get their banking done and get their shopping down without ever having to step out onto a street. But to the tourist, the skyways can become very intimidating.
Most people are used to a grid-like pattern of the streets. Directions are simpler that way. Go two blocks and take a left. The MPLS Skyways are completely different. They weave over busy streets and go into different buildings. Depending on the design of the building, it may take you all the way around, and sometimes there is even the dreaded dead end. Your phone’s GPS will only help you so much because you are not walking on the road itself. This is why some prefer to just walk on the street. It isn’t necessary at all. You just have to learn how to use the maps.
MPLS Skyway maps are located all over to help you navigate. They also have signs pointing to what building you each will go to. Once you figure out what buildings you need to cross, it’s pretty simple.
For example, if you are at the Hyatt Place Downtown and wish to walk to the US Bank Stadium only a few blocks away. You will find both locations on the map. The signs in the skyway will only point to the next building. They will not point you to ‘The Hilton.’ Some exceptions are US Bank Stadium, The Convention Center, Target Center or Target Field. You must be nearby first. In our case, we will need to through the Hennepin County Public Safety center, Jerry Haaf Memorial Ramp, Wells Fargo 550 & 600 and the Mills Fleet Farm Ramp. From there, the next building over is the US Bank Stadium. Because the stadium is so big, there is a good chance you could look out the windows and visually see that you in the right direction.
If this still sounds too confusing for you, check out SkywayMyWay. They have made things really easy by plotting out your course for you. Enter your starting point, and destination and the will tell you the list of the buildings you need to cross. If you are looking for more information on the closest restaurants, shops, restrooms and other businesses open to the public they do that too. SkywayMyWay does an excellent job of keeping up to date on all the comings and goings of the skyway business. They even have a version for the St. Paul Skyways.
Next time you head to the cities, I hope you feel a little more comfortable getting around. And please, do not be afraid of the MPLS Skyway’s.
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