Location: Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota
When to visit: Most skyway tunnels are open 6:30am-10pm Mon-Fri (shorter hours on weekends)
Time needed: 30-60 minutes
Just as Houston has an underground tunnel system to help residents avoid the heat, Minneapolis has an above-ground skyway system to help residents avoid the cold.
The skyway connects the Convention Center, Target Center, Wells Fargo Center, City Hall, University of St. Thomas, and dozens of other prominent buildings and institutions as it covers 9.5 miles across 80 city blocks. You can wander all over downtown Minneapolis without ever being outdoors!
You can connect to stores, offices, residential buildings, and pretty much everything else imaginable. If you really wanted to, you could spend years inside here without ever going outside. That kinda sounds like a fun experiment, actually – like my Mall of America experiment times 1000.
One thing that’s a little odd is that it can be difficult to find an entrance to the Skyway. As you’re walking around town, a few entrances are obviously marked, but many are not.
Just look for the tunnels in the sky, enter that building and head up to the second floor.
As for the history, the very first Skyway tunnel opened in 1962 and connected the Northstar Center building to the Northwestern Bank Building. As time wore on, more tunnels were added. (That tunnel was demolished in the ’80s, leaving the 1963 tunnel at 7th Street, connecting the Northstar Center with the Roanoke Building, as the oldest in the current Skyway system.)
Many of the early Skyway tunnels were unconnected, but that changed in 1974 with the construction of the IDS building. This skyscraper had skyways that connected in all four directions, and helped make the system more centralized and easy to navigate.
Things To Do in the Minneapolis Skyway
The Skyway provides access to bars, restaurants, offices, gyms, grocery stores, liquor stores, gyms, banks, doctors, dentists, theaters, and even a church.
The shops you can access via the Skyway include Banana Republic, Marshall’s, Brooks Brothers, JB Hudson Jewelers, Target, and Walgreens. Hotels include the W Hotel, Loews Minneapolis Hotel, Radisson Blu, The Westin, and Hotel Ivy.
Among the various cuisines available inside the Skyway are Sushi Takatsu (Japanese), Kadai Indian Grill (Indian), Sorrento Cucina (Italian), Naf Naf (Middle Eastern) and La Loma Tamales (Mexican).
The list of activities and things to do is too long to recite the whole thing, but your best bet for finding things to do in the Minneapolis Skyway might be to download the Skyway app. Then use your GPS as you wander around.
For those who are curious about the construction of the Skyway, here’s a link on the official Minneapolis government page with design facts (PDF.)
Here’s another guide that can help you figure out which tunnels are connected to which buildings. With the skyway, you can’t let the weather be an excuse for not going out and exploring Minneapolis.
While you’re in the Twin Cities, consider also checking out St. Paul Indian Mounds Park, the famous cherry spoon in the Sculpture Garden, the Mill City Museum, the Minnesota State Fair, the city’s beaches, and random things about the city like the Juicy Lucy and the waterfalls.