Your Guide to the Minneapolis Skyway System
Get happily lost. The Minneapolis Skyway System is the largest contiguous system of enclosed, second-level bridges in the world—composed of 9.5 miles of pathways connecting 80 city blocks.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis some skyway hours may be affected during this time. As of September 2021, these are the skyway closures and hours adjustments in downtown.
The Minneapolis skyway system connects corporate offices, bars, restaurants, bakeries, hotels, government services, retail, gyms, grocery stores, liquor stores, banks, doctors, dentists, masseurs, pharmacies, hair and nail salons, dry cleaners, live theaters, three pro sports facilities, a church, art exhibits, and... well, you get the idea.
M-F 6:30 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Sat 9:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Sun Noon - 6 p.m.
NOTE: Several buildings in the Skyway System do not keep with the uniform hours above. Watch for signs that indicate shorter, or longer, than the usual skyway hours.
A Brief History
The city's first skyway connecting the new Northstar Center building to the Northwestern Bank Building opened in 1962. It was immensely popular, so slowly but surely new skyways appeared, often, but not always in conjunction with new construction. Wandering the system, you’ll probably be able to identify the skyway routes that were plugged into existing buildings – sometimes awkwardly.
The construction of the IDS in 1974 (still the tallest building in downtown Minneapolis) was a key moment for the skyway network. The building featured skyways connecting to buildings in all four directions, which integrated what was up until then a scattered system. The IDS junction also features the Crystal Court atrium, still the largest open public space in the network. In 2016, the skyways connecting U.S. Bank Stadium to the rest of the system brought the total length of pathways to over 8 cumulative miles.
With skyways now included in nearly all new construction in central downtown, maps and way finding signage became necessary. This effort improved navigation, and has evolved dramatically in helpfulness, but alas, people can still be seen standing in skyway junctions, heading spinning around, trying to figure out where to go next. All part of the adventure!
- The very first skyway, opened in 1962, was demolished in the 80s during construction of Norwest Center, now the Wells Fargo Center.
- The skyway over 7th Street, connecting the Northstar Center with the Roanoke Building, opened on June 12, 1963, is the oldest existing skyway.
- The skyways weren’t first conceived to escape Minnesota’s weather, as is widely believed. Instead, they were viewed as a solution to reroute pedestrians off the increasingly crowded sidewalks and streets, both for their safety and to make the automobile boom traffic flow more efficient. Another deciding factor was the desire by building owners to increase property values and rental revenue by creating a second-level, high-traffic pathway catering to retail and other services.
- Legendary (and local) band, The Replacements, immortalized the system in their song “Skyway.”
Tips & Tricks
- As each skyway is owned by the buildings they connect, they do not have uniform opening and closing times. Keep this in mind when making evening plans.
- If you’re hopelessly lost, just ask someone who appears to be walking confidently for help. Skyway mastery is a point of pride for many Minneapolitans. Also, we’re just really nice.
- A sure sign that you’re dealing with someone who lives in a skyway-connect building, therefore probably a skyway expert, is if they’re dressed wildly inappropriately for the weather, like shorts and a t-shirt in February.
- Free bathrooms on skyway level are rare. Plan ahead.
Accessing the Skyway
A good rule of thumb for finding one’s way into the Skyway System from the street is if the building has a skyway connected to it, you can almost certainly find an access point. Just find your way to the second level of any skyway-connected building and you’ll find skyway access. Helpfully, many elevators in downtown Minneapolis have a ‘SK’ button in place of a ‘2’. NOTE: This applies to standard business hours, after hours you may find street-level doors on certain buildings locked, even if you can clearly see people still using the skyway.
Some of the most popular skyway entry points include:
- The IDS Crystal Court (Nicollet, between 7th and 8th Streets)
- City Center (7th Street, between Nicollet and Hennepin Avenues)
- US Bank Building (Nicollet, between 8th and 9th Streets)
- Target Store (corner of Nicollet and 9th Street)
- Target Center (corner of 1st Avenue North and 6th Street)
- Wells Fargo Building (Marquette Avenue, between 6th and 7th Streets)
- US Bank Plaza (2nd Avenue South, between 5th and 6th Streets)
- Hennepin County Government Center (bridging 6th Street, between 3rd and 4th Avenues South)
There are dozens upon dozens of options for skyway-connected food, some located on the ground and third floors of buildings. Many familiar chains are well represented. A few less familiar and/or locals options include: Vellee Deli (Asian fusion), Brothers Deli (sandwiches and salads), Afro Deli (African), Sushi Takatsu (Japanese), Green + The Grain (healthy salads, wraps), Kadai Indian Kitchen (Indian), Roti (Mediterranean), and Naf Naf (Middle Eastern). If you’re not sure where to eat, a long line is usually a good sign.
The above list doesn’t take into account the many sit-down, ground floor restaurants that are accessible by the skyway, like Monello (Italian), The Oceanaire (seafood), Ruth’s Chris (steakhouse), Dakota Jazz Club (American), Come Pho Soup (pho), CRAVE (Japanese, American), Manny’s (steakhouse), D’Amico & Sons (Italian), and many more.
Check out this list of our favorite places to eat in the skyway.
Again, the number of shopping options that are skyway-connected can be overwhelming, so here’s just a sampling: Hubert White (clothing), Marty Mathis Direct (men’s suits), JB Hudson Jewelers, Haskell’s (wine, beer, alcohol), Walgreens, and retail shops for multiple cell phone providers.
The two-level, flagship Target Store at 9th Street has become the one-stop destination for downtown workers and residents to satisfy virtually any need. The grocery section in particular has grown to be a comprehensive shopping option for both residents doing their weekly shopping and visitors seeking quick hotel-room breakfasts and snacks. Nordstorm Rack’s arrival on Nicollet, inside the IDS building on 7th Street, has made an instant impact, drawing in people seeking a wide selection of big-brand-name apparel and accessories in their 40,000 square foot space. Head down the escalators of City Center and browse through the latest trends and styles at Marshalls.
Some of the city’s finest hotels are, of course, on the skyway system, including W Hotel (in the historic Foshay Tower), Marquette Hotel, AC Marriott (NOTE: skyway hours are limited), Hilton, Chambers Hotel, Loews Minneapolis Hotel, Radisson Blu, Radisson Red, The Westin and Hotel Ivy.