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.
The 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.
Download the Minneapolis skyway app to help you navigate faster and easier!
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 had the gaping 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 being 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.”
- The “Skyway Open” is an annual event in February where teams of architects and contractors design incredible mini-golf holes, which are then placed around the Skyway System for public use.
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, we kid you not, about 140 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: Bep Eatery (Vietnamese), Vellee Deli (Asian fusion), Brothers Deli (sandwiches), Sushi Takatsu (Japanese), Green + The Grain (salads, wraps), Lite Bite (sandwiches), Kadai Indian Grill (Indian), Allie’s Deli (sandwiches), Sorrento Cucina (Italian), Roti (Mediterranean), Naf Naf (Middle Eastern) and La Loma Tamales (Mexican).
We realize that even this modest sampling looks overwhelming. 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 Zelo’s (Italian), Monello (Italian), Oceanaire (seafood), Ruth’s Chris (steakhouse), Dakota Jazz Club (American), CRAVE (Japanese, American), Manny’s (steakhouse), D’Amico & Sons (Italian), and many more.
Again, the number of shopping options that are skyway-connected may be more than the human mind can process, so here’s just a sampling: Brooks Brothers, Allen Edmonds (shoes and leather goods), Hubert White (clothing), Banana Republic, St Croix Shop (men’s clothing), Kisa Boutique (clothing), Shop the Runway, Marty Mathis Direct (men’s suits), Marshalls, JB Hudson Jewelers, Juut Salonspa, Bachmann (flowers), Minnesota Makers (gifts), Haskell’s (wine, beer, alcohol), Cocoa & Fig (boutique bake shop), Walgreens and retail shops for multiple cell phone providers.
Department stores connected to the skyway are Target, Saks Off 5th and Nordstrom Rack.
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.
For a comprehensive skyway map, click here.