Even hearty Minnesotans draw the line where facing below-zero temps in business attire is concerned. Downtown Minneapolis has a sort of Habitrail for humans: 8 miles of connecting walkways from building to building, hotels to convention/sports facilities, parking ramps to restaurants, through the atriums of banks and corporate centers, over streets, and even through some of the larger stores. It is the largest indoor system in the world and allows office workers and visitors to travel the central business district without a coat or umbrella on the most frigid or wet of days. Along some of the routes you'll find little shops, convenience stores, coffee and food kiosks, and a few have interesting pieces of artwork. Some of the walkways are plain and worn and some are carpeted and have beautiful decorative details. Many downtowners do power walks along these indoor "streets" during the lunch hour: you'll see a lot of tennis shoes!
It's not perfect: even with signage this maze of connections can be confusing for all but the seasoned downtown worker and, being privately owned by the businesses they connect, they open/close at different hours. Let's just say that if you're making your way to a parking ramp from the bar after 10:00 PM, you're probably going to end up outside at some point. After 5:00 PM on a weekday or on weekends - when the worker bees go home - most of the little businesses close up tight so the skyways can be pretty deserted although still very safe.
Still, it's great fun just to take off and give them a wander as the landscape changes from block to block and you're guaranteed to see something interesting! Reference the first website for more background info about the skyways, and the second one for a downloadable map.
If you would have told me when I lived here that a light rail system would be successful in Minnesota, I probably would have laughed, but lo' and behold', it's actually working quite well. The light rail connects downtown with the Mall of America to the south stopping at various points along the way including the airport and Fort Snelling.
Fares are $2 during rush hour and $1.50 at all other times. There are random checks for tickets onboard and if you're caught without a ticket, the fines are steep, so buy your ticket before boarding the train.
The Minneapolis light rail is really convenient. A ticket for $1.50 ($2.00 during rush hours, i.e., 06:00 - 09:00 and 15:00 - 18:30, M-F) is good for 2.5 hours on both the light rail and buses. No change is made on the buses. There are well-located terminals at the Mall of America, Minneapolis/Saint Paul International Airport, Metrodome, Government Plaza and Nicollet Mall Avenue. Just transfer to a bus if you are not right where you want to be.
This new service, that can be caught at the airport, is an excellent beginning to a much needed transport system in Minneapolis.
The line travels from the Warehouse District on Hennepin, just North of downtown, down Hiawatha Ave, to the airport, and finally to the Mall of America.
In April of 2004 the Hiawatha Line light rail route openned after a lot of controvesy, hype, delays and running over budget. The rail line links the Mall of America with Minneapolis International Airport and Downtown Minneapolis. After 3 years the LRT is a great success with ridership well and above projections. Look for contruction of the Central Corridor LRT route to begin in the next couple of years with service from Downtown St. Paul to Downtown Minneapolis. Also, a commuter rail line is set to open in the next 3 years that will service the the northern suburbs with Downtown Minneapolis.
Tickets are $1.50(non-rush hours) and $2.00(rush hours) for each way. Tickets must be bought from a ticket vending machine which can be found at any Metro transit station or at the train stations.
The ride from the airport to downtown takes about 30 minutes. Along the route, the train makes a stops about every half mile and more when you reach downtown Minneapolis.
The Metro Transit Hiawatha Line runs between the Mall of America, the airport (both terminals), and Downtown Minneapolis. Trains run every 7-8 mnutes during rush hour (6-9 a.m. and 3-6:30 p.m.), every 10 minutes midday, and every 15 minutes during the evening.
A day pass runs $6 and can be purchased at ticket machines located at each station. The trip between the airport and the mall takes about 12 minutes, between the airport and downtown takes about 27 minutes, between the mall and downtown takes 39 minutes.
Downtown Minneapolis is linked together by an elaborate network of walkways known as the Skyway. Most of it is two to three floors above street level. It connects most of the major office buildings, parking garages, and other places.
The Minneapolis Skywalk is a marvelous maze of nearly 7 miles of elevated walkways and 75 bridges that connect shops, offices, restaurants hotels and a convention center in downtown Minneapolis. For this city in a northern latitude which is known for its long harsh winters, the Skywalk helps to make the downtown area a habitable and pleasant place to work and play year round.
It seems you can go just about anywhere via the skywalk. Maps are placed periodically along the course to help you find your way. Many other cities have similar skywalks, but probably none is so extensive as that found here in Minneapolis. Karen and I enjoyed a walk of several block in the skywalk just to experience it, although when we were there the weather was very pleasant outside and the sidewalks were also full of people - especially along Nicolette Mall.
Light Rail is finally here! The Hiawatha Line runs from Downtown along Highway 55 or Hiawatha Avenue all the way to the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport and on to the Mall of America. If you're coming to Minneapolis by plane, the LRT is a great way to get to downtown Minneapolis. You pay for your fare at an automatic teller, located at every stop. One adult fare is $1.25 non-rush and $1.75 rush, by the end of 2005 the fare may be up a quarter. The machine will tell you if it's rush or non-rush. The ticket is good for 2 hours and 30 mins. Paying is on the honor system, if you get caught without a paid fare the fine is close to $200.00. You can transfer between buses and the train just like you would between two buses. The train is awesome!
The Light Rail line opened in December of 2004. You can catch it directly from the airport all the way in to downtown Minneapolis for $1.75 during rush hour (6-9am and 3:30-6:30pm) and $1.25 the rest of the time.
Travel time is 30 minutes from airport to Downtown. Once you hit downtown, signal for a taxi to get to your hotel.
OTHERWISE... a taxi from the airport to downtown will run you $25 to $30.
The new light rail line is now open from the Mall of America to downtown Minneapolis, with stops at both terminals at MSP (Humphrey and Lindbergh). The cost is $1.25 for a 2.5 hour pass or $3 for a 6 hour pass.
The Hiawatha Light Rail has *finally* opened with 12 stations between Downtown and Fort Snelling. Eventually it will go to the airport and Mall of America. This is the Nicollet Mall station.