Nicollet Mall

Downtown is the central business district of Minneapolis. It is sprinkled with architecturally interesting skyscrapers, most of which are interconnected, mainly on the second level above the street level, by a growing web of skyways, now approaching eight miles in total length. Nicollet Mall is the main semi-pedestrianized shopping street in downtown Minneapolis. Downtown proper is anchored by the Downtown East, Elliot Park, Loring Park, and North Loop neighborhoods.

Get in

By METRO Light Rail

The Blue Line and Green Line both run on 5th Street through Downtown Minneapolis. The Blue Line links to South Minneapolis, the airport, and the Mall of America in Bloomington, while the Green Line links to the University of Minnesota and Saint Paul. The METRO is probably the easiest way to get into Downtown if you are coming from any of those areas.

By commuter rail

The Northstar Line runs from the northwest suburbs and terminates in Downtown Minneapolis at Target Field Station, which is also a transfer point to the light rail. However, service hours are limited and geared more towards weekday commuters than average visitors. Trains mostly run inbound during weekday mornings and outbound during weekday afternoons. There is also some limited service on weekends and special service timed around Twins and Vikings games.

By bus

Numerous buses serve Downtown Minneapolis, far too many to name individually. Local buses from Southwest or Northeast Minneapolis generally run along Hennepin Avenue or Nicollet Mall (a pedestrian/transit mall). Buses from the University of Minnesota and Saint Paul mostly run along 4th Street. Buses from North and South Minneapolis are less predictable, and may run along 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th Streets depending on the route and the direction it is traveling in.

By car

Get around

Interior of the Minneapolis Skyway

Although most of the city's grid is along a strict north-south/east-west layout, the area near downtown on both sides of the river lies at an angle to the rest of the city's grid to better align with the river. Here streets run parallel to the river, and avenues run perpendicular (except for Washington Avenue, which parallels the river). Downtown contains mostly numbered streets and avenues, although a few important ones are named. Most of Downtown is within South Minneapolis, although the Warehouse District extends into North Minneapolis. Keep in mind that this is the only part of town, other than the West Bank, where you will encounter streets as well avenues designated "South". The intersection of S 2nd Ave and S 5th St is many blocks from the intersection of S 2nd St and S 5th Ave!

Much of downtown uses a series of Skyways to connect downtown shops and businesses. Navigating the skyway system can be confusing since one often has to take a curcuitous route to reach their destination. However, it's often a welcome alternative to walking outside in Minneapolis' harsh winter cold. For example, one could walk from the Convention Center in Minneapolis to Washington Avenue (a block before the Mississippi) without going outside, and without stopping at a pedestrian traffic light. Interstate 394 feeds into heated parking garages, so that a Wayzatan suburbanite could enter her vehicle, drive the length of 394 to the heated lot, go to work, shop at Target or Neiman-Marcus, see a movie, have dinner, and return home - all without having to wear a coat or change clothes, even in 20-below weather.

If you get tired of walking, Metro Transit buses are only $0.50 per ride within the Downtown Zone; keep in mind that no transfers are issued when paying the downtown fare. You can also ride a light-rail train between Target Field and Downtown East stations for this same fare. In addition, certain buses on the Nicollet Mall are marked "Free Ride"; specifically, they are the northbound Route 18 and southbound Route 10 buses. You can board these buses without paying a fare.


Mill Ruins Park

Parks and gardens


Walker Art Center



Target Field at night

Theater and performing arts

Professional sports



The Skyways boast an excellent variety of retailers, and one can find almost anything, though the distances between stores can be very inconvenient. That said, it's like a mall for the agoraphobic or claustrophobic. The best times to find what you want are between 10AM and 2PM, as many excellent food shops are opened just to handle lunch hour.

Nicollet Mall

Macy's (the former Dayton's flagship) on Nicollet Mall

Nicollet Mall is not an enclosed shopping mall but rather the downtown portion of Nicollet Avenue, one of the major streets in Minneapolis, running more or less north-south. The Mall is a two-lane busway with wide sidewalks that stretches from Washington Avenue to Grant Street, about one mile, and private automobiles are prohibited from it, except for the southernmost block between Rainville Place and Grant Street. Retail is heaviest on the wavy portion of Nicollet Mall, between 5th and 10th Streets. Many national chains such as Macy's, Banana Republic, and The Gap all call Nicollet Mall home. The Skyways cross Nicollet Mall in only three places and integrate the indoor malls with Nicollet. Buses running frequently through the Nicollet Mall, the Light Rail running along 5th Street, and numerous parking decks connected to the Skyways combine to provide good access to downtown.

Other areas







Hennepin Avenue is probably the single best-known street for drinking and clubbing in Minneapolis. The street is lined with late-night bars, dance clubs, and music venues. Similairly 1st Avenue which is the next street directly west of Hennepin Avenue, is also lined with late night destinations. There is also a good cluster of bars and nightclubs in the Warehouse District, which is just north-west of Hennepin Avenue and very much within walking distance.

First Avenue






Minneapolis Central Library

Go next

Routes through Downtown

END  N  S  South Minneapolis Bloomington
END  W  E  South Minneapolis Saint Paul

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Tuesday, March 08, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.