“You mean I don’t have to wear winter boots?!” Finley squealed with delight, even though the outside temperature was -18° and the wind chill was -40°.
We were getting ready for a skywalk adventure in Downtown Duluth. It was the day after one of the coldest Christmases on record and we were so ready to get out of the house and move our bodies.
Navigating the Routes
The climate-controlled skywalk system snakes from the library to the tech village and from city hall to the DECC. We used the Greater Downtown Council’s map to get an overview of the different routes. Our goal was to make it to each end of the system.
There are lots of signs with arrows that make the system easy to navigate. We did, however, find it difficult to locate the route from the Holiday Center to City Hall (which is called “Government Services” on the signs). You have to go in the opposite direction to catch an elevator, which threw us off. A kind woman saw our confusion, asked if we needed help, and then proceeded to escort us there.
What’s In a Name?
We stopped for lunch at the Pita Pit, a place the kids have been asking about every time we drive past its sign below maurices on Superior Street. The name befuddles Finley:
“Why do they call it a pit? Pitas don’t have pits. And you don’t get them from a mine.”
Fun Along the Way
Using the color-coded map with route mileage, we estimate that we walked over 3 miles total. Near the end, Finley remarked, “We’ve walked a lot…but my legs aren’t tired.” I believe it was the surprises along the way that made the adventure feel effortless.
Here are some of the highlights.
We got a kick out of this sign at the Duluth Transportation Center where we parked just feet from a skywalk door and warmth.
The kids had great fun on the many escalators we came across. They rode each one at least a dozen times. Up. Down. Up. Down.
The Holiday Center has a variety of shops. The Hallmark store was packed with items to look at and the menu hanging outside of the Zen House had a fun picture of sushi made into the shape of a dragon.
Standing over the different streets and seeing familiar storefronts from above was interesting. The kids enjoyed standing over I-35 as the vehicles zoomed under us.
City Hall provided entertainment and a civics lesson. We examined the two bulletin boards showing Duluth’s mayors over time. Finley immediately noticed that they were all men, except our current, Mayor Larson. Both kids found it amusing to imagine themselves as the next mayor on the board.
We were fascinated by the varying architecture. We found ourselves in a completely marble staircase near the Medical Arts Building. Marble stairs, marble walls, and brass railings. Very fancy.
At another point, we found ourselves in the space between two buildings that is now enclosed, making the brick walls interior rather than exterior. Unexpected and intriguing.
The Duluth Sister Cities International had a fun wall of clocks showing the current time in Japan, Russia, Kurdistan, Canada and Sweden. A great opportunity for global awareness.
The library provided a break from walking. Daley found “a few” books, about 50, to check out. We schlepped them back to our car before continuing on to explore the DECC.
The long hallways of the DECC provided lots of entertainment. The people curling fascinated both kids. We must have stood there 20 minutes watching them slide across the ice.
We also were surprised to come across the original peace bell from the Japan. Having rung its successor at Enger Park after reading The Peace Bell by local author Margi Preus, the kids enjoyed seeing the cracked bell on display.
Lastly, the view of the lift bridge never gets old.
“Inside” In Duluth
It was a great way to spend a subzero day being active, getting to know our downtown better, and having fun. And we didn’t have to wear hats…or mittens…or neckies…or boots!
For hours and more, check out the skywalk webpage.
What is your favorite part of the skywalk system? Share your experiences in the comment box below. Thanks!