Now that the snow is here, I no longer have to force my kids to go to the neighborhood park. Seriously, with the skyways and escalators as competition, I had a terrible time convincing them we ought to spend our first few months living in St. Paul–and the last few months of nice weather–outdoors. We are now enjoying the skyways with abandon and the kids LOVE it.
My six year old knows his way around best of all of us. I still hesitate at times disoriented by the indoor mazes and angled streets of St. Paul, then I realize my 6 year old is ahead of me confidently on task to our destination. I’m convinced getting lost in the skyways multiple times is a right of passage. Surely all the people who stopped to help us when we stood looking confused at intersections remembered their original failures. Thank goodness “Minnesota Nice” is alive and well in the skyways.
Back in suburbia, taking walks was a different kind of challenge. If a day went by without physical exertion, I paid the price later in whining or wailing. I knew the kids had to get out for a walk, but before getting out the door I had to herd them to the bathroom, get them properly dressed for the weather, and of course, pack snacks and water. While happy to go outside, they were distracted, opinionated, and unwilling to recognize that once we left the house there was no turning back to pee or to get their favorite toy or whatever other emergency might happen 10 minutes away from a kitchen or bathroom. Once out, we generally took the same route, walking past one beautifully manicured lawn after another, before returning home.
- Now we walk regardless of weather. If my toddler wants to wear flip flops on a wintry day, that’s okay, it won’t stop us.
- Public bathrooms, water fountains and stores for emergency rations are available. If mom or the kids forget something essential, we don’t have to abort the mission.
- Diversions of art work, sculpture, escalator rides and other curiosities find us.
- We read. Good or bad, advertisements make wonderful pit stops for a beginner reader. (Today we practiced reading “c”s and when they sound like “s”s and when they sound like “k”s)
- We can run errands and do useful things in route. (OK, so the truth is we do have to go outside sometimes, Walgreens, Lunds, Rivertown Market, the post office, etc. aren’t in the skyways, but a blanket and a few packed supplies has gotten us there and back.)
- Everywhere is fully accessible to a wheel bound traveler. In our case, a fully loaded stroller. (Not every street had a sidewalk in our old neighborhood so this is an improvement from pushing a stroller through grass or sharing the street with cars.)
- And best of all we now have interesting places to go: Union Depot, the library, the Children’s Museum, or out to eat.
The most common complaints about the skyways are:
- It’s totally dead after 5pm and on weekends.
- There’s no retail.
- It’s confusing.
2 out of 3 of these work in our favor with kids. I love that the kids can run and let off steam without bothering anyone. It’s easy to keep track of them with the long empty halls. The lack of retail is so refreshing. We stay on task without distractions. No begging for candy or pretty bows or whatever a store window might entice them with.
The confusing part is true, but that goes away with practice. So really, I don’t have any complaints.
Skyway vs. Suburbia? It’s a sound victory for the skyways.
For more info on the skyways check out my Skyway 101 post.