In a word, skyways.  Skyways are essentially elevated and suspended hallways that stretch across the street and between buildings, high above the street level.  The benefits of skyways include the avoidance of street-level traffic and noise, and not having to bundle up every time you step outside to cross the street.  During the coldest of days, skyways make shopping more enjoyable, perhaps even tolerable.

On the flip side, the skyways are often only open when both of the buildings they link together are open.  There are times, especially on weekends, when skyways close very early in the day.  They can also be confusing to navigate, crowded during rush hour, and unlike the word “way” at the end of "skyway" suggests, they don’t move you along on a conveyor belt—you have to do all the walking.  And, on days when outside walking is preferable, the skyways can obscure some of the natural light at the street-level.

Still, skyways are an integral part of any trip to St. Paul, and using them to your advantage can certainly make for a more enjoyable visit.

For those interested in the architectural features of the grand boulevard of Summit Avenue and the State Capitol, a book was recently released by Minnesota Press on this very topic.