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The Ultimate Guide to Minneapolis Nightlife

The Ultimate Guide to Minneapolis Nightlife

Whether your interests run to late-night libations, fine dining, and cultural performances, or to lively concerts, comedy acts, and open mic nights, there’s Minneapolis nightlife for everyone. 

Nightlife ranges from lively bars, nightclubs, and dance venues to intimate pubs and a lounge featuring local musicians and weekly events. Beyond bar hopping, you’ll find local music, theater performances, drag shows, and even ax throwing.

The city’s cultural attractions include the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Natural attractions like St. Anthony Falls, Minnehaha Falls, and Minnehaha Regional Park offer hiking trails along with waterfall views. We’re not here for all of that, are we? Save that for the day. Bring on the Minneapolis nightlife!

Getting to Minneapolis

Forming half of the Twin Cities (the state capital city of neighboring St. Paul is the other twin), Minneapolis is in the Southeastern section of Minnesota. It sits along the Mississippi River just north of where it converges with the Minnesota River.

On an interesting side note, Minneapolis’ twin sister is home to world-renowned 3M (the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company), maker of Post-It notes, Scotch Tape, and countless other registered trademarks.

Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) is about 15 miles from the city center.

Nightlife in Minneapolis

The Explore Minnesota website is an excellent tool for finding the best Minneapolis nightclubs, bars, and the rest of the city’s unique nightlife scene.

They’ve divided the city up into sections, so we’ll stick with that theme.

Northside

Utepils Brewing

Utepils Brewing has a taproom serving German, Belgian, and Czech beers. It also features food trucks, cocktails, and events like Beer + Yoga, trivia, acoustic jam sessions, and cribbage. It’s a great spot to gather with friends in a casual setting if you’re not into the traditional lounge setting. See why we think this is one of the best breweries in Minneapolis.

La Dona Cerveceria

The Latin-inspired La Dona Cerveceria creates unique craft and multicultural brews. Check out the large taproom, attend regular events, and visit the shop for growlers and gifts. There’s an outdoor area with the entertainment of a mini soccer field.

Whirlyball Twin Cities

What happens when you combine bumper cars with basketball and a bit of lacrosse?

Whirlyball Twin Cities is Minneapolis’ answer to that question. 

Players ride around in tiny cars (going about four miles an hour) while using light equipment like a scoop (this is the lacrosse aspect of the game) to pick up a plastic ball (similar to a Wiffle Ball). You then launch the ball at a target hanging ten feet above the floor (this would be the basketball aspect).

This is a team effort, so you’ll have at least a couple of friends to assist. Speed, strength, and agility are not required! But you may want to set your drink down.

This venue is located in Maple Grove, which is about 17 miles from downtown Minneapolis.

North Loop and Warehouse District

Modist Brewing

If you’re headed to a Twins game, Modist Brewing offers drink specials starting two hours before the game. Try out new brews, listen to live DJs, and participate in bar crawls at this Minneapolis brewery.

Axebridge Wine Company

Axebridge Wine Company is the first urban winery in Minneapolis. It specializes in artisan wines and drinks. Small bites and charcuterie boards menus are available.

Enjoy live music, weekly events, and wine tastings at this North Loop area winery.

The Exchange and Alibi Lounge

The Exchange and Alibi Lounge feature both an upscale dance club and a relaxed lounge. The Exchange has two full bars, a dance floor, and state-of-the-art sound systems. Dance to mixes by resident and international DJs. Check the website for a full schedule of events.

The swanky Alibi Lounge at the Exchange can accommodate up to 125 guests. Mix and mingle while sipping handcrafted cocktails.

Marble floors, original limestone walls, and custom-designed furniture give this nightclub a distinctive touch.

See Related: Things to do in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Central Business District (Theater District)

First Avenue

Open since 1970, First Avenue is the place to go for dancing and live music. The venue was used in the filming of one of Minneapolis’ own (that would be Prince) in the film Purple Rain in 1984. Names like Tina Turner, U2, REM, Ray Charles, Run DMC, Coldplay, and many others have performed on stage.

7th Street Entry

First Avenue’s 7th Street Entry is the smaller sister venue to First Avenue. It’s attached to First Avenue and opened in 1980. This Minneapolis nightclub is known for its intimate vibe and local and national band performances.

See Related: Best Minneapolis Murals You Need to Visit

Dakota Jazz Club

The Dakota Jazz Club is a full-service restaurant and music venue on Nicollet Mall, a portion of Nicollet Avenue. It has a multi-level design with various stages and vantage points for music lovers to take it all in.

Performers include artists such as Lucinda Williams, Ronnie Spector, Amiee Mann, and that famous Minneapolis local, Prince (who reportedly enjoyed viewing events as much as performing) at this Minneapolis jazz club.

Orchestra Hall

Orchestra Hall, home to the Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, is a terrific venue for a cultural night out in Minneapolis. Along with Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, performances include Disney Fantasia Live in Concert, The Indigo Girls, and Afkham Conducts Schumann.

Foshay Tower

Tower and Skyline

While not your typical nightlife, per se, Foshay Tower is the tallest building in the Midwest. It makes a great vantage point for panoramic views of Minneapolis. Head to the 27th-floor observation deck. It’s home to the W Hotel, which has a Prohibition-themed rooftop bar. There’s a museum where you can learn all about the building and its architecture.

CC Club

CC Club is a famed Minneapolis nightclub scene with a heated patio and historic past. It started out in life as C.C. Tap during Prohibition. Gather your quarters for the jukebox and chow down on burgers, hot dogs, and pizza.

Downtown

Barrio

Sample tequila and snack on tacos and nachos till you drop at Barrio. There are more than 100 varieties of tequila and drinks to choose from at this swanky downtown Minneapolis bar. Spend a happy hour here before heading to Minneapolis clubs.

Noa

Noa is the lunchtime hotspot if you like to get the party started early. Street tacos, artisan burgers, sushi, and braised short ribs are just a few menu samples (not to mention the creative cocktails).

19 Bar

19 Bar, in Loring Park, was built in 1922 and served as a speakeasy. It claims to be Minneapolis’ first gay bar, opened in 1952, and serving as a chill staple of the community ever since. Spend the evening playing darts and billiards while listening to jukebox tunes.

Northeast

The Northeast section of the city sits along the Mississippi River. It has an industrial vibe among the dive bars, entertainment venues, and breweries.

Psycho Suzi’s

Have a blast at disco dance parties, drag shows, and Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings at Psycho Suzi’s. A full bar and food menu, as well as tropical cocktails, are available during the movie at Psycho Suzi’s motor lounge.

Betty Danger’s Country Club

The sister location to Psyco Suzi’s, Betty Danger’s hosts fun and unique events like the ‘80s High School Hair Ball (don the neon, grab the Clairol, and tease it till it’s a foot above your face!). The themes carry over into drag brunch shows as well, making this one of the best downtown bars to stay from brunch through late night.

There’s also a mini-golf and a Ferris wheel if you didn’t already have enough entertainment.

South of Downtown

Icehouse

Icehouse is a two-story restaurant and bar with events and music such as blues, gospel, hip-hop, and bluegrass from local singers and bands.

Up-Down Minneapolis

Choose from pizza, craft brews, and more than 50 arcade games at Up-Down Minneapolis. Play pinball, skee ball, life-size Jenga, old-school Nintendo, and upgraded games. Best of all? Games are .25 each!

Uptown

Uptown, made famous by Prince in a song called, well, “Uptown,” is located around Hennepin and Lake Street. An Uptown tavern is popular with bar hoppers and night owls who enjoy lively bars, a dance floor, and nightclubs.

Bryant Lake Bowl and Theater

Bryant Lake Bowl and Theater is the place to be when you want to go bowling, watch a live show, listen to DJs, and try local beers on tap.

The Pourhouse Uptown

The Prohibition-themed Pourhouse Uptown is where to go for lip sync battles, burlesque shows, and musical acts. There are fifty 25-foot HD projection screens for game day (or night) viewing at this nightclub.

East

Hook & Ladder Theater

Hook & Ladder Theater is an independent artist-driven venue located at the historic firehouse #21 in Minneapolis. Operated by Firehouse Performing Arts Center, you can take in live music, culinary events, and comedy performances.

Trylon Microcinema

If you’re a movie buff, your idea of Minneapolis nightlife probably includes a big bag of popcorn and a cup of soda. Trylon Microcinema is a 90-seat movie theater that shows cult classics, B movies, retrospectives, Hitchcock film festivals, ‘80s movie classics, and more.

Schooner Tavern

Situated on 27th Avenue South, in the Longfellow neighborhood, Schooner Tavern is the oldest pub in the city (it opened in 1932). It’s one of the best places to enjoy imported and craft brews and wine while playing bar bingo, checking out the pool tables, and listening to live music.

Surf on over to the website for updates on special events such as Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, and more.

West Bank

Comedy Corner Underground

Located in a basement venue, Comedy Corner Underground describes itself as a “weird little punk rock comedy club.” If you like sometimes dark but always funny comedy, this is one of the best clubs for you. Show off your improv skills at free open mic nights at this Minneapolis venue.

The Southern Theater

Man Playing a Guitar on a Theater Stage
“Before the Ceremony” by twodolla is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Southern Theater, built in 1910 for the Scandinavian community, features live music, dramatic performances, and even puppetry. The popular Saturday night Balls Cabaret is the longest-running weekly midnight cabaret in Minneapolis. Or so they say. We’re really not sure. But it sounds good, ‘dunnit?

See Related: Best Indoor Activities in Minnesota

Southwest

Salt Cave Minneapolis

Step into a room and relax among six tons of Himalayan crystal salt at the Salt Cave Minneapolis. Sit in a cozy chair and breathe in that salt fragrance, which is said to reduce discomfort, ease stress, and fight allergies and asthma. Just what you need before a night out on the dance floor.

Check out their website for a full list of available services.

Victor’s 1959 Café

Victor’s 1959 Café is a taste of Cuba in the middle of this here Twin City. Try food favorites like Cuban chicken stew, Cuban sandwiches, ceviche, and lime-marinated steak, or sip on café con leche and espresso after a night at the theater or bar.

Tap Society

Enjoy burgers, sandwiches, cocktails, and pay-by-the-ounce beers at Tap Society. Finish off the evening with chocolate and strawberry shakes and root beer floats.

Their yummy, weekly specials are listed on the website!

Dinkytown

Home to the prestigious University of Minnesota, this college town offers an eclectic mix of bars, pubs, and music venues featuring indie bands and singer-songwriters.

Check out a Minnesota Golden Gophers game at Huntington Bank Stadium or just hang out in Stadium Village with the grill and cooler for tailgating parties.

Northrop Auditorium

Northrop Auditorium, located on the college campus, offers concerts, comedy, dance performances, and lectures. Check out the website for tickets and upcoming events.

Varsity Theater

Varsity Theater is one of the most exciting live music and performance venues in Dinkytown. Former live shows include Mumford & Sons and Janelle Monaé. You can even hold private events for a party of 25 to 750 guests.

Sally’s Saloon

Check out the college vibe at Sally’s Saloon for craft brews, cocktails, burgers, and burritos. Cheer on the latest sporting events or enjoy the patio. The club is located in Stadium Village.

Blarney Pub and Grill

For the Irish spirit (and a pint or two), you can’t beat the college town atmosphere and pub eats of Blarney Pub and Grill. There’s a cozy fireplace, a game room, and big-screen TVs to keep track of the latest scores.

Stub & Herb’s

Yellow Building of Stub & Herb’s
“Landmark” by Hugo-90 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Another cool Stadium Village hot spot, Stub & Herb’s offers a menu of apps, wings, and sandwiches and an extensive list of craft brews. On campus since 1939, the friendly staff and warm décor welcome locals, students, visitors, and alumni whether it’s game day or not.

Bad Axe Throwing

Bad Axe Throwing, located about 2.5 miles north of the university, is the Minneapolis answer to the nationwide ax-throwing craze. Bring out your inner lumberjack, Viking, or just reduce some stress by hurling an ax at a target!

There’s a full-service bar and bistro with a large beverage menu. Every lane has a bar top to keep your drink safe while you’re wielding an ax. Not skilled in the practice of ax throwing? No problem. There are axe throwing instructors available.

See Related: Best Hikes Near Minneapolis, Minnesota

Public Transportation in Minneapolis

Minneapolis Skyway System

The Minneapolis Skyway System is one of the coolest transport systems we’ve seen – you can practically live in the skyway without ever going outside!

It connects 80 city blocks over 9.5 miles, providing access to shopping, dining, clubs, nightlife, business offices, Target Center, and more. It’s the largest system of indoor connected and enclosed footbridges in the world. 

Each skyway is owned by the building that it’s connected to, so there aren’t always consistent opening and closing times.

Light Rail

The Metro Blue Line Light Rail Blue and Green Line runs east to west in downtown on 5th Street. Rates are currently .50 a ride.

See Related: Do You Need a Car in Minneapolis? An Insider’s Peak

Scooter and Bike Rental

Rent bikes and scooters for a fun and convenient way to get around the city. Lime and Bird are good choices for warm weather scooting. Nice Ride is another option for peddling around the Twin City. This might not be a viable option for nighttime travel, but if you’re an early bird, it’s an option.

Bus

There’s a free bus that services the Nicollet area every day of the week. Buses are marked with “Free Ride.”

Hotels in Minneapolis

After a night out, posh hotels with luxury linens, upscale amenities, and room service (and maybe a massage or facial the next day) are just what your dancing feet need. Looking for budget-friendly hotels in Minneapolis? They’ve got that too!

Whether you’re staying for a week or a weekend, there’s a Minnesota hotel to suit your party needs.

Royal Sonesta Minneapolis Downtown

Room with Qeen-sized Bed and Green Chairs
Photo by Booking.com

The Royal Sonesta Minneapolis Downtown is located right in the middle of everything in downtown Minneapolis. It’s a great place to stay in Minneapolis if you’re visiting Target Field or U.S. Bank Stadium for a game.

Hotel amenities include a business center and a fitness center. Pets are allowed, so feel free to bring four-legged companions along on your trip. Rooms have free Wi-Fi, coffeemakers, and a refrigerator. For dining, check out the hotel’s dining option, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Westin Minneapolis

Chairs in The Westin Minneapolis Lobby
Photo by Booking.com

Built in 1941, the Westin Minneapolis building was originally a bank.

The hotel restaurant is appropriately named B.A.N.K. Restaurant and Lounge. There’s a business center, swimming pool, a fitness center, and a hot tub. Modern guest rooms have coffeemakers, mini-refrigerators, a seating area, and a safe.

The hotel is near the Minneapolis Convention Center and about 12 miles from the Mall of America and Minneapolis – Saint Paul International Airport.

Hampton Inn & Suites Minneapolis Downtown

Empty and Spacious Lobby of Hampton Inn & Suites - Minneapolis
Photo by Booking.com

Connected to the Skyway transportation system, Hampton Inn & Suites Minneapolis Downtown is the perfect anchorage to enjoy area nightlife in downtown Minneapolis.

The hotel offers complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi, a coffeemaker, and a small fridge. There’s a fitness center, a business center, and a snack shop.

The Chambers Hotel

Spacious Room with a Queen-sized Bed
Photo by Booking.com

The Chambers Hotel sits on the corner of 9th and Hennepin in the theater district. Built in 1908, rooms offer artistic touches and luxury amenities such as walk-in showers and soaking tubs.

Guests can enjoy the coziness of a fire pit in the courtyard. The hotel is located conveniently near Target Field, U.S. Bank Stadium, nightclubs, and other nightlife in Minneapolis.

The Graduate Minneapolis

Empty Lobby with Huge Chandelier
Photo by Booking.com

The boutique Graduate Minneapolis, located on the campus of the University of Minnesota, features elegant décor, luxury linens, and customized touches. There’s a restaurant, room service, a lounge, a fitness center, and meeting space as well as free Wi-Fi, mini-refrigerators, and coffeemakers.

Within walking distance, TCF Bank Stadium is just two blocks away, making it a convenient choice for a Gophers game and checking out the nightclubs.

Days Hotel by Wyndham University

Days Hotel Building Front
Photo by Booking.com

Located near the University of Minnesota campus, the Days Hotel by Wyndham University offers free shuttle service to the campus and other local destinations.

This is a terrific feature if you’re in Minneapolis for sporting events, on a family trip, visiting a college student, or doing a college tour.

This pet-friendly hotel offers free Wi-Fi. Some guest rooms have a refrigerator and a microwave.

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