Minneapolis combines the Dakota word for water (mni) with the Greek word for city (polis) — a fitting name for a city with twenty of Minnesota's 12,034 lakes and straddling two banks of the Mississippi River. Hydropower operated lumber industry sawmills, and regional farmers shipped their grain by rail to the city's thirty-four flour mills. General Mills and Pillsbury, two of the largest, helped make this into the primary business center between Chicago and Seattle, home to many Fortune 500 companies, including big banks and retail chains such as Target and Macy's.
Peoples of many countries settled here, especially Northern Europeans: those of German descent number over 20%, Scandinavian-Americans 21%, and English and Irish another 11%. Polish, French and Italians, along with African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, Native-Americans and others contribute to this multicultural mix. As the state’s largest city, Minneapolis combines the buzz of urban life with the neighborliness of smaller towns, and residents enjoy cultural and recreational opportunities in beautiful natural surroundings.
Both Minneapolis and nearby St Paul attract young people from the rural areas stretching hundreds of miles in all directions, making the Twin Cities the buckle of the northern farm belt. As with much of the Midwest, you will feel very welcome.
The Twin Cities are home to much of the cultural life of the region, second only to New York City in terms of live theater per capita, with many stages for theater and dance performances including the Cowles Center and Ordway Center; an opera company, and orchestra, plus museums, film festivals and art-house cinema screenings. See our events and activities listings for details.
The Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport is about 16 miles from downtown Minneapolis and 12 miles from downtown St Paul. The Light Rail service of Metro Transit will whisk you between terminals (no charge) or to downtown Minneapolis in about 25 minutes for $1.75-2.25 (rush hours). Remember to buy the ticket at the station machine before boarding. Taxis can also get you to either of the Twin Cities.
A car is the most convenient way to get around. Buses traverse most of the city, and Light Rail Transit is a quick way to get from downtown Minneapolis to the top local tourist magnet, the Mall of America, on the Blue Line, or to St Paul on the Green Line. See Metro Transit
Neither Minneapolis nor St Paul has a “gay neighborhood” per se, though both have communities centered around their respective downtowns.
In downtown Minneapolis, three Hennepin Avenue bars, Gay 90s, the Brass Rail, and the Saloon are easily walkable between 4th and 11th Streets. Bar 19 is to the south on 15th, near the Convention Center. Jetset is a 15-20 minute hike, northwest of Hennepin. The Minneapolis Eagle/Bolt complex is 6 blocks east of Hennepin down Washington Avenue. Hennepin is also the location of several theaters. See our map.
Local Media & resources
Lavender Magazine has gay news, articles, and reviews. They also sponsor some excellent pride events all summer.
KFAI (90.3FM), Fresh Fruit, Thursdays 7-8pm, is the longest running Queer radio show in the country. They cover a lot of ground with This Way Out, Gays Without Borders and Queer Music Heritage, among their many gay programs. Listen online too.
City Pages is the local weekly for general listings, news and reviews.
Twin Cities Daily Planet brings together local people, including those of the gay community, to create a diverse online media alternative.
Quatrefoil Library at 1220 East Lake St, Minneapolis, is one of the oldest gay lending libraries in the country. They welcome drop-ins for information on the local gay community, and sponsor author events, a Prime Timer book club, and LGBTQ Youth drop-ins.
The Loews Minneapolis Hotel (601 First Ave N; 612-677-1100), luxury rooms, 24-hour room service, cable movies, guest laundry, WiFi; Bradstreet Craftshouse Restaurant bar and hot sandwiches, and Cosmos Restaurant for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and fine dining, plus good wines.
The Millennium Hotel Minneapolis (1313 Nicollet Mall; 612-332-6000), right by the Convention Center, 321 guest rooms and suites, heated pool, sauna, fitness center, North 45˚ Restaurant and Bar, 14th floor dome overlooking Minneapolis.
If you're coming to town for Twin Cities Pride look for special accommodations deals through their website.
Bars and clubs -- Minneapolis
19 Bar (19 West 15th St), gay Loring Park neighborhood bar, oldest in town; mixed mostly male crowd, no drama, jukebox, darts, pool games.
Brass Rail Lounge (422 Hennepin Ave), piano bar, male strippers nightly, VIP room, piano bar, shows, movie nights; snacks, burgers, dogs, pizza, soups and sandwiches.
EagleBolt Bar (515 Washington Ave S), leather, bears, buff guys, pool table, year-round smokers' patio, pool table and games, lunch and food nightly, Saturday and Sunday Brunch; video bar, 2nd Saturday Leather Gear Nights, underwear nights, dancing, special party events.
Gay 90s (408 Hennepin Ave), big six- bar dance and show complex, Men's Room, La Femme Showroom, drag shows, karaoke, full-service dining; Drag Queen Bingo, foam, fetish and jock strap parties, Girls Nights, amateur talent nights, Gay 90's dinner shows, Happy Hour sandwiiches, burgers and finger foods. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, plus third Fridays and Saturdays are 18-plus.
Jetset (115 First St N), Manhattan-style lounge, cocktail bar, karaoke, hip-hop and house music, 18 + Mile High Club Thurdays and 21+ Friday/ Saturday dancing.
Lush (990 Central Ave NE), sleek, modern decor, live entertainment, dancing, bingo, karaoke, eclectic food menu, weekend brunch; before-the-clubs crowd.
Nomad World Pub (501 Cedar Ave), small locals' pub, live music, games, TV sports; queer dance nights.
Saloon (830 Hennepin Ave), dance club, video bar, Sunday amateur shower contests, drag shows, karaoke, happy hour grub and meal baskets; 18-plus Mondays through Thursdays, 21+ weekend dancing, guest DJs and live performances, Tank dress code third Fridays, plus a big annual Pride Block Party.
CLOSED: Mattie’s on Main (43 Main St SE), bar/saloon and restaurant, patio, live music, cabaret, burlesque.
Bars and clubs -- St Paul
Burger Moe's (242 West 7th St), quality burgers, 85 beers from around the globe, cocktails, big patio, gay-friendly mix.
Camp (490 North Robert St), video, dance and piano cabaret bar, hot bartenders, bar food, burgers and sandwiches menu, mixed upscale crowd.
Town House (1415 University Ave), piano bar and dance club/ lounge, drag shows, cabaret, line-dancing, neighborhood hangout with pool games and darts, mixed crowd.
Cafes & Restaurants
Many of the bars listed above serve food. Some others from our map listings include:
Devil's Advocate (89 S 10th St), 40 beers on tap, unuaual bar food menus, lunch, dinner, Saturday/Sunday brunch.
Haute Dish (119 N Washington Ave), classic midwest cuisine (and others) interpreted with madcap ingenuity; full bar.
Hell's Kitchen (80 S 9th St), all-day breakfast, gospel brunch, dinner, Bloody Marys, happy hours; real food, prepared from scratch.
Jakeeno's (3555 Chicago Ave S), pizza, pastas, dips, wings, salads, Italian bread sandwiches, and deserts - since 1975.
Kindee Thai (719 S 2nd St), traditional Thai cuisine with modern flair, across from Guthrie Theatre and Mill City Museum.
Mercado Central (1515 E. Lake St), Latin marketplace & cultural center, includes Mexican & Salvadorian restaurants, coffeeshops, a tortillería, plus a taquería, Latin grocery stores and more. Open daily.
Midtown Global Market (920 E Lake St), international market-place, many restaurants and bars with world-wide choice of cuisines, arts and crafts, early to late hours.
Wilde Roast Cafe (532 E Hennepin Ave), Victorian look, breakfast daily (late on weekends), sandwiches, lunch, dinner, beer, wine, community events.
Minnesota has no sales tax on clothing, so shopping is a big tourist attraction here.
Mall of America, minutes from the airport, is one of the world's largest retail centers; over 520 stores, 50 restaurants, 14 movie screens.
Rainbow Road (109 W Grant St) has new-release DVDs, thousands of gay titles and erotic films, clothing, cards and pride items.