Minneapolis’ nightlife highlights its diverse, cutting-edge live music scene. Blues and jazz clubs are always popular, but you can also find top-notch venues playing everything from rock to reggae. Famous as the birthplace of musical luminaries like Prince, the city is a frequent tour stop for many major bands and musicians.

    If you're not here for the music, the city's booming independent breweries, bohemian cocktail bars, and creative independent theatres are excellent alternatives. Each district has a totally different feel, so make sure to stop by everywhere – from Uptown to Northeast – to enjoy the full experience. Check out our list of the best places to go for a great night out in Minneapolis.


    The Exchange and Alibi Lounge

    Dance all night in a seriously hip watering hole

    The Exchange is a deluxe dance club covering 7,200 sq ft, situated in one of Minneapolis' most historic buildings. Two full bars and some seriously opulent seating line the space, while the middle is occupied by a vast dance floor where resident and guest DJs play hip-hop, dance music and top 40 hits. Music enthusiasts will be happy to hear that the sound system is a state-of-the-art Funktion-One EVO.

    Attached to the club is the Alibi Lounge, a more relaxed space that serves small plates of seafood and skilfully crafted cocktails. The magnificently restored building showcases the original limestone walls and marble floors, for a truly stylish cocktail destination.

    Location: 10 S 5th St # B100, Minneapolis, MN 55402, USA

    Open: Thursday–Saturday from 10 pm to 2 am (closed from Sundays to Wednesdays)

    Phone: +1 612-817-9330


    Green Line Brewery District

    Taste-test a broad selection of delicious ales and IPAs

    Follow the Metro Green Line between Prospect Park and Midway and you'll stop outside some of the best independent breweries in the city. Sample small-batch beers from dark stouts to pale ales, along with rosé-inspired lagers and chocolate porters.

    Start at Surly Brewing, a few steps from Prospect Park station, and try its tasty charcuterie board and gourmet bar food. Check out the intimate taproom at Bang Brewing, which is located right in the heart of the brewery so you can see all the inner workings. The Lab is a self-pour taproom that offers its guests the first taste of their newly developed beers. Finally, stop at Burning Brothers Brewing in Midway for the only gluten-free brewery in Minnesota.

    Location: University Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA


    photo by Runner1928 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    North Loop

    Chill out with a pint in this friendly neighbourhood

    The vibrant neighbourhood of North Loop is known for its historic warehouse buildings and easy-going nightlife. Most of the bars here have a cosy homespun feel and don't know the meaning of the word 'trendy'. Check out the rustic interior at no 12 Cider or laidback microbreweries like The Freehouse and Modist Brewing Company.

    Food in the district leans towards new American and innovative takes on burgers and classic bar food. Grills like Cuzzy's and Darby's serve old-fashioned comfort food, while at Bunker's Bar and Grill the indulgent burgers are accompanied by live bands every night. Other low-key entertainment options include Acme Comedy Club and small music venues like Fine Line and The Fillmore.

    Location: North Loop, Minneapolis, MN 55401, USA


    Varsity Theater

    See avant-garde performances in a beautiful period theatre

    Originally an early 20th-century vaudeville theatre, the Varsity now hosts plays, performances, film screenings and live music in gorgeous Art Deco surroundings. Seating is available on the upper levels, with lots of cosy nooks and sumptuous leather sofas, while the area in front of the stage is standing room only. Even the theatre's bathrooms have won awards for their unique and memorable design.

    Recent productions have included acclaimed theatre performances, independent films and a visiting dance company. The venue has hosted many world-famous singers and musicians, among them Mumford and Sons, Janelle Monaé and Amy Winehouse.

    Location: 1308 SE 4th St, Minneapolis, MN 55414, USA

    Open: Hours vary by showtimes

    Phone: +1 612-217-7701


    photo by Taylor Dahlin (CC BY 2.0) modified



    Relax in a quiet lakeside neighbourhood

    Head out to the lakes and lagoons of Uptown, and the city's nightlife takes on a different aura. The clubs give way to relaxed rooftop bars, homey restaurants and snug diners. The cosmopolitan line-up of global cuisines in Uptown includes French, Thai, Asian fusion, Italian and South American, and there's no shortage of delicious seafood.

    Rooftop patios are the place to be after the sun goes down. Head to The Pourhouse for elegant cocktails on the terrace, the Hammer & Sickle for a vodka bar with an Eastern European flavour, or Uptown Tavern for craft brews on their rooftop deck. You're also just a short walk from several of the city's nicest lakes, surrounded by parks and picnic areas.

    Location: Uptown, Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA


    First Avenue

    A must-see for music lovers

    Probably the most iconic club in Minneapolis, First Avenue has been nurturing musical talent in the city since 1970. Prince loved to perform here, and the club featured in his film Purple Rain. First Avenue is home to Minneapolis' own Hall of Fame, a wall of silver stars for each artist who performed here. Prince's star is gold, naturally.

    Both international artists and local bands play a mix of indie rock, electronic, hip hop, pop and folk. Check out the big names who sell out the 1,500-person Mainroom, or head to the more intimate 7th St Entry to see new acts making their debut.

    Location: 701 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA

    Open: Hour vary by showtimes

    Phone: +1 612-338-8388


    photo by Runner1928 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified



    Eat your way around the world in this vibrant neighbourhood

    Whittier is a diverse area best known for the eclectic restaurants of Nicollet Avenue, where a stroll down the street will take you past Italian, Mexican, Caribbean, Greek, Malaysian and Chinese eateries. Drinks menus are just as international, and within a few hundred yards you can drink sake, margaritas, Vietnamese beers, Jamaican rum and tropical cocktails.

    TILT Pinball Bar is a favourite for retro bar games and craft beers, and there's plenty more entertainment at the pool tables and jukebox at CC Club. Check out the carefully curated wine list at Nightingale, or the chic cocktails at Icehouse accompanied by live music most nights. The cheesy karaoke session at El Mariachi is also popular with music fans.

    Location: Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA


    Northeast Minneapolis Arts District

    Grab a drink in the city's coolest 'hood

    The eccentric centre of the city's art scene, North Minneapolis Arts District has something unexpected around every corner. Possibly the most entertaining is Betty Danger's Country Club, a playful venue with a mini-golf course and Ferris Wheel. Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge is also a staple of the area, a Polynesian-themed spot with fun tiki drinks.

    The edge of the district borders the Mississippi and a riverfront stroll will take you past tons of trendy eateries and cocktail bars. Other establishments worth a stop include the numerous craft breweries that line Broadway St, dive bars like Grumpy's and 331 Club, and the restored 1920s Ritz Theater.

    Location: North Minneapolis Arts District, Minneapolis, MN 55418, USA


    photo by Tony Webster (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Orchestra Hall

    Enjoy world-class music in a stunning venue

    The home of the Minnesota Orchestra is an attractive modernist building famed for its great acoustics. A complicated cube pattern on the auditorium ceiling channels the notes, and the wooden stage enhances vibrations for a full, rich sound. This place offers just about everything, from traditional standbys like Mozart and Brahms to performances of Oscar-nominated film scores.

    Classical is the main offering but far from the only one – jazz, pop and other genres are also a regular part of the schedule. Visit at lunchtime for guided meditation accompanied by live music or kid-friendly concerts with a chance to join in.

    Location: 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA

    Open: Hours vary by showtimes

    Phone: +1 612-371-5656


    photo by Thomas - Minneapolis (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Brit's Pub

    Three words: rooftop lawn bowling

    The bowling green at Brit's Pub draws locals to play on sunny days – it’s also used to show football games or films on the massive outdoor screen. Speaking of beer, the offerings here are top-notch, covering English classics like London Pride and Old Speckled Hen plus popular local beers and a decent selection of ciders.

    The menu features some of the best of traditional British grub, with favourites like scotch eggs, shepherd's pie and fish and chips. They even serve a classic afternoon tea, complete with scones and cucumber sandwiches. Whether you're having a moment of homesickness or just want somewhere to watch the football, it's worth dropping by.

    Location: 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 2 am

    Phone: +1 612-332-3908


    photo by John J Schroeder (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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