Minneapolis combines the Dakota word for water (mine) with the Greek word for city (polis) — a fitting name for a city with so many of Minnesota's 12,034 lakes. As the state’s largest city, Minneapolis combines the buzz of urban life with the neighborliness of smaller towns. 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, with many stages for theater and dance performances, an opera company, and symphony orchestra; also museums, film festivals and art-house cinema screenings. See our events and experiences 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 to downtown Minneapolis in about 25 minutes for $2.25. Remember to buy the ticket at the station machine before boarding. Taxis can also get you to either city.
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 to the top local tourist magnet, the Mall of America. For Minneapolis public transportation 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, four Hennepin Avenue bars, Gay 90s, the Brass Rail, the Saloon, and Gladius, 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 7-9pm, 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.
Twin Cities Pride and Minnesota Leather Pride both take place in June each year, with many events, all over town.
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, long on Dayton Avenue, St Paul moved November 2013 to 1220 East Lake St, Minneapolis. One of the oldest gay lending libraries in the country, they welcome drop-ins for information on the local gay community.
A Brother's Touch and Query gay bookstores both closed.
For a city map with locations and website links to businesses, museums and entertainment venues, see our gay Minneapolis-St Paul listings pages.
The gay hotel at the Saloon closed, but there are three large gay-friendly downtown hotels at the center:
The Graves 601 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 Marquette Hotel (710 Marquette Ave; 612- 333-4545), luxury, convenience, business & fitness centers; Basil's Restaurant casual dining.
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.
Bolt (515 Washington Ave), Video Bar at the Eagle complex, latest videos, showtunes and movie nights, special parties, pizza, sandwiches, fish 'n chips; dance club, industrial vibe, bear events, leather Gear Nights, underwear nights.
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.
Minneapolis Eagle (515 Washington Ave S), leather, bears, buff guys, dancing, pool table, year-round smokers' patio, Saturday and Sunday Bloody Mary Brunch.
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, Sunday all-ages drag brunch. Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, plus third Fridays and Saturdays are 18-plus.
Jetset (115 First Street N), Manhattan-style lounge, cocktail bar, karaoke, hip-hop and house music, Fridays and Saturdays dancing.
Lush (990 Central Ave NE), sleek, modern decor, live entertainment, bingo, eclectic food menu; before-the-clubs crowd.
Saloon (830 Hennepin Ave), dance club, video bar, Sunday amateur shower contests, Latino, cowboy, and goth nights, snacks and meal baskets; many nights 18-plus.
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, drag shows & cabaret, line-dancing, neighborhood hangout, mixed crowd.
Cafes & Restaurants
Many of the bars listed above serve food. A sampling of a few more follows, among the great diversity of options around Minneapolis.
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.
Subo (89 S 10th St), Filipino and southeast Asian dining, bold exotic flavors, tapas-style for group-sharing, vegan-friendly options.
Uptown Cafeteria (3001 Hennepin Ave), American-International comfort food, weekend breakfast, cocktails, rooftop city views.
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.
For contact information, website connections and locations of all the above, see our map and listings section.