Top Places in Minneapolis to Get Your Culture Fix...
Minneapolis, you really are too much. Miles of sprawling Mississippi riverfront trails and parks, the gorgeous chain of lakes right in the middle of the city, serene and architecturally wonderful churches, exciting warehouse district, landmark Nicollet Mall walking area, funky Uptown entertainment district, historic and beautiful cemeteries, the old cobblestoned streets of St. Anthony Main lined with newly renovated grain elevator lofts, the Northeast arts district with its ever growing brew pubs… **inhales deeply to catch breath**
I mean really, how does one narrow your culture offerings down to 10 places? Impossible! So please, show our travelers an amazing time as they explore this suggested list and hopefully stumble upon all of the hidden and not so hidden additional gems you have to offer along their journeys.
Walker Art Center ▪ 1750 Hennepin Avenue
It’s hard to miss the façade of the Walker Art Center, located along the border of stunning Loring Park and Lowry Hill neighborhoods near downtown Minneapolis.
The striking geometric and glass shapes emerge from the backdrop of older brownstones in the distance, commanding your attention.
Admission is free on Thursday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., as well as all day long the first Saturdays of each month, and the outdoor sculpture garden, where you will find the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, is free to explore at your leisure.
If you are visiting in the summertime, ensure you play a round of artist-designed mini-golf, and grab a hot dog, beer, or wine at the food truck.
The Walker also showcases free films in its Open Field area on Monday nights in August, the most popular of which is the Internet Cat Video Festival, where you will find many passionate and creatively attired viewers from all walks of life. Find a park, a movie and an evening that fits in well with your travels and experience the camaraderie of picnicking with local Minneapolitans.
Orpheum Theater ▪ 910 Hennepin Avenue
Originally opened in 1921, the equisitely restored 2,600-seater Orpheum Theater, is a wonderful place to see some of your favorite Broadway shows such as Motown – The Musical; Pippin; Annie; and Kinky Boots, to name a few.
The Orpheum has also had the honor of hosting the opening of some more notable productions including The Lion King.
The Oprheum has also hosted well-known musicians such as Bob Dylan, who returned to Minneapolis in November 2014 for a three-night run of shows. Dylan previously owned the theater from 1979 until 1988, when he then sold it to the City of Minneapolis.
State Theater ▪ 805 Hennepin Avenue
The magnificent State Theater was considered one of the most elaborate and technologically advanced theaters in the United States when it opened in 1921, and it’s easy to see why.
The State Theater has hosted live Broadway touring productions such as Avenue Q, Sweeney Todd, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, as well as numerous concerts.
Pantages Theater ▪ 710 Hennepin Avenue
The beautiful Pantages opened in 1916 and was originally 12 stories tall. Today it has been completely renovated and is of much shorter stature, standing at only two stories tall.
The Pantages hosts all types of world-class performances including theater, comedy, and music, and is well known for its phenomenal acoustics.
First Avenue ▪ 701 North 1st Avenue
If you’re lucky enough to see one of your favorite musicians play at First Avenue while on your travels, then well done! The venue has two floors, but allows concertgoers to feel intimately close to the performance, with the main stage right at eye level.
Many musicians are obsessed with playing this friendly venue filled with deeply passionate and appreciative music lovers. The building opened in 1937 as a Greyhound bus station, but by the early 1980s was well positioned at the forefront of the Minneapolis music scene by none other than Prince himself.
Many well-known bands that came out of Minnesota initially rocked this venue, including The Replacements, Soul Asylum, Semisonic, and The Jayhawks. For locals and music lovers, First Avenue still serves as “Your Downtown Danceteria Since 1970”.
Lab Theater ▪ 700 North 1st Street
Prepare to be awed. Possibly the most romantic theater in all of Minneapolis, the cozy and exceptionally beautiful Lab Theater is a wonderful venue to see local theater boasting percussive dance or live jazz bands.
Many eclectic independent productions are hosted here, and with the intimate sight lines of the performance space, you can almost reach out and touch the performers, although we wouldn't recommend it!
Patrick’s Cabaret ▪ 3010 Minnehaha Avenue
Patrick’s Cabaret, which opened in 1986, is a grassroots theater supporting emerging artists of all genres, and is also deeply involved with the LGBT community.
Formerly a firehouse, the converted space brings life to mixed artist disciplines in an intimate setting, seating approximately 100 people.
Often edgy, experimental, improvisational, and provocative, you will find a variety of shows here, including dance, open call cabaret nights, and singer/songwriters, to name a few.
Many shows push social and political boundaries, so having an open and artistic mind is a must. This is not your grandma’s theater. Tickets are generally around $10, and 100% of ticket sales go directly to the artist.
Patrick’s is also one of a number of venues where you will find shows participating in the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the largest non-juried performing arts festival in the United States.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) ▪ 2400 3rd Avenue South
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is a fine arts museum with a collection of approximately 80,000 objects spanning years of world history, including “one of the finest and most comprehensive Asian art collections in the country.”
In this expansive and exquisite building, you will find everything from 40,000 year-old artifacts to world-famous masterpieces. There are no entrance fees to the museum, except special exhibitions, so even travelers on a tight budget can take in the beauty of the MIA. Truly a must see if you are visiting the city for the first time!
A few other museums worth mentioning: The Museum of Russian Art, the American Swedish Institute, and Allen Christian’s House of Balls, are all equally magnificent places to spend an afternoon.
Guthrie Theater ▪ 818 South 2nd Street
The Guthrie Theater has been a Minneapolis staple since 1963, “performing theater classics in an atmosphere removed from the commercial pressures of Broadway.” Here, you will find productions such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, My Fair Lady, and A Christmas Carol.
In 2006, construction was completed of a new $125 million modern theater building along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The Guthrie was named one of GQ Magazine’s 10 most important buildings of the 21st Century, Architecture Magazine’s Best of 2006, and Travel and Leisure’s Design Award in 2007 for best cultural space.
Minneapolis truly is a culturally rich destination. For more information on what to see and do in Minneapolis, visit http://www.minneapolis.org.
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