The 10 Best Live Music Venues in Minnesota!

wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock.com

In Minnesota, hot music creates a soundtrack for warm summer nights and a reason to be happy during the long, cold dark winters. Not only does the state produce a lot of hot music (Prince, Bob Dylan, etc…) but its venues draw artists from all over the globe. Some are among the best a touring act can find anywhere.

1. First Avenue and 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis, MN

Perhaps Minnesota’s best-known music venue, First Ave. featured prominently in the 1984 Prince vehicle, “Purple Rain,” and has long been known as the place artists play when they “make it.” Bands like the Replacements, the Jayhawks, Semisonic, and Husker Du played early major shows at First Ave. Meanwhile, local up-and-comers hone their chops at the adjacent, smaller 7th St. Entry.

2. Minnesota Zoo Amphitheater, Apple Valley, MN

While Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park is probably the prettiest outdoor venue in the state, the Minnesota Zoo Amphitheater attracts better acts than any other fresh air stage. The English Beat, Ziggy Marley, Blondie, and Har Mar Superstar have all appeared on the Amphitheater’s packed “Music in the Zoo” calendar.

3. Icehouse, Minneapolis, MN

The Icehouse is a unique venue that combines high-end food with a bar and music venue, which means that it’s popular local spot even when there’s no act on stage. It hosts several musical residencies per month, plus boasts a calendar containing artists like the Pines, Caroline Smith, Mark Mallman, and Reina del Cid. 

4. Turf Club, St. Paul, MN

Long a no-frills music venue in a blue collar St. Paul neighborhood, the Turf Club’s ability to attract artists got a boost when it partnered with First Ave. to promote shows. Now, the Turf Club hosts acts that range from local favorites to national up-and-comers and artists trying to make a comeback.

5. Myth Live Event Center, Maplewood, MN

The Myth is a troubled, mid-sized venue that, in spite of problems like closures, manages to attract popular national acts to its unassuming suburban location. One advantage the Myth has over other locations is ample free parking, which definitely can add to the overall experience, especially when compared to downtown or on-campus venues. At Myth, you can expect to catch acts such as 50 Cent, Sting, and Snoop Dogg.

6. The Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis, MN

A swanky restaurant and bar with a small stage and great sight lines, the Dakota (despite its name) attracts artists that play all sorts of music… not just jazz. With an award-winning menu, the venue takes as much pride in its food as it does its music offerings. Sonny Knight and the Lakers, Loudon Wainwright III, Judy Collins, and Rickie Lee Jones have all crossed the Dakota’s stage.

7. Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN

Yes, it’s the home to the Minnesota Wild hockey team, but the Xcel Energy Center also plays host to the state’s best arena shows. A combination of good acoustics, abundant amenities, and a cozy feel in a big venue lead to good concert-going experiences. When the likes of Adele, Beyonce, and Bruno Mars play in Minnesota, they are more likely to land at the Xcel than any other venue.

8. Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN

The Cedar Cultural Center is a former movie theater on the West Bank in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Even though it’s a non-profit venue within blocks of several other live music offerings, the Cedar manages to pull in an eclectic combination of national acts and local favorites for its regular rotation of all-ages shows. Valerie June, Lake Street Dive, and Jeremy Messersmith have all been on the Cedar’s calendar.

9. The Red Herring Lounge, Duluth, MN

The Red Herring is a cozy bar and music venue opened by music lovers. Its calendar is chock-full of popular local and regional acts, along with regular events like “Books & Beer.” Folks like Bad Bad Hats, Pert Near Sandstone, and Davina and the Vagabonds regularly stop in to play the Red Herring.

10. Northrop Memorial Auditorium, Minneapolis, MN

After being closed for extensive renovations, the University of Minnesota’s Northrop Auditorium recently reopened and is luring big national acts away from similar downtown venues like the State, Orpheum, and Pantages theaters. Along with its regular season offering of dance companies, the Northrop offers a sprinkling of concerts by artists like Norah Jones and My Morning Jacket.

Select a Minnesota town to find the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you
Best Things To Do Near You
Enter City / State or Zip code below
Best Places To Go Near You
Enter City / State or Zip code below
Select your town to find the Best Things-To-Do and Places To Go around you:

Aitkin County

Anoka County

Becker County

Beltrami County

Benton County

Big Stone County

Blue Earth County

Brown County

Carlton County

Carver County

Cass County

Chippewa County

Chisago County

Clay County

Clearwater County

Cook County

Cottonwood County

Crow Wing County

Dakota County

Dodge County

Douglas County

Faribault County

Fillmore County

Freeborn County

Goodhue County

Grant County

Hennepin County

Houston County

Hubbard County

Isanti County

Itasca County

Jackson County

Kanabec County

Kandiyohi County

Kittson County

Koochiching County

Lac Qui Parle County

Lake County

Lake Of The Woods County

Le Sueur County

Lincoln County

Lyon County

Mahnomen County

Marshall County

Martin County

Mcleod County

Meeker County

Mille Lacs County

Morrison County

Mower County

Murray County

Nicollet County

Nobles County

Norman County

Olmsted County

Otter Tail County

Pennington County

Pine County

Pipestone County

Polk County

Pope County

Ramsey County

Red Lake County

Redwood County

Renville County

Rice County

Rock County

Roseau County

Saint Louis County

Scott County

Sherburne County

Sibley County

Stearns County

Steele County

Stevens County

Swift County

Todd County

Traverse County

Wabasha County

Wadena County

Waseca County

Washington County

Watonwan County

Wilkin County

Winona County

Wright County

Yellow Medicine County