What to Do Around the Minneapolis Armory

Get your boogie on in this historical event space, unique to Minneapolis!

Photo by Tyler Allix, owned by The Armory

The Minneapolis Armory is located in downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks from U.S. Bank Stadium.

Completed in 1936, the Armory was operated by the Minnesota National Guard until 1980. During this time it was used to run military drills, host concerts, political conventions and sporting events, including games for the Minnesota Lakers NBA team between 1947 and 1960, before the team moved to less awesome city. The Armory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Photo by Tyler Allix, Owned by The Armory

Fans of Prince and Aerosmith may be familiar with the Armory’s made-for-music interior. The videos for “1999” and “I Don't Want to Miss a Thing” were filmed here in 1982 and 1998 respectively.

Photo by Tyler Allix, Owned by The Armory
Photo by Tyler Allix, Owned by The Armory

If you want to grab food or beverages, or just while away time before or after an Armory event, the options are numerous. 

Barely two blocks away is the Nordic-themed drinking hole, Erik the Red Nordic BBQ & Barbarian Bar (named, undoubtedly, for its proximity to U.S. Stadium and the pulsating Minnesota Vikings vibe therein). How BBQ and Scandinavians fit together is anyone’s guess, but the fruity-spicy “lingonberry barbeque sauce” is a good start.
Even closer is Bar Zia, serving a pleasingly priced, comfortingly familiar array of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and small plates. They have two-for-one drinks and $2 off appetizers during happy hour (Mon-Fri 3-6 p.m. and 10 p.m.-midnight). Having recently been reinvented with a short but respected menu is Dan Kelly’s Pub. The old Irish bar is still dark as a cave, but it has a strong selection of beer and whiskeys and an attractive happy hour (3-7 p.m.).

New to the neighborhood is McKinney Roe, an upscale option known for entrees like the shrimp risotto and citrus scallops, an Instagram-ready charcuterie plate and the Big Stagg Burger, which won the 2017 Twin Cities Burger Battle. 

Farther afield is neighborhood fixture Grumpy’s Bar & Grill, with TVs tuned to sports, pool tables, a big patio and a long menu of satisfying bar food. Recently renovated, Maxwell’s American Pub is less sporty, with more of a neighborhood hangout feel. The menu is mainly filled with classic pub food, with Minnesota touches like tatter tots with chicken wild rice and “Midwest Jambalaya.”

In agreeable weather, new downtown park The Commons is literally across the street from the Armory. They host a lot of pop-up events here, in particular during the Super Bowl, but it’s also a nice place to sit in thick grass (or snow), play Frisbee and watch tiny two and four-legged creatures run amok. 

Commons Park, Photo by Christopher Sticha; cstichaphoto@gmail.com

If marrying your concert energy with fascinating Minneapolis history sounds appealing, the Mill City Museum is your ticket. The museum tracks the history of flour milling and how it transformed Minneapolis from scattered settlements into the flour milling capital of the world for 50 years, powered by the only naturally occurring falls on the entire length of the Mississippi River.

Mill City Museum, Photo by Coppersmith Photography

Finally, there’s the allure of the Mississippi River Boulevard (this particular section is designated as a regional park), with bike and walking paths, more open areas on which to frolic, the St. Anthony Falls Visitor Center and the historic and highly Instagrammable Stone Arch Bridge.

Stone Arch Bridge, Photo by Minneapolis Parks and Recreation

For more night out options in the area, check out our neighborhood guides for East Downtown/Mill District, Nicollet (Super Bowl Live area) and the Central Business District