There’s no shortage of live entertainment in the Central Business District. Hennepin Avenue’s historic theater district hosts top-shelf national and international productions and artists. The Orpheum, State, and Pantages theaters are where a number of touring Broadway plays, musicals, comedians, and concerts make their stops. The legendary Brave New Workshop is the longest, continuously running sketch comedy and improv theater in the country and hosts many variety acts throughout the year.
First Avenue had already cemented its legacy as one of the top live music venues in the country before Prince used it as a location for key parts of his 1984 film “Purple Rain.” The incredible history of this club is literally written on the outside walls of the building. Since 1970, artists including Tina Turner, Ray Charles, BB King, The Cure, The Replacements, U2, REM, Run DMC, Public Enemy, Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine, The Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Coldplay, The White Stripes, and virtually any other popular artist you can name have rocked out on the First Ave stages. (Looking for something more intimate? The neighboring 7th Street Entry is First Ave's smaller, live music sister venue.) The Dakota Jazz Club is a historic music venue/restaurant combination on Nicollet Mall, with a reputation for hosting a wide variety of artists including Lucinda Williams, Bob Mould, Cowboy Junkies, Angelique Kidjo, Mavis Staples, Mike Doughty, Anoushka Shankar, Aimee Mann, and Ronnie Spector. Prince liked to frequent the Dakota as both guest and as performer, which is about as high praise as a place can get. Just down Nicollet is Orchestra Hall, home to the distinguished, Grammy Award-winning Minnesota Orchestra, who stage roughly 175 performances each year. Less than a 10 minute walk away you'll find the historic Foshay Tower, the tallest building in the midwest for 48 years (now home to the W Hotel). Head up to the 31st floor observation deck for some breathtaking 360-degree views of the city and visit the museum to learn about the skyscraper’s history and its quirky architect.