The Perfect Minneapolis Weekend for LGBTQ Travelers
This LGBTQ friendly itinerary is your ultimate guide to Minneapolis’ inclusive neighborhoods, restaurants and attractions. Whether you're here for a weekend getaway or family-trip, you'll find that Minneapolis offers plenty of fun for LGBTQ travelers.
Article By Brett Burger
While it’s not set in stone for all, it’s pretty common knowledge that as queer people, we gravitate towards the city. There are often safe spaces for us which is why we feel so relaxed, safe and at home there. At the end of the day, Minneapolis is my safe space and one of my favorite places in the country. I’ve lived here, moved away and found myself itching to move back, so I did. It’s full of culture, art, great food and incredibly talented people. It’ll forever be my home, whether I decide to move again or not and I’m so happy I’m able to share some of my favorite places with you.
Day 1: Minneapolis Downtown, Uptown and more
When I travel for business, I’m usually put up in a typical no frill hotel with the same cookie cutter design. But where is the fun in that? Try to go outside your comfort zone and pick something like the Moxy Minneapolis. There is a location in downtown and uptown however for the purposes of this itinerary, I suggest the Uptown one. I love this spot because it’s It's a short walking distance to plenty of bars and restaurants like Stella’s Fish Cafe, Bryant Lake Bowl and Theater, and Up-Down Arcade Bar. These are great places for food and entertainment and let me just quick recommend the pad thai at Bryant Lake Bowl because it’s out of this world.
The Moxy has affordable room options for multiple people which makes it a cost effective hotel if you’re traveling with friends. They have unique room options to fit your travel needs including rooms with a queen bed and full loft above it. Their vintage style and decorations make for the perfect Instagram backdrop as well.
Bad Waitress is arguably my favorite place for breakfast in not only Uptown, but honestly in the entire Twin Cities. Each table is named after a superhero character in a very unique retro style restaurant. It’s a cute and fun place and has the most delicious giant chocolate chip pancakes. After you’re full from breakfast, take a walk right across the street for some shopping at Cheapo Records. Vinyls have taken the world by storm….again. I became a vinyl collector a few years ago and Cheapo is one of the best places to get them. They have every music, movie and art lover's dream as there is a treasure trove of both old and new records to choose from. Everything from the newest vinyl to that random CD you thought you’d never find again and transports you to the early 2000’s.
When you’ve had enough shopping and it’s time for lunch, visit Wise Acre Eatery. Many of their ingredients are provided from their very own farm that is in Plato, MN. Locally produced meals that are farm-fresh and chemical free? We love that journey for us. The menu includes items like a beet salad, squash/potato chowder and don’t get me started on their kimchi grilled cheese. Their food is light and is spot on for a lunch time meal, which is great because you’re gonna want to eat light for my suggestion for dinner later on.
After lunch, take a stroll through Loring Park if it’s a nice day. My friends and I will often bring a blanket and some snacks for a little picnic in the summer or the fall because it’s so relaxing and lovely. There is a long history of Loring Park being a community hub for gay people. The Pride march originally started here too in the 80’s after it became a place where gay people were often beat up. That’s when groups of queer people took it upon themselves to patrol the parks themselves to watch out for each other. This is typically where Pride is always centered around after the parade. Hundreds of vendors and brands set up a long winding maze and it’s a staple to go to each year.
Revival is where we are headed next for dinner. If you don’t listen to any of my suggestions so far, I beg that you listen to this one. There is a location in both St. Paul and Minneapolis where they specialize in southern comfort food. Sorry, I meant mouth watering southern comfort food. Foodies can order a whole fried chicken or a little, sandwiches and various entrees with sides including white cheddar grits hush puppies. They even have, my personal favorite, chicken and waffles if that’s your thing! Send me a tweet and I’ll meet you there in a heartbeat.
End of the day entertainment can be one of two things (or both if you can squeeze them in). The first is catching a show at Penumbra Theatre. They’ve been around for over 40 years and create professional productions that are thought provoking and relevant. Penumbra is a dedicated theatre that illuminates the human condition through the prism of the African American experience. In 2018 I saw a collaboration show with Penumbra and the Children’s Theatre Company of The Wiz and it was life changing. The second option is the Walker Art Center which focuses on visual, performing and media art. They address questions that shape and inspire us as individuals, cultures, and communities. Either of these are a lovely choice for some evening entertainment.
Day 2: Minneapolis Neighborhoods and Beyond
This morning we’re going to venture to the northern part of Minneapolis. The first stop is at The Coffee Shop Northeast. They are certified fair-trade organic coffee and have on the go breakfast options like sandwiches, fresh pastries and steel cut oats. The Coffee Shop Northeast is right on the way to our morning adventure which is the Wild Things store.
Listen, we all love a nice accent piece from Target but what’s the story behind it? I want something that has a history in my apartment. Something that is unique which is why I prefer antique stores. I also love shopping there because you never know what you’re going to stumble upon and it’s like a treasure hunt. Here you can buy, sell, trade and collect vintage antiques. An amazing queer owned business that has everything from kitchen needs to apparel to glass and other breakables, paintings, wall art, pottery and more
Cuppa Java is where we are headed to for lunch with their famous hot sandwiches. They of course serve coffee which, if you’re like me, you’ll be dying for a second cup of coffee to recharge. Or if you want something stronger like a glass of wine or beer and that’s your business (thank you Tabitha Brown). You’re also on vacation so who cares!
Quatrefoil Library is next and while it’s not really a library, it is a community center where LGBTQ+ materials are made accessible for education and inspiration. They host meetings, book author readings and club meetings like Queer Dungeons and Dragons. Be sure to check out the website before heading over to see what’s happening.
We love supporting more queer businesses and that is where we are heading to for dinner. Owned and operated by openly gay owner John Sugimura, PinKU Japanese Street Food shines a light on how food can taste as beautiful as it looks while still being affordable. It’s made right in front of you in their open kitchen and has an inspiring local and compelling story that is rooted in culture, education and entertainment. A must place to visit on my list.
To spend your last free night in Minneapolis, start at Urban Growler. It’s the first Minnesota brewery that is founded and owned by women. Deb, master brewer, and her partner Jill opened it together where their mission is simply to bring people together through beer. Deb brews traditional beers like Cowbell Cream ale but also gets creative with Plow to Pint series where ingredients from local farmers are purchased. My tip? Take some home so you can enjoy it again! They have a rhubarb beer that I can’t live without.
After that, head over to Up Down: Minneapolis’ Arcade Bar (conveniently a few blocks away from Moxy Hotel). It features unique arcade style games, Nintendo Smash Bros and even Skee-Ball. All games are only 25 cents, they have a huge selection of tap beer and even house made pizza by the slice which you absolutely will want to try after all this beer drinking.
About the Author
Brett Burger is a freelance writer, based in the Twin Cities, covering entertainment, arts and theatre. His writing can be found both locally and nationally including Mpls. St. Paul Magazine, Lavender, Broadway World and a variety of other publications. When he’s not writing, he is endlessly scrolling through instagram looking at various golden retriever photos. Brett can be found on Twitter at @BrettDBurger, Instagram at @BrettBurger or through his website at www.BrettBurger.com.