The “City of Lakes” might as well be renamed the “City of Ladies” for all the LGBT folks and friends that call themselves Minneapolitans. With a very out and integrated gay community (the second largest per capita in the U.S.), people in this city are quick to tell anyone who asks, “Every bar is a gay bar!” Already well-known for its massive Pride Festival (tcpride.org) held each June, Minneapolis has recently experienced a veritable arts explosion, dotting its landscape with a myriad of dazzling delights for the senses, and making it a fantastic LGBT destination all year long.
New Yorkers can make the 2.5 hour ride in style by hopping on a direct flight with Sun Country Airlines (suncountry.com) for just over $200 round-trip. Once you arrive, check into the attentive, LGBT-friendly Marriott City Center (from $229, 30 South 7th, 612-349-4000, marriott.com) or splurge on the minimalist-chic new Graves/601 Hotel (from $269, 601 1st Ave, 866-523-1100, graves601hotel.com). Art lovers should stay at the sleek new Chambers Hotel (from $275, 901 Hennepin Ave, 612-767-6900, chambersminneapolis.com), home to a $7 million art collection and the newest Jean-Georges restaurant, Chambers Kitchen (612-767-6979).
After settling into your new digs, take the Minneapolis Light Rail ($1.50–$2 a ride) to the gigantic Mall of America (60 E Broadway, Bloomington, mallofamerica.com) for shopping, a tour of the aquarium, or a ride on the Ferris wheel inside the mall’s indoor amusement park. Then head back downtown to spend the rest of the day exploring Minneapolis’ vast skyway system, allowing shoppers to take advantage of the Nicollet Mall and Hennepin Avenue stores without ever going outside. The skyways are a blessing in the bitter winter months, but even better is the fact that there is no tax on food or clothing in Minnesota.
If shopping isn’t your idea of a good time, visit the country’s oldest feminist bookstore, Amazon Bookstore (4755 Chicago Ave S, 612-821-9630, amazonfembks.com). Or take in the scenery along the Mississippi river while riding a Segway scooter on the Magical History Tour (humanonastick.com), stopping to overlook Saint Anthony Falls, make brownies at the Mill City Museum (704 S 2nd St, 612-341-7555, millcitymuseum.org), and enjoy a famous Bloody Mary and pickle at Minneapolis’ oldest restaurant, Pracna On Main (117 Main St E, 612-379-3200, saintanthonymain.com/pracna.html).
Active ladies who always need that afternoon jog will be thrilled to find out that Minneapolis has the largest amount of park area per capita in the U.S., and in the winter many of the lakes also become skating rinks (rumor has it there are lots of female hockey players in Minnesota, wink wink). Local sources say Lake Calhoun is the best spot to meet new ladies if you like “cruising” down the bike lane. And when it gets dark, sports fans can spend the night mingling with the crowd at a Minnesota Lynx (wnba.com/lynx) WNBA game, named best place to meet single (lesbian) women by CityPages in 2005.
Music lovers must make a trip to Orchestra Hall (1111 Nicollet Ave, 612-371-5600, minnesotaorchestra.org), which the New York Times has called “the most acoustically perfect building in the U.S.” And history buffs can tour the largest LGBT archives in the country when they visit the University of Minnesota’s Tretter Collection (trettercollection.org). Met regulars should be sure to explore the encyclopedic museum at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (2400 3rd Ave S, 612-870-3029, artsmia.org), which hosts live acoustic performances on Sundays from 11am-1pm. And MoMA enthusiasts will love the contemporary collection of the very LGBT-supportive Walker Arts Center (1750 Hennepin Ave, 612-375-7600, walkerart.org) where foodies can compare the Walker’s famous Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture to the delicious cherry and chocolate version inside its new Wolfgang Puck restaurant, 20.21 (612-253-3410, wolfgangpuck.com/rest/fine/2021).
Those interested in taking in a show will have more choices than they know what to do with. With over 300 performance companies and 70 venues, each year the city hosts the famously daring Fringe Festival (fringefestival.org), and it is also home to the Tony Award-winning Children’s Theatre Company (2400 3rd Ave S, 612-874-0400, childrenstheatre.org). The city’s most renowned venue, the Guthrie Theatre (818 South 2nd St, 612-225-6000, guthrietheatre.org), just received a beautiful $125 million renovation, which includes the exceptional new restaurant Cue (612-225-6499, cueatguthrie.com).
When your stomach starts rumbling, head to LGBT-owned Café Barbette (1600 W Lake St, 612-827-5710, barbette.com) for organic cuisine, or their sister establishment, Bryant Lake Bowl (810 West Lake St, 612-825-3737, bryantlakebowl.com), complete with a cabaret theatre and old-fashioned bowling lanes. Breakfast lovers should start their morning with the amazing caramel pecan rolls at Hell’s Kitchen (89 S 10th St, 612-332-4700, hellskitcheninc.com), named “Best Breakfast in America” by NPR. And if you’re single and looking to meet someone over coffee, grab a cup of joe at the gay-owned Wild Roast Café (518 Hennepin Ave E, 612-331-4544, wilderoastcafe.com), the Anodyne Coffeehouse (4301 Nicollet Ave S, 612-824-4300, anodynecoffeehouse.com) or Blue Moon Coffee Café (3822 E Lake St, 612-721-9230); all known for drawing in the ladies.
If clubbing is more your style, be sure to check out Pi (2532 25th Ave S, 612-877-4368, myspace.com/mplspi), the brand new queer women’s club that opened with a bang (and a performance by God-des and She) in February. And if you’re looking for a surefire nightly hot spot, a $15 cab ride from downtown Minneapolis to The Town House (1415 University Ave, 651-646-7087, townhousebar.com) in Saint Paul is worth every penny. Minnesotan hotties can also be found at a number of monthly events, including Diva Riot (divariot.com) held one Saturday a month, Circle (ljoypromotions.com) held the first Friday of every month at the Varsity Theatre, and Twilight (twilightgirl.com) held the second Friday of every month at varying locations.