It’s Pride Month! And what better way to celebrate than highlighting some of our favorite gay bays around the Twin Cities?
Whether it’s a special occasion (like this month’s festivities) or just a Tuesday night, here’s my honest local guide to all the best gay bars around Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Map of the Best Gay Bars in Minneapolis
A Minneapolis icon and the epicenter of LGBTQ+ nightlife in Minneapolis, the tagline here has always been “Gay. Straight. Beautiful People. Everyone is welcome to join.” Experience nearly an entire city block of the high-energy dance party vibe (7 different bars spread across 2 floors), the best drag shows in town, and a party atmosphere you won’t soon forget.
A few tips from the locals: Drinks are on the spendy side. Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights are $5 cover and 18+ so you’ll find a younger crowd and busier bartenders. Check the calendar for the entertainment and events that rotate through here – some of the best in the Midwest.
- Address: 408 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
- Website: Gay 90’s Minneapolis
One of the oldest gay bars in the city, The Saloon on Hennepin and 9th, has been a downtown mainstay since the 1970s. Well-known as the place to be during Pride for the block parties that seem to go on for days and for going beyond the downtown club scene. They still host some of the best drag shows in town. In addition, they have weekly theme nights (Sunday night shower contest, anyone?). But it’s also a spot to pop in for a drink in one of the two back bars for a fun night out with friends.
- Address: 830 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
- Website: The Saloon Minneapolis
The Brass Rail Lounge
Sandwiched in the middle of the block on Hennepin between 4th and 5th Street, it’s easy to pass by the Brass Rail Lounge without much thought. Especially thoughts about male dancers and the daily drink specials that make the Brass Rail “experience” one of a kind. They advertise as one of the longest-running gay clubs in the Midwest. However, you wouldn’t know it from the newly remodeled interior and updated VIP rooms.
- Address: 422 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
- Website: Brass Rail Lounge
In 1952, life partners Everett Stoltz and George Koch opened a bar in the Loring Park neighborhood. It was the first of its kind in Minneapolis and one of the only gay-friendly bars in the Upper Midwest. Since then, the 19 has had a slew of different owners and famous patrons but has still been one of the oldest operating in the United States. Not every night out at a gay bar has to be about thumping bass and a packed dance floor. The low-key crowd at this neighborhood hang out pop in here for pool and darts, a seasonal patio, and an all-are-welcome vibe.
- Address: 19 W 15th St, Minneapolis, MN 55403
- Website: 19 Bar
It took some time for LUSH to bounce back from pandemic closures into regularly scheduled programming–but Twin Cities drag and burlesque fans are so glad they did. LUSH offers both a theater (for live shows, drag brunches, and a weekly Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing party) and bar/club experience. New management after the re-open has brought back the best of LUSH with some new favorites we love: High ceilings, murals, and an artsy vibe in the lounge. Signature cocktails and a bottomless mimosa for the drag brunch. A refreshed menu of small plates and dinner options from Betty and Earl’s Biscuit Kitchen. If you haven’t been to LUSH since the closure – add it to your list!
- Address: 990 NE Central Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55413
- Website: LUSH Minneapolis
Camp Bar and Cabaret
Located in the Rossmor Building in downtown St. Paul, Camp Bar makes the list more as a “historically LGBTQ+” bar than a current one. The cabaret theater now primarily features comedy and late-night. Still, occasionally you’ll find drag or traditional cabaret on the events calendar. It’s still a popular casual hangout in St. Paul, although the crowd now attracts more of the downtown hotel crowd than the local scene. In the summer, Camp opens up the garage-style front windows and spills out into sidewalk seating for one of the neighborhood’s more popular happy hour spots.
- Address: 490 Robert St N, St Paul, MN 55101
- Website: Camp Bar and Cabaret
Black Hart of Saint Paul
In October 2021, Black Hart sprang up on social media and news feeds worldwide when U.S. Women’s Soccer legend Megan Rapinoe stopped by the University Avenue bar to autograph the giant mural of her likeness that spans the entire length of the bar. Black Hart is both an LGBTQ+ friendly bar and soccer bar–offering fans of the sport and fans of the longstanding weekly drag and burlesque shows happening here–a place to call home. Located less than a thousand feet from Allianz Field and the home of Minnesota United, you’ll find a packed house before and after every Loons game.
- Address: 1415 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104
- Website: Black Hart St. Paul
Located just down the block from the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater on Washington Avenue, eagleBOLTbar offers an alternative to the other Hennepin Avenue hangouts on this list. Basic burgers and fries bar menu with drink specials and a decent happy hour. Popular with the locals for Thursday night bingo, a large patio in the summer, and for live show tunes on Sunday nights.
- Address: 515 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55415
- Website: eagleBOLTbar
Bonus: Flip Phone Events
If you’re looking for more LGBTQ+ friendly nightlife options in the Twin Cities, check out Flip Phone Events. This Twin Cities-based production and entertainment company books drag, burlesque, and drag brunches at bars and restaurants around the area. You’ll find their shows approachable for guys, gals, and everyone in between. Owner Chad Kampe frequently donates proceeds from the shows and spends time volunteering with OutFront Minnesota, a Twin Cities-based LGBTQ advocacy organization.
- Website: Flip Phone Events