Roll over Chicago! You'll love the people, culture, lakes, skyline, restaurants and general buzz of this unpretentious yet highly stylish city. OutUK's Adrian Gillan has been sampling the MidWest hospitality.

Twin Cities Pride brings ten days of events climaxing in the Parade & Festival here every June, with loads of great LGBT events in the 10 days or so leading up to the big event. The Twin Cities Pride Website has all the details. Outside of Pride, any time's good to visit - apart from the mid-winter November-March freeze, perhaps!

WHAT TO DO

Queer culture vultures, get your skates on! A Top 10 US art museum, the newly-expanded Minneapolis Institute of Arts represents over 5,000 years of world history, with an especially fine Asian collection. The Walker Art Center boasts stunning, expanded, modern art galleries, adjoining the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. And the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum also offers a small collection - amidst the priceless Minnesota Uni campus cute-fest!

The $125 million Guthrie Theater is home to three state-of-the-art stages, stunning public spaces and breathtaking views of the still-mini-yet-mighty Mississippi, which starts in Minnesota; and which is best explored on a Segway Magical History Tour, gliding along on a NASA-technology two-wheeler as you enjoy the history of the Minneapolis Riverfront area, from 10,000 BC to the present, in just 2˝ hours - no sweat!

Take an interactive ride on the 8-story "Flour Tower" at the Mill City Museum, set in the ruins of a century-old mill and documenting Minneapolis' rise via "Flour Power".

Like the whole of Minnesota, Minneapolis is blessed with much greenery, plus its "Chain of Lakes" - just south of Uptown and great for a stroll or drive. Also venture, out-of-city, to Minneapolis' neighbour twin-cum-rival, St.Paul - home to huge churches, government buildings and historic residences; to the Science Museum of Minnesota - a highly-interactive, buzzing and educational place, great for kids of all ages, offering "surround movies" on its gigantic Omnitheater screen.

Mall Of America.
To spend those dollars don't miss the Mall of America - the largest (and expanding) US retail and entertainment complex, boasting 520 stores, 60 restaurants, seven nightclubs, the Underwater Adventures aquarium and the US's largest indoor family theme park.

WHERE TO EAT

You'll never be at a loss to find great places to quell those hunger pangs at all price levels. Don't miss out on two gay-run café-cum-eateries - popular, cosy Riverside hangout, Wilde Roast Café; and quaint, casual, candle-lit Barbette, serving French fodder avec local organic ingredients.

Dean & Tom owners of the Wilde Roast Cafe.
Minneapolis is also blessed with some of America's finest eateries. Try Hell's Kitchen for a heavenly breakfast, brunch or lunch; 20.21, at the Walker Art Center, for an Asian-influenced menu of California cuisine, competing only with skyline views; Cosmos at Graves 601 Hotel - perfect for a relaxed breakfast, high-powered lunch munch or launch pad into town; or the modern, energetic, imaginative and healthy Spoonriver, next to the Guthrie Theater, serving carefully-sourced American fare, including veggie & vegan items.

WHERE TO BOOZE & DANCE

Time to imbibe and jive? Don't miss the regular amateur nude showering competitions on a Sunday night at Saloon - crowded Downtown gay dance club and video bar on Hennepin Avenue. Just along the road, Gay90s is still deemed the "mega mall" of gay clubs, featuring drag shows and two levels of dancing, despite attracting its fair share of the straight crowd.

For a change of scene, make the short trek to hip Midtown Manhattan-style bar, Jetset, in the Warehouse District; or to Minneapolis' oldest gay bar, 19, featuring darts and pool, near Loring Park.

Up by the Guthrie, on Washington Avenue South, dip into a right cruisy duo - Bolt and neighbour Eagle - mainly for an older gay crowd, more into dress code, and with an "industrial" feel. To "take airs": tour the Lakes.

WHERE TO STAY

Two of the best located and classiest places to stay in Minneapolis are Graves 601, a stunningly stylish Downtown hotel, rising 20 floors over the city, boasting amazing views, sumptuous beds and mind-blowing showers; and Chambers, a genuinely unique Downtown hotel-cum-gallery, brimming with contemporary art, not least from Britain - everything from Emin to Hurst and Hume - like a hip art gallery you sleep in! Check out its Red, White & Blue bar too!

GETTING THERE

Icelandair flies daily to Minneapolis-St.Paul from the UK with flights from London Heathrow, Manchester and Glasgow, via Iceland - Deatils at: www.icelandair.co.uk. Also check low online fates at eBookers.

THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Barbette (1600 West Lake Street; T: +1 612 827 5710 Website)
Bolt (513 Washington Ave. S.; T: +1 612 338 0896)
Eagle (501-515 Washington Ave S.; T: +1 612 338 4214)
Gay90s (408 Hennepin Ave; T: +1 612 333 7755)
Jetset (115 N 1st Street; T: +1 612 339 3933)
Saloon (830 Hennepin Ave; T: +1 612 332 0835)
Wilde Roast Cafe (18 Hennepin Avenue East; T: +1 612 331 454)
19 Bar (19 W. 15th Street; T: +1 612 871 5553)
Graves 601 Hotel (Website)
Chambers Hotel (Website)

USEFUL WEBSITES
www.minneapolis.org
www.glbtminneapolis.org

Revised June 2015.

 

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