To the untrained ear, the Twin Cities’ music scene is often overlooked on the national level. But it is a surprisingly vibrant and unique community – and one deserving of recognition. I mean, if Prince loved it here, that speaks volumes. So, from large venues, to intimate sit-down restaurants, here’s a list of great places to check out both local and national acts while you’re visiting the Twin Cities.

Click on the venue names above the pictures for more information on the venues. Here we go!

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First Ave Mainroom/7th Street Entry – Minneapolis

First Avenue’s mainroom (credit: CBS)

One simply does not leave out “First Ave” on music venue lists, so we’re gonna get this one mentioned right away! This iconic, historic nightclub is every live music lover’s dream and absolutely drips Prince’s purple legacy. It’s also one of the longest running independently owned and operated clubs in the U.S. Both national acts and local acts can be seen in the large 1,550-person capacity Mainroom. The smaller performance space, 7th St Entry, also has its own gritty characteristics and hosts over 350 concerts a year. A must-not-miss.

Dakota – Minneapolis

(credit: dakota via

Dakota, formerly known as the Dakota Jazz Club, is one of the few gems in the Minneapolis entertainment scene to not only offer great live music, but also a full, chef-driven menu. The venue is on the smaller side, so definitely get your tickets ahead of time. Also, don’t expect to find a metal band playing here, it’s definitely a more jazz-related venue.

Turf Club – St. Paul

(credit: Turf Club Facebook Page)

Also operated by First Avenue, this live music venue in St. Paul features a full kitchen and an “unforgettable” basement bar, the Clown Lounge. And with a majority of the shows having a ticket price below $20, you don’t have to feel guilty if you decide to splurge on a drink or two.

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Amsterdam Bar & Hall – St. Paul

(credit: Amsterdam Bar & Hall/bkp via Facebook page)

Amsterdam, located in downtown St. Paul, is often overlooked on music venue lists, but it’s great. You could almost consider it a hidden gem. There’s a beautiful bar, massive music hall, and a smaller more intimate performance space. There’s great food, too!

Icehouse – Minneapolis

(credit: Icehouse via Facebook)

Head to the “hip” Eat Street neighborhood south of downtown and check out this lively, industrial-styled venue! It’s similar to the Dakota as it has a solid chef-driven menu and specialty cocktails, too. There’s table seating, but once the show starts, the floor is cleared in front of the stage and you’re welcome to stand and rock out (or enjoy the music in whatever way you do).

Aster Cafe – Minneapolis

(credit: Aster Cafe via Facebook)

Great music, amazing food/drinks AND a great view: That’s what the Aster Cafe provides. Situated right on the banks of the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline overlooking all, the Aster Cafe’s location is nothing short of phenomenal. It is also home to a great local music scene!

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As stated before, this is just a taste of the music scene in the Twin Cities. There’s also the Myth in Maplewood, the Varsity Theater on the University of Minnesota campus, the Cabooze on Minneapolis’ West Bank, and of course The Armory, which will house the big Final Four shows. Tickets have already been sold out for those shows, however, which is why it’s not quite prominent in this list. Oh, and here are more Final Four guides!