Minnesota has a long and storied past. From the frontier days when settlers came in covered wagons, to James J. Hill’s railroad empire, to the Gangster era, and the rise of the Twin Cities’ skylines, this state has seen its fair share of fascinating times. So, where did people drink? Well, a few of those bars are still standing today.
859 Randolph Ave.
St Paul, MN 55102
This spot has been a bar since 1885, but has only been called The Spot since 1983, however, it’s a great little dive that feels as though it hasn’t changed since the days of Univac employees coming in for a much-needed cold one after a hard shift decades ago. Sure, there’s a TV to watch the Twins game now and you can hear the roar of motors outside where once they were horse and buggies, but you’ll feel the history when you walk through the doors to get a cold one for yourself.
2531 7th Ave. E.
North St Paul, MN 55109
Claiming to be the oldest bar in Minnesota that opened in 1887, Neumann’s earns that honor for being the longest continually-serving bar in Minnesota. They didn’t close, “Not for the Great Depression. Not for prohibition,” operating as a speakeasy upstairs while selling near-beer to appease the G-men downstairs. They haven’t missed a beat since, still offering a fun night out and plenty of booze and beer to keep the party going. Make sure you check out the vintage nude pictures outside the men’s bathroom, another great throwback to a bygone era.
132 E. Superior St.
Duluth, MN 55802
Housed in a beautiful brownstone that was Duluth’s City Hall at the turn of the 20th century, Tycoon’s is a time capsule that recalls the city’s days as the “Zenith City of Unsalted Seas.” Upstairs you can find music and a lively atmosphere, but don’t leave without heading downstairs: The basement lounge, which was once a jail for those rabble-rousers that were too drunk to stand or pay their bill is now a beautiful place to enjoy an old-timey cocktail or craft beer. The whole building has been restored to its former glory, and you can feel the history as soon as you step inside.
276 S. Exchange St.
Saint Paul, MN 55102
Located in a mansion built in 1870, Forepaugh’s recalls the glory days of St. Paul’s past. It is also considered to be haunted. The story goes that the wealthy owner of the house, Joseph Forepaugh, was having an affair with a maid, who committed suicide and is now said to haunt the third floor dining room. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, the restored luxury of the mansion, with fireplaces, plush furniture, dark wood, and chandeliers, make it a great place to come for a few classy cocktails, or glass of beer or wine.
Original Coney Island
444 St Peter St.
St Paul, MN 55102
Although only open a few times a year, always for the St. Paul Winter Carnival, and also during Red Bull Crashed Ice, the oldest standing commercial structure in St.Paul is a must-see. Located downtown St. Paul on St. Peter St., the 1858-built building once housed arms for the Union Army, before becoming a bar/restaurant in the 1890’s, and officially the Coney Island Tavern in 1923. The gorgeous art-deco bar, old wooden booths, and liquor bottles that predate prohibition make it a one-of-a-kind historic stop.
Related: Best Bars With History In Minnesota
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.