First Avenue & 7th Street Entry
Like other clubs in the Twin Cities, First Avenue is well known outside of Minnesota in part because of the connection it has to Prince-he featured the club in "Purple Rain." However, the Prince connection isn't what draws most people to the club; rather, it's the diverse lineup of bands that play, the eclectic crowd, the fact that it's open until 3 a.m., and the rare, small-venue atmosphere that First Avenue & 7th Street Entry offer. There is also a lengthy list of musical history that originated from the club, and a good chance of hearing a really great band that hasn't already been played to death on the radio. First Avenue is among the most popular clubs in the Twin Cities, and along with the 7th Street Entry, it's a great place to hear some talented, new bands or dance into the early morning hours.
The Gay `90s Night Club
As the name of the nightclub would suggest, the Gay `90s is officially a gay and lesbian club; in fact, it's the largest such club in the Upper Midwest. What you find upon entering on any given weekend, however, is that, for better or for worse, all three dance floors are packed with predominantly straight men and women. In other words, everyone is welcome to have a good time. The club even has two restaurants and seven bars. The drinks are large and strong, and the drag shows and karaoke nights often draw a large crowd. There are male strippers every Friday and Saturday night, plus specials on burgers, chicken dinners, and cocktails throughout the week.
Long before line dancing became a national fad, the Turf Club was the leading club in country two-stepping. Today, the Turf Club is a well-known and unconventionally trendy club in an area where many clubs didn't survive. Unlike most of the popular clubs in the Twin Cities, it's actually in St. Paul, and only a short, few-minute drive from the Macalester campus. The club offers live music almost every night, surprisingly cheap concert tickets, and cheap drinks. The Turf Club is a great place to go to hear a promising live local band or an odd national act Tuesday through Saturday.
Although the 400 Bar is closer to the University of Minnesota than Macalester, it's still a popular place to drink, hang out, and listen to music for Mac students. In general, musical acts tend to fall into the indie or alternative rock genres, and bands that have played at the 400 Bar include The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Sean Lennon, Interpol, and Soul Asylum, among many others. If you don't come for the music, come for the large selection of beer.
Artists' Quarter Jazz Club
The Artists' Quarter is a favorite among many Macalester students because it offers something that no other club in the immediate area does: great, live jazz on an almost daily basis. Located in the historic Hamm Building, the AQ has a particularly inviting atmosphere inside. European jazz posters and photos of local jazz legends decorate the walls, the lights are dimmed, and the acoustics are first-rate. The lounge is also a place of convergence for jazz fans of all generations, and the extensive wine list makes the AQ a good place to relax for wine connoisseurs. Most nights, the cover charge is only $3 to $5. National or well-known acts are slightly more expensive, but always affordable, even for the college student. As an added bonus, the club is also fairly easy to access by bus.
Blue Door Pub
The little-pub-that-could with the best Juicy Lucy burgers (they call them "Blucys") in the Twin Cities. This establishment was once featured on the Food Network's show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri, who raved about the burgers and appetizers at the Blue Door.
Bryant-Lake Bowl is part bar, part restaurant, part coffeehouse, bowling alley, and performance center. In other words, it's a great place to go for a variety of different activities and for a variety of different people, but the crowd definitely tends to be 21-and-up. Live entertainment is offered daily. The performance art stage features music acts, plays, comedy shows, dance numbers, cabarets, and films. Some of the special features of Bryant-Lake Bowl include a wine list featuring more than 50 bottles from around the world and an old-fashioned bowling alley. Keep in mind, however, that you do have to keep your own score in bowling.
Although the Cabooze is a popular bar, it's best known for its live music and distinct design. The Cabooze, shaped like a giant train caboose, is a very casual environment to have a drink, meet some interesting music-lovers, or listen to some great live blues, rock, soul, country, or reggae. While the Cabooze features local bands on a regular basis, national acts such as George Clinton have also performed at the bar.
Whether you like it or not, you're basically guaranteed a run-in with a fellow Macalester student if you go to the Tap. A short walk away from campus, the Tap is a good place to get drinks and play some pool, video games, or darts in the back. In addition, no matter where you turn in the Tap, you're always in view of a TV broadcasting some sort of sporting event. The big wooden booths are nice places to sit in big groups and grab some fast food. Daily specials include $2 PBR tall boys every day.
O'Gara's Bar & Grill
Along with Plum's and Groveland Tap, O'Gara's is a Mac favorite. They brew their own beer in small batches to ensure the best quality, and have live bands, including the popular Battle of the Bands competition. Thursdays are college nights and usually are the most crowded. The menu includes wings, quesadillas, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and pastas.
Plums is a household name for any St. Paul college student, and it is always on the top of most students' lists for places to go on a Thursday or Saturday night, when Plums has DJs and dancing. The music is usually top 40 or standard college party-night music, but there is a jukebox or the occasional local rock band if you want to change it up. It usually gets pretty packed at night, but if you go early, you should be able to snag one of the few booths or a nice seat on the patio.
480 Snelling Ave. S
A Chicago-style bar, Wild Onion is nicer than all of the others around the area and the kind of place where you might hear a little Frank Sinatra.
788 Grand Ave.
What to Do if You're Not 21What's This?
"Too Much Love" at First Avenue
As the Twin Cities' most-loved dance club and music venue, First Avenue was made famous by Prince. "Too Much Love" is the 18-and-over dance night.