A&E’s favorite spots near campus

The Twin Cities’ art, music and entertainment scenes are just steps away

by Liv Martin

The University of Minnesota and its surrounding neighborhoods are a cornucopia of music, art and entertainment. Start on the East Bank campus with the first big, shiny building you see: Weisman Art Museum – more affectionately called “the WAM” by students. The metal-covered structure was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Gehry and has rotating exhibitions and a permanent collection on view. Entrance is free. It’s the perfect place to take a break from your studies, attend a Saturday morning yoga class, or grab a quick dose of caffeine at the Misfit coffee truck, often parked just outside the museum’s doors. 

Believe it or not, not far from the WAM and a couple stories underground is the U’s very own venue, the Whole Music Club. The space – a room in the basement of Coffman Union, around since the 1960s – has been a stage for Bonnie Raitt, The Replacements and yes, even Green Day. Check out the Student Unions & Activities calendar to see the music and other events coming to the Whole this semester. 

Northrop is another often-overlooked performance venue on East Bank. From dance, music and theater to film, comedy and speakers, Northrop has events for everyone. Take advantage of its student deals: first year students (including graduate and transfer students) get one free ticket to see Northrop’s 2019-2020 Dance Season. Even if you are not a first year, all other U students can get discounted $10 Rush Tickets to the performance the day of the show.

Across the river, the West Bank also has a lot to offer. The Cedar Cultural Center offers more than 200 shows each year, specializing in music from around the globe. The intimate venue, unlike any other in the Twin Cities, is both a nonprofit and run mainly by volunteers. Volunteering, which many U of M students do, has its perks: “Volunteers are often able to hear some or even all of the performance for an event they work, and they also earn credit towards free passes good for future shows,” says the center’s website. After a show, make sure to grab bite down the street at Hard Times Cafe. It has great hash browns and is open until 4 a.m. 

Mixed Blood Theater in Cedar-Riverside is the spot for local shows. You truly can’t miss the giant, painted letters spelling out “Mixed Blood” on the facade of the building. As part of the theater’s “Radical Hospitality” initiative – dedicated to removing any and every barrier to potential audience members – admission is free on a first come, first served basis and begins two hours before every performance. 

If you are new to campus or if you have been at the U for a few years, there are many local, student-friendly places to discover. Get exploring!