Trip Reports

North Loop Minneapolis: A Neighborhood Guide

Welcome to North Loop Minneapolis, a vibrant neighborhood filled with character, history, and a plethora of exciting offerings. From its rich industrial past to its thriving present as a dining, shopping, and cultural hotspot, North Loop offers a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern-day amenities.  Michelle and I just returned from a stay at the Hewing Hotel and got to experience a fun-filled four days of exploring all the best in an area I grew up in, so today I’ll share with you everything you need to know and do in the Minneapolis’ North Loop district.

What to Know About the North Loop in Minneapolis

  • North Loop Minneapolis has been transformed from an industrial district to a vibrant hub of modern spaces and upscale restaurants.
  • Explore the area’s unique character through its award-winning dining, shopping, nightlife and outdoor activities.
  • Enjoy North Loop’s community spirit with exciting events like North Loop Fest and Art-A Whirl!

The Transformation of North Loop

Historic warehouses and modern buildings in North Loop

Nestled between the bustling downtown Minneapolis and the serene Mississippi River, North Loop stands as a testament to the city’s transformative spirit in the Twin Cities. Once an industrial warehouse district, it has metamorphosed into a vibrant neighborhood, bustling with upscale restaurants, trendy bars, and a thriving social life.

A walk down Washington Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, reveals the beautiful blend of old and new – warehouses transformed into modern spaces.

Christmas in the North Loop
We were just in time to experience a little bit of Christmas in the North Loop!

Industrial Beginnings

North Loop, during its industrial era, housed a variety of industries, including:

  • agriculture
  • electricity
  • telephones
  • steel

Today, the old warehouses that once stored goods for milling and manufacturing have been repurposed into trendy restaurants, bars, and coffee shops, providing unique culinary experiences.

The predominantly Chicago Commercial architectural style of these warehouses contributes to the neighborhood’s charm and unique character.

Art Scene Emergence

The 1980s marked a significant shift in North Loop’s landscape as it emerged as the epicenter of Minneapolis’s art scene. Artists and galleries flocked to the Warehouse District, enriching Minneapolis’s culture and elevating its reputation as a vibrant center for artistic expression.

The Wyman Building, in particular, served as a hub for over twenty contemporary art galleries, contributing to a flourishing environment for art and culture.

Modern Revitalization

Today, North Loop stands as a vivid example of the strength of mindful revitalization. The neighborhood has transitioned from empty lots to a vibrant urban fabric, breathing new life into the area, thanks to intentional redevelopment efforts and strategic planning. North Loop residents have played a significant role in this transformation.

The result is a dynamic urban district that attracts educated professionals and employers to the target field, ultimately revitalizing the city center.

Top Dining Destinations in North Loop

Thanks to its wide array of cuisines and innovative culinary creations, North Loop is recognized as a premier dining destination. Among the top dining destinations are Spoon and Stable, a restaurant helmed by a James Beard Award-winning chef, and other notable venues like Smack Shack.

Smack Shack

We never leave the North Loop without a visit to Smack Shack, which is known for it’s lobster boils, lobster rolls, cajun fries, and other sustainable seafood in a very casual atmosphere.  They offer delicious seafood in addition to pull-tabs, a full liquor bar, and just about every local Minnesota craft beer you can imagine.  They even have exclusive partnerships with local breweries so you’ll be able to sample very unique, rare craft beers that you can’t get anywhere else.

Smack Shack
The Smack Shack is one of the most popular North Loop restaurants.

Spoon and Stable

Spoon and Stable shines as a culinary treasure in North Loop. The restaurant, led by the talented Chef Gavin Kaysen, offers a versatile menu that changes with the seasons. The dining experience is enhanced by the restaurant’s eclectic art pieces, making it a feast for both the palate and the eyes.

Bar La Grassa

Bar La Grassa is yet another gastronomic gem in North Loop. This Italian restaurant, led by the James Beard Award-winning chef Isaac Becker, offers a delightful selection of Italian cuisine, featuring an assortment of small plates and large plate options.

It’s not just about the main dining area; Bar La Grassa also has an adjoining Snack Bar, offering a casual atmosphere with delicious pizzas and cocktails.

Billy Sushi

Billy Sushi is a must-visit for sushi connoisseurs. This joint offers a unique dining experience with its sushi bar and a speakeasy called Billy After Dark. The restaurant, founded by Chef Enkhbileg ‘Billy’ Tserenbat, quickly gained popularity and contributed to the neighborhood’s trendy vibe.

For a quick breakfast, I love Rise Bagels Co.  They have a rosemary bagel that is incredible!

Shopping in North Loop

Boutique shopping in North Loop

The neighborhood’s diverse offerings make shopping in North Loop a truly delightful experience. From fashion and accessories to home goods and decor, there’s something for everyone. The neighborhood also boasts several kid-friendly stores and toy shops, catering to the needs of the younger residents.

Fashion and Accessories

With a multitude of local and designer boutiques catering to both men and women, North Loop is a fashion lover’s paradise. Stores like MartinPatrick3, Atmosfere, and Lululemon offer a diverse selection of fashion pieces and accessories, catering to different tastes and styles.

Home Goods and Decor

Stores like Vivid Home and Forage Modern Workshop provide a range of stylish contemporary furnishings, vintage items, and trendy home accessories, making North Loop a haven for home decor aficionados.

Kids’ Stores and Toys

North Loop boasts a number of children-friendly stores and toy shops, making it ideal for families with kids. The top kids’ store in the neighborhood is Pacifier, offering a wonderful variety of toys, clothing, and books for children.

Exploring North Loop’s Nightlife

Lively nightlife at The Fine Line Music Cafe

North Loop’s nightlife scene awakens as dusk falls. The neighborhood offers a range of experiences, from the cozy Parlour Bar to live music at The Fine Line Music Cafe and comedy shows at Acme Comedy Company.

Parlour Bar

Step into the Parlour Bar, a stylish basement bar offering craft cocktails, including an ice cold martini, in a cozy atmosphere. Known for ‘The Burger’, a popular menu item loved by locals and visitors alike, the Parlour Bar promises an evening of good food, great drinks, and an intimate setting.

The Fine Line Music Cafe

For live music enthusiasts, The Fine Line Music Cafe is a must-visit. The cafe hosts a range of live music and entertainment in an intimate setting, promising an evening of rhythm and melody.

Acme Comedy Company

For a dose of laughter, head to the Acme Comedy Company. This popular comedy club features local and national comedians, offering a night of fun and laughter.

Graze Provisions Food Hall

While not necessarily a typical night life spot, you can find plenty of events and people to mingle with at the always buzzing Graze Provisions Food Hall.  Offering eight unique food vendors and two bars on a bi-level establishment, there is something for everyone at Graze.  This is also a great place you can walk to for a night cap after catching a Twins game.

Cuzzy’s

Cuzzys

A local bar offering a traditional Minnesota experience where you can get cheese curds, nachos, and much more as well as taken in the local sporting events, this is a great casual experience.  Some may call it a “dive bar,” but to us, it’s a local watering hole that’s open early and late!

Outdoor Spaces and Activities

Relaxing at James I. Rice Park in North Loop

North Loop offers a plethora of outdoor spaces and activities for those looking to enjoy the sunshine. Explore James I. Rice Park, take a walk along the scenic Mississippi Riverfront, or embark on a microbrewery crawl for a taste of local craft beers.

James I. Rice Park

James I. Rice Park, situated in the scenic northeast area of North Loop along the Mississippi River, is a cherished green oasis appreciated by locals. Offering a playground and a bike trail as part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, this park is a perfect spot for a family outing or a casual walk.

Mississippi Riverfront

The Mississippi Riverfront provides a peaceful refuge amidst the city’s hustle and bustle. With walking and biking trails, paddle boarding, and picnicking opportunities, the riverfront provides a multitude of ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

Micro Brewery Crawl

A microbrewery crawl in North Loop is an essential activity for anyone fond of craft beer and cold brews. Here are some breweries to check out:

  • Modist Brewing
  • Fulton Brewing
  • Inbound Brew Co
  • AxeBridge Wine Company
  • Number 12 Cider

You’re in for a delightful journey of local flavors and craftsmanship.

Cultural Attractions in North Loop

Beyond food, shopping and nightlife, North Loop also serves as a cultural hotspot. From The Lab Theater to local art galleries, and historic walking tours, the neighborhood offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences that reflect its unique character.

The Lab Theater

The Lab Theater is a cultural attraction of North Loop that’s absolutely worth visiting. This versatile performance space offers a diverse array of shows and events, from theater productions to live music concerts and art exhibitions, offering something for everyone to enjoy.

Local Art Galleries

The art scene of North Loop, which originated in the 1980s, continues to flourish through its local art galleries. From contemporary to abstract, these galleries showcase a diverse range of art styles, reflecting the neighborhood’s vibrant artistic heritage.

Historic Walking Tours

North Loop offers enlightening historic walking tours for history enthusiasts. These tours cover fascinating sites like the Creamette pasta factory, architectural marvels like Aria, and historic streetcar facilities that have been repurposed into chic shops. It’s a wonderful way to uncover North Loop’s rich past.

Getting Around North Loop

With its efficient public transportation, plentiful parking, and pedestrian-friendly streets, getting around North Loop is a piece of cake – and many destinations are within walking distance.

The neighborhood also boasts dedicated bike lanes, making it easy for residents and visitors to explore the area on two wheels.

Public Transportation

The neighborhood is well served by an efficient and varied public transportation system, including local bus routes and the METRO BLUE LINE light rail. There’s also a new hop-on-hop-off trolley service operating within the downtown Minneapolis area, adding to the convenience.

Parking Tips

On-street and metered parking is predominantly available in North Loop, with a few free spaces situated a block or two from Washington Ave. The MPLS Parking app is a great tool for managing on-street parking payments, making it easier to find a spot.

Biking and Walking

Walking or cycling around North Loop offers a fantastic way to immerse oneself in the neighborhood’s charm. With ample amenities and attractions within easy walking or biking distance, it’s a great way to get around while soaking in the sights and sounds of the neighborhood.

Events and Festivals in North Loop

The vibrant community spirit of North Loop is most palpable during its events and festivals. From the annual North Loop Fest to the largest open studio tour in the nation, Art-A-Whirl, these events bring together residents and visitors in a celebration of the neighborhood’s unique charm.

North Loop Fest

North Loop Fest stands as a notable highlight on the neighborhood’s event calendar. This annual music festival features:

  • Local talent
  • A diverse lineup of musicians
  • Delicious food
  • A wide range of vendors

It brings the community together in a lively celebration of music and camaraderie. North Loop Fest is a must-attend event.

Art-A-Whirl

Another event not to miss in North Loop is Art-A-Whirl, the nation’s largest open studio tour. Showcasing the work of local artists and artisans, it offers a comprehensive and delightful experience of the local arts scene. With a variety of special events, interactive activities, and live music, Art-A-Whirl promises a memorable experience for all art lovers.

If you want to get the original Jucy Lucy, take a ten minute Uber ride over to Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis.  You can thank me later!

North Loop Neighborhood Tour

For those of you who want to see footage of the North Loop, this is for you!

Summary

From its rich industrial past to its vibrant present as a dining, shopping, and cultural hotspot, North Loop is a neighborhood that truly has it all. Whether you’re a food lover, a fashion enthusiast, a history buff, or an art aficionado, North Loop has something to cater to your interests. It’s a neighborhood that celebrates its unique character and embraces the diversity of its residents, making it a truly special place to live, work, and play.

As we wrap up this journey through North Loop, we invite you to explore and experience this vibrant neighborhood for yourself. Whether you’re sampling local craft beers on a microbrewery crawl, enjoying a live performance at The Lab Theater, or embarking on a historic walking tour, North Loop promises a delightful blend of old-world charm and modern-day amenities. Come and discover the vibrant charms of North Loop!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered North Loop in Minneapolis?

The North Loop, also known as the Warehouse District, is a bustling area located on the north-western outskirts of downtown Minneapolis, featuring streets oriented to be parallel to the Mississippi River. This neighborhood is full of energy and potential, having grown from a landscape of old buildings waiting to be brought to life.

Why is it called the Loop in Minneapolis?

The term “Loop” was coined in 1891 when all streetcars traveling downtown Minneapolis were required to take a loop on Washington Avenue and 1st Avenue S, making it an iconic part of the city’s history.

What are some of the top dining destinations in North Loop?

North Loop is home to a range of exceptional dining experiences, including Spoon and Stable, Bar La Grassa, and Billy Sushi.

What are some of the popular events and festivals in North Loop?

North Loop is a bustling destination for events and festivals, such as the North Loop Fest and the renowned Art-A-Whirl open studio tour. Enjoy year-round entertainment in this vibrant community!

How convenient is it to get around North Loop?

Getting around North Loop is very convenient, as there are ample public transportation, parking, walking, and biking options available.

5/5 - (1 vote)

About 

Tim Schmidt is a 20+ year Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer. A Fort Lauderdale-based "Digital Nomad," he enjoys traveling as much as possible with family and friends. AllWorld is his escape to document all of his adventures, including being a hardcore "foodie." He has property in Costa Rica and visits several times each year and is happy to offer his expert advice for planning your trip.

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