Back in 2011, BuzzFeed named Minnesota “the most hipster state” in the country. Since then, other outlets have published “most hipster” lists—some of them, ranking cities, glaringly missing Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, or St. Cloud. (Really, there’s no scientific way to determine this.) As we move forward into 2018, we’re still proud of Minnesota’s bespectacled, bearded, micro-brewing cred, and here, we’re counting the ways, with a list of just a few examples of the many food, coffee, and theater institutions around the state—plus a couple oddities—that keep the hipster vibe alive. Minnesota’s artsy, alternative residents can proudly wear their beanies and flannels in these most Pinterest-worthy establishments.
(Because the word “hipster” means “You probably haven’t heard of it before,” please let us know what places or things you would add to this list—and we’ll add them!)
1. Vicinity Coffee
3350 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Originally, I’m from Wisconsin (sorry to disappoint), and one of my first times visiting Minneapolis—completely in awe of city life—I stumbled upon Vicinity Coffee in Uptown Minneapolis. Immediately, my coffee date and I knew we needed to venture in. From the outside, the shop has a vintage look, to the point where it appears a little run down. The old building was, until recently, third-wave coffee shop Bull Run Coffee Bar. Then, two years ago, it rebranded as Vicinity Coffee, with a new name and interior. As the word “vicinity” suggests, the owner wants the shop to feel as if it’s centering the community and bringing locals together. The exterior, just as shabby-chic as always, adds to the charm. Once I stepped inside, it was like I walked right into a Pinterest board. The snow-white walls, accented with dark oak tables and a couple strategically placed cacti, all made me fall in love with the place. I chose to be a basic white girl and have my usual, a caramel cappuccino. My friend, on the other hand, had a specialty drink called “Shot in the Nuts,” with ingredients Nutella, cocoa, and “awesomeness” (the menu says) to complete the caffeinated froth.
2. Music Note Mural
It’s hard to miss if you’re close to 10th and Marquette in downtown Minneapolis. This mural of musical notation (“Gaspard de la Nuit,” by French composer Maurice Ravel) covers the entire side of a building—where our local blues legend James Samuel “Cornbread” Harris, now in his 90s, bought his first book of piano chords as a youth, back when it operated as a Schmitt Music. While marvelous, no one truly knows exactly where or who it came from—only that it could have been spurred by one columnist’s complaint in the 1970s that the wall, before the mural graced it, was ugly. Today, it’s great for selfies.
3. Jules Bistro
921 W. St. Germain St., St. Cloud
Located in downtown St. Cloud, this little establishment has upheld its reputation in the St. Cloud area for its “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” vibe for more than 12 years; it’s high class with a hint of homebody. Jules is best known for its wine assortments, specialty pizzas, and the incredible artwork scattered around, all made by local artists and covering the walls as well as under glass at each table. While popular among college students attending the nearby university (and although appearing on our list of hipster establishments), Jules Bistro appeals to all ages. Adults can enjoy a wide selection of wines while kids choose from the large selection of house-made baked goods. Within my first three weeks at St. Cloud University, I paid a visit to Jules, and the restaurant was cozy and “homey”—a feeling I didn’t expect from a place that prided itself on keeping class.
4. Grassy Point Railroad Bridge
Grassy Point Trail, Duluth
Duluth is home to many of Minnesota’s finest landscapes, but Grassy Point Railroad Bridge has added something man-made to its rustic beauty. Rick McDonald, who used to operate the railroad’s bridge, started a bizarre yet artistic collection of plushies, nailing each stuffed animal to the operating bridge. To this day, the animals remain attached to the bridge, decomposing or housing various insects. As odd as this sounds, it’s assumed that this tradition was purely for the entertainment of McDonald, spectators, and boaters. The irony of a decomposing plushy—of a once fluffy bunny rabbit taken over by decay—appeals to certain people. It’s either the most hilarious thing ever seen or the most horrifying. Take your pick.
Photo by Tyler Thomas
5. Metal Crocodile (and other sculpture-walk creations)
Downtown St. Cloud
While walking along the streets of downtown St. Cloud with a friend, I came across a metal crocodile cemented into the sidewalk. A discovery such as this shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s lived in Minnesota a while, since the state is full of locally made installations sprinkled throughout various cities. This metal croc is part of the downtown sculpture walk, which this year expanded by six pieces, introduced and placed around the St. Cloud area. Created by artist Dale Lewis, this crocodile “wandered off,” as it sits apart from the rest of the sculptures, an oddity that earns a lot of second takes from passersby. Made entirely of salvaged metal, the crocodile has teaspoons for its eyelids and butter knives for its mouth. It has become a popular photo spot, too, for those who have the nerve to stick their head in its mouth.
6. Jungle Theater
2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
In search of new and exciting adventures, the Jungle Theater has become the drama scene’s big boundary-pusher, in a striking building in Uptown Minneapolis. The body-length windows allow curious onlookers to grab a sneak peek into what daring pieces artistic director Sarah Rasmussen is working on next (past performances including a divisive examination of how the cyber world affects the seediest of crimes, The Nether, while upcoming works include The Wolves, focusing on a soccer team of nine girls—part of Rasmussen’s move to produce more women-centered shows).