Readjusting to the grind of the school year can be tough after a leisurely summer of beaches, slacker jobs and sleeping till noon. And after listening to your tweed-wearing professors babble in monotone about quadratic equations and wars that ended 2,000 years ago, chances are you'll be ready to let loose. But with the legal drinking age limiting your options for going out, you may have to dig a little deeper to find the extracurricular activities you're looking for. Lucky for you, we're here to offer some sage advice on where the under-21 cohort can unwind. You won't need to bust your ass trying to score that precious fake ID to have a good time -- but something tells us many of you will try anyway (tsk, tsk).

Live music

Don't fret, music lovers -- even if you were born after 1990, Minneapolis has you covered. Fortunately, the two clubs that steadily draw the hippest touring bands -- whether it's indie-rock, hip-hop, punk or anything in between -- predominantly host 18-plus shows. The legendary First Avenue -- ask your parents about the movie "Purple Rain" -- features three different rooms where bands and DJs showcase their talents, including the smaller 7th Street Entry, which attracts young, up-and-coming bands of all genres.

Located on the West Bank by the U of M campus is the Triple Rock Social Club, a hotspot for local punks. But even if you lack brightly colored liberty spikes or a jacket littered with indiscernible band-logo patches, chances are you'll wind up catching a show or two here.

If you prefer six-minute bongo solos to minute-long hardcore songs, the Cabooze, also on the West Bank, might be more your speed. The longtime pillar of the Twin Cities jam-rock scene offers two-for-one cover with college ID every Wednesday. Other options include Dinkytown's aesthetically pleasing Varsity Theater and the Cedar Cultural Center, which welcomes concertgoers of all ages into its acoustically superior space (ask the ticket seller about student discounts).


After a long week of studying, a night on the dance floor can be a great way to blow off some steam. One of Minneapolis' hottest weekly dance nights, Too Much Love, goes down every Saturday night in the mainroom at First Avenue (college ID gets you in for a buck). Resident DJ Sovietpanda's scintillating mixes will make you forget all about that pesky "X" on your hand at this come-as-you-are dance party. Hip-hop heads might want to check out Get Cryphy, an opportunity to wild out in First Ave's intimately sweaty Record Room on the first Friday of every month.

If a clubbier vibe is what you crave, downtown's Aqua nightclub throws an 18-plus party every Thursday, while at the adjacent Envy, DJs spin Top 40 and hip-hop cuts on Sundays. Barfly keeps it youth-friendly Tuesday through Saturday, catering to the greater EDM crowd.

Coffee hangouts

Naturally there will be nights when you're itching to get out of your dorm and away from your annoying roommate, but you're just not feeling the party vibe. There are plenty of local coffee shops you can hit up to read, study or catch up on inane YouTube videos. A quick ride on your fixie from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the original Spyhouse coffee shop is a south Minneapolis institution. You might strike up an interesting conversation with one of the artier patrons who inhabit the Whittier/Eat Street neighborhood.

U of M students should check out Bordertown, a quaint, nonprofit coffee shop residing in an old fraternity house. With locations in Dinkytown and near the Minneapolis Community & Technical College Espresso Royale has caffeinated its fair share of cram sessions, while Common Roots is a favorite among Uptown students looking to grab a healthful bite with their java.

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