Celebrate the Life of Prince with This Self-Guided Tour

By Caitlin Hannah

Every Minnesotan remembers where they were on April 21, 2016, when they learned about the untimely passing of the state’s most iconic artist. Admired by music critics and beloved by his millions of fans around the world, Prince was born, grew up and decided to stay in Minnesota for the majority of his 57 years.

From his residence and recording studio in Chanhassen to the Minneapolis nightclub he immortalized in “Purple Rain,” these places played a big role in the much-too-short life of Prince. Plan a self-guided tour to visit them all, or take a bus tour to select sites with The Tour MSP.

First Avenue

Babes in Toyland plays the main stage at First Avenue
Concert at First Avenue in Minneapolis / Bjorn Christianson

This ex-Greyhound depot is now the hub of Minneapolis’ live music scene. Featuring more than 500 stars with names of the acts who have performed there, First Avenue was one of Prince’s main stages to try out his new eccentric sounds. In 1983, the album version of the song “Purple Rain” was recorded here live. One year later, the venue set the backdrop for the concert footage in the movie of the same name. Prince's star was painted gold after his death.

Paisley Park

Paisley Park Chanhassen Prince
One of Prince's many motorcycles & other movie memorabilia on display at Paisley Park, Chanhassen

Paisley Park, Prince's recording studio/residence/performance venue in the western suburb of Chanhassen, has become a destination for his fans to pay tribute to the late star. Daily public tours are available and include access to Prince's recording and mixing studios, rehearsal rooms, sound stage and private music club, plus his iconic outfits, awards, instruments and other memorabilia. Self-guided and VIP options are available, as well as special events throughout the year.

Glam Slam

Even though Glam Slam is no longer in existence, the building and the downtown Minneapolis vibes still remain. Epic Entertainment inhabited the former nightclub until recently. In 1990, the Glam Slam nightclub premiered in Prince’s movie “Graffiti Bridge.”

Sound 80

The studio, located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, has a long history of musical firsts. In fact, they engineered and released the first digital recording. Prince recorded multiple tracks at Sound 80 in the late ’70s with his then-manager David Z.

House from Purple Rain

You’ll find yourself at the house where Prince’s character from “Purple Rain” lived. Located on the 3400 block of Snelling Avenue South. This is a private residence, so please be respectful.

Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant

Dakota Jazz Club Minneapolis_Jeffrey Newcomer
The Dakota Jazz Club is one of Minneapolis' most notable music venues / Jeffrey Newcomer

Just a short walk from First Avenue you will find the Dakota Jazz Club. Prince was known to frequent the intimate club to support local musicians and would often show up unexpectedly. In 2013, he performed a set of shows that sold out a half hour after they were announced.

Lake Minnetonka

Fans of “Purple Rain” will remember the scene where Apollonia is asked to “purify herself in Lake Minnetonka.” Though the scene was actually filmed along the Minnesota River south of the Twin Cities near Henderson, the real Lake Minnetonka is about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis.

The Electric Fetus

Prince often frequented the popular Minneapolis record store. He would be joined by a few members of his entourage and security and leave with a handful of new CDs and records. The Electric Fetus opened in 1968 and also has a location in Duluth.  

Capri Theater

The only remaining movie house in North Minneapolis, the Capri was the site of Prince's first concerts as a solo artist in January 1979. The theater still hosts films, open mic nights, and other programming for youth and adults.

Public Murals

Prince Mural in Chanhassen
Prince mural in Chanhassen

Artist Rock "Cyfi" Martinez painted a mural of Prince a few days after his passing as "a present to the city of Minneapolis." You can find this mural at 26th and Hennepin in the Uptown neighborhood, behind the Sencha Tea building. There is also a purple Prince mural on the wall of the Chanhassen Cinema, and a new one in Minneapolis' North Loop.

The town of Henderson was featured in "Purple Rain" when a scene was filmed along the Minnesota River. There's now a mural downtown featuring Prince, First Avenue and 7th Street Entry and a little red Corvette. Fans can also pay their respects at a memorial bench surrounded by purple flowers.

Other Memorabilia

First Avenue exhibit at Minnesota History Center
First Avenue exhibit at the Minnesota History Center / Melanie Graves

Visit Mall of America's Hard Rock Cafe to see a costume he wore on his 1987 "Sign o' the Times" tour showcasing his Minneapolis pride. At the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, a special exhibit about First Avenue features Prince's famous purple suit from "Purple Rain" and other items left at First Avenue after his passing.