Summer in Minneapolis-St. Paul is all about getting out and about. Stumped about where to go next? There are plenty of smartphone apps to guide you, right from the palm of your hand. Most local media outlets and chambers of commerce have apps. Guides to bars, restaurants and sundry other spots can be found on apps created by out-of-town developers.
But what about mobile apps developed locally? Here are 10 homegrown apps to help you make the most of your summer in the cities.
1. Thrifty Hipster was created a decade ago to collect and find Twin Cities’ drink specials. A few years ago the site came out with Happy Hour Now by Live Locally, which covers the best places to stretch your drink dollars in downtown Minneapolis, Uptown, the University of Minnesota area, Northeast Minneapolis and St. Paul.
2. MPLSDrinker, created by Devare!, also offers information on drink specials, but its reach extends to St. Louis Park and Hopkins just outside Minneapolis. The app doesn’t require an Internet connection and can run in the background of your phone, so you can use it to plot your next stop from a basement dive bar.
3. Bar Sages by Wowza takes the bar concept a step further by not only leading you to a fun tavern, but by also offering trivia tidbits as conversation starters when you arrive.
4. Manly, created by Vektor Digital, is geared more toward visitors and newcomers, but locals will find it useful. The app helps locate nearby bars, restaurants, nightclubs and liquor stores all with a few swooshes of the old index finger.
5. Night Pulse is coming sometime this summer. The app gives you an image-based, real-time feed of constantly updated information on relevant bar specials, entertainment, sporting events and other attractions (with prices and start times) based on the current time and your location.
6. Wander Wheel is an adventure-best app. Created by Natalie Doud, a 2011 University of Minnesota graphic design graduate and her team, Wander Wheel asks users six questions about their needs, interests and location, then creates a spontaneous goal-based adventure. Doud and company developed the app for the University of Minnesota’s first Mobile App Challenge three years ago. It won first prize.
7. The Minnesota Association of Museums has launched an app by Appmosphere to help you broaden your artistic horizons. The app offers a wide palette of information about Minnesota’s museums, as well arboretums and other landmarks in an interactive, customizable map. Users can create their own itinerary and post their own photos at stops.
8. Minneapolis Historical, offered by Preserve Minneapolis, guides users to historic places throughout Minneapolis with stories and archival images.
9. Fair Shake is the Minnesota State Fair app by Internet Exposure designed to help you find new dining options and vendors. Choose a food category, give the phone a shake and a map appears guiding you to your next culinary destination.
Getting from here to there
10. OMG Transit, created by students at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, helps you navigate Minneapolis’ transit options: bus, light rail, and car- and bike-sharing options. Plus, thanks to the real-time nature of the service, the app tells you when a bus will arrive – not just when it’s scheduled to show up. The app is one of the finalists in the 2014 Minnesota Cup.
This article is reprinted in partnership with The Line, an online chronicle of Twin Cities creativity in entrepreneurship, culture, retail, placemaking, the arts, and other elements of the new creative economy. Dan Heilman has been a professional writer and editor since the 1980s. He was managing editor of Finance & Commerce before starting his own independent writing and editing business in 2010.