Paisley Park Review: Inside Prince’s Minnesota Home

I was shocked and saddened when Prince died on April 21, 2016. I bet you were, too. An incredible talent like his is rare indeed, and the world cried purple tears that day. As a former Minnesotan and huge Prince fan, I am sorry to say I never got a chance to see him in concert. I let the high cost of tickets keep me from fulfilling that dream. But I wasn’t going to miss a chance to visit Paisley Park, where Prince lived, worked, and recorded dozens of albums. Here’s what it’s like to tour Paisley Park, Prince’s Minnesota home.

Inside Paisley Park, Prince's home and studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Paisley Park interior courtyard (Photo credit: Paisley Park)

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Paisley Park History

Just six months after Prince’s death at Paisley Park, his residence became a museum open to the public. This facility began construction in 1986 and concluded one year later. Prince designed much of this structure himself.

As much as possible, the museum’s owners and management have tried to keep Paisley Park exactly as it was before Prince died. Paisley Park is a behemoth white block building along an unassuming road in a Minneapolis suburb, Chanhassen. It looks more like an office building than the place where an uber-talent like Prince resided, recorded dozens of albums, and hosted private concerts.

Prince wanted a space that would function seamlessly as a work and living space, with recording studios, offices, and concert spaces all under one roof. Before he passed away, Paisley Park employed about 50 people, including security staff, wardrobe, assistants, and other employees.

Prince's Paisley Park home and studio
Prince’s Paisley Park home and studio (Photo credit: Paisley Park)

Tour Rules

The rules at Paisley Park remain the same as when Prince lived here. No cursing, no alcohol, no smoking (even in the parking lot!), and no meat besides fish and seafood. So, leave your baloney sandwich at home!

After showing your tour reservation tickets (printed or on your smartphone), you will need to turn in any cell phones. Staff will place your phone into a little pouch that locks. Prince hated cell phones, so it makes sense that they would be forbidden during the tour.

Unfortunately, no cameras of any kind are allowed during the tour. However, you can unlock your smart device after the tour so you can take photos of a hallway filled with posters, many of which you will see in this post. Touring without a smartphone or camera forces you to live in the present moment, just like Prince did.

Prince's originality is ever-present at Paisley Park ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park
Prince’s originality is ever-present at Paisley Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin, poster at Paisley Park)

Arriving at Paisley Park

Paisley Park is located 22 miles from downtown Minneapolis and 17 miles from the Mall of America. Be sure to purchase your Paisley Park tour tickets online before arrival. You can’t buy tickets on-site.

Enter the Paisley Park lobby through glass doors and check in at a curved receptionist desk. Prince’s eyes are painted above the indoor doorway to Paisley Park. He wanted everyone who entered to know that he would be watching everything that happened here.

The tour commences in a hallway lined with just a sampling of his numerous gold and platinum albums. Our tour guide, Natasha, said these impressive albums were not important to Prince, though, because they were “just based on numbers.”

Prince did not own a cell phone and focused on living life in the present moment
Prince did not own a cell phone and focused on living life in the present moment (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin, poster at Paisley Park)

Interior Courtyard

Next, you step into an open two-story square lit by huge pyramid-shaped skylights. At night, they emit a purple glow to the outside world. Painted puffy white clouds and doves in flight adorn sky-blue walls. Perched below the skylights is a miniature replica of Paisley Park inside which are Prince’s ashes.

Oprah interviewed Prince in this very spot in 1996. Looking up to the second floor you can see Prince’s pet dove, named Divinity, in its spacious white cage. The artist’s love symbol in black tile embeds the otherwise white floor. Purple cushy chairs flank two sides of this space. (No sitting on any furniture at Paisley Park, please!)

Surrounding the tiled space is carpeting featuring images of the sun, moon, and stars. The room’s curved columns create different patterns depending on the angle from which they are viewed. Prince wanted a combination of colors and shapes at Paisley Park to represent the multifaceted aspects of his music, movies, and other artistic endeavors.

Along one wall of the indoor courtyard are alcoves that were closets during Prince’s lifetime. Today, they act as display cases, showing off Prince’s unique clothing and cloud guitars. Prince designed his signature cloud guitars himself and had them made by a local company.

Some of Prince's outfits are on display at Paisley Park ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park
Some of Prince’s outfits are on display at Paisley Park (Photo credit: Paisley Park)

Little Kitchen

Along one wall of the indoor courtyard sits the Little Kitchen. It contains two diner booths beside a small wall kitchen. A plush crimson couch on one side of the room is where Prince liked to sit to watch his favorite movies like Some Like It Hot on a large screen TV.

He also watched basketball games here. Prince was a huge fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the WNBA Lynx team. Fun fact: all five-foot-three-inches of the artist played on his high school basketball team.

Offices at Paisley Park

Three offices stretch along another wall of this courtyard area. Portions of Prince’s personal office have been roped off, but otherwise it has been kept as he used the space.

Prince was an Egyptian history buff and a large art piece with Egyptian symbols hangs on one wall. A purple landline sits atop Prince’s desk. A tall, old-school CD holder contains some of his favorite music by artists like Joni Mitchell and Sly and the Family Stone, as well as some of his own albums.

Prince didn't let his short stature keep him from feeling cool...or from playing basketball ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park
Prince didn’t let his short stature keep him from being cool…or from playing basketball (Poster at Paisley Park)

Prince’s Video Editing Bay

Next is Prince’s video editing bay. Here, you’ll take a seat on the golden-colored carpet to view some of the music videos Prince edited on a curved electronic console.

Behind that is a large purple couch and an unassuming glass coffee table. Despite his larger than life persona, many of the furnishings look plush and comfy rather than ostentatious.

Posing with Prince at Paisley Park ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park
Posing with my sister (and Prince!) at Paisley Park

Pictures and Ping Pong in Studio B

Studio B is the only place inside Paisley Park where you can have your photo taken. For an additional fee at check-in, purchase a thumb drive to which the photos will be added. My sister and I posed in front of a purple baby grand piano, outfitted with an electric keyboard. Note: only VIP Paisley Park tour ticket holders may purchase photos.

A ping-pong table sits across from the piano. Prince was a great ping-pong player and loved challenging fellow musicians to a game. The best part? You can play a round or two here on the very same table where Prince played!

Studio B utilizes analog recording, as do all three of the music studios at Paisley Park. This studio also includes a vintage DeMedio Console, which Prince had special ordered.

Studio parking outside Paisley Park ~ What's It's Like to Tour Paisley Park
Studio parking outside Paisley Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Galaxy Room

Before entering Studio B, there is a small room with a love seat for relaxing after recordings. Indicative of its name, the Galaxy Room is lit by black light to make neon images of stars and planets glow bright on dark walls.

New Music by Prince in Studio A

Next you’ll visit Studio A with its parquet wood floor and granite-walled control booth. You’ll see some half-melted candles in the control booth, where Prince sang his own lyrics. In this studio, we listened to a sampling of yet-unreleased music recorded by Prince prior to his passing.

Many famous singers recorded in this room, including James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Madonna, and R.E.M. Most recording artists typically sing in a smaller, soundproof recording booth. Prince, however, acted as producer on all 39 of his albums and, therefore, had to remain in the control booth.

Paisley Park Studio ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park Where Prince Lived and Worked
Prince sang and produced albums at this console at Studio B in Paisley Park (Photo credit: Paisley Park)

Prince’s Mural

The hallway outside Studio A contains a long sunset-colored mural that Prince had commissioned. On the left you’ll see images of artists that Prince influenced, like Lisa and Wendy from The Revolution, Cat Glover, Apollonia, Vanity 6, Morris Day and The Time, Sheila E. and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. The right side of the mural depicts the artists that greatly influenced Prince, such as Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Hendrix, Carlos Santana and Chaka Khan, among others.

Prince's motorcycle in the Purple Rain Room ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park Where Prince Lived and Worked
Prince’s motorcycle in the Purple Rain Room (Photo credit: Paisley Park)

Purple Rain Room

A room once used as a dance rehearsal space/basketball court has been transformed to celebrate all things Purple Rain. It still features the wood floors and mirrors used by the dancers, but the single basketball hoop has been removed.

While the movie Purple Rain plays on a mounted flatscreen TV, you can look at memorabilia from the beloved Purple Rain movie, album, and song. You can also view Prince’s Oscar for best movie soundtrack, his purple jacket and white puffy shirt worn in the movie, his bound Purple Rain script filled with his personal notations, a white cloud guitar, and one of the three motorcycles used in the movie.

While touring this room, take a look at the top of the upright purple piano with an electronic keyboard inserted. You’ll see scuff marks on the top of this instrument, caused by Prince’s own high-heeled boots and shoes.

Prince famously danced atop pianos during his performances and jumped from them. Sadly, these jumps may have contributed to his hip surgery, subsequent opioid addiction, and accidental overdose.

Prince's purple jacket and white shirt from the movie, Purple Rain, are on display at Paisley Park
Prince’s purple jacket and white shirt from the movie, Purple Rain, are on display at Paisley Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin, taken at the Minnesota History Center during a temporary exhibition in 2016)

Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge Room

In the adjoining room, you’ll see memorabilia from his lesser-known movies, Under the Cherry Moon and Grafitti Bridge. Smaller than the Purple Rain Room, this space was also once used as a dance studio. Different flooring and lighting split the room in half.

History Hallway

Walking through the History Hallway, you will view a timeline that chronicles Prince’s career starting in 1978, when his first album debuted. It continues to 1996, with one large photo representing each year. Our tour guide, Natasha, jokingly explained why the timeline stops when it does, saying, “Well, the hallway is only so long.”

An example of a Schimmel Pegasus, similar to the one in Prince's Arcade Room at Paisley Park (Photo credit: Pravin Premkumar, Flickr Creative Commons)
An example of a Schimmel Pegasus, similar to the one in Prince’s Arcade Room at Paisley Park (Photo credit: Pravin Premkumar, Flickr Creative Commons)

Arcade Room

The Arcade Room is so-named because this is where Prince used to play stand-up arcade games back in the day. Today, you’ll find an unusual yellow couch and oversized sculptures of flowers (think Georgia O’Keefe).

The centerpiece is a Schimmel Pegasus piano with a hydraulic lid inscribed with Prince’s symbol. He paid over $100,000 for the piano in the 1990s.

Prince's purple Plymouth prowler, similar to this one, is on display in the Paisley Park Soundstage (Photo credit: Michael Rivera)
Prince’s purple Plymouth prowler, similar to this one, is on display in the Paisley Park Soundstage (Photo credit: Michael Rivera,Wikimedia)

Paisley Park Studios Soundstage

Graffiti Bridge, the sequel to Purple Rain, was filmed almost entirely in the 12,240-square-foot soundstage at Paisley Park. Other clients who used the space for filming or rehearsal include Grumpy Old Men (the movie), McDonald’s, Porsche, and the Muppets, among others. Two of Prince’s cars are on display in this vast space: a powder blue Bentley and a purple Plymouth Prowler.

"The music, for me, doesn't come on a schedule." - Prince ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park
“The music, for me, doesn’t come on a schedule.” – Prince (Poster at Paisley Park)

NPG Music Club

Prince used to jam out in the NPG Music Club for and with fellow musicians and celebrities. He also invited local fans to come for free concerts here. Often, he would not make an appearance until 2 or 3 in the morning.

Sometimes, if he wasn’t feeling the vibe, he wouldn’t show up at all. Instead, he’d play one of his favorite movies, like Finding Nemo, on a huge movie screen to entertain those seated in the cushy, curved purple booths.

Today, this space is used for brunches on Sundays, dance parties with a DJ on Friday nights, and movie screenings on Saturday nights. I attended the brunch and ate scrambled eggs topped with a unique spice (think Moroccan flavors), s’mores French toast, and a Hasselback potato.

You can also order from a menu of Prince’s favorite dishes from a menu to eat on-site or take to go. Examples include coconut curry with black rice and chickpeas or macaroni and cheese.

For Prince, it was always about the music
For Prince, it was always about the music (Poster at Paisley Park)

Paisley Park Store

In the days, weeks, and months following Prince’s death, fans from Minnesota and far beyond brought notes, artwork, and handmade gifts to Paisley Park. Prince loyalists left these in and beside the fence surrounding the property.

The Paisley Park Museum has collected every single item left in Prince’s honor. A portion of a fence and the fans’ memorabilia are displayed in the store. Staff rotate all the items so Paisley Park visitors will eventually see everything that was left.

At this store, you can buy all sorts of souvenirs celebrating The Purple One, including Prince’s favorite vegan peanut butter crisped rice treats, purple guitar picks, concert t-shirts, and posters. I couldn’t help myself; I bought Purple Rain t-shirts for both my husband and me.

My Purple Rain t-shirt purchased from the store at Paisley Park ~ What It's Like to Tour Paisley Park Where Prince Lived and Worked
My Purple Rain t-shirt purchased from the store at Paisley Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

My Love of Prince

I have been a Prince fan for as long as I can remember being a fan of music. When my family moved away from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, in 1982, Little Red Corvette was all the rage. My rule-following mom purchased spray paint for us to leave a mark on the town’s small train bridge. Drawings, team slogans, and lovers’ names coated the bridge’s walls. This was, of course, Prince’s Graffiti Bridge. (Don’t bother searching for the Graffiti Bridge during your visit to Minnesota; it was removed in 1991.)

A couple of years after our move to Arizona, I bought my first-ever album, Purple Rain. My grade school best friend and I listened to that soundtrack until all of the lyrics spun in circles in our brains. (Yes, even Darling Nikki.)

After college in the Grand Canyon State, I returned to Minnesota for four years, where I went on a first date with a charming guy to First Avenue. Known to locals as First Ave, that’s where Prince launched his music career and put Minneapolis on the music map.

Years later, that same charming guy (who’s now my husband) and I considered buying tickets to a Prince concert. But at a couple hundred dollars a pop, we resisted our musical urges and stayed home with our kids. It’s true what they say about regrets. It’s the things you didn’t do that gnaw at you more than those you did.

Do you spy Prince's love symbol in the lobby at Paisley Park?
Do you spy Prince’s love symbol in the lobby at Paisley Park? (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Why Tour Paisley Park

You can no longer see Prince play live in concert. But you can get a glimpse into the mind and life of this music icon during a Paisley Park tour. You need to make reservations to visit Paisley Park.

Instead of the standard ticket, I suggest getting the VIP tour for additional access and information, as described in my story above. You won’t regret it.

The whole family can ride the Ferris Wheel together at Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minnesota
Valleyfair Amusement Park in Shakopee, Minnesota (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Explore More

Learn tips for visiting Valleyfair, Minnesota’s biggest theme park, located less than 11 miles from Paisley Park.

Enjoy Lake Superior, hiking, brewpubs, and more fun things to do in Duluth, Minnesota.

Listen to the best songs about colors. (Can you guess which song represents purple?)

I bet Prince would approve of these free music festivals in the USA.

Tour Paisley Park, Prince's Minnesota Home

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What it's like to tour Paisley Park, where Prince lived, worked and recorded

Would you like to tour Paisley Park? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Your depiction of the tour brings back such a great memory in such well-conjured detail, I relived the epic experience. Prince had a sweet tooth so I recall being served pancakes, laden with something like caramel and marshmallow cream!! I still wear my Purple Rain t-shirt 💜💧☔️👑

  2. THANK YOU! it’s on my bucket list. I’m a diehard SUPER FAN or I should say admirer or appreciater bcuz he didn’t like “fan” bcuz it was short for fanatics and that was being something negative….May we all live to see the dawn.

  3. Oh my!!! I loved this. I have loved Prince for most of my life! I still have moments when it hits me all over again and i cry.. Thank you for the this ! I hope to visit someday. I was emotional just reading about it.

    1. Samantha – I hope you can visit Paisley Park someday soon. It’s crazy to think that Prince is no longer here. The world lost such a talented and passionate soul when he died. 💜

  4. Hello 🙂

    For the picture that they allow, I have few questions.
    Can we have a picture closer to the piano ?
    Is it a one shot ? I mean, can we ask to re-take the picture if we are not satisfied of our posture or face ? xD

    Thanks a lot for your review 🙂

    1. Hi Sylvain – We took a few shots — some with just me, just my sister, and both of us together. They told us exactly where to stand, though. I hope you can visit Paisley Park soon and that you enjoy the tour as much as I did!

  5. I enjoyed your article. I am attending the celebration in April 2018 and very excited to experience PP. like you I never got to see him preform live, so I am really looking forward to this trip. I will update you upon my return.

    1. I hope you enjoy touring Paisley Park as much as I did, Marilyn! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

    1. You are right, Ella. I don’t know how I got that wrong. Thank you for pointing this out to me. I have corrected the story.

  6. He was the most talented person ever and no one will EVER replace him, My heart shattered the day he passed away. I am planning a trip to Minnesota to visit Paisley Park. That will be an amazing tour, He may not be physically there, but I believe in spirit he is. What better tribute can you pay to him than visiting his beautiful home and showing how much you loved him, I still cry over his passing, but we still have his amazing music that will live on forever. I can’t wait to visit Paisley Park. ❤

    1. Christina – How wonderful that you are planning a trip to Minnesota to visit Paisley Park. Since you are a super fan like me, I am sure you will really appreciate and enjoy touring the space where he lived and worked. Prince is so missed by us all!

  7. OH I didn’t know this existed!!! My husband is pretty much obsessed with Prince and would love to visit!

    1. Reesa – I hope you and your husband get a chance to visit Paisley Park together someday!

    1. Paisley Park was modest in some ways and outrageous in others…definitely interesting!