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BEST CURE FOR WINTER DOLDRUMS

Learn to skate ski

If you live in Minnesota, you've got to embrace winter. It's not going to go away. One of the best ways is to take up a winter sport—preferably one that keeps you in shape, requires minimal equipment, and is inherently social. Cross-country skiing is the perfect answer to the quandary of what to do with winter: After the initial investment in a pair of skis, boots, and poles, the possibilities are endless. Each year Gear West offers a Wednesday night class covering everything from the basics to more advanced techniques. Shop owner Jan Guenther teaches the classes herself, and she recruits a bevy of coaches to work with small groups of students. Most people choose to learn to skate ski, but coaches are always available for classic. Once you've got the foundation, you have a myriad of places to practice with your skiing friends. You'll like it so much you'll actually be sad to see the snow melt.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARK Valleyfair

BEST BATHROOM Macy's Minneapolis, fourth-floor ladies room in Intimate Apparel

BEST BUS ROUTE 21

BEST CHARITY Second Chance Animal Rescue

BEST CORNER Lyndale Avenue South and 26th Street, Minneapolis

BEST DAY TRIP Red Wing

BEST DOG PARK Airport Dog Park

BEST FESTIVAL Soundset

BEST GRAFFITI Jimi Hendrix in Uptown

BEST KARAOKE Cloggy's Tavern

BEST LAKE Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis

BEST LIBRARY Franklin Library

BEST LOCAL BLOG The Adventures of Johnny Northside

BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD Al Franken

BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD Dessa Darling

BEST LOCAL WEBSITE Minnesota State Legislature

BEST MAYOR Chris Coleman

BEST MISSISSIPPI RIVER EXPERIENCE The view from the Guthrie

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD Northeast Minneapolis

BEST NEW HIPSTER HANGOUT Angry Catfish

BEST NON-FOOD THING ABOUT THE STATE FAIR Feeling better about your lot in life

BEST PARK Loring Park

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE Loring Park Summer Music and Movies

BEST PLACE TO BREAK UP Minnehaha Falls

BEST PLACE TO DO SOMETHING FOR FREE Aquatennial fireworks

BEST PLACE TO HANG OUT WITH THE KIDS Midtown Global Market

BEST PLACE TO MAKE OUT Middle of frozen Lake Harriet

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY) 19 Bar

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT) Vertical Endeavors

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (LESBIAN) The Town House

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT) Bar 508

BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH Mayo Clinic

BEST PLACE TO STAY WARM IN WINTER Water Park of America

BEST PLACE TO STUDY Dunn Bros, University Avenue and Sixth Street

BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS Linden Hills neighborhood

BEST PLACE TO WASTE AN AFTERNOON Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

BEST POLITICIAN Al Franken

BEST PUB CRAWL Zombie Pub Crawl

BEST SCANDAL Denny Hecker's fall from grace

BEST SHOUT-OUT TO THE TWIN CITIES BY A NON-NATIVE Ringo Starr's plug for the Electric Fetus

BEST SIGN OF SPRING Art in Bloom at Minneapolis Institute of Arts

BEST STATE FAIR FOOD Pig Lickers

Best Staycation Bloomington

BEST STREET Summit Avenue, St. Paul

BEST TWEETER Jason DeRusha

BEST UNDISCOVERED NEIGHBORHOOD Dayton's Bluff

BEST VIEW The High Bridge

BEST VILLAIN Michele Bachmann

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY Madeline Island, Bayfield, Wisconsin