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Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST DAY TRIP

Red Wing

Is there a more versatile one-day destination than Red Wing? The charming little town of about 16,000 seems able to mold itself to any day-trip agenda. For one thing, it's only an hour and 15 minutes from either of the Twin Cities, which gives you all day to play and is close enough to beckon even on a whim, without the dread of a long drive home. If you're looking for a mellow getaway, spend a quiet day browsing its famous antique and pottery shops, poking through the farmers' market (open seven days a week in summer), or sauntering along the riverfront watching boats cruise through the marina. If you need to get the blood circulating, hike to the top of Barn Bluff for a picnic and spectacular views of Red Wing and the Mississippi as it widens into Lake Pepin. For a bit more exercise, Frontenac State Park is just 20 minutes downstream, with equally thrilling views, or pedal along one of the state's most eye-popping bike paths, the Cannon Valley Trail, which runs 20 miles along a river and through farmland from Red Wing to Cannon Falls. In keeping with the town's versatility, Red Wing's pleasures can be had year-round, including eagle-watching on Lake Pepin in early spring, leaf-watching in late autumn, and cross-country skiing along the Cannon Valley Trail in winter. At the end of the day, treat yourself to a meal at Norton's Downtown and Lucky Cat Lounge on Main Street, where a boldly flavored, globally inspired menu ranges from duck confit and Cuban roast pork to a Saigon sub and lamb burger. If you tire of quaintness, head 20 minutes up the road to Treasure Island Casino for an indoor adrenaline rush. Or if you can't get enough of the town, bed down at the historic, 135-year-old St. James Hotel and spend another day.

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 CURE FOR WINTER DOLDRUMS Learn to skate ski

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