Just four months from now, 50,000 strangers will descend on the Twin Cities to engage in one of the greatest civic spectacles on earth: the Republican National Convention.
We've all seen political conventions on TV: the straw hats and little flags, the raucous speechifying, the electrifying votes on the party platform, and the triumphant, orgiastic finale—the selection of a candidate whose nomination was decided months in advance.
But even Republicans can't convene 24/7. When they've caucused themselves raw, they're going to want to let off some steam and explore the best the Twin Cities has to offer. They'll want to know where to find our best new restaurant, the best martini, best music store, best view, best pizza, and best strip club (it's the Seville, 15 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis).
It's up to all of us to show our guests some Midwestern hospitality. Thousands of local citizens have already applied for permits to greet the Republicans outside Xcel Center, but we can do more. That's why City Pages has compiled 300 or so of the best things about the Twin Cities in one handy book. Call it "unconventional" wisdom—the kind of advice you can only get from your dirtbag friend who gets too drunk and crashes on your couch but always knows where to find a good time.
As we've seen so well in the Middle East, democracy is infectious, so City Pages also asked ordinary citizens to vote in our Readers' Poll. It turns out we disagreed on many of the issues, but rather than launch attack ads, we bowed to the will of the people and published their opinions on page 155, because we believe the American electorate is tired of divisiveness. Sadly, though, it is not tired of nominating the Mall of America for Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests.
In the spirit of nonpartisan cooperation, then, we offer the Best of the Twin Cities 2008, in the hope that our Republican guests will enjoy their stay and take away something from their visit. Something besides heartburn from eating our Best Drunk Food.
To find the places listed below, try our interactive map.
Illustrations by Dan Picasso