By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
25. Observe the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. Head to Lake Nokomis in mid-January to witness the nation's largest pond hockey tournament. With 25 rinks smoothed out of the snowy ice, watching (or participating) in a large-scale outdoor hockey tournament is just about as Minnesota as it gets.
24. Put your MPR and Walker memberships to use and buy some tickets to Rock the Garden. Basically anything can happen at Rock the Garden. A thunderstorm could hit, forcing thousands of people to watch a show inside of a parking ramp. A band could fill an entire set with one 47-minute song. Hell, it could even be a perfect Minnesota afternoon. No matter what, make sure to get to the Current's summer music festival at least once and appreciate all that our local public radio station offers its music-loving fans.
23. Enjoy an Eastern-European evening in Northeast. Order a sausage at Kramarczuk's 60-year-old deli before heading to Nye's Polonaise Room for kraut, a cocktail, and some live piano. If you're there Friday or Saturday, you might catch the World's Most Dangerous Polka Band, a local favorite that's been entertaining at Nye's since the '70s.
22. Take a Nice Ride tour. Pick up a lime-green bike and get your exercise for the day. Bop about town, dropping off and picking up new bikes at various stations throughout the city. After the initial checkout fee of $6, you pay for Nice Ride by the half hour. All you need to do to avoid wracking up a tab is return your bike to a station within 30 minutes, and check out another one. Nice Ride's website offers a number of tour ideas, and with options like the "Bridges of Minneapolis" tour and the "Prince for a Day" tour, you're sure to get the most out of your day of biking in the Twin Cities.
21. Go to a Minnesota Twins game in every weather condition. Sure, it's been a few years since the Twins have done anything worth noting, but that doesn't take away from the fact that we have one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country squeezed right into the middle of Minneapolis. Since baseball season lasts forever, try to get to the ballpark a few times and soak up all that Minnesota's unpredictable weather patterns have to offer.
20. Attend the Minnesota Fringe Festival. With hundreds of performances over 11 days, the Minnesota Fringe Festival is a great way to celebrate the lively arts community in the Twin Cities. The un-juried lineup makes for a lovely mish-mash of performance art. With venues spanning from Uptown to the West Bank and downtown, the festival is the perfect way to get your indie art fix for the year.
19. Eat an Al's Breakfast pancake. The University of Minnesota area seems to be getting new developments faster than students, but the Dinkytown favorite has remained intact. The cramped diner serves the best pancakes in town, and has a charm that cannot be matched, with walls covered in old trinkets and money from around the world. There are only 14 seats, and guests usually have to move once or twice during their meal to accommodate new groups. While there is usually a line that stretches out the door, an Al's Breakfast pancake is well worth the wait.
18. Take in the May Day parade at Powderhorn Park. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's annual May Day Parade has been celebrating the end of winter for the past 39 years. Hand-built puppets and masks come together with music and performance art for a dazzling parade that draws nearly 50,000 people each spring.
17. Participate in the TC Marathon. Okay, you don't have to actually run a marathon, but definitely stake out a spot to watch. Beginning in downtown Minneapolis and finishing near the state Capitol in St. Paul, the course winds around the Chain of Lakes and along the Mississippi River. At the very least you will be inspired by the 12,000-plus participants of all ages who are able to cross the finish line after 26.2 grueling miles.
16. Take in a night of karaoke at Otter's Saloon and Vegas Lounge. They may be cramped, but these Northeast gems have karaoke every night of the week and a slew of regulars who know their way around a power ballad. From classics like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to Spice Girls hits from the '90s, the set list usually inspires the entire bar to sing along. Just stay away from the mystery shots if you want to remember the night.
15. Compare Juicy Lucys at Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club. Both claim to be the creator of Minnesota's famous cheese-filled hamburger, and so the debate between Matt's Bar and the 5-8 Club rages on. If you live anywhere in the metro area, you've probably had one or the other. But have you had them both in one day? Surely that is the only way to settle this question once and for all.
14. Check out some lesser-known museums. You probably know about the Walker, the Weisman, and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, but there's also a trove of smaller museums to visit throughout the Twin Cities. The American Swedish Institute gives guests a glimpse into a 1900s Minneapolis mansion, and the intimate Museum of Russian Art showcases decades' worth of artifacts. If you're looking for something with more local roots, the Bell Museum at the University of Minnesota has quite the collection of taxidermy.