BEST PUBLIC PARK (1999)
The Cities are stocked with great parks, and the best recreation area is often the one nearest your door. Still, if you're up for a real outing, the marvelous scenery where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet has the rest of them beat by a mile. Fort Snelling offers lots of amenities that are rare within city limits--enough space to get lost in (about 3,400 acres), a huge variety of wildlife, fishing on both lakes and rivers, and a lovely beach on a spring-fed lake that provides good swimming water even late in the summer. And with all the waterways, boat route possibilities are endless. Canoe rentals and boat landings are available here, too. A mere $20 will get you a year-round motorized vehicle pass not only to Fort Snelling but all the other state parks as well; if that's too much commitment for you, two-day passes are $4. The park is also accessible by bicycle, from the Minnehaha Trail, among others, at no charge. Some history with your park? Nearby, the Minnesota Historical Society hosts events complete with costumed re-creationists at the fort itself, within whose walls opened Minnesota's first school, hospital, and circulating library.