BEST PICNIC SPOT (2001)
Como Park in St. Paul
American cities sprawl off into unreasonably vast distances, overladen with four-lane highways and drive-thru shopping centers. Even walking to the grocery store is becoming a near impossibility in our car-dependent rim cities. Como Park in St. Paul, designed much like the urban parks in the great cities of Europe, is a rare exception to this dehumanizing rule. Its paths wind through wooded hillsides, and its placid lake waters welcome all manner of waterfowl and watercraft. Atop one of the park hills stands a beautiful, très European glass and aluminum conservatory. Built in 1913, it houses a wide array of tropical plants and flowers. Visitors and picnickers can also visit a zoo, a restored 87-year-old carousel, a Japanese garden, and walk, walk, walk to their heart's content across some 500 acres of beauty. For all of this we owe thanks to Frederick Nussbaumer, a European transplant who, as park superintendent at the end of last century, brought his firsthand childhood knowledge of Europe's parks to the design of Como Park.