comScore

Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST PLACE TO BIRD-WATCH

Avery's Sandhill

Among casual birders, Carlos Avery is best known for its sandhill cranes. The southernmost population of the birds in Minnesota, Avery's sandhill colony was established in the early 1960s by a game warden who had confiscated a captive crane from a farmer in northwestern Minnesota. Nicknamed "Old John," the bachelor crane—whose wings were clipped, rendering him flightless—succeeded in luring migrating female cranes to his new digs. Every year since then, the descendants of Old John and those passing lady birds have used this suburban wilderness as a breeding ground. The rare four-foot-tall cranes—generally present from mid-April through mid-September—are hardly Avery's only avian attraction. There are 428 bird species in Minnesota, and 275 of them have been sighted at the preserve. About two-thirds of Carlos Avery is either marsh or open water, so there are a lot of aquatic birds to ogle: bitterns, herons, kingfishers, and all manner of ducks, both rare and common. The upland areas, a mix of oak woodlands and open fields, provide habitat for wild turkeys, vireos, warblers, and woodpeckers (not to mention the occasional coyote and black bear). At 23,000 acres, this wildlife preserve is the largest tract of publicly held land in the seven-county metro area. It has 23 miles of trails and 57 miles of roads, which creates plenty of options for wandering about. If you really want to get away from it all—avoiding all cars, hikers and hunters—check out the Boot Lake Scientific and Natural Area, a 600-acre wilderness that is adjacent to the northwest corner of Carlos Avery. There are no roads or hiking paths at Boot Lake, but you can always follow the deer trails. One important caveat: The southwestern corner of the Boot Lake SNA is a posted sanctuary, off-limits to anyone who does not have a researcher's permit.

BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER House of Mercy

BEST ACTOR (FEMALE)

BEST ACTOR (MALE) Bob Malos

BEST AM RADIO PERSONALITY T.D. Mischke

BEST APPLE ORCHARD Fischer's Croix Farm Orchard

BEST ARCHITECTURAL RENOVATION OF AN OLD BUILDING Franklin Community Library

BEST ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE Art+Architecture

BEST AREA PREMIERE Take Me Out

BEST BAR YOU CAN SMOKE IN Al's

BEST BARISTA Espresso Royale

BEST BARTENDER Michel Bechara

BEST BEACH Lake Harriet

BEST BIKE TRAIL Elm Creek Park Reserve

BEST BLOG (LEFT-WING) Minvolved

BEST BLOG (PERSONAL) Driver2165

BEST BLOG (RIGHT-WING) Nihilist in Golf Pants

BEST BLOG (SPECIALTY) MN Beer

BEST BOONDOGGLE

BEST BOWLING ALLEY Elsie's Bowling Center

BEST BOXER Jason Litzau

BEST BROKEN PROMISE

BEST CAREER MOVE Kirby Puckett

BEST CHARITY Minnesota AIDS Project

BEST CHEAP THRILL Meth

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER Uri Sands

BEST CLUB DJ Karl Frankowski And Jeff Dubois

BEST COACH John Gagliardi

BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE Cole Konrad

BEST COLUMNIST Katherine Kersten

BEST COMMUNITY-BUILDING CAFE LoTo - CLOSED

BEST CORPORATE CITIZEN Kevin Garnett

BEST CRIMINAL Joshua Gardner

BEST DANCER Mary Ann Bradley

BEST DAY TRIP Winona Sugarloaf

BEST DIRECTOR Peter Rothstein

BEST FISHING HOLE Northeast Tip of Pike Island

BEST FM RADIO PERSONALITY Dan Donovan

BEST GADFLY Ed Morrissey

BEST GAY BAR, BEST LESBIAN BAR The Town House

BEST GOLF COURSE Inver Wood Golf Course

BEST GYM YWCA

BEST HELLRAISER OR ACTIVIST GROUP Communities United Against Police Brutality

BEST HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE Tayler Hill

BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST I Self Devine

BEST HIP-HOP DJ Willy Lose

BEST JAZZ ARTIST Phil Hey

BEST LIBRARY Minneapolis Central Library

BEST LIVE ARTIST Birthday Suits

BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD Dean Zimmerman

BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD Dante Culpepper

BEST LOCAL CHEF Tim McKee

BEST LOCAL GIRL GONE BAD Nicole Helget

BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD Nicole Helget

BEST LOFT OR CONDO PROJECT Le Parisien Flats and Marketplace

BEST LYNX PLAYER Nicole Ohlde

BEST MAKEOVER OF A TV PERSONALITY Cyndy Brucato

BEST MAYOR Randy Kelly

BEST NEW NAME FOR COON RAPIDS

BEST OPEN BAR/PATIO The Liffey

BEST PICNIC SPOT Prospect Park Water Tower's observation deck

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE Bryant-Lake Bowl

BEST PLACE TO CANOE St. Croix River

BEST PLACE TO DROP OFF YOUR KID FOR A WHILE Ikea

BEST PLACE TO DUMP SOMEONE Movie Theatres

BEST PLACE TO GET DUMPED Mall of America

BEST PLACE TO GET LOST WHILE RUNNING ERRANDS Bauer Brothers Salvage

BEST PLACE TO HIKE Interstate State Park

BEST PLACE TO ICE SKATE Centennial Lakes Park And Putting Course

BEST PLACE TO JOG

BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO DANCE University-Minnesota Dance

BEST PLACE TO MEET GAY FAMILIES Rainbow Families

BEST PLACE TO PLAY POOL Fat Boy Billiards

BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT OF TOWN GUESTS Minnehaha Park and Falls

BEST PLACE TO WASTE TIME PRODUCTIVELY Minnesota Historical Society Library

BEST POLITICIAN Mike Hatch

BEST PUBLIC PARK Fort Snelling State Park

BEST PUBLIC RESTROOM Ike's Food & Cocktails

BEST R&B ARTIST Mick Sterling

BEST REASON NOT TO MOVE TO THE 'BURBS

BEST ROMANTIC BIKE RIDE Midtown Greenway

BEST SIGN OF SPRING

BEST SIGNAGE Murray's Restaurant And Cocktail Lounge

BEST SONGWRITER P.O.S.

BEST SPORTS TALK RADIO HOST Dan Barreiro

BEST STATE FAIR ATTRACTION 4-H Competition

BEST STRIP CLUB The Double Deuce

BEST SUBURBAN LAKE AREA Square Lake Park

BEST TENNIS COURTS Bassett Creek Park

BEST THUNDER PLAYER Brett Branan

BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER Kevin Garnett

BEST TV NEWSCASTER Julie Nelson

BEST TV SPORTS ANCHOR Eric Perkins

BEST TV WEATHERPERSON Paul Douglas

BEST TWINS PLAYER Carlos Silva

BEST VILLAIN Tim Pawlenty

BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

BEST VOCALIST (MALE) Robert Robinson's

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY Superior Hiking Trail