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BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Mill Ruins Park

The ruined remains of the world's greatest flour empire may not stack up to, say, the Roman Colosseum or the Khmer temples of Angkor Wat. But the excavated tunnels, tailraces, trestles, and other 19th-century stone relics of Mill Ruins Park are still a sight to behold, more so than any other attraction on the burgeoning downtown riverfront. And that includes the Guthrie, whose cultural importance and internationally applauded looks don't hold a candle to the immolated husk of the Washburn A Mill, now home to the Mill City Museum. (Consider this: If it weren't for those flour mills and the mighty waterfall that powered them, you'd probably live in Duluth right now, or, heaven forbid, St. Louis.) Flour milling is an inordinately combustible industry, and Minneapolis's early mills had a nasty habit of exploding, often taking neighboring mills with them. In the 1870s alone, 14 mills near St. Anthony Falls burned to the ground or exploded. When this happened, construction crews found the best way to rebuild was to bury the remains of the old mill and put another directly on top. This process made the area ripe for archeological digging, and today visitors can explore every level of the city's flour milling history, from the foundation of the Minneapolis Mill (burned in 1871) to the top of the Washburn A (exploded in 1878, rebuilt in 1879, burned in 1991). All of which shows why Mill Ruins Park is the perfect place to bring out-of-town guests: It's a beautiful area, sure, but it also tells a story. Not only of why those old mills are (mostly) gone, but of why the city is here in the first place.

BEST APPLE ORCHARD Sponsel's Minnesota Harvest

BEST ARCHITECTUAL TIME CAPSULE St. Paul Union Depot

BEST ARCHITECTURAL RENOVATION OF AN OLD BUILDING The Chambers Hotel

BEST BEACH Riverfront Park and Beach

BEST BIKE TRAIL The Midtown Greenway

BEST BOWLING ALLEY Memory Lanes

BEST BOXER Anthony Bonsante

BEST CAREER MOVE Keith Ellison's run for Congress

BEST COACH Ron Gardenhire

BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE Dustin Schlatter

BEST COLUMNIST Patrick Reusse

BEST DAY TRIP Lake Maria State Park

BEST FISHING HOLE (EXURBAN) St. Croix River

BEST FISHING HOLE (URBAN) The confluence of Minnehaha Creek and the Mississippi River

BEST GADFLY Tom Emmer

BEST GAY BAR The Saloon

BEST HELLRAISER OR ACTIVIST GROUP AlliantACTION

BEST HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE Whitney Taney

BEST LESBIAN BAR Pi

BEST LIBRARY St. Paul Central Library

BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD William McGuire

BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD Joe Mauer

BEST LOCAL GIRL GONE BAD Former Minneapolis Fire Chief Bonnie Bleskachek

BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD Diablo Cody

BEST LOCALLY GENERATED BLOG (LEFT-WING) The Cucking Stool

BEST LOCALLY GENERATED BLOG (RIGHT-WING) Faith Mouse

BEST LYNX PLAYER Seimone Augustus

BEST MAYOR Chris Coleman

BEST MOTORCYCLE RIDE (GREATER MINNESOTA) Highway 61

BEST MOTORCYCLE RIDE (URBAN) The Grand Rounds

BEST PICKUP SPOT FOR PARENTS Casper & Runyon's Nook

BEST PICNIC SPOT Minnehaha Byway

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE The roof of the Tate Laboratory of Physics

BEST PLACE TO BE SEEN WITH YOUR MOTORCYCLE Dulono's Pizza

BEST PLACE TO ICE SKATE Van Cleve Park

BEST PLACE TO JOG Big Rivers Regional Trail

BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO DANCE Zenon Dance Company and School

BEST PLACE TO MEET OTHER GAY FAMILIES Rainbow Families

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY) 19 BAR

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT) Spyhouse

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (LESBIAN) Twilight

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT) Twins games

BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH Minnehaha Park on a warm spring day

BEST PLACE TO PLAY PINBALL S.S. Billiards

BEST PLACE TO SHOOT POOL Brunswick's (at Grandma's Saloon)

BEST PLACE TO SMOKE INDOORS Mainstreet Bar and Grill

BEST PLACE TO WATCH SOCCER Sweetwater Bar & Grille

BEST POLITICIAN Becky Lourey

BEST PUB QUIZ Brit's Pub

BEST PUBLIC PARK Como Park

BEST PUBLIC RESTROOM The facilities at Lock and Dam 1

BEST RESCUED LANDMARK Midtown Exchange

BEST ROCK CLIMBING Vertical Endeavors

BEST SCANDAL Norm Coleman Sr.'s special delivery

BEST SIGN OF SPRING Custom cars

BEST SLEDDING Green Acres Recreation

BEST STATE FAIR RIDE The Space Tower

BEST STRIP CLUB The Seville Club

BEST TENNIS COURTS Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center

BEST THUNDER PLAYER Freddy Juarez

BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER Kevin Garnett

BEST TV NEWSCASTER Don Shelby

BEST TV SPORTS ANCHOR Eric Perkins

BEST TV WEATHERPERSON Sven Sundgaard

BEST TWINS PLAYER Johan Santana

BEST URINALS Stasiu's

BEST VICTIM Tammy Lee

BEST VIKINGS PLAYER Pat Williams

BEST VILLAIN Kimanie Carter

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY Trempealeau, Wisconsin

BEST WILD PLAYER Marian Gaborik

BEST YOGA Bikram Yoga Bloomington