Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST PLACE TO PLAY PINBALL

S.S. Billiards

Ask anyone who knows local pinball about S.S. Billiards, and chances are they'll say, "Oh, you mean Lloyd's." They're talking about Lloyd Olson, the Hopkins arcade's owner and operator since 1979. (His mother owned it before him. She bought it from a man named Sam Snelling, hence the "S.S.") Lloyd is a fixture in the local pinball community, in part because of his devotion to preserving and refurbishing the rare and finicky beast that is the pinball machine. More important might be the fact that visitors to his arcade can't help but talk to him. Literally. There isn't a change machine on the premises, so Lloyd dispenses all quarters by hand. This allows him ample time to crack the odd avuncular joke and otherwise make fast friends with his regulars. As for the place itself, the plain, square room lacks a designer's touch, but the rows and rows of games—with all their retro bells and whistles—are enough to distract players beyond caring. Lloyd doesn't always have the newest games—only bars can afford those, so try Mortimer's or Mackenzie's—but his late-'80s and early-'90s titles are better anyway. Hint: Make sure you play "Big Bang Bar" while you're there. It's one of only a handful of prototypes created before Capcom pulled the plug on its pinball operations, and many hardcore pin-flippers swear it's the best game ever made.

BEST PINBALL (2008) SS Billiards

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 SHOOT POOL Brunswick's (at Grandma's Saloon)

BEST PLACE TO SMOKE INDOORS Mainstreet Bar and Grill

BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS Mill Ruins Park

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