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BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

The roof of the Tate Laboratory of Physics

There are competing schools of thought about the best place for a first date. The dim light/strong drink theorists typically favor supper clubs. Hearty-partiers prefer bars. Tree huggers like nature hikes. They all have it wrong. Face facts: Statistically, there is a damn good chance a first date won't lead to a second one. This is why an ideal setting for the first date promotes romance, yet does not force it on you. A great first-date spot should leave you and an ill-matched date a consolation prize, a measure of novelty and intellectual distraction. And what place in the Twin Cities can best accommodate both the spirit of Cupid and Copernicus? That would be the observatory at the Tate Laboratory of Physics at the U of M. Every Friday night during the fall and spring semesters, the Astronomy Department hosts a public viewing on the building's fourth-floor rooftop. Depending on the size of the crowd, you might have to wait a bit for a view of the moon through the reflecting telescope. But that's not so bad: While you lovebirds are waiting, you can examine the impressive view of the Minneapolis skyline and debate which building ought to be demolished first. And if you rascals start feeling frisky, you can follow the local custom and sneak into a nearby classroom for a quick make-out session. Remember to phone about an hour ahead of the scheduled viewings—they typically run from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m.—to confirm that weather or other factors haven't caused a cancellation.

BEST APPLE ORCHARD Sponsel's Minnesota Harvest

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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 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 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