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Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST STATE FAIR RIDE

The Space Tower

First things first. The Space Tower is not really a tower—it's less a proper building than a giant metal erection—and it doesn't take you into space. Not even remotely close to space. Roughly speaking, space starts at around 100 km above the Earth's surface; the Space Tower is 340 feet tall. In fact, the highest point at the Minnesota State Fair is only a little more than half the height of the Space Needle in Seattle, its obvious 1960s inspiration. But here in the flatlands, 340 feet will show you plenty. (For those of a mathematical persuasion: In a smog-free world, the sightline would be about 1.2 times the square root of the height in feet, or roughly 21 miles.) Climb on the metal platform, hand over two or three bucks, and count to 60. That bucketful of Sweet Martha's cookies is safe in your gut on the way up; unlike the various vomitoriums (vomitoria?) on the Midway, the Space Tower has no plans to separate you from your lunch. The ascent is almost a spiritual feeling, a rise above the sweaty thousands and the pervasive scent of horse urine. The fair looks leafy from up here, as the trampled grass falls away beneath you. Before long, you're looking past the fair, first at the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul. No other spot reveals both skylines so neatly. How many water towers are there in the metro? How many golf courses? Wait a minute: I think I can see my house from here! And then, just when you're at risk of floating away altogether, the platform pulls you back down to earth and the sweaty, mortal pleasures of the state's greatest carnival.

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 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 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