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Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST TWINS PLAYER

Joe Mauer

No. 7 spent the bulk of last season fighting through injuries, and most fans who watched him grit his teeth and take his lumps in '07 saw a somewhat different player from the one who hit .347 in 2006. The defending batting champ lost some of his speed out of the batter's box, had a little trouble nailing his customary liners into the gap, and had to deal with media that kept nagging him about a "history" of injury. But even with all that injury and pressure, even with a season consisting of just over 100 games, Mauer continued to prove himself a solid cornerstone of an ever-changing Twins lineup. His .808 OPS was third only to Jorge Posada and Victor Martinez among American League backstops, while his .293 batting average and .382 on-base percentage are proof enough that a good eye can trump a bad leg. And behind the plate? Even accounting for limited duty, his strong, accurate arm (only one error in 777 innings of duty) made him a gamble to run against, and that trend can only continue. A hurt Mauer was one of the best catchers in baseball last year—and this year it looks like we'll be getting the healthy Mauer.

BEST (NON-TV) WEATHERPERSON Jimmy "Dutch" Gaines

BEST AMUSEMENT PARK Valleyfair

BEST BEACH Hidden Beach at Cedar Lake

BEST BIKE TRAIL Cannon Valley Trail

BEST BOCCE COURTS Nomad World Pub

BEST BOWLING ALLEY Ran-Ham Bowling Center

BEST BOXER Jason Litzau

BEST COACH Tubby Smith

BEST COLUMNIST Nick Coleman

BEST COMIC BOOK SHOP Big Brain Comics

BEST DAY TRIP Stillwater

BEST FAN CONVENTION CONvergence

BEST GAY-FRIENDLY SPORTS LEAGUE Twin Cities Gay Hockey Association

BEST GOLF COURSE Hiawatha Golf Club

BEST ICE SKATING Centennial Lakes Park

BEST INDOOR RUNNING SPACE Metrodome

BEST JOCKEY Paul Nolan

BEST LIBRARY Minneapolis Central Library

BEST LOCAL BLOG Mediation

BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD Alex Pareene

BEST LOCAL BOYS MADE GOOD Joel and Ethan Coen

BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD Diablo Cody

BEST LOCAL WEBSITE MnSpeak

BEST LYNX PLAYER Seimone Augustus

BEST MAKE-OUT POINT Fillmore Avenue, St. Paul

BEST MAYOR R.T. Rybak

BEST MINNESOTA SWARM PLAYER Nick Patterson

BEST MINNESOTA THUNDER PLAYER Nic Platter

BEST NATURE IN THE CITY The Quaking Bog at Wirth Park

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD FOR GARAGE SALES Macalester-Groveland

BEST NEW BRIDGE Hiawatha Bridge

BEST NEW VIEW OF THE RIVERFRONT Guthrie Theater's "Endless Bridge"

BEST PARKING LOT The one behind the Mixed Blood Theatre on the West Bank

BEST PICNIC SPOT Hidden Falls Regional Park

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE Lake Elmo Park Reserve

BEST PLACE TO ACCESSORIZE YOUR SCANDO HERITAGE Ingebretsen's

BEST PLACE TO BREAK UP Science Museum of Minnesota

BEST PLACE TO GET A PIñATA Litin Everything Party 'n' Paper

BEST PLACE TO GET ARRESTED FOR SOLICITING SEX IN PUBLIC Crosby Farm Regional Park

BEST PLACE TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL WITHOUT LEAVING TOWN Canoeing on Lake Nokomis

BEST PLACE TO JOG Crosby Farm Regional Park

BEST PLACE TO MEET OTHER PARENTS Riverview Café

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY) The Minneapolis Eagle/Bolt

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT) Dave and Buster's

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (GAY) Pi Bar and Restaurant

BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT) Bolder Options

BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH Pizza Lucé downtown after 1 a.m. on a Saturday night

BEST PLACE TO PLAY GAMES OF WORLD DOMINATION WHILE EATING SEASONED FRIES Chatterbox Pub

BEST PLACE TO SAY IT WITH A CARD Mitrebox

BEST PLACE TO SHOOT POOL Fat Boy Billiards

BEST PLACE TO SPEND A DAY DOING SOMETHING FOR FREE Como Park

BEST PLACE TO STUDY WHILE SIPPING BEER Common Roots Cafe

BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS Stone Arch Bridge

BEST PLACE TO WANDER INDOORS Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

BEST POLITICIAN Neva Walker

BEST PUBLIC PARK Lebanon Hills Regional Park

BEST SCANDAL Carol Molnau's shameless land deal

BEST SELF-PROMOTER Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek

BEST SIGN OF SPRING Outdoor dining

BEST SILVER LINING TO THE 35W BRIDGE COLLAPSE Four lanes on 94

BEST SKYSCRAPER The Capella Tower

BEST SLEDDING Theodore Wirth Park

BEST SPEED TRAP The bridges over the Mississippi near 35W

BEST SPORTS BAR FOR CHEERING OUT-OF-STATE TEAMS Gabe's by the Park

BEST STRIP CLUB The Seville

BEST TENNIS COURTS Tower Hill courts

BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER Al Jefferson

BEST USE OF NEON LIGHTING First National Bank Building

BEST USE OF TAXPAYER MONEY Land conservation grants

BEST VIEW Lake Hiawatha at sunset on an autumn day

BEST VIKINGS PLAYER Adrian Peterson

BEST VILLAIN Par Ridder

BEST WAY TO EXPERIENCE THE TWIN CITIES WITHOUT ENDURING THE WEATHER Twin Cities Flickr Photo Pool

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY The North Shore

BEST WILD PLAYER Marian Gaborik

BEST WINTER SPORTS RESORT Lutsen Mountains

BEST YOGA St. Paul Yoga Center