Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Local Girl Made Good

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed published two books in 2012: a collection of her columns as the beloved advice-giver "Dear Sugar," and the blockbuster memoir Wild, which went on to relaunch Oprah's book club and sell at least a half-million copies. But before the international book tour, before her work was translated into 26 languages, and before she popped up in glossy magazines, Strayed was a girl living on a homestead in the woods near McGregor, Minnesota, who liked to read. She did well enough at the tiny McGregor High School to get into the University of St. Thomas, and she spent her early 20s shedding her small-town self in the Cities. At the same time, her life fell apart: Her mother died, her first marriage disintegrated, and one day, waiting in the checkout line at the REI store in Bloomington, Strayed saw a guidebook to the Pacific Crest Trail. She decided to flee Minnesota and hike the 1,100 miles in order to remake herself. Eighteen years later, Wild would chronicle her drifting years in the Twin Cities and her time on the trail. Now, even though she lives in Oregon, "Minnesota is home home," Strayed told City Pages in the fall. "I just think in some ways this is where I belong and always will."

Best Neighborhood Longfellow

Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests The Endless Bridge at the Guthrie Theater

Best Tourist Attraction Walnut Grove

Best Historical Site Split Rock Lighthouse

Best Cemetery Pioneers and Soldiers Cemetery

Best State Fair Food Classic Walleye Roll at Giggles Campfire Grill

Best Festival Northern Spark

Best Trans-Friendly Event Cirque Du So Gay Bike Ride

Best Place to Do Something for Free Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Best Planetarium ExploraDome (Bell Museum)

Best Charity GiveMN

Best Undiscovered Neighborhood Keewaydin

Best Sign of Spring Nice Ride returns

Best Make-Out Spot Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Best First-Date Spot A midnight movie at the Uptown Theatre

Best Breakup Spot The corner of Franklin and Hennepin avenues

Best Place to Run into Your Ex The Depot Tavern

Best Place to See a Fistfight Cowboy Jack's

Best Website Minnesota Historical Society

Best Blog Bluestem Prairie

Best Facebook Page Old Minneapolis

Best Hipster Neighborhood North Loop

Best Tweeter David Brauer

Best Politician Branden Petersen

Best Mayor Minneapolis's mayoral wannabees

Best Unlikely Activist Chris Kluwe

Best Local Boy Made Good Denis McDonough

Best Scandal DRE Drug Scandal

Best Boondoggle St. Paul Crime Lab

Best Villain Archbishop John Nienstedt

Best Corner 43rd Street and Nicollet Avenue

Best Street Nicollet Avenue

Best Lake Powderhorn Lake

Best View Indian Mounds Park

Best People-Watching The Chain of Lakes

Best Bus Route Route 16

Best Viral Video "Hot Cheetos and Takis"