Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Lake

Powderhorn Lake

Some Minneapolis bodies of water boast membership in the Chain of Lakes: Harriet has a bandshell and boats; Calhoun brags about being the biggest; Lake of the Isles surrounds itself with idyllic mansions. But a few miles east of this collection of water, where anyone throwing a rock can hit a lake to skip it on, public water is a scarcer resource. In the middle of this relative desert is the long-neglected, long-polluted Powderhorn Lake. The community around the lake prizes it as a valuable resource: It's the centerpiece of the surrounding park's many well-loved events, and in winter passersby can pick up rental ice skates for free. But for decades the 24-foot-deep, 12-acre lake hasn't been pretty. In the 1960s, I-35W construction cut off the lake, already carved out of a marsh, from its freshwater supply. By the late 1990s the storm- and aquifer-fed water had gotten gross enough that activists started rallying to rid it of floating trash, blooming algae, and deteriorating shoreline. The city sank more than $800,000 into infrastructure improvements like "grit chambers" to clean storm water. Through the 2000s the park system lined the lake with barley straw, and neighbors planted nearly 100 rain gardens. Their work has paid off: Today, two species of native plants have returned to the lake, plus new types of stocked fish, like channel catfish, that some anglers even eat. And though the lake still has a ways to go before a swimming beach gets installed, in September 2012 it was taken off the list of the state's most polluted waters.

Best Sledding (2013) Powderhorn Park

Best Festival (2009) MayDay Parade and Festival

Best Art Event (2019) MayDay Parade and Festival

Best Place to Show up Stoned (2019) Recreation league baseball game in Powderhorn Park

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 Girl Made Good Cheryl Strayed

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 View Indian Mounds Park

Best People-Watching The Chain of Lakes

Best Bus Route Route 16

Best Viral Video "Hot Cheetos and Takis"