Best of

the Twin Cities

Best Tourist Attraction

Walnut Grove

Is there anything more essentially Minnesotan than Laura Ingalls Wilder? Okay, so Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, and even New York (home to husband Almanzo) also claim her. But only we have Walnut Grove, her family's onetime stamping ground lionized by Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and the rest of the gang on the long-running television series. Tourists from all over the region, especially those who have checked off visits to all her Midwestern homes, make the pilgrimage to this sleepy southwestern Minnesota town every year to attend its summer pageant, check out museum memorabilia from Ingalls Wilder's life (both actual and televised), compete in the annual Laura and Nellie lookalike contest, and pick up their own slate and pencil, rag doll, or bonnet in the adjoining gift shop. The family lived here twice when Laura was seven and 11, and only for short periods of time before moving on to Iowa and South Dakota in search of better opportunities in what were challenging times for westbound pioneers. While home sites like that in DeSmet, South Dakota, offer a greater chronological glimpse into the family's life (and figure more significantly in the book series), it's impossible not to feel a rush of nostalgia as you walk "On the Banks of Plum Creek" — which you actually can do — and stand over the remains of the Ingalls family's actual hillside sod dugout, noticing a number of landmarks mentioned in the book of the same name.

Best Neighborhood Longfellow

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

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 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"