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BEST BATTING CAGE Minneapolis 2001 -

As Dome-detractors will tell you, baseball is meant to be played outdoors. And, as Dome-defenders will tell you, that doesn't mean a whole lot in Minnesota, where spring can find home plate buried under a snowdrift. Minnesota's tardy summers also force a compromise for amateur sluggers hankering for a few swings. During the winter months, the only options around are indoor sports complexes like Grand Slam in Coon Rapids. (This huge funhouse, featuring indoor minigolf and laser-tag, is also the place to bring the baseball-loving wee'uns for birthday parties.) When the weather does finally come around, though, you can't beat the more grown-up diversions of Amusement City; which, with its ramshackle atmosphere and big, pink elephant statue, is like a dollop of Coney Island in Maplewood. Knocking around a few fastballs here--with a turn on the go-cart track, an ice-cream cone, and a round of minigolf thrown into the mix--might be the perfect way to spend a summer evening. Given Amusement City's generous hours (10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. every day), this could also be the best place in town to play hooky.

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