Best Walk Around a Lake - 2009
A 1.6-mile stroll around this shallow lake immerses you in the rambunctious spirit that animates St. Paul. You're virtually never on a straightaway as you navigate Lake Como's curvy shoreline, with its ecologically friendly native plant and rain gardens. The jewel in the crown of Como Park, Lake Como was so named in 1840 by one Charles Perry, a potato farmer nostalgic for his hometown in Italy. When it was drained for preservation purposes in 1923, officials found the skeleton of Charlie Pitts, a member of the Jesse James Gang shot by a posse after a Twin Cities bank robbery. Perhaps Como's eccentric history informs the mix of natural wonders and quirky charm this ramble affords. For all its cozy ambience, Como offers exhilarating contrasts. Kids clamber around a manmade waterfall and hokey statue of a black bear. Nearby stands an elegant pavilion with a columned promenade, where concert music wafts across the lake and where people can get married, put on shows, or grab a snack. Further along, there are copiously weeping willows, solitary great egrets, soaring bald eagles. The surrounding tangle of houses sports a dizzying array of architectural styles—timbered Tudors, artisan bungalows, rambling old Victorians with fanciful turrets and widow's walks. Best of all is the truly diverse bunch of people who populate Como's paths and paddle boats, from Asian families and aging hippies to the Easy Riders on souped-up cycles who once a year rally in the parking lot.