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Best of the Twin Cities 2011

Variety is the spice of life, right? Sure, but we think the wondrous mix of things to do, eat, drink, buy, and enjoy in the Twin Cities is better described as, well, pretty sweet. It’s a veritable Candyland out there, and on the following pages we highlight the things that make us feel good as gumdrops. The tastiest focaccia (the best Dara’s ever eaten). The hippest cover band (they know Weezer’s The Blue Album front to back). The most honest auto-body shop (they do exist). And, yes, the best candy store. Admit it, we’re spoiled rotten here. And that’s a good thing.

Best of the Twin Cities 2011
Photo by Darrell Eager

(page 6 of 15)


New Green Space

Upper Landing Park

The newest strip of riverfront renovation in St. Paul, just below the Science Museum, could’ve been brought over by barge from Paris, its stone stairways leading down to the water, its grass a fine place for a picnic, boat-watching, or whatever the kids are into these days. It was bewitchingly christened this summer when it hosted the huge, twinkling “Scattered Light” sculpture for a month, and City House, a refurbished grain elevator at the park’s south end, opened as an event space. But even when it’s quiet, it speaks to our ongoing, ever-changing relationship with the river.
Chestnut Street and Shepard Road, St. Paul, stpaul.gov

Downhill Ski Weekend

Buena Vista Ski Area

Over in Bemidji, a ski bunny is a rabbit bounding down the slope, and getting plowed means someone helpfully cleared your driveway: it’s not the most party-hearty ski area (hello, Lutsen!). But it may be the nicest—especially on the wallet, with specials like $5 lessons, $18 lift passes, and $3 sleigh rides for when you want to give your legs a rest.
19600 Irvine Ave. NW, Bemidji, 218-243-2231, bvskiarea.com

Skate-Ski Lessons

Theodore Wirth Park

You know the skiers: the ones zipping by you on the trail like lynx in hot-pink spandex. They’re skate-skiing, a kind of Rollerblading on snow. And if you’ve ever wondered if it’s for you, you can check it out, fairly inexpensively, at the Theodore Wirth ski area, where rentals and lessons are offered by the Sisu Ski School. If it doesn’t feel right, you can always go back to your tortoise ways.
1339 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Mpls., 763-522-4584, sisuskiers.org

Ocean Escape

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium

If it once seemed strange that octopi were twirling their tentacles just below Banana Republic at the Mall of America, it may seem even stranger now that the new owners of MOA’s aquarium have taken things up a notch. The exhibit now features twice as many sea creatures as before, including more rays and sharks—and a curvaceous new green turtle called Swim Kardashian. And if you can’t afford a tropical holiday this winter, good news: you can snorkel with these fishes.
120 E. Broadway, Bloomington, 952-883-0202, visitsealife.com/minnesota

Urban Adventure

Lebanon Hills Regional Par

This Eden, in Eagan, is so dense and immense—bigger than many state parks—and so criss-crossed with skiing and mountain-bike trails, that several bikers got disoriented last year and had to be rescued by plane, wilderness style. Even two of the searchers got lost for a time. This fall, the visitor center—already a model of sustainability—is getting an upgrade. New picnic shelters will also be added and new mountain-bike trails for beginners will be cut through the woods. Just bring your GPS.
860 Cliff Rd., Eagan, 651-554-6530, co.dakota.mn.us

Cooking Class

Kitchen in the Market

It’s the cooking-class equivalent of a shore lunch: once a month, the high-energy chefs of Kitchen in the Market will take you on a hunt for seasonal ingredients among the various produce shops housed within the Midtown Global Market. Then, right there in the complex, they’ll show you how to cook them up. Sound simple? That’s the point, a direct lesson in how to convert groceries into goodness.
920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-568-5486, kitcheninthemarket.com

Speaking Class

Voice and Speech at the Guthrie

Having a commanding voice is helpful on stage—and just about anywhere else you’d like to assert your authority (office, ship, courtroom). Which is why the Guthrie’s lessons in projection and effective, motivational speech have become a favorite of executives, lawyers, and others looking to…hey, I’m talking to you!
818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-225-6172, guthrietheater.org

Woodworking Class

Wild Earth School

You need a place to sit. Now, you could drop 10 bucks on an IKEA chair that will probably collapse within a week. Or you could spend that week making your very own Adirondack chair. You could also build your own guitar to strum in that chair, and, should you choose to get up, some new cabinets for your kitchen—all during night and weekend classes just across the St. Croix in Hudson. Your butt, and your spouse, will thank you.
924 County Rd. N., Hudson, Wis., 715-749-9011, aboutwildearth.com

Retro Supper

Vino & Vinyl at Corner Table

You with the Bee Gees beard and distinct lack of digital devices! It’s time to stop listening to your old records in the basement—you could be sharing them with everyone at Corner Table. Every Thursday night, this quintessential neighborhood restaurant becomes a gourmet rec-room: bring an old LP and the chefs will spin it during dinner. Also, the usual $12 corkage fee is ratcheted down to $1—another flashback to the good old days.
4257 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-823-0011, cornertablerestaurant.com


Best Outdoor Adventure

For Snowshoeing

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

3815 American Blvd. E., Bloomington, 952-854-5900, midwest.fws.gov/minnesotavalley

For Snow-Tubing

Buck Hill

15400 Buck Hill Rd., Burnsville, 952-435-7174, buckhill.com

For Sledding

Columbia Golf Course, Minneapolis

3300 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-789-2627

For Downhill Skiers

Afton Alps

6600 Peller Ave. S., Hastings, 651-436-5245, aftonalps.com

For Cross-Country Skiers

Elm Creek Park Reserve

12400 James Deane Pkwy., Maple Grove, threeriversparks.org

For Skijoring

Baker Park Reserve

2309 Baker Park Rd., Maple Plain, threeriversparks.org

For Skaters

Centennial Lakes

7499 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-833-9580, centenniallakespark.com


[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com

Best Lake


Lake Harriet


Lake Minnetonka


Lake Nokomis


Como Lake


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Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Jul 13, 2012 02:10 pm
 Posted by  johnfpalumbo

Check out Palumbo's Pizzeria at 454 Snelling Avenue South, Saint Paul. This family owned and operated pizzeria has been open for one year (07/06/2011). They serve traditional Caputo 00 flour in their thin, crisp crust, personal size (10 in.) pies. Check out the signature Salmone e Crema di Formaggio pizza (Salmon and cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic cream sauce, spinach, and basil). Authentic, locally sourced gelato, will finish your meal with gusto. Local and national craft beers and an international wine list round out this taste of Italy.

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