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Best of the Cities 2010

Yes, that ballpark rocks. And, getting there on the Northstar line is pretty cool. That kestrel is awful funny. And did you try the Vincent burger at the park? Those are just four reasons to celebrate the new stadium and the Twin Cities. Read on to discover 100 more reasons to love the place you live.

Best of the Cities 2010
Photo by Thomas Strand

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Emerging Music Star

Chris Koza

When Koza crashed the local rock-and-roll party six years ago with his remarkable debut, winning Minnesota Music Awards for best male vocalist and best pop recording, he seemed a local Ben Folds, melodic and playful and exquisitely angel-voiced. This year, the singer-songwriter has arguably become Minnesota’s most ambitious musician, forming the folk-pop band Rogue Valley from among the Twin Cities’ sharpest indie-rockers and slating four new releases before the year’s up. That’s in addition to collaborating with such notable locals as pop-rocker Jeremy Messersmith, jazz thrush Alicia Wiley, and poet Alex Lemon. • chriskoza.com

New Fitness Class

American Swedish Institute

It’s the Ikea of exercise—simple, modern, and widely accessible. Margaret Nelson, a Stockholm native and former dancer with the Royal Swedish Ballet, has translated her movement skills into a new regimen that she teaches in weekly sessions at the American Swedish Institute. It starts with a tame cardiovascular workout followed by strength training and stretching, incorporating Swedish music, of course, and often a Swedish dance step, a perfect counterpoint to the institute’s famous smorgasbords. • 2600 Park Ave., Mpls., 612-871-4907, americanswedishinst.org

Lecture Series

Great Decisions

If the Edina Library’s copy of War and Peace is checked out, consider its Great Decisions lecture series a worthy substitute. Since 2005, the Minnesota International Center has coordinated this monthly dialogue at the library, featuring such local speakers as retired Foreign Service officer Thomas Hanson and Robert Flaten, the former U.S. ambassador to Rwanda, illuminating topics as diverse and complex as the global food supply and the Middle East in the 21st century. • 5280 Grandview Square, Edina, 952-847-5425, hclib.org

Fall Hike

Lake Maria State Park

No need to fly off to Vermont to relish the glories of autumn color—not with Lake Maria State Park right here in Monticello. Scarcely an hour from downtown Minneapolis, the park holds one of the few remaining remnants of the so-called Big Woods, the maple, oak, and basswood forest that once covered south-central Minnesota. Sixteen miles of hiking trails wind through 1,590 acres that blaze with hues of red, gold, and yellow come fall—all without flight delays and traffic jams. • 11411 Clementa Ave. NW, Monticello, 763-878-2325, dnr.state.mn.us

Public Artist

Wing Young Huie

The Minneapolis photographer’s six-mile-long “University Avenue Project” is the most ambitious public-art exhibition in Minnesota since, well, his last one, the seminal “Lake Street project.” In fact, Huie has taken things even further this time, not only papering the corridor with massive images of neighborhood residents but also hosting monthly cabarets with local performers, transforming an entire section of the city into an outdoor art space. • universityavenueproject.com

Seasonal Cooking Class

Gale Woods Farm

Aspirations to eat local can fade faster than late-season lettuce when faced with a pile of purple kohlrabi or heaps of fall squash. Which is why the Folk School at the Gale Woods Farm is ready to walk you through such cooking conundrums, season by season. In Cooking from the Garden, you’ll learn to enliven even the most turnipy CSA box, while the Sweet Fall Harvest class focuses on what all those Minnesota apples—and a little bit of honey—can add to your autumn menu. • 7210 County Rd. 110 W., Minnetrista, 763-694-2001, threeriversparks.org

Unofficial Mascot

Kirby the Kestrel

When the Minnesota Twins moved into Target Field this year, so did a bird that—no offense, boys—has sometimes proved more interesting than the game. He’s been dubbed Kirby the Kestrel, and throughout the stadium’s inaugural season we’ve watched him dive-bomb the field, feast on neighborhood moths, and attract a mate to his hangout on the right-field foul pole. He’s become a regular on ESPN and FSN, and is yet more proof that the new stadium is a pretty good place to perch. • twitter.com/targetfieldhawk

Stress Buster

Global Harmony Labyrinth

Dedicated to the sister cities of St. Paul and Nagasaki, Japan, the Global Harmony Labyrinth in Como Park is a contemporary take on an ancient spiritual tradition: a pathway arranged in a circular pattern that leads into the center. It is designed for meditative walking that helps relax the mind and, in essence, centers you. Here, there are two paths, shaped as two stylized hands holding a globe. Whenever you feel stressed out, take both paths and you won’t need to call anyone in the morning. • Near Lake Como, just off Lexington Avenue. stpaul.gov

Museum Addition

Elizabeth Armstrong

Until Armstrong came along, joining the Minneapolis Institute of Arts last year as its first-ever curator of contemporary art, the venerable museum was woefully understocked with art reflecting our own times. With two bold strokes, this year’s show “Until Now: Collecting the New” and the ongoing Art Remix series, which blends contemporary works into galleries of older pieces, Armstrong began to change all that, displaying more modern works in a year than the museum had acquired in many decades. • 2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-6323, artsmia.org

Urban Escapes

How to leave the city behind— without actually leaving it

Even the most jaded city slickers tend to melt before the vivid hues of the flowers and trees at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (arboretumumn.edu), an impeccably maintained 1,100-acre haven that’s as accessible as it is expansive.

You’ve told those people who love being outside in winter to go fly a kite—and apparently they heard you: At the annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival (minneapolisparks.org) on January 8, you can take horse-drawn wagon rides, try snowshoeing, roast marshmallows, and watch experts navigate the skies with dazzling, elaborate kites.

Looking for a place to play hooky? Try Lake Calhoun (minneapolisparks.org), where strolling the three miles around the water, relaxing on the Tin Fish patio with a gourmet fish taco, or paddling a rented kayak to the center of the lake is first-class stress relief—if all your coworkers aren’t also there.

Eat. Drink. Eat. Shop. Eat. Did we mention eat? The Shops at West End (theshopsatwestend.com), in St. Louis Park, are a kind of ADHD dream come true, featuring more than 40 merchants (Anthropologie, Uber Baby, Republic of Couture), plus eight eateries, including Crave and Ringo, and—to top it all off—the Showplace Icon movie theater, which allows you to carry your dinner and cocktails to your seats. What to do? All of it, of course. And at once.


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