Downtown Minneapolis, from I-35
Music, Arts, & Theater
The Real Mix
MPR's experiment has created a showpiece for the area's musical talent. Give The Current an hour and see what we mean. 89.3 FM, thecurrent.org
The Guthrie's Cheap Trick
Can't afford $50 Guthrie tickets? Line up right before showtime: Tickets go on sale at half-price 10 minutes before each performance.
The Walker Opens the Vault
We all know the Walker is one of the best, but until its Event Horizon project (in which the museum's permanent collection is being shown in a continuous rotation over the course of three years), it was difficult to appreciate how much artistic heft has been hidden in the Walker's storage closet all these years.
The World-Class Orchestra
In 2003, Osmo Vanska promised to transform the Minnesota Orchestra into one of the world's best. As the only American orchestra invited to play at the BBC Proms this year, it seduced audiences with Shostakovich, wowed them with Bruckner, and sealed the deal with Beethoven's Ninth. Bravo, maestro. minnesotaorchestra.org
Rock 'n' roll history has been made here, and the bands of the moment know it. Everyone who plays First Avenue's Mainroom wonders if their star has finally risen—and may earn a spot on the wall outside. Who's next: Andrew Bird, Dirty Projectors, Vampire Weekend, Apocalyptica, or Interpol? 701 1st Ave. N., Mpls., 612-332-1775, first-avenue.com
Gayngs: The Twin Cities SuperGroup
Last spring, when soft-rock revivalists Gayngs threw and adult prom at First Avenue for their debut show, and Prince was one of the adults who showed up, everybody simultaneously realized that these guys pretending to be a big deal actually were a big deal. Their album, Relayted , is a product of our entire local music scene collaborating with itself (including members of Solid Gold, Doomtree, and Happy Apple, together with 'scone ringer Bon Iver). And this fall, when Gayngs followed Late Night With Jimmy Fallon with Strib headlines after getting its tour bus stolen by the driver, they gave new meaning to the term "smooth jams." gayngs.net
Cheap Art Will Travel
If you're lucky enough to get a share of Community Supported Art's second season—it's $300 and there are only 100 available—you'll get an 18 x 12-inch box with pieces of art selected from 18 Twin Cities artists: crafters, actors, musicians, writers, and painters. (No radishes, though.) Pickups occur three times a season. Thanks to the hippie mentality, art collecting is easy, affordable, and local. springboardforthearts.org and mnartists.org
Recluses. Misfits. Lost souls. Prolific local photographer Alec Soth gives us a view from the passenger seat during his wild ride through the backwoods of the United States in this year's exceptional solo exhibition, From Here to There: Alec Soth's America . The uncanny collection is on display at the Walker Art Center through the end of the year. If you miss it, check out his desperate portrayal of casino life in "Looking for Luck in South Texas." alecsoth.com
Minnesota Fringe Festival
The year's most anticipated performing arts festival outshone itself in '10, yet again: 1,000 participating actors, 169 shows, 56 sold-out shows, $371,000 in ticket revenue, and 50,222 tickets sold in 2010. August, fringefestival.org
Regina Marie Williams won a well-deserved Ivey this year for her bold performance as Mama in Mixed Blood's Ruined , the Pulitzer-winning play by Lynn Nottage. But wherever she performs—Penumbra, Pillsbury House, the Guthrie—her lovely intensity lights up the stage like no other actress in town.
King of the Jungle
Jungle artistic director Bain Boehlke took last year off to travel, but he returned this year to stage two classics— Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Glass Menagerie —to stellar reviews, proving once again that he is the most astute interpreter of classic drama in town. 2951 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-7063, jungletheater.com
The Art of Asia at MIA
The MIA has been cultivating its permanent Asian art collection, which spans 17 cultures, for more than 909 years. It's definitely worth at least 17 chunks of your time. 2400 3rd Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3000, artsmia.org/art-of-asia
The Walker's senior curator of performing arts, Philip Bither, spends his time traveling in search of performing artists sufficiently strange or innovative to merit an invitation. We reap the befit of all those miles. Bither's singularly sophisticated eyes, ears, and mind are our antennae to the world. performingarts.walkerart.org
It doesn't matter who is playing, each night of the MN Zoo Concert Series is filled with musical magic.
The Bike Craze
The success of Nice Ride, our new system of communal rental bikes, garnered national attention.
A Hit of a Workout
You can keep your stripper pole workouts and your precious "boot camps." You want to get in shape? Quit dancing around and hit something. At Uppercut Boxing, you learn to achieve the strength and stamina to hit and be hit. Agility, speed, and power are right there in your hands; all they do at this bare-bones gym is teach you how to unleash them. 1324 NE Quincy St., Mpls., 612-822-1964, uppercutgym.com
Curl it Here
Curling has a Minnesota heritage and even local Olympians, but remains known to but a cadre of loyal leagues whose athletes are happy to never cardio train outside of sliding on ice. stpaulcurlingclub.org
St. Paul Winter Carnival Medallion Hunt
Clue #1: Seek and you probably won't find, but you'll have lots of fun trying. Begins Jan. 27, twincities.com/treasurehunt
Icy Night of Magic
Thousands of ice luminaries (and a bonfire or two) line Lake of the Isles on Feb. 5 for the Luminary Loppet, reminding us that winter can be a wonderland.
The Old Guard
The 28-year-old Twin Cities International Film Festival happens each year mostly because its long-time artistic director, 80-something Al Milgrom, wills it into existence. mnfilmarts.org Best of the Fests Sound Unseen, with its unique combination of music documentaries and concert performances by locals such as red Pens and Gary Louris, keeps rocking. There's not another festival like it anywhere. October, soundunseen.com
Our March Madness
Held every March in St. Paul since 1945, the state hockey tournament is our Hoosiers on ice and what every rink rat dreams of when he's firing pucks at the garage door. March 9-12, mshsl.org
Hidden in a 15-acre corner of Theodore Wirth Park, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary embodies the full definition of the word sanctuary—not just a protected habitat for hundreds of species of plants and birds, but a shaded, sacred place for us city folk to learn a little woodland magic.
A Bike with Attitude
If a bicycle can be punk rock, this one is. The Surly Steamroller is the preferred ride of grunged-out messengers and fixed-gear addicts from NYC to San Fran. (Surly's Bloomington parent, Quality Bicycle Products, is the largest bike parts distributor in the country.)
Minneapolis is consistently named among the top two or three literate cities because of its fantastic access to the stuff that's worth reading.
Book Readings at Magers & Quinn:
It's brought hometown heroes like David Carr back to the stacks for interesting talks, as well as heavy-hitters one book away from larger forums, like Wells Tower and Gary Shteyngart. magersandquinn.com
Big Brain Comics:
Whether you need to invoke the term "graphic novel" in order to satisfy your literary pretensions or you're brave enough to simply ask if the new Thor is in yet, this is the coolest comic book store in the Upper Midwest. bigbraincomics.com
Since 2000, Open Book's three nonprofit tenants, The Loft, Milkweed Editions, and Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, have helped connect people who care about the overuse of words like 'community" and "synergy." openbookmn.org
What child wouldn't want to enjoy story time in a room filled with rats, cats, chickens, and a canoe on the ceiling? Wild Rumpus is a bookstore that garners national attention while appealing to kids' imaginations and short attention spans. wildrumpusbooks.com
Once Upon a Crime and James & Mary Laurie Booksellers:
Book mongers can be truculent eremites, but the best weirdos hoard the best books, and unique specialty shops like these cultivate and curate for other truculent eremites just like yourself. onceuponacrimebooks.com, lauriebooks.com