2015 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners


Best Comedy Club – Acme Comedy Co.

Acme Comedy Club

Acme Comedy Co. // Photo via facebook.com/AcmeComedyCompany

Louis C.K. once called it “legendary.” Mitch Hedberg recorded his greatest album there. The low ceilings, the carafe-sized drinks, the national headliners, the hilarious Monday open-mics—everything about Acme adds up to the best comedy experience in town.

Best Bookstore – Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus

Wild Rumpus // Photo via facebook.com/Wild-Rumpus-Books-for-Young-Readers

This independent Minneapolis bookstore specializes in books for young readers from toddlers to high schoolers and its imaginative design makes even adults feel like they’ve stumbled into the pages of “Where the Wild Things Are.” Storytime readings, author visits and talks, and a menagerie of animals around the shop ranging from chickens to ferrets all add to the rumpus.

Best Record Store – Electric Fetus, Minneapolis

Electric Fetus

Electric Fetus // Photo by John Garland

In the age of digital music streaming, there’s something ever more significant about holding an album in your hands, putting it in the player, and reading the lyrics from the album jacket. Record stores like Electric Fetus are communal spaces that bring together musicheads and introduce modern listeners to old standards. The Fetus takes the experience one step further with in-store concerts and album signings.

Best Local Album – Doomtree “All Hands”

Doomtree All Hands

Doomtree’s “All Hands”

The seven members of Minnesota hip-hop collective and record label Doomtree may sound great solo, but when they came together to record their latest group album it resulted in something extraordinary. Muscular beats, sharp songwriting, and infectious choruses had music reviewers across the country taking note, and you’ve named “All Hands” your favorite local album of the year.

Best Local Band – Trampled By Turtles

Trampled Palomino 2014

Trampled by Turtles at the 2014 Festival Palomino // Photo courtesy of Trampled by Turtles

Sure, they draw crowds in the thousands instead of the dozens now. But Trampled By Turtles hasn’t forgotten about their Duluth roots or the down-to-earth, fast-picking, soulful sound that made us fall for them when they first came on the scene so many years ago. And for that, they’re your favorite band in the state.

Best Museum – Science Museum of Minnesota

Science Museum of Minnesota // Photo via facebook.com/sciencemuseum

Science Museum of Minnesota // Photo via facebook.com/sciencemuseum

It’s rare to find a museum that captures the attention of adults and kids alike. Fortunately, we have just the place right here in St. Paul. Mummies, gigantic floating astronauts, dinosaurs, world-renowned exhibits, experiments: the Science Museum of Minnesota proves that science rocks at all ages.

Best Tattoo Parlor – Leviticus Tattoo & Piercing

Leviticus Tattoo and Piercing // Photo via facebook.com/leviticustattoo

Leviticus Tattoo and Piercing // Photo via facebook.com/leviticustattoo

Leviticus Tattoo is an artist-owned tattoo parlour in the Minneapolis’ Longfellow neighborhood. Every tattoo is hand-drawn for the client, making them truly one-of-kind. The shop itself is a museum-meets-garden, with art and eccentric masks hanging from the walls, greenery sprouting up here and there, and a koi pond. When you are looking to lay down some permanent ink, look no further than Leviticus.

Best Bike Shop – Penn Cycle & Fitness

Penn CycleLOW

The Lake Street Penn Cycle & Fitness // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Penn Cycle is a family-owned and operated bike shop with seven locations around the Twin Cities. Each shop boasts an enormous collection of bikes for all ages and persuasions, whether you’re looking to shred the gnar on the mountainside or commute to work. And when you get the inevitable flat or need some routine maintenance, you trust Penn Cycle’s team of mechanics to get your ride back in shape in no time.

Best Bike Trail – Midtown Greenway

Midtown Greenway

Midtown Greenway // Photo via facebook.com/Midtown-Greenway-Coalition

From Chowen Avenue to Lake of the Isles, under Eat Street and past the Global Market, over Hiawatha to the mighty Mississippi—if there’s one amazing path in the Twin Cities to bike, it’s the Greenway.

Best Outdoors Store – REI, Bloomington

REI Bloomington

REI Bloomington // Photo via panoramio.com/user/6518298

Where else in Minnesota but REI’s flagship store can you test new hiking shoes, register for a photography class, get your snowboard waxed, and see the joy that comes to a child’s face when they reach the top of a rock-climbing wall for the first time? Add to that the company’s dedication to conservation efforts, 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy, and co-op model, and it’s easy to see why you love this outdoor store best.

Best Outfitter – Voyageur Canoe Outfitters

Voyager Canoe Outfitters

Paddling in a Voyager Canoe Outfitters’ canoe // Photo via facebook.com/BoundaryWatersBlogLady

Complete and partial outfitting packages, trip planning, pro fishing and canoeing tips: this Grand Marais outfitter has it all. Oh, and they just opened a sister business this summer, too—Voyageur Brewing Company. So grab a growler, catch some shut eye at the lodge, then head into the Boundary Waters knowing you’re more than taken care of.

Best State Park – Tettegouche State Park


The waterfall at Tettegouche State Park // Photo via flickr user brettwhaley

No other park in Minnesota quite captures the spirit of the North Shore like Tettegouche State Park. Located just north of Silver Bay, the park offers stunning views of Lake Superior, a 60-foot-high waterfall at Baptism River, and fantastic hiking with 23 miles of trails. Grab your tent and get lost (not really) in the natural beauty of Tettegouche.

Best Lake – Lake Superior


The cliffs at Palisade Head // Photo via wikipedia.org

Most of the adjectives used to describe Lake Superior are superlatives: biggest, coldest, wildest, deepest. But you love her for her softer features: the way her waters seamlessly blend into the sky, disappearing the horizon; how she smooths rocks to silky perfection; the dozens of rivers and streams that find their way into her arms and become part of something grand. She isn’t just a great lake, she’s the greatest lake.

Best Roadside Attraction – Paul Bunyan, Bemidji

Paul and Babe

Paul and Babe // Photo via facebook.com/visitbemidji

If you visit Bemidji without saying hello to Paul and Babe, did you really visit Bemidji? Although there are other Paul statues in other cities, none are quite as iconic or beloved as the one in Bemidji. Bonus: These two are pros at squeezing into selfies, no selfie-stick required.

2015 Kind-of-a-Big-Deal Award Winners: Beer, Spirits, Food, Culture

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