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As mentioned earlier, Pullen Park was an overwhelming choice for best place for a picnic. It also ranked high on the list for hiking—although Umstead Park was the winner there—and best place to take a dog.

A couple of other runaway winners included Raleigh's ArtSpace for best gallery and the North Carolina Museum of Art for best museum. Home, of course, took the honors in best place to do nothing whether in the form of "my patio," "my couch," "my porch," or any of the other dozen places named in the surveys.

Why did we even to bother ask?

Best Art Gallery: ArtSpace
Honorable Mention: N.C. Museum of Art, Little Art Gallery & Craft Collection

Best Museum: N.C. Museum of Art
Honorable Mention: Exploris, Museum of Science

Best Live Theater: ManBites Dog Theater
Honorable Mention: Playmakers Repertory Company, BTI Center

Best Place for a Picnic: Pullen Park
Honorable Mention: Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Best Place for a Hike: William B. Umstead Park
Honorable Mention: Eno River State Park, Lake Johnson, Falls Lake

Best Little-Known Attraction: Raleigh Rose Garden
Honorable Mention: Not Telling, Bicket Gallery

Best Place to Take a Dog: William B. Umstead Park
Honorable Mention: Millbrook Dog Park, Lake Lynn, Lake Shelley

Best Place to See a Blockbuster Movie: Crossroads 20
Honorable Mention: Raleigh Grande

Best Place to See an Independent Film: Rialto
Honorable Mention: Madstone, Carolina Theatre (Durham), Chelsea

Best Place to See a Sporting Event: RBC Center
Honorable Mention: Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center, Carter Finley Stadium, Durham Bulls Athletic Park

Best Place to Do Nothing: Home
Honorable Mention: There was no place like home

Best girls' soccer coach: Amy Green Durham School of the Arts High School girls soccer coach Amy Green scored a rare double last year. She was named Coach of the Year for her conference and received recognition by the North Carolina Coaches Association for the academic excellence of her team, averaging a 3.95 GPA. This year's bulldog team is averaging six goals a game and is ranked ninth in the state. Green has her team believing, playing D (less than one goal allowed per game) and hitting the library!

Best Way to See Dance for Free: Usher for the American Dance Festival There's a flourishing subculture at work behind-the-scenes at the American Dance Festival, which fortunately still calls Durham home. Each year, dozens of modern dance devotees sign up to usher for the festival's summer lineup. There are people who've been doing this for years and know just which doors get the fewest traffic jams and where to find the best free seats. They can handle surly ticket holders and last-minute rushes. They can recall the best poster designs and which Pilobolus performance was really tops. Usher wannabes must attend a brief training and scheduling session held before the festival gets under way. Volunteers at this year's ADF, which runs from June 10 through July 24, will be able to see performances by Paul Taylor Dance Company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, works by international choreographers, and a "Festival of the Feet" featuring tap, flamenco and kathak dance--among others. So hurry and call (919) 684-6402 before all the slots are filled.

Best Rainy Day Haven: Palace Pointe, north Durham. It rises up out of what is still pretty much the middle of nowhere on the way to Roxboro like an entertainment mirage. The centerpiece of this one-stop-shop for family fun is the cavernous roller skating rink with its carpeted borders, spinning disco lights and shake-your-tailfeather tunes. There is also a bowling alley, billiards room (where you can play for $9 or $11 an hour, depending on the time of day), video arcade (offering the likes of Star Wars Pod Racer, Cart Fury and Steer Crazy--among others), movie theater and diner. A summer kids film festival will begin soon and there is meeting space for rent. Admittedly, a little of this place goes a long way. Still, it's closer than Orlando and not much costlier than a family trip to the local mall. Visit for details.

Best cheap flicks: Blue Ridge 14 Cinemas The Blue Ridge 14 Cinemas is as important to the arts in the Triangle as the N.C. Museum of Art or the Cave in Chapel Hill. It's a short drive from anywhere just off the Beltline and a post-modern throwback--a multiplex second-run house where you can catch recently released movies for the admission price of a mere $1.50. So, if you need to entertain two kids, you can get in for $4.50, see Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, then nonchalantly wander into The Cat in the Hat, and kill four rainy-day hours for less than the cost of a video-plus-late-fee. And if you're a super cheapskate (like some people we know), since it's a Carmike theater, you can bring in the carefully folded jumbo popcorn bag from a previous excursion at any of their theaters and get it refilled free--as many times as you like. We draw the line, however, at taking other people's bags out of the trash. Yuck.

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