Every day, our staff of more than 250 journalists sets out to bring you the news and information you need to live your lives well. We pride ourselves on being experts on all things Minnesotan: our restaurants and bars, our best plays and bands, our parks and lakes, our great neighborhoods and shops, our sports teams and schools, even books and fishing.

This year, we decided to tap all that expertise and share with you our insider's knowledge on where to find the best that the state of Minnesota has to offer. As we started our planning for this publication, we kept our readers front and center. We know you are a diverse audience, some with less money to spend than others. We want this to be a practical guide you can really use, so we took care to avoid the usual litany of pricey salon services and budget-busting restaurants. Instead, you'll find tips on both ends of the spectrum -- budget shopping and dining -- as well as the occasional splurge. You'll find tips for the introvert who wants to commune with nature, the extrovert who wants a night on the town, and parents looking for ways to entertain their kids. We even included some thoughts on where to find the best beer on a hot summer day.

We want this to be a publication you save and pull out time and again over the next year as you plan your leisure activities. To help us with that goal, we invite you to tell us how we did, so that when next year rolls around, our second edition will be even better. You can share your thoughts on what you liked and what can be improved by visiting us online. While you're there, don't forget to nominate your state favorites for the 2013 edition.

Most of all, we simply hope you enjoy our inaugural edition of the Best of Minnesota.