Best Main Street - 2005
Maybe if St. Louisans (and other left-bank dwellers) hear it often enough, we'll actually start to believe it: There is life, and not just a poor approximation thereof, across the mighty Mississip. Exhibit A: Downtown Belleville, Illinois, whose main drag boasts a walkable business district of some variety and is actually called Main Street, further appealing to our notions of what a pre-mall-era downtown should be. Small-town staples, like the Okaw Valley Council's Boy Scout Shop -- where you can get uniforms, merit-badge books and Pinewood Derby supplies -- share the street with fashion-forward boutique Circa and aromatherapy outpost Allison's Common Scents Shoppe, Big Daddy's 618 (a satellite of the Soulard bar), Beatnik's (which rode the wave this summer with Napoleon Dynamite-inspired tees) and much, much more. For entertainment, gather your peeps and take in a set at Main Street Jazz & Blues or a flick at the restored Lincoln Theatre.