Many travel aficionados, North Americans, Canadians, and even Manitoba residents may mistakenly assume that the province of Manitoba—situated on the eastern edge of Canada’s Prairies, right in the physical heart of this beautiful country—offers little as far as tourist destinations are concerned. In fact, however, the opposite is true—Manitoba, one of Canada’s 10 provinces and territories, is really a vacation paradise for many tourists and travelers, with its wide variety of unique cities and towns; beautiful, scenic Prairie landscapes; stunning and exciting parks; amazing beaches; and cultural diversity and heritage, particularly within the province’s cultural hub and capitol city, Winnipeg. And one mustn’t forget about the warm, friendly people you’ll find in Manitoba; the license plate does, after all, read “Friendly Manitoba.”
Summertime is a great time to visit Manitoba. Tourists, guests, and other travelers can take advantage of many of Manitoba’s impressive parks, lakes, and beaches. The splendor of Lake Winnipeg is major attraction, with locals and tourists engaging in beaching, swimming, fishing, boating, and waterskiing, and simply soaking in the sights and sounds of the lake’s atmosphere, including the pounding and white-capping of its magnificent waves on windy days. Lake Winnipeg is also home to several quaint and unique resort towns, most notably Winnipeg Beach and Gimli, both of which attract travelers from all over the province, country, North America, and even international destinations. Summer is a busy time for Winnipeg Beach and Gimli, and almost all available accommodations are booked solidly until season’s end.
Riding Mountain National Park, considered one of the Great Canadian Parks, is also worth checking out if you’ll be in Manitoba’s western area. Located in southcentral Manitoba on the Manitoba Escarpment, this natural wonder, which seems to “rise” from out of the flat Prairie landscape, boasts nearly 3,000 square kilometers of forest and park space and is home to a myriad of plant and animal life, which it protects, as a reserve, from three different ecological zones. Riding Mountain National Park is famous for its many diverse hiking trails, for the Agassiz Tower, which offers an unparalleled, panoramic view of the park and the Prairies, and for its townsite, Wasagaming.
Traveling farther north, you’ll find the magnificent Pisew Falls Provincial Park, located about 75 kilometers south of Thompson. Pisew Falls features breathtaking, magnificent falls for your viewing pleasure. It also offers an ideal location for picnicking, hiking, sightseeing, and canoeing and kayaking (downstream from the falls). Keep in mind there are no facilities, campsites, park offices, or shops.
Heading south toward the Canadian-American border, close to the state of North Dakota, consider visiting the unique International Peace Gardens park, a large and beautiful park and garden accessible to both Canadians and Americas without the need to go through Customs first.
The capitol, Winnipeg, is also Manitoba’s largest city, and is most renowned for its multicultural feel, celebrated through a number of venues, programs, and festivals. Winnipeg is very popular for its annual summertime festivals and events, including Winnipeg International Children’s Festival; the Folk Festival, celebrating local musical talent; the Fringe Festival, displaying the city’s finest talent in acting and the art; Ballet in the Park, a free taste of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s offerings at the renowned Assiniboine Park; and Folklorama, a two-week-long cultural festival featuring pavilions (complete with costumes, art, dancing, and food) from all over the world.
The Forks, located right at the convergence of the Red River and Assiniboine River, is also a tourist favorite destination of Winnipeg. Here you’ll find a plethora of unique shops, boutiques, cuisine, activities, and events, as well as the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with riverside walks, duck-feeding, and boating opportunities. Other popular attractions within Winnipeg include the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Company, the new MTS Center, which hosts major sporting events and concerts, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Manitoba Museum, and the Royal Canadian Mint. Winnipeg is also a shopping lover’s paradise, with a wide variety and abundance of unique shops, boutiques, stores, and commercial malls to please your shopaholic fantasies.
Even though Manitoba is known—and not necessarily fondly—for its long, cold winters (Winnipeg, for example, is sometimes referred to as “Winterpeg”), there is nonetheless a wide variety of winter activities in which locals and tourists alike can regularly participate. Churchill, for example, one of Manitoba’s coldest and northernmost areas, is highly favored for its dynamic landscapes and is also home to the magnificent polar bear. In fact, many visitors to this unique town regularly travel north to Churchill by train and bus for glimpses of this majestic, yet endangered, animal. Churchill even offers Polar Bear Tours.
Downhill skiing is a popular wintertime activity in Manitoba, as there are a number of impressive and good-quality ski hills available in the province. Other winter activities in which Manitoba travelers can engage throughout much of the province include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, and tobogganing. One of Manitoba’s most famous festivals, Le Festival du Voyageur, comes to Winnipeg every winter (usually in February) to celebrate the unique French-Canadian culture that exists in many parts of Manitoba’s capitol city.
In addition to Winnipeg, Churchill, Gimli, and Winnipeg Beach, some of Manitoba’s other popular or larger cities include Brandon, Thompson, Portage la Prairie, Selkirk, Steinbach, Dauphin, Winkler, and Flin Flon.
You’ll find a wide variety of accommodations during your stay in Manitoba, from tradition hotels, inns, and motels to more upscale, luxury hotels, cabins and campgrounds, cottages, RV facilities, and B&Bs. You can easily travel to Manitoba via plane (through the Winnipeg International Airport), bus (Greyhound travels east and west through Winnipeg via the TransCanada Highway; Greygoose travels north and south from one end of Manitoba to the other), train (VIA Rail), which stops in Winnipeg, and car.
No matter what your particular palate, you’ll find something in Manitoba to please your taste buds, as this province is known for offering a wide variety of culturally diverse and ethnic foods. Manitoba is also particular famous for its fine grain products, which you’ll find at supermarkets, grocery stores, cafés, and bakeries, as well as for producing some of the best pork products—particularly farmer sausage—in the world.