7 Best Things to See and Do in Manitoba

Manitoba is often overlooked as a tourist destination, although no one can quite say why, and frankly it shouldn’t be. This province is absolutely loaded with awesome things to see and do, including one of the top places to view the incredible Northern Lights. Along with outdoor adventures such as polar bear viewing and hiking through national parks, Manitoba offers its fair share of festivals, museums, markets and more. Discover the best 7 things to see and do in this highly underrated province.

7. Play at Whiteshell Provincial Park

Just an hour or so away from Winnipeg is the Whiteshell Provincial Park, loaded with hills, lakes, valleys, forests, and rivers. Inhabitants of the park include deer, moose and black bears with much of the wilderness here being undisturbed. In the summertime go swimming at one the beaches, scuba dive in the clear waters, or hike along one of the scenic trails, ranging from 3km-60km.

Wintertime brings ice-fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and skiing. There are 200 lakes here, a range of accommodations, a golf course, museums and even a goose sanctuary. Soak up the scenery here, doing whatever activity you desire, just make sure to take plenty of pictures.

Via Flickr.com

6. Attend the Icelandic Festival

The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba is also known as Islendingadagurinn and takes place in the small town of Gimli. It is the largest Icelandic gathering outside of Iceland itself and the second oldest continuous ethnic festival in North America. The province itself has strong historical connections to Iceland and spends a weekend each summer celebrating the culture.

Over the weekend numerous events take place such as beach volleyball, pancake breakfast, music and poetry, midways rides and games and more. Daily demonstrations of Viking age warfare, tactics, skills, entertainment, and fashion take place, sure to enthrall people of all ages. Eat Icelandic food, join in on traditions, introduce the kids to culture and spend the weekend in one surreal Canadian landscape.

Via Icelandic Festival

5. Visit the Forks

The Forks is Winnipeg’s meeting place, nestled in the heart of downtown and is one of the most beloved places in the city. For over 6,000 years The Forks has been a meeting place, from the time when Aboriginal peoples traded here to buffalo hunters to tens of thousands of immigrants. Today it is home to more than 4 million visitors annually, who come to discover the wide range of shopping, dining, entertainment, and attractions.

Many visitors flock to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights which is an awesome addition to the city of Winnipeg. The Forks is also home to the Manitoba’s Children Museum, Arctic Glacier Winter Park which features skating trails and toboggan runs, and the Boardwalk Promenade. Don’t miss out on The Forks Market with its impressive six storey tower with a viewing platform.

Via Winnipeg Free Press

4. See the Polar Bears

Churchill is one of the few human settlements where polar bears can be observed in the wild and if you have ever dreamed of seeing these magnificent creatures in their homes, Manitoba is the perfect province to do so. October and November are the prime viewing times when the bears begin their move from their summer habitat on the tundra back to the ice that forms every winter over Hudson Bay. There are a few different ways to view the bears, and it is highly recommended joining a reputable tour guide, as they adhere to strict guidelines in order to protect the bears.

Tundra vehicles can take visitors over the snow and ice and protect visitors from curious bears or guided walks are available to areas where bears frequently stop by. Staying at a wilderness lodge along the bear’s migration route provides an exciting experience for visitors to watch for bears right from the lodge. The spectacular animals can reach up to 1,320lbs and have no natural enemies, making them both fearless and impressive.

Via World Wildlife Fund

3. Visit Riding Mountain National Park

This scenic park can be visited all year round and proves to be the perfect combination of recreation area, and nature reserve. The landscape is a combination of forest, prairie and super clear lakes and rivers. The park is home to a number of species of wildlife including moose, elk, wolves, bison and hundreds of bird species. Hikers will delight in the 400km of hiking trails throughout the park, ranging from easy patrol roads to grassy trails to steep cliffs.

The cold deep lakes here provide excellent fishing lakes and among the most popular are Clear Lake, Deep Lake, and Katherine Lake. Other activities include canoeing, camping, boating, swimming, scuba diving and snowshoeing, snowmobiling and skiing in the wintertime. The park is most easily accessed by Highway 10 which passes through the park and the south entrance is at the townsite of Wasagaming.

Via AD Virdi Photography

2. Explore the Mennonite Heritage Village

The Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach recreates Mennonite life from the 16th century to present day and features more than 20 furnished buildings spread over 40 acres. Wander through the street village, dine at the Livery Barn Restaurant where the traditional Mennonite fare is served, explore a classic Mennonite housebarn and visit the fully operational Dutch windmill during the summer season.

The galleries house historic and heirloom treasures from Poland to Russia to Canada and visitors can find souvenirs at the Visitors Centre which is open all year round. The site is full of volunteers who are descendants of early blacksmiths, millers, and shopkeepers, who love to chat with visitors and answer any questions about the site.

Via Flickr.com

1. See the Northern Lights

To travel to Manitoba and not catch a glimpse of the awe-inspiring, ever-changing phenomenon of the Northern Lights would be a travesty. This province is home to some of the world’s most luminous locales for gazing at the shimmering curtains of multi-colored lights that dance across the night sky. The best viewing times are from January to March and Churchill is one of the top three spots on the planet to witness them.

One of the best ways to see them is to book an overnight adventure that offers sky-gazing access from the deck of a heated tundra vehicle. Or head further south and stay in a lakeside lodge in Flin Fon where it is said they can be seen all year round. Grab your camera and ready for yourself for an absolutely mind-blowing visual experience.

Via Frontiers North Adventures

7 Small Alberta Towns with Big Appeal

Alberta; a province teeming with mountains, valleys, prairies, and lakes is bursting with incredible small towns with big appeal. Escape the hustle and bustle of the capital city and get out and explore some of the smaller surrounding towns which offer friendly people, amazing recreation opportunities, and fascinating history. From a UNESCO Heritage Site to a bilingual community, there is something special and unique about all these towns. Whether you are there to visit or to live; these 7 Small Alberta towns have big appeal.

7. Canmore, AB

Boasting a population of just over 13,000 this small mountain town in Alberta features young, energetic, diverse and well-educated people. If you are looking for outdoor enjoyment this town is certainly for you as activities range from hiking to mountain biking to kayaking to skiing in the winter months. All in all the city is home to five different ski resorts and over 71km’s of hiking trails within the city limits.

Artists and photographers flock to this town for inspiration and recreation and tourism are the major economic drivers. Many residents who live here actually work in the neighboring community of Banff, which is a tourism hot spot all year round. Canmore, although popular with tourists offers a more laid-back lifestyle, with a strong sense of community, incredible mountain views and plenty of work available.

6. Legal, AB

This satellite community is located just 50km north of Edmonton and offers a clean and peaceful living environment for all of its residents, especially if you happen to speak French. Originally settled as a francophone settlement the town is still bilingual and the surrounding farms and landscape make this a beautiful place to live. It is known as the French Mural Capital of Canada, featuring 28 colorful murals around town and combined with extremely low crime and clean streets, it is easy to see the appeal here.

The center of town is where the community really gets together, Citadel Park, a 12-acre area features an indoor arena, curling rink, baseball diamonds, and playgrounds. Everywhere the community holds a festival called Fete Au Village, which brings the community together and celebrates its French culture.

Via ReadersDigest

5. Camrose, AB

This town began when one man brought a wagon load of lumber to the area and built the first store, in what is now downtown Camrose. From there more buildings and houses were erected, 40 of them which still stand in the historic downtown. With a population nearing 20,000 there is plenty of unique dining and shopping areas in this town. Residents here range from history buffs to artists to everything in between and although this city is home to almost 20,000 people it still retains its small-town feel.

That may be due largely in part to extensive park and trail system that the community has developed. One would be hard-pressed to find another small town that boasts as many parks as this one including a wonderful trail that leads you to the beautiful Mirror Lake. Playgrounds, arenas, skate parks, great schools and great people make this town appealing to everyone.

Via TheWeatherNetwork

4. Lacombe, AB

With a population of just under 12,000 residents, Lacombe is a town located just 25km’s from Red Deer. The town is set in the rolling parklands of Alberta, with the Rocky Mountain foothills to the west and the prairies to the east. It also happens to be one of the most fertile valleys in the area which both locals and visitors can take advantage of. Expect to see an abundance of “pick your own” farms here that feature local fresh produce including berries, tomatoes, cucumbers and more.

Perhaps even more popular are the excellent farmer’s markets located throughout. This sleepy little town offers its share of modern amenities as well including a recreation center, aquatic center, and arena. If campgrounds, hiking trails, and parks are what you are after, Lacombe offers that too. A strong community, a beautiful landscape and a slow down pace of life are what you will find in the small Alberta town.

Via Century21

3. Slave Lake, AB

At the southeastern tip of Lesser Slave Lake lies a town of just under 8,000 residents. The Town of Slave Lake runs at a much slower pace than most towns in this province but offers lots of appeal for both residents and visitors. It is here where just steps away are the white sand beaches of Devonshire Beach, the lush boreal forests and Marten Mountain Viewpoint.

The region offers numerous outdoor activities all year round including hiking, camping, fishing, boating, ice fishing and off-roading. This town is slowly growing in tourism, creating jobs for residents and superior dining and accommodation choices. With breathtaking scenery, plenty of job opportunities and just 2.5 hours away from Edmonton, this small town truly offers it all. The small town also happens to be a great place to view the aurora borealis (Northen Lights).

2. Pincher Creek, AB

Welcome to the town of Picher Creek, population just under 4,000 and full of incredible scenery including mountains, water, and valleys. This electric small town begs you to swap out your pumps for a pair of cowboy boots, trade in your small fuel efficient car for a pickup truck and makes you forget something called Starbucks even exists.

What it offers instead is a charming small town lifestyle, full of friendly people, great dining options, flower baskets scattered throughout town and endless fresh air. There is no shortage of recreational opportunities and taking advantage of the gusty winds you can find pleasure in kite flying, boating, hunting, water skiing and more. This is a town where everyone will soon know your name, wildlife will stroll down the streets, barn dances happen weekly and the community is strong and like-minded.

1. Fort Macleod

This town is certainly not your average small prairie town, although with a population under 4,000; it at first seems just like one. History is at the forefront of this town and walking down the main street you will find yourself surrounded by significant Western Canadian history that dates back to the 1880’s. It has actually been designated as one of Alberta’s historic sites and just nearby a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is one of the oldest and largest preserved buffalo jumps in North America.

Alberta’s oldest theatre is housed in the town, the River Valley Wilderness Park offers trails and playgrounds and the town is home to an awesome recreation center. Only an hour east of the Canadian Rockies, this small town hosts visitors from all over the province year round, yet still remains true to its small-town roots.