Manitoba is one of those places that doesn't have to say it's cool, because it just is. Even Vogue Magazine says so. It's an unpretentious place with soul that spawns all things original. Laid-back, creative, and remarkably friendly, this prairie province has lakes, cities, rivers, farmland, and wilderness all the way up to the Arctic. In winter, the bright sun dazzles the snowy landscape under a huge blue sky, ideal for leisurely cross-country ski outings. And in summer, there's no place more glorious for fishing, dozing on a lakeside dock, or taking in an outdoor concert in a leafy park. Relax and indulge in Manitoba the way locals do: in low-key style.
Fish for the big one at Atikaki Wilderness Provincial Park
Trophy angling is front and center at luxe-meets-rustic Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, an exclusive fly-in Canadian fly fishing spot set on the sandy shore among rustling birch trees. Up your game with experienced guides and enjoy your just-caught, beer-battered pike at a tasty shore-side lunch from either the main chalet-style lodge or a remote outpost cabin. Chilling on the porch, taking a dip in the lake, and taking in a spectacular Northern Lights show are favorite pastimes.
Rejuvenate at the spa in Winnipeg
Therm?a by Nordik Spa-Nature is where you'll want to do a lot of nothing. It's a refuge in rugged-chic style with outdoor thermal pools and fire pits, waterfalls and steam baths, hammocks, and softly lit, Finnish-style cedar saunas. Relaxation loungers have personal headphones so you can tune right out. Get a massage or try yoga, then splurge on a cocktail and smoked cold Manitoba trout with dill from the Scandinavian bistro menu on the terrace. Golf is next door, if you're so inspired.
Walk with polar bears in Churchill
If you've always dreamed of seeing polar bears up-close, treat yourself to a self-directed adventure where you can spot the giants from the comfort of a Tundra Buggy. Great Canadian Travel arranges a seat for you in Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, plus a chance to look around the northern town. Or, join a naturalist-led trip with Churchill Nature Tours. Churchill Wild leads swims with belugas, walks with polar bears, and exotic wildlife photography safaris out of high-end, fly-in Arctic eco-lodges, too.
Try new foods in Winnipeg
Locavores know Winnipeg's historic Exchange District is the culinary hot spot. Make it easy on yourself by joining a summer time "Devour the District Food Tour," a walking survey past old brick warehouses and down cobbled lanes of the most popular dining venues and boundary-pushing chefs. Add in some shopping, hit one of the events, or try a monthly First Friday evening where artists open their studios and galleries host special openings. Culture mavens will want to check out North America's best-preserved, biggest collection of heritage buildings.
Gaze at the stars at Oak Hammock Marsh
Just north of Winnipeg, peaceful Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre is the place to see migrating birds such as Canada geese and ducks in formation, frogs, reptiles, and butterflies, plus 300 other bird varieties. Paddle the wetlands in a historic French-Canadian fur trader-style voyageur canoe, join a seasonal guided walk with a naturalist, snowshoe in winter, or help the survey crew and biologists count species. Come nightfall, check out the stars or try an astrophotography class for a shot to remember.
If recharging is high on your list, Manitoba should be at the top for your next vacation.