Brandon, Manitoba's second largest city and home to more than 53,000 people, delivers the best of all worlds-big-city excitement and quiet country living.
An adventure in Brandon starts with a bakery run to Blue Hills Bakery & Deli to load up on artisan breads. Grab a loaf or two of freshly baked wholesome breads like wild rice and flax, spelt or sourdough. Satisfy a sweets craving with a cinnamon bun made with just-milled grains.
After a cinnamon-bun breakfast, burn those calories in the Brandon Hills. Mountain bikers love theWildlife Management Area, just south of the city, for its single-track, adrenalin-pumping paths that weave between tamer hiking trails. The hills are home to white-tailed deer and bald eagles. Keep your eyes to the skies and try to spot the elusive willow flycatcher, a wee insect-eating bird that migrates every year to Canada from as far away as Ecuador.
With fresh-air exploring done, head indoors for retail therapy. Inside New Beginnings, peruse lovely lace and satin lingerie and other intimate apparel for ladies. If you've on lace overload, make tracks for Stream 'n' Wood where head-to-toe coverage is the style. This all-weather gear store stocks weather-proof shells, high-performance socks and everything else you need for outdoor adventures.
Next door at Lady of the Lake, pick out a gift for someone special. Find posters plastered with cupcake wisdom, ethnic-inspired home decor like a Thai toss cushion or a seemingly endless supply of brightly hued bangles.
Make a stop at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, where sixteen galleries showcase the works of local, regional and Canadian artists. On Thursday nights, catch a free, guided tour of the gallery. Remember your Brandon adventure with an original piece of art from the gallery gift shop which sells one-of-a-kind jewelry and ceramics, wood and glass works, many made by local artists.
With shopping in the bag, wander over to the Riverbank Discovery Centre near the Assiniboine River. The majestic and meandering waterway rolls through the city on its way to the province's capital city Winnipeg. Take a self-guided tour of the centre's ponds to spot slugs, bugs and other creatures of the wetlands.
Finally, finish your finding-the-balance adventure in Brandon by watching the vast prairie sky transform into a kaleidoscope of colours with the setting sun.
Brandon Fast Fact
In 2012, MoneySense Magazine ranked Brandon as one of the top-six Best Places to Live in Canada and the country's top city with less than 100,000 residents. Today's Parent magazine also named the prairie city as the seventh best place to live in the entire country.
Planning your Brandon Adventure
Best Coffee Shop:
Where to Find Cowboy Boots:
Mansfield's Western Shop
Best Tea Shop:
It's About Tea
Best Walking Tours: