Winnipeg skyline at sunset

What do cruises on the Danube River, safaris in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and Winnipeg have in common? They all made National Geographic Traveler’s list of the top 20 places to visit in the New Year.

Referencing Manitoba’s capital city, the Best Trips 2016 article says, “this multicultural, multilingual metropolis of 800,000, affectionately called The Peg by locals, blipped onto international radar screens in 2014 when the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened here.”

Winnipeg is the only destination in Canada to make the list. Titled “Little Spark on the Prairie”, the article says Winnipeg in summer hums with lively gatherings like Winnipeg Folk Festival, but also embraces its wintery reputation with outdoor ice skating on frozen rivers. It touches on Winnipeg being the jumping off point for visitors to Manitoba’s northern community of Churchill—famous for polar bear and beluga whale encounters. It also mentions Manitoban’s quirky penchant for socials, prenuptial fundraising parties.

Writer Kimberley Lovato acknowledges that Winnipeg isn’t a city that typically makes it onto bucket lists, but says she loves to champion “underdog cities of the world.” “Winnipeg has a year-round calendar of culture and music festivals, great museums, outdoor summer concerts, and a mouth-watering ethnic food scene, which now rolls through town via food trucks,” says Lovato.

Winnipeg is in the throes of a golden era. The opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the first national museum built since 1967; Journey to Churchill, a new $90-million dollar zoo exhibit with an underwater tunnel for viewing swimming polar bears; Thermëa, a luxury Nordic-themed spa; and RAW: almond, a winter pop-up restaurant at The Forks, have all helped to solidify Winnipeg’s reputation as Canada’s cultural oasis.

“It’s truly a fun and friendly place—a big small city full of heart,” Lovato adds.

Some of the other destinations on the top 20 list include:

  • New York City
  • Greenland
  • Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
  • Seychelles
  • Uruguay