The 10 best things to do with your brood this summer

1. Spirit Sands, Spruce Woods Provincial Park: Stay in a yurt (it's part cabin and part tent), look for pincushion cacti, slide down the dunes and keep your eyes peeled for a skink, Manitoba's only lizard. Spend some time in the desert-like shifting sands at Spruce Woods.

2. Whiteshell Provincial Park: Load up and canoe through the dark and damp tunnels of Caddy Lake, hike the gentle trail to the Pine Point Rapids on the Whiteshell River and have a minigolf throw down at Falcon Lake.

3. Ice Cream 101: Tell the kids they have to do some work today-judge who has the best ice cream. Will it be the famous Sleepy Beauty at The Bridge Drive-In or a sky-high parfait from SubZero?

4. Narcisse Snake Dens: Squirm and squeal all you want. You aren't getting out of here without touching a snake. Tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes mate in writhing masses in the limestone rock dens about two hours north of Winnipeg. Prime time is Mom's Day. She'll love it!

5. Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, just north of Winnipeg: Stroll the boardwalk over the marsh and bust a gut at the antics of the Richardson's ground squirrels on the hill. Paddle a big Voyageur canoe through the cattails and see who can spot the first red-winged blackbird.

6. Winnipeg Museum Day: Climb aboard a vintage train at the Manitoba Children's Museum near The Forks, set foot on the Nonsuch, a replica ship that sailed in 1668, at Manitoba Museum, look up, way, way up at Manitoba Planetarium.

7. Riding Mountain National Park: If you sign up for the Junior Naturalist's program, you can sample Aboriginal foods or visit bears at night. Oh yeah! The big bison will nuzzle right up to the minivan door along the Lake Audy road.

8. Prairie Dog Central, Winnipeg: All aboard a turn of the twentieth century steam train for its Saturday or Sunday excursions to Grosse Isle and back. Show the kids what ridin' in style meant before minivans.

9. Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg: The guy who designed New York's Central Park also designed this one. There's a sculpture garden, paths for a bike ride, mini passenger train, the Assiniboine Zoo, a duck pond and a statue of Winnie the Pooh, a little bear who's named after the city.

10. Mennonite Heritage Village, Steinbach: Get up close to the huge blades of the famous windmill. Eat lunch in the village's Livery Barn Restaurant. See what kind of shoes they wore way back in 1875.