10 ways Brandon brings you back for more

Posted April 01, 2023 | Author Jillian Recksiedler

There's a lot to explore beneath the Wheat City's quiet, agrarian facade. Brandon is Manitoba's second largest city, and thus, very worthy of a weekend getaway for under-the-radar gems that'll leave you wanting more. Here are 10 reasons why you need to plan a visit to Brandon...and then another one, and then another one...

Hang out in The Hub

Brandon’s historic downtown, nicknamed The Hub, is like a quiet cousin to Winnipeg’s Exchange District. A handsome collection of heritage architecture – centred around Rosser Avenue and 10th Street – is a testament to the Wheat City’s significant role in settling the Canadian Prairies at the turn of the 20th century. Young, design-focused entrepreneurs and artists are opening up shop in The Hub, and visitors can easily spend a few hours in the afternoon exploring businesses. Chez Angela Bakery and Cafe is a must-stop right off the hop for drool-inducing pastries and light fare. One & Only is a cool store to visit for trendy home decor. Two craft breweries recently opened their doors in downtown Brandon: Black Wheat Brewing and Section 6 are definitely worth a night cap for some craft brews and homegrown nibbles.

Animal entertainment at the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair

The Royal Manitoba Winter Fair has been an annual family tradition in Westman for over a century. The spring break agricultural fair is a fantastic excuse to plan a 2-night visit to Brandon. Daytime at the fair is filled with getting up close to farmyard friends at a petting zoo, watching live animal demonstrations, and browsing the trade show floor filled with cowboy boots are giant farm machinery. Come evening, the always-elegant equestrian event fills the indoor arena with the wonder of show jumping, hackney pony competitions, thundering heavy horse hitches...and dog competitions. In between the animals, there's always cotton candy, candy apples, snow cones and the iconic Fiddlestick ice cream treat for entertainment.

Cheer on the Wheat Kings

One of the best ways to understand the heart of a community is to attend local sporting events. Brandonites come out in droves to support their amateur sport teams - especially their beloved Western Hockey League Wheat Kings. If you find yourself in Brandon during the October-March hockey season, be sure to check the schedule to see if Wheat Kings hit home ice at Westoba Place. It's a chance to experience the hospitality of Brandon and see future NHL hockey stars during their formative years.

Get in touch with Manitoba's military history

The Canadian Prairies have been key training grounds for air and artillery since WWI up to today. Whether you want to relearn the history, honour those who served, or ogle over some impressive vintage airplanes and artillery pieces, two museums in the vicinity of Brandon are the perfect way to while away an afternoon: The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum located at Brandon's airport and the Royal Canadian Artillery (RCA) Museum located 30-minutes away on C.F.B Shilo.

Hike and bike The Brandon Hills

Located 10 kilometers south of Brandon off of Highway #10, the Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area is an all-season playground for hikers, bikers, dog walkers, horseback riders, cross-country skiers, and birdwatchers. This recreation area is particularly a gem for single-track mountain bike trails through aspen and oak forests, tall grass prairie and low-lying marshes, and over rolling (and often steep) hills. There are multiple loops ranging from 2-7.5 kms throughout 722 hectare area; trails signage is not very strong, but that's part of the discovery.

Dine around town

Brandon's dining scene has serious momentum, and visitors could plan an itinerary around which local restaurant to nosh at next. Standouts for ambiance and creative menus include: Lady of the Lake, a fresh n' healthy institution; and the Dock on Princess, a pub-like atmosphere that features regional ingredients. Multicultural cuisine is also on every corner - take your pick of Chili Chutney for Indian, Sabor Latino for El Salvadorian, Tana's for Ethiopian or Mariachi for Mexican. The Eagles Nest Bar & Grill at Wheat City Golf Course is also a destination restaurant overlooking the greens.

A look back at early prairie life

At the turn of the 20th century, Brandon was a hub for trade and commerce as the Prairies were settled and Canada expanded west. There is no better classroom about early pioneer life than Daly House Museum, the Victorian-style stone home of Brandon's first mayor. A guided, interpretive tour is eye-opening for school-aged kids as they learn about old-fashioned technology such as the phonograph in the parlour and ice box in the kitchen. The Brandon General Museum & Archives is another important stop to learn about civic history as well as southwestern Manitoba's natural history at the BJ Hales taxidermy exhibit.

Unwind along the river

Along the Assiniboine River corridor, in the centre of Brandon, is a network of 17 kms of trails and the Riverbank Discovery Centre that encourage locals and visitors to connect with this river ecosystem that defines the land. The newly designed Festival Park features a covered outdoor stage with amphitheatre-style seating and picnic shelters and has become a gathering place for seasonal celebrations such as Canada Day fireworks and a winter ice skating oval. Stop in the visitor interpretive centre for a browse, or head down to water's edge to rent a kayak to explore the river and wildlife up close.

Admire art

The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba is an arts and culture hub in the historic downtown that's definitely worth popping into to check out the latest exhibit in the main gallery space, which regularly features local works. The downtown is also dotted with eye-catching (yet faded) ghost signs painted on the side of buildings, a nod to Brandon's prosperity at the turn of the 20th century. More recently a handful of modern art murals have popped up, re-energizing the streets and providing Instagram-worthy photo ops. Brandon Tourism offers a great self-guided walking tour of the murals on their website. You can see most murals in the downtown vicinity within 45 minutes of walking. For the artisan types, the annual Apple + Pine Market is much anticipated craft show that happens every fall, and is a great way to find a souvenir while supporting local.

Explore the Grand Valley

Grand Valley is a tiny provincial park and campground hidden away in the Assiniboine River valley just west of Brandon along the Trans Canada Highway. It's worth a stop to check out Stott National Historic Site, a former bison impoundment and Indigenous village dating back over 700-1900 yearsa go. Interpretive signs along the 1.5 km self-guiding Buffalo Chase trail explains the process of a historical bison hunt and its significance to the First Nations and Métis communities of the area. A viewing tower also gives visitors a wonderful look of the scenic river valley.

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up in rural Manitoba during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of sharing stories about my home.

Senior Content Specialist