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It’s easy to fill two or three days of adventure in Manitoba’s second largest centre. Incorporated as a city in 1882 (it never was a village or a town), Brandon is welcoming and rooted in genuine prairie hospitality and values. Visitors can expect to feel right at home and to discover some unexpected gems that’ll have you planning your return visit even before you leave.
Nicknamed ‘the Wheat City’ because of its agrarian roots, Brandon continues to be a powerhouse for agri-business and expos today. Sports are a favourite pastime - whether it’s cheering on the Brandon Wheat Kings or Brandon University Bobcats in hockey or supporting a local curling club. Arts and culture is the heart of Brandon’s historic downtown - nicknamed the Hub.
That's where you discover a dynamic restaurant scene, and a close-knit community of artisans and small-business owners who have travelled the world and are now bringing their creativity home. Escaping to nature is easy - whether that’s along the Assiniboine River at the Riverbank Discovery Centre or the forests of nearby Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area.
It’s not surprising to find in Manitoba’s breadbasket a community that takes food seriously. Whatever you get up to while in Brandon, anchor your visit around some top restaurants. Fuel up in the morning with from-scratch rustic baking at Chez Angela Bakery and Cafe. Komfort Kitchen, a downtown staple, is the best deal in town for a hearty plate of eggs to start your day. The Lady of the Lake is the stop for fresh fare like wraps, soups and smoothies all made in house, while The Dock on Princess prides itself on a regional-focused menu of burgers and pub fare. Save the evenings for indulging in global flavours: The Chili Chutney is well-loved for Indian specialities. Sabor Latino serves authentic Latin cuisines from burritos to pupusas, and Tana’s brings gluten-free tastes from Ethiopia to the prairie city.
Situated along the Assiniboine River in the undulating hills of Canada’s great plains, Brandon is framed by a few scenic outdoor spots to reconnect with nature. Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area south of the city is a popular spot in fall to take in the changing of the leaves along 2.5-7.5 kilometers of walking and mountain biking trails; in winter the trails are perfect for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. The extensive walking trails at Riverbank Discovery Centre provide the opportunity to view wildlife and birds on a crisp winter day in the middle of the city. Take in views of the Assiniboine River while crossing the Red Willow Pedestrian Bridge. For ice skating rinks and toboggan runs, the Brandon Oval and Rideau Park are favourite gathering places. Ambient lights, music and warm-up fire pits welcome visitors.
Hidden in Brandon’s East End is Crow’s General Store, a forested property brimming with throwback antique, collectibles, and oddities. It’s a photo-worthy stop in any season - but fall and winter are a peaceful time to enjoy the private walking trails. Crow’s General Store is connected to neighbouring Assiniboine Food Forest. On Sundays through winter, join local naturalist Dave Barnes on a guided nature walk (60-90 minutes) through 20 kms of interpretive trails to learn scientific, cultural and artistic facts about this river ecosystem.
There is plenty of time to play indoors through fall and winter. At Westman Reptile Gardens, kids will shriek in delight as they discover a collection of nearly 300 reptiles including snakes, turtles, lizards, crocodiles, and spiders. T-Birds Food, Fun and Games is an ideal stop for a date night or to let teenagers burn off some energy while playing arcades, billiards and bowling. A popular family tradition is a night-out with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Cheering on this beloved Western Hockey League team with locals provides a fun, high-energy atmosphere for everyone.
The end of winter is marked by the annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair, a week-long indoor agricultural fair and equestrian competition held every March. During the day, wander the trade show floor for the latest in agriculture equipment and cowboy fashion. Get hands on with farm animals at the petting zoo and a walk through the horse stables. In the evening, grab a candied apple or fiddlestick ice cream treat and find a seat around the main arena to enjoy the regal horse jumping competition, along with hackney pony and heavy horse shows.
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