Like her sister prairie provinces, Manitoba offers an almost limitless number of attractions in the great outdoors. A handful of provincial parks deserve special mention. Duck Mountain, near the border with Saskatchewan, contains 310,000 acres, 73 lakes, and the highest point in Manitoba: Baldy Mountain. Desert plants and sand dunes eke out a fragile existence in the Spirit Sands area of the Spruce Woods park. Turtle Mountain Provincial Park stands high above the surrounding prairie and has a sizeable population of painted turtles. It is best known, however, for its proximity to the nearby International Peace Garden. Most provincial parks offer exceptional facilities for swimming, boating, fishing, and wilderness canoe trips.
Other parks are known not only for their natural history, but for their cultural history, too. Whiteshell Provincial Park has rock mosaics left by the Ojibwa Indians. In addition, you can see outcroppings of Precambrian rock estimated to be more than 2.6 billion years old.
RidingMountain, a national park, encompasses nearly 3,000 sq. km (1,200 acres) on a vast plateau that rises to a height of 2,480 feet. The park offers an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, lawn bowling, sailing, swimming, and fishing.
In the northern climes, planes land in Churchill, the "Polar Bear Capital." The white giants' migration in the fall brings tourists to Wapusk National Park, as does beluga whale-watching during the summer.
With all its natural advantages, you really wouldn't expect too much more of Manitoba, but the province's capital, Winnipeg, can also boast of a lively cultural center. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is world-renowned, and the city produces lively seasons of opera, symphony, and theater. Other attractions include the Manitoba Legislative Building, the Dalnavert Museum, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, the Planetarium, the Ukrainian Centre, Western Canada Aviation Museum, the Royal Canadian Mint, Assiniboine Park and Zoo, and The Forks, a historic district and shopping center.
Across the Red River in the French Quarter of St. Boniface, the St. Boniface Cathedral and Museum (Le Musee de Saint-Boniface) are situated in one of the nation's oldest French Canadian communities. The museum is housed in Winnipeg's oldest building.
Annual events in Manitoba include the Flin Flon Trout Festival in Flin Flon, the National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, the Icelandic Festival (Islendingadagurinn) in Gimli, the Jazz Winnipeg Festival in June, and Winnipeg's Folklorama, billed as the world's biggest multicultural event, in August.