Most things to do in Manitoba are situated in Winnipeg, by far the province’s most populous city, including western Canada’s oldest art gallery and two biggest casinos. Winnipeg is also home to Manitoba’s only professional sports teams, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Canadian football team and the Winnipeg Jets hockey team, who recently returned to their original hometown after more than a decade in Atlanta, Georgia.

Once visitors venture outside Winnipeg’s city limits they will encounter a surprisingly varied rural landscape beyond the flat prairies most people associate with Manitoba. More than 100,000 lakes, ponds, and rivers are surrounded by lovely beaches and filled with fish begging to be caught. Those willing to venture as far north as the Hudson Bay port of Churchill will be rewarded with whale, polar bear, and Northern Lights sightings.

Few Canadian cities outside of Ottawa, the national capital, boast as many museums as Manitoba’s provincial capital, Winnipeg. Guided city tours such as Heartland International Travel and Tours are the best way to see the best of Winnipeg’s museums and other attractions in just a few hours. Visitors wishing to explore at their own pace may prefer one of the city’s several self-guided walking tours.

With over 100,000 bodies of water, it’s not hard to figure out why canoeing was the most popular way to travel for Manitoba’s voyageurs and there are several ways visitors can follow in the footsteps of Manitoba’s first European settlers. Nature Manitoba organizes canoeing expeditions along the Mantario Wilderness Zone’s secluded lakes straddling the border with Ontario, while Wilderness Spirit Adventures lets people paddle much further north along the Hayes River. However, visitors do not need to leave Winnipeg’s city limits to enjoy a guided canoe tour along the Forks, the Red, and Assiniboine rivers’ historic meeting place.

Manitoba also boasts many more beaches than most visitors would expect from a province famous for its freezing winters and far distance from the ocean. A large percentage of beaches are situated in the appropriately named Interlake region between the largest two of the province’s numerous lakes, Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg. Interlake Transit and Tours offers guided excursions to Winnipeg Beach, Willow Island, and many more beaches.

Sailing is another relaxing way to enjoy Manitoba’s waters and a popular thing to do with locals. Lake Winnipeg Sailboat Charters lets visitors enjoy a fully catered day or evening cruise aboard the Fred C. Watts turn-of-the-century yacht. Windsurfing and water skiing accompany many guided sailing expeditions.

Manitoba’s many waters are also filled with plentiful fishing opportunities. The Greenback Hunter, based at Lake Winnipeg’s Victoria Beach, has organized guided fishing tours throughout the province for more than 25 years. Anglers can try to catch trout, bass, carp, northern pike, catfish, or many more prize trophies during these expeditions. A number of Manitoba fishing tour companies also organize ice fishing excursions after the province’s lakes and rivers freeze for the winter.

Every fall, Tundra Buggy Adventure and Great White Bear Tours offer visitors’ unique polar bear watching opportunities under safe supervision near the northern community of Churchill. These fierce white creatures frequently pass by the town on their way between dry land and Hudson Bay’s ice.

In the summer, the Churchill River becomes a popular beluga whale watching spot. The region’s biggest whale watching company, Sea North Tours, offers two hour chartered zodiac excursions. Visitors can also watch the birds that fly over the Churchill River’s mouth.