When you think "cultural cradle of Canada," Winnipeg might not be the city that springs to mind. But there it is, an oasis of arts, history and general all-round coolness rising up from the prairie flatlands. An eye-popping civil rights museum and rip-roaring July fringe festival lead the way in Manitoba's sunny capital.
Most sights cluster near Winnipeg's walkable downtown. The brand new Canadian Museum for Human Rights dazzles with contemporary architecture while delving into genocides, ethics and other weighty subjects. Next-door is Forks National Historic Site, perfect for hiking, canoeing and letting the kids loose at Variety Heritage Adventure Park. Ship-shaped Winnipeg Art Gallery holds the world’s largest collection of Inuit works.
Several neighborhoods offer lively exploration. The Exchange District tucks al fresco pubs and graffiti galleries amid old brick warehouses. Mussels-and-frites bistros dot the French quarter of St-Boniface. Trendy Osborne Village, mannerly Corydon Avenue and espresso-wafting Little Italy are also ideal for browsing. Afterward, join the raucous party at a Winnipeg Jets hockey game.