One of the province's largest cities, Brandon is primarily an agricultural and industrial crossroads. We recommend seeing the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Centre (one of five farms established in 1886 under the Experimental Farm Stations Act) and the Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum (with great old biplanes and single-prop training planes).

But the biggest attraction in the area is east of Brandon, near Carberry. Spruce Woods Provincial Park is the site of Manitoba's most unexpected natural wonder, the Spirit Sands. Most of the park is covered with forest, but deep within the preserve you'll discover an expanse of sand dunes (some as high as 50 ft/15 m). This 10-sq-mi/25-sq-km area is home to prickly pear and other cacti, as well as the hognose snake and the northern prairie skink (a kind of lizard). Take a covered-wagon ride through the desert. Brandon is 135 mi/215 km west of Winnipeg.

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