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Lake Winnipeg

Manitoba, Canada

Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg is one of the world's largest freshwater lakes—clean. Manitoba residents know its thousand-plus miles of shoreline are worth preserving: They include some of Canada's whitest, best beaches, serviced by 30 diverse communities, including Gimli (a name from Norse mythology meaning paradise), a separate Icelandic nation called New Iceland until 1887. Anglers fishing for walleye and perch, sun-worshippers seeking Caribbean-like powder-white sands, and kiteboarders harnessing the winds to sail or even snowkite across the vast expanses of water or ice consider Lake Winnipeg their all-season getaway.

One of North America's oldest continuous ethnic festivals, the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba(held since 1890) takes place in Gimli early August. The annual celebration draws 50,000 visitors seeking to "embrace their inner Viking." Family-focused events, including a folk music festival and fireworks, center on a circa A.D. 800 living history village, where a hundred re-enactors don authentic Viking garb. Wind sports are best in early spring and late fall, although dry suits are recommended for the chill. In winter, add the increasingly popular sport of snowkiting on the lake to the list of activities; by land, snowmobiling and Nordic skiing are popular on the shore.

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