WINNIPEG -- The COVID-19 pandemic put a lot of vacation plans on hold.

With travel restrictions in place, some Manitobans are opting to explore their own province this summer.

Andrew McCrea decided to take advantage, driving with friends from Winnipeg to Steep Rock, Man., to explore a part of the province they’ve never seen before.

“It’s almost like being on the ocean,” McCrea said about the Lake Manitoba water.

“It’s not like any water I swam in, in my entire life living in Manitoba.”

McCrea isn’t the only one who’s discovered the community.

Greg Jabush, a councillor in the RM of Grahamdale, said the number of visitors to Steep Rock has increased dramatically in the last couple of months.

“It’s been a busy year this year," Jabush said. "People have found Steep Rock is the place to go. It really has been untouched."

He said currently the town has no gas station or general store.

The RM said the influx of tourists has opened their eyes to some of the things they’ll need for future tourism and sustainability.

Colin Ferguson, president and CEO of Travel Manitoba, said earlier this year, the organization created a campaign called “Home Is Where The Heart Is,” which encouraged Manitobans to explore their home province during COVID-19.

“There is no question places like Clear Lake, the Whiteshell, the Interlake, Steep Rock, are all seeing really good numbers and record numbers from what I understand,” said Ferguson.

He said in 2019, Lonely Planet named Manitoba as one of the top 10 regions in the world to visit, and this summer is an opportunity for Manitobans to see why.

McCrea said he loved his first trip to Steep Rock, and plans on coming back for another visit.

“I think the whole COVID situation has really just encouraged us to come out here and actually explore our backyard a little more and check off those things on our bucket list,” he said.