50 Reasons You’ve Got Winnipeg All Wrong
It seems like everybody loves to make fun of Winnipeg—but the joke’s on them. The capital of Manitoba is an overlooked gem that sparkles with a lively arts scene, destination eateries, and some of the best people in the Great White North.
50 Things to See and Do in Winnipeg
There’s a reason “Friendly Manitoba” is emblazoned on every license plate in the province: You simply won’t find a place with nicer people. But the happy-go-lucky locals aren’t the only reason to visit Manitoba’s capital city of Winnipeg. Winnipeg, or “Winnie” as it’s affectionately known, is also full of first-class restaurants, cool art galleries and plenty of fun year-round. Be sure to book a car (it’s definitely not what you’d call a walking city) and check out these 50 must-see attractions in Winnipeg.
1. The Forks
The Forks—which gets its name from its position at the junction of the Assiniboine and Red rivers—is known as Winnipeg’s meeting place. Here you’ll find the sprawling Forks Market, one of the best places in Winnipeg to browse for food and gifts in an indoor setting. It’s also smack-dab in the middle of most of Winnipeg’s major attractions, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the Manitoba Children’s Museum, the Manitoba Theatre for Young People, the Goldeyes baseball field and the atmospheric Cathédrale de Saint-Boniface.
2. RAW: Almond
The best way to cope with a Winnipeg winter? Embrace it! Each January and February, a group of local chefs bring a pop-up fine-dining restaurant to the frozen river near The Forks. Bundle up and eat outside in tents for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. Word to wise: Get your tickets for RAW: Almond in December, as this hugely popular event often sells out.
3. Red River Mutual Trail
4. Hilary Druxman
Looking for a tiny trinket from your travels? Be sure to stop at the Exchange District shop of Hilary Druxman. Known for her simple, dainty accessories (and affordable price points), Druxman also creates custom jewelry with precious stones.
5. Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
For 12 days in July, Winnipeg’s Exchange District doubles as a stage for the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival—the second largest event of its kind in North America. Tickets to performances are never more than $10, and the two dozen show venues are all within walking distance of each other. Not into live theatre? You can easily while away the day exploring the food carts and vendors clustered around the festival’s outdoor stage.
6. Saint Boniface Cathedral
The “Mother Church of Western Canada” is one of Winnipeg’s most iconic structures. The hauntingly beautiful front facade is all that remains of the previous church, which burned down in 1968. The early 20th century ruin is now incorporated into the modern day cathedral—the sixth church to have occupied this plot since 1818.
7. Adrenaline Adventures
Located just outside of Winnipeg in the town of Headingley, “Adrenaline Adventures” lives up to its name. The activity park’s heart-pounding offerings include paintball, beach volleyball, and cable wakeboarding, as well as seasonal climbing and zipline courses. In the winter, bundle up for snow tubing and snowboarding on the terrain park.
8. Royal Canadian Mint
Every nickel and dime in your pocket originated from this very building. A 45-minute guided tour of the Royal Canadian Mint’s Winnipeg facility offers a fascinating glimpse into the coin production process, and how it can inspire such passion for coin collectors.
The first Stella’s Café and Bakery opened in Osborne Village in 1999 and has since become a Winnipeg staple with multiple locations popping up around the city. It’s the perfect spot for a hearty brunch, bowl of chili or cozy London Fog.
11. McNally Robinson
This giant independent bookstore (yes, they still exist) is a literature lover’s dream. There’s a huge selection of books, cards and gifts, a ton of comfy chairs to curl up in, and even a sit-down restaurant.
12. Winnipeg Jets
Witness Winnipeg’s legendary love for hockey first-hand at the MTS Centre, where the Winnipeg Jets have been playing since their return to Winnie in 2011. (The team moved to Phoenix and were renamed the Coyotes in 1996.). Instagrammers take note: the hashtag is #GoJetsGo.
13. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Winnipeg’s other beloved pro sports team, the CFL’s Blue Bombers, moved to a brand new stadium next to the University of Manitoba in 2013. Grab an ice cold beer and root for the 10-time Grey Cup winners (or your fave visiting team—boo!) from the stands of this state-of-the-art facility.
14. Canadian Museum of Human Rights
One of Winnipeg’s biggest (and newest) attractions, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights features 10 permanent galleries that tell the stories—and struggles—of people in Canada and around the world. The horrors endured by indigenous populations and those affected by the Holocaust are brought to life with unique interactive and multimedia exhibits.
Take a tour of Canada’s Strangest Museums!
15. Kum Koon Garden
Dig in to classic dim sum seven days a week at Kum Koon Garden. Although you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the shrimp dumplings, crispy spring rolls and baked pineapple buns are particularly drool-worthy.
16. Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature
Sometimes you just have to treat yourself, and there’s no better place to do that in Winnipeg than Thermëa. The spa’s full-day packages ($46-$51) give you access to three baths and four saunas as well as indoor and outdoor relaxation areas. Tack on a massage, body treatment or meal at the restaurant for a little extra zen.
17. Winnipeg Art Gallery
Founded in 1912, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) has the distinction of being the first civic art gallery in Canada. Located in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, the gallery boasts a permanent collection of 25,000 pieces of art and an impressive lineup of seasonal exhibitions. There are currently plans to open an art centre adjacent to the gallery that’s entirely dedicated to Inuit art.
18. Assiniboine Park
In the height of summer, it’s easy to lose an entire day at Assiniboine Park. Whether you’re riding bikes (they’re available for rent), strolling through the zoo, snapping pics in the Leo Mol sculpture garden or hitching a ride on the mini steam train, the sprawling park has something for everyone. Come sunset, head for the Lyric Theatre at the heart of the park, where you can catch live jazz, ballet and film screenings.
19. Sargent Sundae
At Sargent Sundae, you’ll find everything a kid (or a kid at heart) could ever wish for in an ice cream shop. For the perfect after dinner treat, we recommend ordering the dipped cone with sprinkles, followed by a stroll across the footbridge to catch the sunset at Assiniboine Park. You’re welcome.
20. Tiny Feast
Are you a less-is-more type of person? Satisfy your minimalist bent with a stop Tiny Feast, a husband-and-wife run shop in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The impeccably curated collection of stationery, Scandinavian housewares and gifts is seriously covetable.
21. Festival du Voyageur
Each February, Winnipeg’s French neighbourhood, Saint-Boniface, hosts the largest winter festival in Western Canada. The 10-day Festival du Voyageur showcases the histories of voyageurs, Métis and First Nations people, and includes traditional music performances, snow sculptures and oodles of maple taffy.
22. Victoria Beach
An hour-and-a-half drive from Winnipeg, Victoria Beach is a picturesque cottage community with a year-round population of 400—and an estimated 10,000 more come summer. Soak up the sun on the beach, take a dip in Lake Winnipeg and hit the links before tucking into the notoriously addictive white Irish bread served up at the town’s bakery.
Check out our countdown of the Best Beaches in Canada!
Across the lake from Victoria Beach, you’ll find the municipality of Gimli, which has the distinction of being the largest Icelandic settlement outside of Iceland. In July, catch the Gimli Film Festival, followed by the Icelandic Festival the week after. After sunset, claim a table at one of the charming beachside restaurants and hope to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
24. Elkhorn Resort
If you want to get a real taste of a Manitoba winter, there’s no place like Central Manitoba’s Elkhorn Resort. Although it’s a three-hour trek from Winnipeg, it’s well worth the drive, as the property opens up onto 3,000 square kilometres of pristine boreal forest that are the ideal setting for snowmobiling and dogsledding. Cap off your outdoor adventure with by toasting marshmallows on a roaring campfire—and a pampering session at the resort’s spa.
Check out 9 More Must-Visit Canadian Winter Resorts!
25. Hip Pooch
This high-end dog boutique in Winnipeg’s bustling Corydon neighbourhood offers pet grooming and everything you need to kit out your favourite fur-baby. Pick up a pair of puppy pyjamas and a personalized collar before popping into one of the many nearby restaurants for a bite.
26. Winnipeg Folk Fest
Even if camping’s not normally your jam, the Winnipeg Folk Fest may make an outdoorsman (or outdoorswoman) out of you. For four days in July, you can pitch a tent at Bird’s Hill Park, a 45-minute drive outside Winnipeg while savouring the sweet sounds of folk, blues, bluegrass and world music.
27. Ten Spa
Located on the tenth floor of the glamorous Fort Garry Hotel, Ten Spa offers a luxurious escape from life’s daily stresses. Spend time purifying in the authentic Turkish hamam, book a massage, or take a nap in the comfy guests-only lounge.
28. Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
As Canada’s first English-speaking regional theatre, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre (also known as the Royal MTC) has a long history of delighting Winnipeg audiences. With performances at both a main stage and smaller warehouse venue, the productions showcase the talents of local actors and some truly top-notch sets.
29. Osborne Village
“The Village” on Osborne is a walkable stretch of Winnipeg that boasts some spectacular opportunities for shopping and dining. Be sure to hit up Out of the Blue for clothes, Rooster for shoes and bags and Silver Lotus for jewelry, then stop at Meiji for sushi (and Baked Expectations for dessert, if you’ve still got room).
30. Little Sister Coffee Maker
If you’re in need of a caffeine fix after spending the morning window shopping in Osborne Village, pop into Little Sister Coffee Maker. This eminently Instagrammable coffee shop oozes the young, hip vibe that’s on the rise in the ’peg.
31. The Park Theatre
This live event venue—a renovated movie theatre dating back to 1915—hosts tons of bands, comedy troupes and film screenings. It’s a great place to take in some local talent on a casual night out. Check out the Park Theatre’s current listings here.
32. Segovia Tapas Bar
A Winnipeg favourite, this cozy restaurant offers small tapas–style plates that are perfect for sharing, although the Spanish cheese selection is so good, you might not feel very generous. It’s an unwritten rule that every meal at Segovia must be capped off with a stuffed date for dessert.
33. Vertical Adventures
If your kids are already climbing the walls, you might as well bring them to Vertical Adventures, Winnipeg’s largest indoor wall-climbing facility. Grown-ups are catered to as well, of course, with wall-climbing lessons suited to any skill level.
Check out the 10 Places to Take Your Kids Before They Grow Up!
34. Vera Pizzeria e Bevande
Hit up this South Osborne pizza joint for a traditional Neapolitan pizza with hand-stretched dough. The best part? It only takes 90 seconds to bake, thanks to the intense heat of the 537-degree oven.
Fancy a burger instead? Check out Canada’s 8 Greatest Burger Joints!
Shop casual-luxe clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts in this chic Academy Road shop. After you’ve browsed the store’s impressive array of Canadian brands including Brave Leather and Soia & Kyo, pop into the nearby Tiber River Naturals to pick up Manitoba-made bath products.
Every August, Winnipeg plays host to Folklorama, the world’s largest and longest-running multicultural festival. The two-week celebration showcases the distinctive music, dance, food and art of dozens of countries around the world in pavilions scattered throughout the city.
37. Fusian Experience
Excellent sushi in Winnipeg? Believe it! Although it’s half a continent from the coast, Fusian Experience on Academy Road serves up some of the best torched whelks in Canada. (Be sure to make reservations—the dining room is always packed!)
38. Lennard Taylor
Best known for reinventing Wild West-style leather holsters as a must-have accessory for men and women, Lennard Taylor is one of Winnipeg’s most renowned fashion designers. The edgy and slightly futuristic creations in his Exchange District shop are well worth a gander.
39. High Tea Bakery
Craving a little something sweet? Stop in at High Tea Bakery on Portage Avenue and choose from a selection of fresh treats and dainties. Need something extra special? The bakery excels at elaborate custom cakes and cookies.
40. Riverstone Spa
Riverstone Spa at the Inn at the Forks offers an impressive variety of spa treatments, including a Chakra Balancing Massage and a Luminosity Microcurrent Facial. Follow up your pampering session with a meal at the hotel’s restaurant, SMITH.
41. FortWhyte Alive
More than just a park, FortWhyte Alive’s hiking trails, interpretive programs and bird-watching opportunities are a great way to reconnect with nature. If you have time (and plenty of sunshine), head to the lake for a stand-up paddleboard lesson, or take instruction on canoeing and kayaking. Come winter, it’s a popular spot for skating and snowshoeing.
42. Star Grill
Whether you’re looking for brunch, lunch or dinner, you can’t go wrong with the extensive menu at this under-the-radar Winnipeg hotspot. Dining late? You can reserve an on-site tarot card reading any evening from 9:45pm onward.
44. DJay’s Restaurant
If you find yourself in Winnipeg’s west side, look up DJay’s Restaurant—home to what’s arguably the city’s most delicious pizza sauce. Got a meat lover in your midst? Order the No. 2 pizza. They’ll be crowing about it for weeks.
45. WPG Cycle
Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean your workout schedule has to go off the rails. Drop in to WPG Cycle for a $20 spin class or book two weeks of unlimited rides for $40 (first-timers only).
47. 529 Wellington
For a touch of elegance and a perfectly-cooked steak, book yourself dinner at the refurbished riverside mansion at 529 Wellington. It’s not a cheap meal by any stretch of the imagination, but considering their steaks are the top one per cent cuts of beef in Canada, it’s a worthy splurge.
Just the thing for date night, this new Asian-fusion restaurant boasts an inspired menu of small, shareable plates. Must-trys include the steam buns and Mongolian lamb with egg noodles.
49. First Fridays in the Exchange District
More of a night owl than an early bird? On the first Friday of every month, the Exchange District’s art galleries, studios and shops stay open late. For just $20, you can have dinner at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café, enjoy a talk from local art experts, then take a guided tour of this fascinating neighbourhood.
50. Deer + Almond
Chef Mandel Hitzer (who used to host “secret dinners” in Winnipeg to hone his skills) serves up sensational dishes at this always hopping eatery. His fried Brussels sprouts, watermelon and pork belly and braised lamb shank are all meant to be shared, family-style.