Winnipeg Attractions: A Guide to the Best Things to Do in the Heart of Canada
Winnipeg is the capital and largest city of Manitoba, Canada. It is also known as the “Gateway to the West” and the “Heart of the Continent” because of its strategic location at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. Winnipeg is a diverse and vibrant city that offers a rich cultural heritage, a thriving arts and entertainment scene, and a variety of natural and historical attractions. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly adventure, a romantic getaway, or a solo exploration, Winnipeg has something for everyone. Here are some of the best things to do in Winnipeg that you should not miss.
Visit The Forks
The Forks is one of the most popular and iconic destinations in Winnipeg. It is a historic site where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet, and where Indigenous peoples, fur traders, settlers, and immigrants have gathered for thousands of years. Today, The Forks is a bustling public space that features a market, a park, a museum, a hotel, and many restaurants and shops. You can enjoy a variety of activities at The Forks, such as walking or biking along the river trails, skating on the frozen river in winter, taking a riverboat tour, visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, or sampling local and international cuisine. The Forks is also a hub for festivals and events throughout the year, such as Canada Day, Festival du Voyageur, and Nuit Blanche.
Explore the Exchange District
The Exchange District is a historic neighbourhood in downtown Winnipeg that showcases the city’s architectural and cultural heritage. The area is named after the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, which was once the largest and most influential grain market in the world. The Exchange District is home to over 150 heritage buildings that date back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, featuring styles such as Romanesque, Gothic, and Art Deco. You can admire the stunning facades, ornate details, and colourful signs as you stroll along the cobblestone streets. You can also discover the many art galleries, museums, theatres, and studios that make the Exchange District a creative and lively place. Some of the highlights include the Manitoba Museum, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Graffiti Gallery.
Experience the Festival du Voyageur
The Festival du Voyageur is the largest winter festival in Western Canada and one of the most unique and fun events in Winnipeg. It celebrates the history and culture of the French-Canadian fur traders, known as voyageurs, who explored and settled the region in the 18th and 19th centuries. The festival takes place every February at various venues across the city, especially at Fort Gibraltar, a reconstructed fur trading post. You can enjoy a variety of activities and entertainment at the festival, such as watching live music, dancing, and comedy shows, learning about the voyageur lifestyle and crafts, tasting traditional food and drinks, and marveling at the impressive snow and ice sculptures. The festival also features a parade, a beard growing contest, a snowshoe race, and a torchlight walk.
See the Polar Bears at Assiniboine Park Zoo
Assiniboine Park Zoo is a must-see attraction for animal lovers and families. It is the oldest zoo in Western Canada and one of the largest in the country, covering 80 acres of land. The zoo is home to over 200 species of animals, including many endangered and exotic ones. The zoo is especially famous for its Journey to Churchill exhibit, which is the most comprehensive northern species exhibit in the world. It features four habitats that showcase the wildlife and landscape of the Arctic, such as the boreal forest, the tundra, the coast, and the sea ice. You can see polar bears, seals, Arctic foxes, snowy owls, and more. You can also walk through a 10-metre long underwater tunnel that gives you a close-up view of the polar bears and seals swimming above you.
Catch a Game at Bell MTS Place
If you are a sports fan, you should not miss the opportunity to catch a game at Bell MTS Place, the home arena of the Winnipeg Jets, the city’s NHL team. The arena is located in the heart of downtown Winnipeg and has a capacity of over 15,000 seats. It is one of the loudest and most energetic venues in the league, thanks to the passionate and loyal fans who cheer on their team. You can experience the thrill and excitement of watching a live hockey game, as well as enjoy the pre-game and post-game festivities at the nearby bars and restaurants. You can also catch other events at Bell MTS Place, such as concerts, shows, and exhibitions.
Relax at Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature
Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature is a Nordic-inspired spa that offers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience in a natural setting. It is located in the Crescent Drive Park, surrounded by trees and greenery. The spa features a thermal cycle that consists of three stages: hot, cold, and rest. You can immerse yourself in the various pools, saunas, steam rooms, and waterfalls that provide different temperatures and sensations. You can also enjoy a massage, a facial, or a body treatment at the spa, or savor a healthy and delicious meal at the restaurant. Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature is open all year round, and is especially magical in winter, when you can see the steam rising from the pools and the snow falling on the trees.
Learn at the Manitoba Legislative Building
The Manitoba Legislative Building is the seat of the provincial government and one of the most impressive and symbolic buildings in Winnipeg. It was built in 1920 and designed by Frank Worthington Simon, who incorporated elements of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian architecture. The building is made of local Tyndall limestone and features a central dome that is topped by a bronze statue of the Golden Boy, a symbol of prosperity and progress. You can take a guided tour of the building and learn about its history, art, and secrets. You can also admire the grand staircase, the rotunda, the legislative chamber, and the many statues and paintings that adorn the interior and exterior of the building.
Shop at St. Norbert Farmers’ Market
St. Norbert Farmers’ Market is the largest and oldest farmers’ market in Manitoba. It is located in the historic community of St. Norbert, which was founded by French-Canadian settlers in the 19th century. The market operates every Saturday from May to October, and features over 100 vendors who sell a variety of local and organic products, such as fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese, bread, honey, jams, and more. You can also find crafts, jewelry, pottery, and other handmade goods at the market. You can enjoy the fresh and delicious food, as well as the live music, entertainment, and activities that the market offers. You can also explore the nearby attractions, such as the St. Norbert Heritage Park, the St. Norbert Arts Centre, and the Trappist Monastery.
Admire the Murals of Winnipeg
Winnipeg is a city that embraces and celebrates art in all its forms, and one of the most visible and accessible forms of art is the mural. Winnipeg has over 600 murals that cover the walls of buildings, bridges, alleys, and other structures. The murals depict the history, culture, identity, and diversity of the city and its people. They also showcase the talent and creativity of the local and international artists who created them. You can admire the murals of Winnipeg by taking a self-guided tour, joining a guided tour, or using an app that provides information and maps of the murals. You can also participate in the annual Mural Festival, which features new mural creations, workshops, and events.
Enjoy the Nightlife at Osborne Village
Osborne Village is a trendy and vibrant neighbourhood in Winnipeg that offers a variety of nightlife options. It is located along Osborne Street, which is lined with bars, pubs, clubs, and restaurants that cater to different tastes and moods. You can find live music, comedy, karaoke, trivia, and more at the venues in Osborne Village. You can also enjoy the diverse and delicious cuisine, ranging from pizza and burgers to sushi and curry. Osborne Village is also a great place to shop, as it has many boutiques, thrift stores, and specialty shops that sell unique and quirky items. Osborne Village is a fun and lively place to spend an evening or a night in Winnipeg.
Discover the Manitoba Children’s Museum
The Manitoba Children’s Museum is a fun and educational attraction for children and families. It is located at The Forks, in a former train repair facility that was transformed into a colourful and interactive space. The museum features 12 permanent exhibits that encourage children to learn through play, such as the Tumble Zone, the Illusion Tunnel, the Engine House, and the Splash Lab. The museum also hosts temporary exhibits, special events, and programs that offer more opportunities for exploration and discovery. The museum is designed for children aged 10 and under, but older children and adults can also enjoy the museum and join in the fun.
Experience the Culture at the Winnipeg Folk Festival
The Winnipeg Folk Festival is one of the largest and longest-running folk music festivals in the world. It was founded in 1974 and has since grown into a four-day event that attracts over 70,000 people every year. The festival takes place every July at Birds Hill Provincial Park, a scenic natural area that is about 30 minutes away from downtown Winnipeg. The festival features over 70 artists and bands from various genres and backgrounds, such as folk, rock, blues, world, and indie music. You can enjoy the performances on nine stages, as well as join workshops, jam sessions, and sing-alongs. The festival also offers a variety of food and craft vendors, a children’s area, a camping site, and a shuttle service. The Winnipeg Folk Festival is a cultural celebration that showcases the diversity and talent of the local and international folk music community.
Wander at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is the oldest and largest public art gallery in Western Canada. It was founded in 1912 and has since collected over 27,000 works of art, ranging from ancient to contemporary, local to international, and traditional to experimental. The gallery is housed in a striking triangular building that was designed by Gustavo Da Roza, a local architect. The gallery features 11 galleries that display permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as a rooftop sculpture garden that offers a panoramic view of the city. The gallery also hosts educational programs, events, and tours that enrich the visitors’ experience. The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a place where you can discover, appreciate, and learn about art in all its forms.
Taste the Diversity at the Folklorama Festival
The Folklorama Festival is the largest and longest-running multicultural festival in the world. It was established in 1970 and has since become a signature event in Winnipeg. The festival takes place every August and lasts for two weeks. It showcases the culture, cuisine, and entertainment of over 40 different ethnic communities in the city. You can visit the various pavilions that are located across the city and enjoy the performances, demonstrations, displays, and food that each pavilion offers. You can also interact with the volunteers and performers who share their stories and traditions. The Folklorama Festival is a fun and educational way to experience the diversity and harmony of Winnipeg’s multicultural society.
Winnipeg is a city that has a lot to offer to its visitors and residents. It is a city that has a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a beautiful nature. It is a city that has something for everyone, whether you are looking for adventure, romance, or education. Winnipeg is a city that will surprise you, delight you, and inspire you. Winnipeg is a city that you should not miss.