Here’s an unexpected addition to your cross-Canada dream trip: Winnipeg, Manitoba
The prairies might be flat, but city-life in Winnipeg is far from it. New additions to the city are sure to make Winnipeg in to a trending Canadian tourism location. I’m here to make sure that you’re one of the first to know!
I lived in Winnipeg for 4 years as a child, and have grandparents who still live there. Without that, it’s quite possible that I would have missed out. When I was little, my favourite thing to do in Winnipeg was visit the Children’s Museum. These days bright cafés, funky neighbourhoods, unique historical sites, architectural puzzles, and animal encounters are more my thing – and Winnipeg’s got it all.
Here’s the best of what Winnipeg has to offer in the summer!
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- Encounter Polar Bears Assiniboine Park Zoo
- Crack the The Hermetic Code of the Manitoba Legislature Building
- Explore the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
- Go Back in Time to Visit a Hudson’s Bay Company Trading Post at Fort Garry
- Check out Winnipeg’s Unique Neighbourhoods
- Enjoy the Outdoors and Get in on the Rock Decorating
Encounter Polar Bears Assiniboine Park Zoo
The Assiniboine Park Zoo belongs at the very top of your Winnipeg bucketlist. The zoo expanded in 2014 to include a new exhibit called Journey to Churchill, and it’s home to Canadian species that thrive up North.
The highlight of the Journey to Churchill exhibit is undoubtedly the polar bears. The polar bears are rescues, and they seem happy as can be in their forever home at the zoo. Watch them sprint and play through panoramic windows, and look up at swimming polar bears from a glass tunnel beneath one of their many swimming pools.
On my visit I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes with one of the researchers, and learn all about the care of the bears, and the ongoing developments to support and protect them. Polar play, GPS tracking developments, and glitter poo research are just a few of the fascinating things go on in the research lab at Assiniboine Park.
Crack the The Hermetic Code of the Manitoba Legislature Building
Calling all Da Vinci code lovers and aspiring tomb raiders! The Manitoba Legislature building appears regal and otherwise ordinary from the outside. Or at least it did, until one curious architecture dedicated his life to decoding peculiar elements of the building that led him to a stunning realization.
The Manitoba Legislature building was a site of some interest to Winnipeg locals even back when I lived there as a child. People wondered about the Golden Boy at the peak of the building, and the uncharacteristic sphinxes of the roof. It wasn’t until Dr. Frank Albo began exploring that the secrets of the building emerged.
The Hermetic Code Tour features code, hieroglyphic inscriptions, architectural phenomenas, and hilarious stories from Dr. Albo’s pursuit to crack the code. It’s sure to leave you awe-struck, and… even enlightened.
Explore the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Winnipeg’s newest museum is the only one of it’s kind. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to human rights. The museum is interactive, very moving, and the building itself is stunning in it’s own right. The exhibits cover the history of human rights around the world, not only in Canada. Pack tissues, because the stories you hear in this museum are sure to tug you heart strings.
When you’re done going through the exhibits, check out the best view in town. Take the elevator to the observation deck at the highest point of the building!
Go Back in Time to Visit a Hudson’s Bay Company Trading Post at Fort Garry
When European settlers came to Canada, they built their homes around central locations: the Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts. The trading posts were places where trappers could bring animal furs, in exchange for goods like knives and blankets. Major Canadian cities like Winnipeg eventually developed around some of the trading posts, and you can still visit the forts!
Lower Fort Garry: located 30 minutes outside of Winnipeg, Lower Fort Garry was once home to the Hudson’s Bay Company and was a trading post for First Nations and settles. The original buildings are still standing, and date back to the 1830’s. The park’s staff are in character, baking bread, running their shops, and forging metals as settlers would have over 200 years ago.
Upper Fort Garry: in the heart of downtown Winnipeg, Upper Fort Garry was once a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. Today it’s a beautiful park, complete with benches and flowerbeds. A free sound and light show brings the buffalo hunt to life, and you can check out Upper Fort Garry’s website to learn the sites history. This is a great way to get a taste of Winnipeg’s history without leaving the city.
Check out Winnipeg’s Unique Neighbourhoods
These days street art is where it’s at on Instagram, and Winnipeg’s got it’s own hidden gems. Take a walking tour of Winnipeg’s West End to check out street art and local places to eat. Every mural has a story!
When you’re done there, be sure to eat your way through the Exchange District by signing up for a food tour, or going on a self-guided one. One of my favourite spots was Forth, a trendy café / workspace complete with hardwood surfaces and hanging plants.
Enjoy the Outdoors and Get in on the Rock Decorating
The most endearing thing about Winnipeg is the rock decorating. There’s an entire Facebook group dedicated to the decorating and subsequent hiding of rocks. You will find them all over the city if you pay attention! It seemed like everywhere I went in Winnipeg that had grass also had decorated rocks.
There are beautiful parks in and around Winnipeg. Enjoy a picnic at Assiniboine Park, and watch for deer in Bois-des-Esprits. If you want the full Manitoba wildlife experience, make your way to Fort Whyte to spot birds and buffalo.
Many of these venues visited on my own, a special thanks to the Winnipeg Tourism Board for providing admission to others! All opinions are my own.