From the second we stepped foot off the plane, we knew there would be no shortage of interesting things to do in Winnipeg during our time in Manitoba. We had arrived in the heart of Canada, after all.
Winnipeg, Manitoba is an often overlooked place in Canada, much like the Midwest USA (we would know, we live here!). People tend to use Winnipeg as a transfer hub before heading up to Churchill in search of belugas, polar bears, and the northern lights.
But it has so much more to offer.
The city of Winnipeg offers a beautiful dance of culture, history, wildlife, and nature. Often on display in world-class museums. That’s not something that every destination can offer.
So we invite you to dig into this city and experience it the way we did on our first visit. Below you’ll find a comprehensive overview of our experiences and recommendations. Don’t be shy and go dig in!
Things to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba
Table of Contents
1. Buy the Winnipeg Tourist Attractions Pass
First things first, if you plan to visit any of Winnipeg’s fantastic museums (and you should) then we highly recommend that you invest in the Winnipeg Attractions Pass. The pass is available as a 1-day or 3-day pass and can be purchased online here.
We loved that it was a mobile exclusive pass, so we didn’t have to worry about losing or forgetting a paper pass. It pulled up easily on the phone each time!
The pass includes admission to the Canadian Human Rights Museum, Manitoba Museum, Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, Royal Canadian Mint, and FortWhyte Alive.
2. Explore & Eat at The Forks
Our first stop in Winnipeg was at Manitoba’s number one tourist attraction, The Forks. Located where the Assiniboine River and Red River meet, many archeological findings of early Indigenous peoples’ artifacts prove that it has been a meeting, gathering, and trading hub for over 6,000 years!
Today, The Forks offers a marketplace with dining and shopping options, still bringing people together. It’s a total vibe and we loved the energy!
After stuffing our faces with poutine at The Forks Market, we ambled over to the adjacent Forks National Historic Site to walk the trails and enjoy the green spaces. It was the perfect moment to reflect on the historical significance of the area.
3. Deep Dive at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
Sitting at the center of The Forks is the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. If you have time for only one museum during your trip to Winnipeg, this one should be it. The entire experience was a profound journey.
Shockingly, this is the first and only museum in the world that is solely dedicated to the history, evolution, celebration, and future of human rights. With the history of humanity ever present in our lives and the continued polarization that circles around it, we need more spaces like this for people to learn and gain tolerance.
The architecture of the museum itself is a marvel, with the design symbolizing hope and resilience. However, the true experience lies within the engaging exhibits and multimedia displays that guide you through the various human rights issues of the past and present around the world. It’s a sobering experience but is one worth having. So don’t miss it!
4. Learn at the Manitoba Museum
If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we love visiting museums. I’m the type of person who can read every sign posted throughout each exhibit. So, when we learned there was a museum dedicated to the entire history of Manitoba, of course, we had to visit!
The Manitoba Museum offers a comprehensive overview of the province’s rich natural and human history. It offers three primary sections that include the Museum Galleries, the Planetarium, and the Science Gallery.
We spent all our time in the Museum Galleries which offers nine permanent galleries that take visitors on a chronological journey through Manitoba’s heritage. It starts from the ancient seas that once covered the region, through the Ice Age, and on to the complex histories of the Indigenous people, fur trade, and urban development.
One of the most impressive galleries featured a full-size replica of the 17th-century Nonsuch ship that played a crucial role in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s trading history. Overall, the visit was fascinating and diverse. We highly recommend you give yourself at least a half day to visit.
5. Discover the Prairies & Lakes at FortWhyte Alive
FortWhyte Alive is an urban nature oasis situated on the outskirts of downtown Winnipeg. One minute we were driving by IKEA and the next we were surrounded by prairie grasslands. This 640-acre property is a testament to regeneration and conservation, having been transformed from an industrial site into a natural sanctuary.
What drew us to this place was the outdoor activities and educational opportunities that connect visitors with nature and sustainability practices. Not to mention it’s a fantastic place to see many migratory bird species and a herd of bison.
With our visit being in the fall, most of the migratory birds had moved on. This didn’t stop us from enjoying our visit though. We rented a pair of cruiser bikes and set off determined to bike every mile of trail available to us. And we did.
The bike trails took us through the prairies on a self-guided bison safari before heading into the forest where the trees were displaying an array of fall colors. We passed by lakes and observed a pair of loons. We walked across floating boardwalks over ponds, offering an up-close view of their unique ecosystems.
When we’d had enough fresh air, we stopped in at the interpretive center and took a closer look at an amazing sod house that would have been used by early immigrants to the area. Our visit to FortWhyte Alive was a highlight during our visit to Winnipeg.
6. Take A Self-Guided Brewery Tour
Winnipeg has a great craft beer scene! Even better, several of the breweries are in the same area, making it the perfect opportunity for a self-guided brewery tour. Which we did, and thoroughly enjoyed.
There are four breweries not far from FortWhyte Alive, so if you’re out there you can combine your visit with this mini-brew tour, too. These breweries are One Great City Brewing Co., Torque Brewing, Trans Canada Brewing Co., and Barn Hammer Brewing.
Each one offers the option to order flights so you can sample a variety of what they have on offer. At Trans Canada Brewing we recommend the Bluebeary Ale and at One Great City Brewing Co the Cuke Lil’ Number, a cucumber lime gose, was shockingly good.
Also worth checking out is the Little Brown Jug for a unique craft brew experience. This brewery is located near the Manitoba Museum in downtown Winnipeg.
7. Soak at Thermea Winnipeg
We were not expecting to visit a Nordic-themed spa in Winnipeg, Canada! Thermea by Nordik Spa-Nature is a rejuvenating thermal spa experience that offers a Scandinavian-inspired approach to wellness through its circuit of thermal pools, saunas, and relaxation areas.
During our visit, we were encouraged to engage in the thermotherapy cycle of warming the body, cooling down, and then resting, which is believed to provide numerous health benefits, including improved circulation and detoxification.
So, of course, we did! Our ritual started with the thermal cycle in the Finnish sauna, followed by some time in an intense steam room.
Once we were sufficiently warmed up, we headed outside to the shock of the cold plunge pool. While cold, this was a surprisingly invigorating experience. The contrast between the hot and cold left us both feeling revitalized.
This experience was followed by the relaxation time of our choice. We could choose between a quiet room with heated loungers, sitting around one of the several outdoor fireplaces, or soaking in the outdoor thermal pool.
We were advised to repeat this sequence three times, over three hours, for maximum benefit. So, we did, twist our arms. Afterward, we enjoyed a clean, healthy lunch at the onsite restaurant. Thermea is hands down one of the most unique things to do in Winnipeg.
8. Visit the Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint offers a window into the production of Canada’s currency and that of many other countries. A visit offers you the chance to learn the coin-making process, from the initial designs to the thunderous strike of the presses—a testimony to Canada’s blend of tradition and technological advancement in minting.
Holding a hefty $600,000 gold bar in your hands is the highlight of the visit. The Mint is not only a place where coins are made but also where the meticulous craft behind every Canadian coin is proudly on display.
If you have the Winnipeg attractions pass, your visit here is included. Keep in mind that tours must be scheduled in advance, though, so be sure to call ahead for a booking.
9. Visit the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada
The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada is a fascinating collection of Canada’s aviation history, particularly highlighting the developments in Western Canada. The museum boasts an impressive collection of aircraft and artifacts, ranging from early bush planes to modern jets, each telling a unique story of innovation and adventure in the skies.
The exhibits are meticulously curated to showcase the evolution of flight in Canada, with a special emphasis on the role of aviation in connecting remote communities and its impact on the country’s development. Interactive displays and detailed historical accounts make it an educational experience for visitors of all ages.
10. Wander the Exchange District
The Exchange District in Winnipeg is a National Historic Site that spans 20 blocks and features one of the most extensive and well-preserved collections of early 20th-century architecture in North America.
Buildings that once housed banks, warehouses, and trade companies have been repurposed into art galleries, theaters, boutiques, and restaurants. The transformation creates a buzzing cultural vibe that is melted right into the historical significance of the city.
We spent an entire afternoon wandering through the Exchange District. We popped into shops, window shopped, and enjoyed the architecture. We may or may not have enjoyed sampling some delicious locally roasted coffee, too!
Depending on the time of day you visit, there are numerous eateries to enjoy, so I’d plan your visit around a mealtime. We visited in the morning one day to enjoy breakfast at Clementine’s and then came back another day to just wander in the afternoon. Both were time well spent.
11. Stroll Along the Winnipeg Waterfront
The Winnipeg Waterfront runs along the historic Red and Assiniboine rivers and is an evolving urban space that marries natural beauty with modern development.
The integration of art installations and historical markers along the river paths adds layers of cultural depth, making it more than just a scenic area but a journey through the city’s heritage and creativity.
So, of course, we had to explore it during our time in Winnipeg. We ended up strolling the entire waterfront from The Forks all the way past the downtown.
The trails are easy to follow, offering a mix of both paved and dirt paths. They weave in and out of view from the river, meaning you get a nice mix of both natural and urban views.
12. Journey to Churchill & See Polar Bears at the Assiniboine Park Zoo
The Assiniboine Park Zoo spans 80 acres and is a key Winnipeg attraction for wildlife enthusiasts. It is most renowned for its Journey to Churchill exhibit, one of the most comprehensive Arctic species exhibits in the world.
This exhibit includes polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic foxes, and seals, all within habitats that mimic their natural environments. It’s a must-visit if you’re headed to Northern Manitoba after your visit to Winnipeg.
The zoo emphasizes conservation and education, providing visitors with an understanding of wildlife and the importance of preserving their natural habitats.
As we were heading to Churchill after our time in Winnipeg, we visited to experience this exhibit and can say without hesitation that it is one of the best zoo exhibits we’ve ever seen.
The visit is a true journey, from seeing animals face to face and then learning about the struggles they face in the wild due to our ever-changing world.
On the day we visited, the polar bears weren’t swimming, so we didn’t get to see them from the tunnel. But we did get to spend some time with a group of beautiful ring seals who swam overhead and played in the water.
13. Stroll through the Assiniboine Park
Assiniboine Park is one of Winnipeg’s largest and most cherished green spaces. It spans over 1,100 acres and offers a diverse array of attractions and activities. The park is a blend of beautifully manicured English gardens, expansive lawns, and natural forested areas.
Key features include the Assiniboine Park Conservatory, the Pavilion Art Gallery, and the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden, which houses an impressive collection of bronze sculptures. The park is also home to the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
All of this makes the park one of the best things to do in Winnipeg. So, of course, we had to visit!
After leaving the Assiniboine Park Zoo, we meandered through this park and massive English garden to enjoy the fall colors and sights until we reached The Leaf.
14. Enjoy the Biodome Experience at The Leaf
Our visit to The Leaf was probably the most invigorating experience we had during our time in Winnipeg. Mainly because we find nature intoxicating and we can’t help but thrive when we’re immersed in a giant biodome!
The design of The Leaf is architecturally unique, integrating innovative environmental control systems to create different climatic zones under one roof. This allows for a diverse range of plant species to be showcased. The top level also features a beautiful butterfly garden.
Our visit was an immersive, educational experience, that allowed us to explore ecosystems from the Mediterranean to tropical environments.
It was clear to us that this project was not just about building a new attraction; it was about creating a space that would elevate the community’s connection with global biodiversity and sustainable practices.
15. Admire Creative Works at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) is particularly famous for housing the world’s largest collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.
That alone makes this museum worth a visit. In total, the gallery’s diverse collection encompasses over 27,000 works, spanning centuries and continents.
This also included Canadian and Indigenous art, European masters, and a dynamic array of contemporary pieces.
The WAG is not just a repository of art but an active cultural hub, hosting various exhibitions, educational programs, and community events, making art accessible and engaging to a wide audience.
16. Wander Around St. Boniface
Saint Boniface is Winnipeg’s vibrant French Quarter! It is a charming and culturally rich area, known for its strong Francophone community and deep historical roots in the city’s development.
This area is a blend of old-world charm and modern vitality, featuring historic sites, boutique shops, and inviting eateries. While we recommend that you wander through this area without a real plan, be sure not to miss some of the key attractions.
This includes the Saint Boniface Cathedral, with its striking façade that is all that remains from the 1908 basilica, the Saint Boniface Cemetery where the famous Métis leader Louis Riel is buried, and the Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum.
Additionally, the neighborhood’s streets are lined with French-speaking cafes and restaurants, exuding a distinctly European atmosphere in the heart of the Canadian Prairies.
17. Step Back in Time at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site
Lower Fort Garry and Upper Fort Garry are two historic sites in the Winnipeg area, each telling distinct yet interconnected stories of the region’s past. Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site is located a short drive north of Winnipeg on the banks of the Red River. This site is a well-preserved stone fort dating back to the 1830s.
It’s operated by Parks Canada and offers a unique glimpse into the fur trade era, with costumed interpreters and restored buildings that bring the history of the Hudson’s Bay Company and early Canadian settlement to life.
18. Stop by Upper Fort Garry
Upper Fort Garry, in contrast, was once a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and the birthplace of Manitoba. It is located right in downtown Winnipeg.
While much of the original fort no longer exists, the site has been revitalized as a heritage park and features a large, interpretive steel wall art installation and gate that pays homage to the fort’s historical significance.
Both sites are worth visiting to learn more about the history of Winnipeg and Manitoba.
19. Tour the Manitoba Legislative Building
The Manitoba Legislative Building is an imposing neoclassical structure located in the heart of Winnipeg. It is more than just the seat of the provincial government; it’s a symbol of the architectural elegance and historical depth of the city.
The building was completed in 1920 and is known for its grandeur, featuring a majestic dome topped by the Golden Boy, a gilded statue representing the spirit of enterprise and prosperity in Manitoba.
The building is decorated with intricate stone carvings, statues, and symbols that have intrigued visitors and historians alike, leading to various interpretations and theories about hidden meanings and Masonic influences.
If you have time, we’d recommend you book the Hermetic Code tour. This tour delves into the building’s architectural enigmas, including hidden hieroglyphics and numerical codes, adding a layer of mystique to the visit.
20. Take Your Kids to the Manitoba Children’s Museum
The Manitoba Children’s Museum is located at The Forks and is a dynamic and colorful space designed to ignite the power of imagination in children. It’s an interactive exhibits museum that features a variety of hands-on exhibits aimed at kids aged 2 to 10. The exhibits encourage learning through play.
Key attractions include a real locomotive, a water play area, and a variety of themed spaces that engage young minds in areas ranging from science and art to sensory experiences. We highly recommend a visit if you’re visiting Winnipeg with your family!
Other Places to Visit in Winnipeg
There are a number of sights, attractions, and festivals that are seasonal in Winnipeg. So be sure to check if your visit aligns with any of the following:
- Festival du Voyageur – usually in February
- Winnipeg Jets hockey game – season schedule
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers football game – season schedule
- Royal Winnipeg Ballet performances
- Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival – usually in July
Winnipeg Restaurants You Shouldn’t Miss
The Forks Market – this lively and historic meeting place attracts both visitors and locals. It offers a wide array of food options along with locally sourced specialties. We personally enjoyed the ‘craft’ poutine at the Weinerpeg booth!
Passero – located in Little Italy, this contemporary Italian restaurant is known for its handcrafted pasta and the chef’s unique take on classic Italian dishes. All are served in small plate shared style, which is great because you can try everything!
Clementine – located in the Exchange District and touted as the best brunch spot in the city, this place draws foodies for its creative and globally inspired dishes. The local favorites are the Turkish Eggs and Braised Bacon Benedict, and we don’t disagree.
Buffalo Stone Café –located at FortWhyte Alive, offers a delightful dining experience with scenic views. They are best known for their fresh, locally sourced dishes, particularly the bison burgers. We can attest, they are tasty!
Rae & Jerry’s Steakhouse – a Winnipeg classic since 1957 that holds the title of the oldest steakhouse in Canada! It offers vintage charm and a time-honored menu, where the prime rib and the classic steak dinner are standout choices for a traditional steakhouse experience.
deer + almond – located in the Exchange District, is known for its eclectic small plates and communal dining experience. The dishes are creative and tasty. We recommend diving into the 4-course pick and choose menu.
RAW:almond – a temporary pop-up restaurant that runs in late January through early February on the frozen river ice where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet. They offer an unforgettable culinary adventure with innovative, chef-driven menus, where the seasonal tasting courses are a must-try for their creativity and local flavors. If you’re in town during this time period, add it to your list.
Bluestone Cottage – located near Assiniboine Park, offers a charming and cozy café, beloved for its quaint atmosphere and delicious homemade-style British treats. Think scones and clotted cream as being a must-try for a taste of traditional English teatime.
Gather Craft Kitchen & Bar – located at The Leaf, this restaurant is a destination. All dishes are inspired by the natural world, incorporating fresh produce from the gardens at the park and Manitoba-sourced ingredients from local farmers and growers. Order the duck poutine, you won’t regret it.
Where to Stay in Winnipeg
We stayed at the Fort Garry Hotel & Spa for four nights during our visit to Winnipeg. We found the hotel to be very comfortable and a great location for sightseeing in the city.
The hotel itself is a landmark in the city, offering old-world elegance with some modern updates. The rooms were large and decorated to suit the style of the hundred-plus-year-old building, which made it unique!
The hotel has onsite food options, too, including a Michelin-star experience at Vida Cucina Italia.
Our visit to Winnipeg was part of a paid partnership with Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba. However, all opinions, stories, and advice are 100% ours, as always.
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