Although there are lots of things to do in Winnipeg, here are our favorites:
Visit Saint Boniface. Stroll over Esplanade Riel and you’ll find yourself in Saint Boniface, Winnipeg’s historic francophone district. In many ways, this is the birthplace of Manitoba. Though once a separate city, Saint Boniface amalgamated with Winnipeg in 1971, yet still retains its own charming identity. Tour the Saint Boniface Museum to gain appreciation for Louis Riel history and Métis culture. Admire the Saint Boniface Cathedral, a Roman Catholic basilica with an extraordinary history. Stroll around the corner to see the childhood home of Canadian author, Gabrielle Roy. Take a tour of Fort Gibraltar, an authentic North West Company fur trade post. Dine at one of the many bistros and cafés along Boulevard Provencher, and admire the view over the Red River from the Esplanade Riel. For a real treat, dine at Chez Sophie, the Alsatian-inspired bistro literally located on the bridge, owned by French expats who, like many francophones in Winnipeg, call Saint Boniface home.
Attend a cultural event. From the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to live music, Winnipeg is renowned for its vibrant arts and cultural scene. The city especially comes alive with its festivals, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival, Folklorama, and Festival du Voyageur to name but a few. Though the majority of festivals take place between July and October, keep your eye on the calendar year-round, as you never know which cultural events you can experience during your visit.
Assiniboine Park. As one of the largest urban parks in Canada, Assiniboine Park is a Winnipeg gem. Containing 1,100 acres of forest, parkland, and gardens, it’s here where you can unwind from the hustle and bustle and take in nature’s beauty along the Assiniboine River. Stroll through the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden and the winding paths of the English Gardens. Be sure to pop into the Pavilion Gallery Museum for the largest collection of works by Manitoba artists, Ivan Eyre, Clarence Tillenius, and Walter J. Phillips, as well as the endearing Winnie The Pooh exhibit. (Winnie the Pooh was named after Winnipeg, after all!) Become enchanted by the new Nature Playground, a whimsical children’s play area with willow tree tunnels, giant robin nests, and slithering slides. Last but not least, there’s Assiniboine Park Zoo, undergoing significant renovations. Once complete, the zoo will have the most comprehensive polar bear exhibit in the world. In the meantime, come say hello to Hudson, the resident polar bear, just one of the many creatures to meet.
Attend a sporting event. If you’ve never experienced a Canadian football game before, Winnipeg is definitely the city to see your first. Winnipeg Blue Bombers fans have an infectious energy, and the newly built Investors Group Field is spectacular, even if you don’t like football. Whether it’s the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for CFL football, the Winnipeg Jets for NHL hockey at MTS Centre, or the Winnipeg Goldeyes for AA Baseball at Shaw Park, if there’s one thing you’ll discover, it is that Winnipeggers are a passionate bunch when it comes to sports.
Take the Hermetic Code Tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building. Arguably the best tour of any building, anywhere, the Hermetic Code Tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building is not your average tour. The charismatic Dr. Frank Albo, tour guide and author of The Hermetic Code, enthusiastically reveals the mysteries of the building’s Masonic architectural secrets during this engaging 90-minute journey (available from May through September). From the sphinx and the Egyptian hieroglyphs on the exterior façades to the numerology and Christian symbols deep within, prepare to be wowed by these secrets that were hidden in plain sight for almost a century. For mystery lovers and architecture buffs, it’s an absolute must.