Having grown up in Manitoba, it’s very easy to take for granted what the province has to offer. Fields are common place, local attractions aren’t a big deal because you can go any time, and you have no idea what you have there unless you travel and see what other places lack. After 3 years stranded in China, without the opportunity to go home, I got to see Manitoba with new eyes. I’ve been planning this post for a long time, so I think it’s time I finally write about the place where I grew up.
Manitoba is known for harsh winters, mosquitoes and construction, but if you visit at the right time of year, there’s actually plenty to do! Here’s a list of some of my favourite things to do when visiting home!
Take a Drive
I’ll start with the simple beauty of the province. Located in the prairies of Canada, Manitoba is the perfect place to visit if you want to see huge skies, beautiful fields and stunning sunsets.
We bought an old 1981 Honda motorcycle years ago, and one of our favourite pastimes is cruising around and just enjoying the views. Taking the back roads and smaller highways can be a great way to take in lots of natural beauty, and this was honestly one of the things I missed the most in my years away.
Sunsets are especially beautiful in Manitoba. The days are long in summer, and if you go out from 9:30 to 10pm, you’ll see the most beautiful sights. The whole sky becomes colourful, and the prairies make the skies look endless, with no buildings or mountains to hide the view.
No trip to Winnipeg is complete without a trip to Winnipeg’s Zoo. I have seen zoos all over the world, and I’ve grown to be very weary of them because, too often, the animals are given cramped spaces that are very different from their natural habitats.
Assiniboine Zoo is wonderful. The animals are given plenty of space and the zoo is involved with helping many injured species of birds. The polar bear exhibit is stunning and if you’re lucky enough to be there when they’re swimming, you can even watch them swim by overhead, from an underground tunnel.
The park around the zoo is the perfect place for a summer picnic as well. It’s a great place to bring kids and spent time with the family. Going to the zoo with my nieces and nephews is always a must-do for me when we are home. Some locals complain about the prices since the zoo was renovated a few years back, but maintaining these large enclosures and giving the animals a reasonable place to live costs money. For me, $20 for an adult tickets is peanuts when you consider these things, and all the fun to be had while you’re there.
The Winnipeg Forks is an important place historically. The Red and Assiniboine rivers meet there, making it a perfect place for trade between indigenous tribes, and later on, fur traders. Now, it’s a cool little place to walk around and take in the sights.
You can go antique shopping, grab some craft beer, get some food and shop for local specialties. My favorite thing to do at The Forks though, is to walk the river path. There are always geese, ducks, chipmunks and squirrels to see, and if you’re lucky you might even see a raccoon!
If you’ve got time, you can also visit the Human Rights Museum, where you can learn about all sorts of social issues, both past and present. It’s a huge museum, and you can easily spend a few hours, learning about everything from Indigenous Rights, to Refugee crices. It’s been a few years since we were there, but we were really impressed when we visited!
Finally, if you find yourself at The Forks in winter, rent some ice skates and skate down the longest ice rink in the world! There are little shacks along the way, where you can rest and warm up. It’s a great way to spend some time during the winter!
Visit a Lake
Manitoba is home to over 100,000 lakes. In fact, 16% of this massive province is covered in fresh water. Lake Winnipeg is our biggest, and the southern tip is less than an hour away from the province’s capital.
Many of the province’s lakes exist due to massive Lake Agassiz, which covered most of the area during the last ice age. We also have a crater lake, Westhawk, which was caused by a meteor. It’s quite deep and even a popular place for scuba diving!
It’s no surprise that plenty of people have boats and cabins in Manitoba, and this year we were lucky enough to spend time cruising around these beautiful lakes with family and friends. Most of our time was spent on beautiful Falcon Lake, named after a Metis poet. It only takes about an hour and a half to get there from Winnipeg, and it’s located in a beautiful provincial park. Campsites book up quickly, and it’s easy to see why!
We saw loons, deer and ducks, and my uncle even recently saw a bear! If you’re lucky enough to know someone with a boat, it’s a gorgeous way to spend a sunny afternoon in July!
I can’t end this post without at least mentioning some of Winnipeg’s many summer festivals. The Pride festival takes place at the end of May or beginning of June every year, and is celebrated in Downtown and The Forks. Canada Day is another big one, with celebrations moving around the city. We have celebrated our country’s birthday in Osbourne village, The Forks and this past year it was at Assiniboina Downs.
My two favourite festivals are Fringe Fest & Folklorama. Winnipeg’s Fringe is always HUGE, with performers travelling from all over the continent to take part. We made it to one Fringe show this year, performed by a group that had travelled all the way from Portland, in the USA!
Folklorama began after we left this year, so sadly we didn’t make it, but we go any time we can! Winnipeg is an extremely diverse place culturally, and Folklorama gives people a chance to learn about all the different cultures represented in our great city. You can try different food and drinks, enjoy a dance or music show and generally just sit back and have a good time, learning while you do it!
So there you have it: my favourite things to do in and around Winnipeg! You might be tempted to drive through on your way to Alberta or Ontario, but don’t be shy about spending a few days in this beautiful province on your way through! I’m proud to call it home.
As always, feel free to leave your comments below! I’ll be back soon with Part 2 if my Manitoba posts! That one will include some of my favourite places to eat!!