29 Aug Why You Should Take a Road Trip Through Manitoba
Manitoba is often described as mostly prairie land, but it has so much more to offer than most people realize. Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, was voted as one of the best trips to take in 2016, and the rest of the province has plenty of adventures to explore, as well. Much like the Midwestern United States, Manitoba sometimes gets overlooked as a tourist destination. But, overlooking this area is definitely a mistake!
We grew up in Minnesota, about four hours south of the Canadian border, but it wasn’t until we moved to Florida that we even thought about taking a road trip to our neighbors in the north. After moving back to Minnesota, we made a weekend road trip to Winnipeg, and this summer we visited again but spent an entire week diving headfirst into both the outdoor and urban adventures offered throughout the southern portion of the province. Our road trip took us to Winnipeg, Riding Mountain National Park and Spruce Woods Provincial Park—the combination of these three spots gave us a fantastic overview of Manitoba and left us craving more.
Because we had such a great time, we wanted to share why we think you should road trip though Manitoba, as well—trust us, whatever your preference, you won’t have a hard time finding adventures that are sure to make you smile.
Festivals: Winnipeg is the largest city in the province, which makes it the perfect escape for fantastic urban adventures. Known for its plentiful festivals, Winnipeg is home to over 75 festivals every year including the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg Fringe Theater Festival, Jazz Winnipeg Festival, and Folklorama. We went to Interstellar Rodeo which is a festival focused around wine and music pairings—a pretty great combination if you ask me!
Neighborhoods: Some of our favorite areas and neighborhoods in the city are the Exhange District, Osborne Village, The Forks, and St. Boniface—from street art, museums, nature, spas and fantastic restaurants and bars, they all offer something unique. A few ways you can find adventure in Winnipeg’s city limits are food tours, bicycling, kayaking, ice skating, and more.
Spas: If you are in need of a little R&R, there are numerous spas throughout the city—one of our favorite adventures was visiting the Thermea Nordic Spa where we experienced the circuit of baths, a ritual cycle of hot-cold-warm temperatures meant to cleanse, relax and rejuvenate.
Parks: Winnipeg also has numerous parks and green spaces, and Assiniboine Park is a fantastic way to get your nature fix within the city. The park consists of gardens, art, an amphitheater (with outdoor movies, plays, and concerts in the summer), a conservatory, and even a zoo.
Polar Bears: The Assiniboine Park & Zoo is over 400 acres and has almost 200 species of animals. One of the best exhibits in the park is the “Journey to Churchill” exhibit, which focuses on the northern species found in Churchill, Manitoba. The exhibit provides comprehensive displays on climate change, conservation and biodiversity and is a great educational tool for children and adults alike. Plus, you can see polar bears from below while standing in an underwater viewing tunnel!
Museums: Winnipeg has numerous world-class museums, too. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of the best museums in Canada and is a museum not to be missed–plus, it’s the only national museum outside of Canada’s capital, Ottawa! Other wonderful cultural experiences consist of the Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Royal Canadian Mint and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Winnipeg is driving distance from national parks, provincial parks, and is often referred to as the gateway to Churchill; all of these reasons make the city a wonderful jumping off point for many exciting outdoor adventures.
More Polar Bears! Churchill, Manitoba, is a wildlife lover’s paradise and home to one of Manitoba’s two national parks: Wapusk National Park. Polar bears are the areas most famous residents, but you can also kayak and snorkel with beluga whales! We have yet to visit Churchill and Wapusk National Park, but they are definitely high on our travel wish list, especially after getting a peek at the Journey to Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
Active Pursuits: While most people immediately think of Churchill when they hear Manitoba, there is an abundance of other amazing nature to explore throughout the province. There are endless opportunities through a wide range of landscapes all over the province—Manitoba has prairies, tundra, forests, small mountains, and over 100,000 lakes. A few of the adventures you can have are hiking, biking, rock climbing, skiing, observing wildlife, or exploring the lakes via kayak, canoe, boat or SUP.
National Parks: Riding Mountain National Park is the other national park located in Manitoba, and it is nothing short of spectacular. I fell in love with this park during our three-day visit—we camped, kayaked, boated, hiked, explored Wasagaming town-site, and visited the Lake Audy Bison enclosure. In addition to the adventures we experienced, you can bike, swim, fish, ride horse, sail, golf, snowmobile, snowshoe, play tennis, and even scuba dive.
Provincial Parks: Manitoba also has 90 provincial parks, which give you access to boreal forests, prairies, lakes, and historic sites. The parks provide you with opportunities for outdoor adventures of almost any kind. One of the more unique parks in Manitoba is Spruce Woods Provincial Park—in addition to prairies and forests, you will find the unexpected landscape of sand dunes!
No matter the season, Manitoba has ample adventures to offer all year long—you will find warm weather in the summer, cold and snowy weather in the winter and everything in between. Because of its diverse landscapes and abundance of adventurous activities, we think Manitoba is the perfect spot to explore on a road trip!
This post is brought to you in partnership with Travel Manitoba. As always, all opinions are our own.