02 Sep A Weekend in Winnipeg
Winnipeg is a fantastic city for a weekend break—it’s walkable, full of culture, has great restaurants, and plenty of active adventures. While we could definitely spend more than a weekend exploring Manitoba’s largest city, we managed to pack loads of adventure into our latest weekend trip to Winnipeg. Plus, we found a slew of activities to add to our itinerary for our next visit—I swear, both times we’ve visited, we have left with a long list of activities we need to do and stops we need to make on our next return, such as the hammam at Ten Spa, the “A Movable Feast” food and bike tour, the Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Folk Festival, exploring nature at FortWhyte Alive, kayaking down one of the rivers, and watching a show at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
We had a wonderful weekend enjoying the city—we stayed at the Inn at the Forks hotel, which couldn’t have been in a better location. It was right in the middle of all the action, especially since the festival we were attending was directly out the back door. In addition to being centrally located, we loved the style of the hotel, as well—it was gorgeous!
Our visit coincided with the Interstellar Rodeo festival located at The Forks, aka, in the heart of Winnipeg, and our schedule revolved around us bopping in and out of the festival to get a good mix of the music plus several sites around town. We spent a portion of our time each day at the festival, and also attended the after party late Saturday night.
The festival is focused on great music, wine and food. Each band had a suggested wine pairing to go along with it, which was definitely a concept I could get behind! Throughout the weekend, some of the musicians we watched were The Strumbellas, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Whitehorse and Case/Lang/Veirs.
We listened to music down in the crowd as well as up on the VIP rooftop. Both views were great, but we loved the atmosphere of the comfy couches and shaded tents on the rooftop!
Every summer, Assiniboine Park holds free events as part of their Summer Entertainment Series—the events focus on music, ballet, and movies in the park. We happened to be visiting during the summer movie series, so on Friday evening we made our way to the park for a movie under the stars. Watching outdoor movies is always one of my favorite summer activities, so we were excited to grab a blanket plus a few snacks and settle in for the show.
The early family feature was Zootopia at 7 p.m., and the adult late feature was Star Wars: The Force Awakens at 9:15 p.m. We really lucked out as we found an open spot fairly close to the screen. But, don’t worry about the park running out of space if you don’t get lucky with a close spot—there is plenty of room in the huge park for everyone!
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the only national museum located outside of Canada’s capital, Ottawa. The focus of the museum is “evolution, celebration and future of human rights”, and it is the first museum of its kind.
Throughout the museum, you will find interactive exhibits that will make you think about human rights in new ways and hopefully inspire you to make meaningful changes in the world. In addition to the exhibits on the inside of the building, the architecture itself was created to show symbolism of both Canada and human rights.
We joined in on a group tour of the museum, and our knowledgeable guide gave us insights and information on several exhibits. After the tour, we spent some additional time exploring on our own, as well. While many of the exhibits told stories that could easily bring tears to your eyes, they also shared inspirational tales that will restore your faith in human kind. We experienced a whirlwind of emotions during our visit, but left with an entirely new view and perspective on human rights and how we interact with one another. It is one of the best museums we’ve ever been to, and we would highly recommend it.
Thermëa Nordic Spa
The Thermëa was one of the coolest spa experiences that we’ve had in a long time. We always enjoy spas that have more to offer than traditional spa services, and Thermëa definitely fits the bill. While they do offer massages and a wide range of spa services, we visited for the relaxing thermal experience. Our first stop was dinner at the onsite restaurant—the menu consisted of dishes made with fresh, local ingredients, and we both loved our choices. I had the pork emincer pappardelle pasta with Dijon cream sauce and Micah had the breaded Manitoba pickerel with lemon thyme butter, new potatoes and seasonal veg.
After a tasty meal, we made our way over to the hammocks for some relaxing before joining in on the thermal experience. The thermal experience is a circuit of baths, where you alternate in a circle of hot, cold and warm stations throughout the spa. First, you spend 10-15 minutes in a hot sauna or steam bath. Then, you shock your system with a cold burst by spending a few seconds in the cold pool or jumping under a cold waterfall. Next, you rest in one of the warm relaxation areas for another fifteen minutes. You then repeat the cycle several times for ultimate relaxation, and let me tell you, it was amazing.
There were three or four stations for each hot, cold and warm circuit, and I made sure to try each and every one. We spent four hours enjoying the spa, but honestly, I could have spent all day there, and I’m already plotting my return!
Journey to Churchill Exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo
The Assiniboine Park Zoo is home to the “Journey to Churchill” exhibit, which focuses on education and interactive displays to teach visitors about climate change, conservation and biodiversity.
You can get an interactive look into what it is like to visit Churchill with the displays and animals throughout the exhibit.
Visitors can view animals such as polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic fox, and wolves, but I have to say, the polar bears stole the show! With the underwater view tunnels, you are able to watch as polar bears swim above you and play in the water. It was a fascinating experience and one we couldn’t pull ourselves away from!
Winnipeg Trolly Tour
For a relaxing Sunday afternoon activity, we hopped on a trolly for the Heart of a Nation Tour with the Winnipeg Trolley Company. The 95-minute tour is great for getting your bearings around the city, and you’ll hear interesting stories and history along the way. Our starting point was outside of the Forks Market; some of the neighborhoods we visited were St. Boniface, Exchange District, Downtown Winnipeg, and Osborne Village.
One of my favorite stories from the tour was when we drove by the house that Neil Young grew up in—we were told that one of the more current owners once came home to find some man sitting on their front steps. It ended up being Bob Dylan! He wanted to see the house where one of his musical inspirations grew up, so the owners gave him a tour. How crazy is that?!
We also dined at quite a few amazing restaurants throughout our weekend in Winnipeg. One of our favorites was Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Osborne Village—we sat outside on the patio and ordered an array of delicious tapas style items. My favorite was the Spanish cheese selection with crackers, which was a cheese board served with four different cheeses and a bit of honey on the side—yum! We also ordered the jamon croqueta romesco, the fried chicken with spicy lime dressing and the churros con chocolate.
It’s always nice when your hotel is home to a fantastic restaurant that is worthy of a visit on its own, and that’s exactly what we found in the lobby of our hotel, The Inn at the Forks. Smith Restaurant is built with craftsmanship and it shows in both its design and its dishes. We stopped in for breakfast and enjoyed a huge plate of fresh fruit along with Micah’s hot oatmeal and my delicious breakfast sandwich and hash browns.
For a quick, light lunch and a coffee pick me up, we made our way over to Forth, a somewhat hidden coffee shop that is bursting with character. I saw photos of their avocado toast prior to our visit and I couldn’t resist stopping in for a slice of my own—I’m an avocado addict! Micah ordered the Cubano sandwich, and while he wasn’t completely thrilled with his choice, I was in love with mine.
When we were at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, we stopped in at the restaurant there for lunch. Normally, I find museum restaurants to be sort of bland, but the ERA Bistro was anything but—I would go so far as to say it is worth a visit even if you don’t go to the museum (but you should totally go to the museum, too!). There were quite a few dishes that I wanted to try, but I ended up ordering the pesto rice bowl which consisted of mustard green pesto tossed rice with spiced black bean and corn salsa, pico de gallo and baked corn tortillas. Micah went with a burger and for his side he picked the carrot fries. Everything was delicious, but I absolutely loved the carrot fries!
Before heading out of town on Monday morning, we had to stop and get one last treat for the road. We drove over to Oh Doughnuts and picked up a box of donuts to take with us on our adventure to Riding Mountain National Park. My favorite choice was the cherry amaretto with toasted almonds and Micah’s favorite was the classic chocolate glazed donut.
Have you ever been to Winnipeg? Share your favorite suggestions about things to do there in the comments below!
This post is brought to you in partnership with Travel Manitoba. As always, all opinions are our own.