06 Apr Heading North: A Girls Weekend in Winnipeg, Canada
Last year for my birthday, my mom asked me what I wanted. I told her that all I wanted was to take her on a trip with me (something I’ve been trying to do for years!), and I was so excited when she agreed. We roped one of her sisters into coming along, as well, and then it was time to pick a destination. I wanted to head somewhere outside of the country, but my mom didn’t want to go too far or for too long because she and my aunt both help take care of my grandma. When we were brainstorming destinations, I came up with the idea of a long weekend in Winnipeg. It is a short 4.5-hour drive from my hometown, and even though it’s close, it is still a destination outside of the USA. I had been wanting to take my mom there for years anyways, so we all agreed. We were road tripping to Winnipeg! It ended up being the perfect decision. Winnipeg is such a neat city. Every time I visit, I’m more and more impressed with the ever-growing range of impressive art, culture, nature and restaurants.
Micah thought about joining the three of us, but he ended up getting booked on a job and taking all of our camera gear with him (something that has ironically happened on my birthday for 4 years in a row, ha!). So, a girls’ trip it was! We spent the weekend browsing in adorable shops, eating at fantastic restaurants, attending both a concert and a festival, and relaxing in a spa. It was such a wonderful weekend and one I’ll always remember with so much love.
Our Airbnb Accommodations:
Airbnb was new to both my mom and aunt, and I wasn’t quite sure what they would think of it. During our weekend in Winnipeg, there were several events going on in town, and hotel space was limited once I was ready to make a reservation. There are so many wonderful hotels that we considered staying at (Alt Hotel, Inn at the Forks, and Fairmont Winnipeg to name a few), but in the end, a gorgeous Airbnb condo made of glass won in the showdown.
When we walked into the condo, there was a collective gasp between the three of us. The views from the floor to ceiling windows were unbelievable!
The condo was located directly across the street from Bell MTS Place right in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. Our two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit was located on the 17thfloor and it came with a dedicated parking spot in the connected garage. There was also a rooftop deck with BBQs, lounge furniture, and fire pits, and a lounge with a pool table and kitchen. We loved our little home away from home, and after four nights, we were sad to leave. Needless to say, it was a hit!
Enjoying the Nordic Thermal Cycle at Thermea:
One of my absolute favorite spots in Winnipeg is the Nordic spa, Thermea. The first time Micah and I went to Thermea, I left vowing to take my mom there someday. I just knew she would love it, and from her reaction, I now know I was right! The premise of the spa is to go through cycles of hot, cold, and warm stations for ultimate relaxation and rejuvenation. The stations include stops like saunas, hot tubs, cold plunge pools, hammocks, fireplaces in open air log huts, and more.
Not long after we arrived at the spa, it actually started to snow. In September. Yeah, not ideal autumn weather, but it actually made the spa pretty dang cozy if you ask me. Side note: now I want to visit in the middle of winter when the entire place is frozen over! Anyways, we all had a blast soaking up the thermal cycle of hot, cold, and warm, even if I was the only one to indulge in the cold stations. I let them slide though because just walking from station to station gave us quite the cold blast. We spent several hours enjoying the spa before we decided to pull ourselves away. It was hard to leave, but we had plenty of exciting activities left on our schedule!
Mama Mio at Celebrations Dinner Theater:
Winnipeg has an abundance of wonderful theater, art, live events, and concerts. In fact, there were two festivals, plenty of concerts, and several plays going on during our long weekend visit. The three of us love going to plays, so I thought that could be a fun activity to include on our itinerary. When I started researching, I found a couple of plays that sounded interesting to me, but I could tell they wouldn’t exactly be my mom’s cup of tea. We were a week too early for many of the larger shows coming to town (I’m assuming the timing of the festivals might have had something to do with that), but I was determined to find something fun to see regardless. That’s when I stumbled on Celebrations Dinner Theater’s showing of Mama Mio. Sure, dinner theaters don’t exactly offer Broadway caliber performances, but they can still be a blast, nonetheless. So, we figured why not! We’ve been to dinner theaters before—let’s check it out.
And I have to say, we had quite the entertaining evening! We enjoyed a tasty dinner and watched a cute play put on by great performers. We had plenty of laughs and created a few inside jokes that will definitely live on forever. I’m talking about you, Norman, with your sleek, silver pants!
Canadian Museum for Human Rights:
Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of my favorite museums. My mom and aunt thought we should go somewhere else since I had already been, but I assured them that there was so much to see that I was guaranteed to explore plenty of areas that I didn’t have time for during my last visit.
The museum’s purpose is to explore the human rights topic by promoting an understanding of human rights and a respect for others through discussion and reflection. Throughout the museum, you are encouraged to reflect on what human rights means to you, and as you wander through the various exhibits and galleries, you will certainly have lots to think about.
This time around, one of my favorite exhibits was Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, which is a temporary exhibit running from June 2018 to fall 2019. The interactive exhibit looks at the life of Nelson Mandela and the movement that grew around him.
We decided to take a guided tour of the museum. By taking the tour, you are able to learn about many aspects of the museum that you would have otherwise missed. Most of the exhibits and topics that we explored this time around were different than the ones we discussed the last time I visited, which was a nice surprise.
The Forks Market:
Another Winnipeg spot that I absolutely love is the Forks Market. The building used to be filled with horse stables and hay lofts, and now it is chock full of delicious restaurants and cute shops. The historic setting mixed with vibrant local businesses, creates a wonderful atmosphere that keeps us coming back every time we are in town. We spent time browsing the shops and then had a tasty dinner at Fergie’s Fish and Chips.
Seeing Paul McCartney in Concert:
When I plan a trip, I like to leave some room open in our schedule for flexibility and spontaneity. And this time around, I’m sure glad I did! Our Airbnb was located right across the street from the arena, Bell MTS Place. Not only is the arena home to Winnipeg’s hockey teams, the Winnipeg Jets and the Manitoba Moose, it is also the site of concerts and more. Well, during our visit, Paul McCartney was in town and playing a show at none other than the fantastic venue right across the street. After staring at the giant Paul McCartney poster out our window for 2 full days (and watching Paul on a recent episode of Carpool Karaoke), I woke up the day of the concert and decided to do a quick check on ticket prices.
As luck would have it, we found affordable tickets for seats on the side of the stage, and we decided to go for it on a whim. It turns out it was one of the best decisions we could have made! We were SO CLOSE to the action and had great views, especially when Mr. McCartney sat down at his piano to play some tunes.
My mom and aunt were so cute throughout the entire concert. They were so excited to see one of the Beatles live and in person. And, let’s be honest, I had a really awesome time, too!
Nuit Blanche at the Culture Days Festival:
Winnipeg holds an abundance of festivals every year, so it only makes sense that we were in town during at least one of them! Last time Micah and I were in Winnipeg, we attended the Interstellar Rodeo Festival (which was a blast!), and this time around my mom, aunt and I attended part of the Culture Days Festival.
When I realized that our trip coincided with Culture Days, I got pretty excited. Culture Days is a Manitoba wide event that celebrates and raises awareness of the arts and cultural life in Canada. There are thousands of free, interactive activities that allow the public to discover and learn from creative people in the community, and the event on our list for the weekend was Nuit Blanche.
Basically, the evening is described as “art’s one night stand”, and the city is filled with pop up art exhibits that exist from dusk to dawn for one night only. There are several zones of activity throughout Winnipeg and we explored three of them: Downtown, The Forks, and Exchange District. There were close to 100 stops on the map, so we didn’t have time to visit them all, but we spent several hours exploring and managed to check out quite a few exhibits. The lit up and glowing displays were so creative. We had a blast and spent way more time exploring than we anticipated!
On our way home, we decided to take a detour and drive through Assiniboine Park. This park is huge (around 1,100 acres) and I always have to plan a stop here when we are in town. In the past, we’ve watched a movie on the grass, walked through the rose garden and sculpture park, and relaxed in the sun. This time around, though, the weather wasn’t on our side. It was quite chilly and looked like it was about to rain at any minute. So, instead of going for a walk like I had intended, we drove through and marveled at the parks size and beauty all while daydreaming of sunny summer days.
Favorite Restaurants from the Trip:
Every time I visit Winnipeg, I am amazed at the wide range of spectacular restaurants available. I always want to revisit my favorites (Segovia, Smith Restaurant, ERA Bistro, Oh Doughnuts…), but I also have a long list of places I really want to try. This time around, we ended up visiting all new (to me) restaurants. And get this, I stillhave a list of more eateries that I want to try out during our next visit. Here’s a recap of some of our favorite meals, snacks, and coffee shops that we visited during our weekend in Winnipeg.
Deer + Almond: I’ve heard so much about Deer + Almond over the years, and I have been dying to try it. We stopped in the Exchange District eatery for lunch one afternoon, and it definitely lived up to the hype. We shared the chicken fried chicken, albacore tuna confit, and falafel burger and did not leave disappointed. With inventive dishes that are made to share, fresh ingredients, and an ever-changing menu, this spot is one not to miss.
Miss Browns: Miss Browns is a sandwich and coffee shop also located in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. The menu changes weekly and revolves around as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. We loved the warm and inviting vibe, and our sandwiches were especially tasty. I ordered the chicken sandwich with mushrooms, spinach, avocado, brie and aioli and it was one of my favorite meals of the entire weekend!
Stella’s: There are several Stella’s locations around town, and we popped into the Osborne Village location on our last morning in Winnipeg. We enjoyed the atmosphere and especially loved the bacon and egg croissant. The pastries we snagged to snack on during the ride home were fantastic, as well.
Fergie’s Fish and Chips: I’ve heard that many people say Fergie’s Fish and Chips is often crowned with the title of the best fish and chips ever, and after visiting, I can see why. The huge pieces of fresh fish are coated with a crispy, airy batter, and the chips are cut fresh on site and made from local Manitoba potatoes. It was soooo good!
Chaeban Ice Cream: Even when it’s cold outside, ice cream is hard to resist. Especially with all the crazy concoctions that are mixed up at Chaeban Ice Cream. We weren’t exactly hungry when we stopped in for a sweet treat, so we ordered an ice cream flight to share. Our favorite flavors were Salty Carl (sea-salted caramel ice cream), Anna BanaNutella (caramelized banana ice cream with hazelnuts and hazelnut chocolate), and Mustang Sally (coffee and white chocolate ice cream).
Cake-ology: Since the weekend coincided with my birthday, we decided we had to get cupcakes to celebrate. We stumbled upon Cake-ology and the cute sign outside drew us in. We ended up with four different cupcakes to share and my favorites were the salted caramel and red velvet.
Parlour Coffee: Checking out coffee shops is one of my favorite pastimes while exploring a city, so we couldn’t resist ducking into Parlour Coffee for a good cup of joe. The shop is small, simple, and adorable all in one, and they focus on brewing high quality specialty coffee. The cozy space with a big open window overlooking the Exchange District was a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly afternoon.
We certainly fit quite a few adventures into one long weekend in Winnipeg. My mom, aunt, and I all had so much fun that we were sad when it was time to head home. It was one of the best weekends we have had together in quite some time. Thankfully, Winnipeg is just a short 4.5-hour drive from my hometown, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we all take another road trip north again soon!