15 top things to do during a city break in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Here’s a look at 15 top things to do during a short city break in Winnipeg, the provincial capital of Manitoba, Canada.

Winnipeg is the provincial capital of Manitoba in central Canada. The city is home to around 710,000 people and a lively place to spend a weekend or a few days at the beginning or end of a Canadian vacation. Here’s a look at some of the top things to do and see in the city.

Disclosure: A member of the MannedUp team visited Winnipeg as a guest of Travel Manitoba, which did not review or approve this article.

Get your bearings with a Winnipeg Trolley Company tour

Orientate yourself in Manitoba’s provincial capital by participating in a guided tour of the city operated by the Winnipeg Trolley Company.

Over the course of one hour 45 minutes the tour meanders through the city, explaining the history of buildings in the Exchange District and Saint-Boniface (the city’s French Quarter) and elsewhere in Winnipeg. The mansions of Wellington Crescent and the MTS Centre, the home of the Winnipeg Jets ice-hockey team, feature on the route.

The informative, humorous commentary makes the Heart of a Nation City Tour an entertaining way of getting your bearings.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has an outstanding collection of Inuit art.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery has an outstanding collection of Inuit art.

Mooch about in the Manitoba Museum

Manitoba Museum tells the story of the province’s natural history, geology and people, with information about its settlement.

You can see displays featuring polar bears and beluga whales, plus the skeleton of a megatherium, a giant ground sloth that weighed up to four tonnes and is now extinct. The Nonsuch Galley has a recreation of a 17th century ship used by the Hudson Bay Company to explore the region and take furs, caught by trappers, back to Europe.

The museum is also home to a planetarium with hourly shows throughout the day.

Since July 2018 the museum has also housed Hockey: The Stories Behind Our Passion, an exhibition that conveys Canada’s love for ice hockey. Pull on a jersey, gloves and grab a stick if you feel like dressing like a player of the country’s favourite winter sport.

Sign for the permenent exhibition about hockey at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg
Sign for the permenent exhibition about ice hockey at the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg, Canada.

Take a look at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame

The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame is in the Exchange District. It tells the story of sports in the province and highlights some of the key moments cherished by fans of a variety of sports.

Hockey and Canadian football are just two of the sports that feature. Engraved hockey sticks from Winnipeg Victoria’s 1896 Stanley Cup win count among the exhibits.

There’s also an interactive area with video screens and opportunities to take photos.

Unwind at a Nordic-style spa

Take a taxi to Thermëa, a luxurious Nordic-inspired spa with treatment rooms, a series of outdoor pools plus saunas and scented steam rooms. The relaxation areas include heated benches where you can pull on headphones and unwind while listening to music.

When the gong sounds you’ll see bathers leave the pools to take a seat in the sauna for the Aufguss, a scented infusion ceremony, that sees a Saunameister dance to music while wafting towels that raise the heat.

Restö, Thermëa’s restaurant, serves a range of healthy but tasty dishes and drinks. There’s also craft beer on tap.

The facade of the Thermëa spa in Winnipeg.
The facade of the Thermëa spa in Winnipeg.

Visit Winnipeg’s police headquarters (without getting arrested)

The Winnipeg Police Museum tells the story of the Winnipeg Police Service since its foundation, back in 1874. The museum is at Winnipeg’s police headquarters at 245 Smith Street.

The artefacts on display range from handcuffs and uniforms to vehicles driven by members of the police force, including a hovercraft. You can also see a black police patrol wagon from the mid-1920s and a Ford Custom 500 Cruiser Car, in the black and white livery of vehicles formerly used by officers to patrol Winnipeg’s streets. Into bikes? Several Harley-Davidsons are displayed.

More sombrely, there’s a display in remembrance of officers who died on duty.

Watch professional sport in Winnipeg

As you may already have guessed, many of Winnipeg’s residents love sport. During the National Hockey League’s 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs people across the city wore white ‒ a mass action known as the Winnipeg Whiteout ‒ to show their support for the Winnipeg Jets, who reached the Western Conference Final. If you can’t get hold of tickets for Jets games, or don’t want to pay the exorbitant prices, you could watch the Manitoba Moose, of the American Hockey League.

Canadian football is also a popular sport. From June until November you can watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in action at Investors Group Field.

The Winnipeg Goldeyes, who play the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, are based at Shaw Park close to The Forks. Their games draw a family audience. Even if you don’t understand the rules of baseball it’s worth visiting simply to catch a game while enjoying a hotdog and a beer.

You could also go shopping? This is the Hudson's Bay Company department store in Winnipeg.
You could also go shopping. This is the Hudson’s Bay Company department store in Winnipeg.

Take a guided walk in Winnipeg’s West End

Guided tours of Winnipeg’s West End operate from June to August, when temperatures can soar well above 30°C (so don’t forget sun cream).

The tours focus on the district’s murals, restaurants or artisanal production. The vast murals are impressive, conveying stories relating to aspects of the city’s heritage.

Learn about Manitoba’s Ukrainian settlers

Oseredok, Winnipeg’s Ukrainian Cultural and Education Centre, houses an art gallery and museum plus archives and a library with more than 40,000 books.

The centre was founded in 1944 to preserve the cultural heritage of Ukrainians in Canada. Stop by and you can view musical instruments, tools used by pioneers and costumes worn by Ukrainian settlers.

A hearty start to a day in the city. Eggs Benedict served at Clementine in Winnipeg's Exchange District.
A hearty start to a day in the city. Eggs Benedict served at Clementine in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.

Hold gold at the Royal Canadian Mint

How about your first bar of the day being one of pure gold? You can get your hands on one, albeit temporarily, at the Royal Canadian Mint.

All coins in circulation in Canada are minted in Winnipeg. Guided tours mean opportunities to see coins being made in a facility that also makes coins for 75 other countries.

Looking for a souvenir? You can purchase collectors’ items in the mint’s shop.

Cross the Red River to Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum

Stroll across the Esplanade Riel, the footbridge that spans the Red River, to the Saint-Boniface district. Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum, within Winnipeg’s oldest building, has exhibits about the history of Manitoba’s Francophone heritage and the region’s Métis culture.

The Métis are people with mixed First Nations and European backgrounds. The grave of Louis Riel, the Métis leader who was executed in 1885, stands in the cemetery close to Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum.

Looking for an unusual boast to post with your Instagram photos? The building hosting the museum is North America’s largest oak log structure.

The Riel Esplanade spans the Red River.
The Esplanade Riel, named in honour of Louis Riel, spans the Red River.

Reflect on the state of the world at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights stands at the Forks, close to the confluence of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, where First Nations people met long before the arrival of European settlers.

The eye-catching contemporary building was designed by Antoine Predock and its tower offers outstanding views over Winnipeg. Many of the exhibits within the museum are interactive, inviting you to explore themes and reflect on the treatment of people, particularly minority groups, through time.

An exhibition within the Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
An exhibition within the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Sip tea and throw spears at FortWhyte Alive

FortWhyte Alive is an outdoors and interpretive centre on the south-west fringe of Winnipeg. Bison roam and lakes have been formed on land formerly used to extract gravel and clay by a cement company.

Guides demonstrate how First Nations’ people used plants for medicine and to flavour warm drinks. A ‘tea’ is served by a replica settler’s cabin. You can also bake bannock over a camp fire on the end of sticks.

While standing within view of buffalo the guide explains how bison numbers dwindled in the late-19th century and explains traditional First Nations’ hunting methods. You can even throw a spear using an atlatl, a tool used to gain greater leverage while launching the weapon towards prey.

A tipi at FortWhyte Alive on the edge of Winnipeg.
A tipi at FortWhyte Alive on the edge of Winnipeg.

Stop by the Transcona Museum

The Transcona Museum conveys insights into the local community, native cultures, the life of settlers and the railway industry. The building of this long-established museum was originally used as the Bank of Toronto.

After visiting the museum its worth stopping by the Rotary Heritage Park to see the first steam locomotive built in western Canada, CN2747.

Hear about the Hermetic Code at the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba

If you enjoyed reading about symbolism in The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s best selling novel, don’t miss the opportunity to take a 90-minute Hermetic Code Tour of the Manitoba’s Legislative Assembly building.

The tour is based on research undertaken by Dr Frank Albo. Dr Albo’s assertion is that the architect of the building, Frank Worthington Simon, hid secrets in plain sight. He asserts that the aspects such as the golden figure topping the cupola, the dimensions of the building and even the number of steps in the main hallway are charged with hidden meaning.

It’s a fascinating and entertaining tour. You may well end up questioning whether there’s symbolism hidden in all facades over the days that follow.

Just another building? You won't be thinking that after taking the Hermetic Code Tour of the Manitoba Legislature building.
Just another building? You won’t be thinking that after taking the Hermetic Code Tour of the Manitoba Legislature building.

Enjoy a craft beer or two

If you enjoy craft beer you should have no problem finding something to drink in Winnipeg.

The Common, a bar serving 20 craft beers and international wines by the glass, is a good spot to sit and watch the world go by inside of the The Forks Market

The Half Pints Brewing Co. hosts free tours of its brewery at 1pm each Saturday. Several more craft breweries have opened since the first brew of the Half Pints Brewing Co., back in 2006, including Torque Brewing, on King Edward Street.

Beer time! The Common at The Forks Market in Winnipeg.
Beer time! The Common at The Forks Market in Winnipeg.

Take a trip to the Mennonite Heritage Village

Additionally, if you want to explore the region around Winnipeg, the Mennonite Heritage Village is at Steinbach, less than 40 minutes’ drive from the downtown district. The Mennonites are Anabaptist Christians from Poland and Russia who settled on the prairies in the late-19th century. This attraction recreates buildings and houses from the era of pioneers. Costume-wearing staff and volunteers bring Mennonite heritage to life.

A gallery tells the Mennonites’ story, from before their migration and in the time subsequently. Artworks are also shown. Should you feel like sampling some of the food cooked in Mennonite kitchens, pop into the Livery Barn Restaurant and grab a bite to eat.

The windmill at the heritage village is a reconstruction of the one that was built at Steinbach in 1877. Remarkably, it is the only operational windmill in Canada.

The Canadian Museum of Human Rights.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Further information about Winnipeg and Manitoba

Find out more about things to do and see in the city on the Tourism Winnipeg, Travel Manitoba and Destination Canada websites.

Thinking about travelling further afield? Take a look at 10 cool reasons to visit Manitoba.

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