Manitoba is one of the best tourist destinations. When people visit Canada, they usually think of Vancouver and Toronto. However, those who have taken the time to explore the heart of Canada will find many beautiful landscapes consisting of lakes, rivers, boreal forests, prairies, and tundra up north. With over 80 provincial parks preserving wildlife, Manitoba is home to many unique experiences.
To help you with your next travel adventure, we created a list of several places in our beautiful province that are must-sees!
GIMLI & THE ICELANDIC FESTIVAL OF MANITOBA
Known for its Icelandic history, Gimli is a small charming town on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. Many people take the hour-long drive from the city to enjoy Gimli’s beautiful beaches, patios, and restaurants, stroll along its 298-meter-long seawall, as well as visit the iconic fifteen-foot-tall Viking Statue.
The August long weekend is when the town gets busy. Since 1890, Gimli has hosted the Icelandic Festival, (also known as Islendingadurgurinn) and celebrates Icelandic culture and descent. The festivities have fun activities and events for all ages that include:
• Craft and food vendors
• Scavenger hunts and other contests
• Beverage gardens
• A Viking Village, where families can encounter re-enactments of the day-to-day life of Vikings
• Carnival Rides (During certain days)
• Beach Volleyball Tournaments
• Live music venues
• Icelandic fashion show
• Family sports
• And so much more!
With so many activities for all ages, you need to take more than a day to experience everything in Gimli. To learn more about the Icelandic Festival check out their website https://www.icelandicfestival.com/
RIDING MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK:
With beautiful terrain consisting of prairies, forests, and clear lakes and streams, this scenic park is open year-round. This combination of a nature reserve and recreational area inhabits bison, deer, wolves, and bears who roam freely in the park.
The most popular place to visit in Riding Mountain is Wasagaming, the town surrounding one of their deep lakes known as Clear Lake. Many go camping, rent cabins or Otentiks, and even drive out to spend a day there. A couple of activities that you can do are:
• Cycling trails
• Walking/hiking trails
• Visit the museums
• Dine at any of the local and delicious restaurants
• Watch a movie at the cabin movie theatre
The town of Wasagaming at Clear Lake gets busy during the hot summers in Manitoba, so it is best to book a camping spot or rental in the early winter. For more information and to learn about what you can do in Riding Mountain, check out their website at https://discoverclearlake.com/things-to-do/
PINAWA AND THE PINAWA DAM PROVINCIAL PARK
Built-in 1906, the cement ruins of the old Pinawa Dam, which stopped operating in 1951, are the jewel of this provincial park. The old dam has many self-guided trails and beautiful, picturesque views with picnic establishments nearby.
Just a short drive south of the dam is the cottage town of Pinawa, which has gained more tourists over the years for its outdoor recreational activities and beautiful lake landscapes. A couple of the most popular activities for tourists and locals in town are:
• Float down the Pinawa Channel. Once a well-kept local secret has now become popular amongst Manitobans. Enjoy a calm and relaxing ride down the channel while observing the nature around you.
• Golf at the 6270-yard-long Golf Course at the Pinawa Golf & Country Club.
• Take a hike down to the 54-meter-long swinging suspension bridge.
• White water rafting
• Go cliff jumping off Great Falls, a hidden area near the Pinawa Hydro parking lot. It is about a 25-minute walk down a straight path connecting to a manufactured bridge. Although not as well known, it is a fun outing if you are up for finding the area!
• Swimming at the Pinawa beach or pool
• Grabbing a bite to eat at the Burger Boat or On the Water Eats Food Truck
• Skating during the winters
• And many more outdoor activities!
Check out Pinawa’s website to learn more about the town and to help further plan your trip down to its provincial park! https://www.pinawa.com/
Known for being the Polar bear and Beluga capital of the world, Churchill is one of Canada’s most accessible northern communities. Visitors will have the clearest views of the Northern Lights and can kayak alongside beluga whales in the icy waters. Get a sense of the fur trade industry and the day-to-day life of the pioneers at the Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site. Built more than 250 years ago, Churchill’s and Hudson’s Bay’s history is the utmost impressive.
However, there are only two ways to travel there. Flying or taking the train, making Churchill for those truly invested and interested in its unique wildlife and Inuit Culture of Manitoba.
Of course, if the travel discourages you, you can visit the newest Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Zoo in Winnipeg, where you will find its native animals such as polar bears, seals, wolves, and much more. Info-graphics are also at the zoo and dive into Churchill’s Inuit roots.
To learn more about Churchill, visit https://www.travelmanitoba.com/churchill/
For more information on the Churchill exhibit at the Assiniboine Zoo, visit their website at https://www.assiniboinepark.ca/zoo/animals/journey-to-churchill
BROKENHEAD WETLAND INTERPRETIVE TRAIL
Manitoba has many unique and rare species of plants that cannot be seen anywhere else in North America, and the Broken Head Wetland Trail houses just that. Traversing the 2.6-kilometer boardwalk trail through the boreal forest, you will find many carnivorous plants, orchids, and more! Interpretive displays are seen along the trail explaining the Indigenous importance and helping those learn more information on the plants and animal life living in the wetlands.
The trail is a great place to visit if you want to learn about Manitoba’s calcareous and flora while getting exercise! For more details, visit http://www.manitobatrailsproject.ca/trail-list/brokenhead-wetland-interpretive-trail/
Located on the eastern shore of the freshwater Lake Winnipeg, Grand Beach is one of the best beaches in Canada. During the summer, the soft white sandy shores are a hot spot for city dwellers looking for a great place to suntan and swim. The Provincial Park surrounding the beach also has campgrounds, an outdoor amphitheatre, picnic shelters, restaurants, boardwalks, and is wheelchair accessible. Take a hike along the self-guided trails through the 30ft high dunes! In the wintertime, many come to the beach to enjoy ice fishing and snowmobiling with their peers. Learn more at https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/park-maps-and-locations/central/grand.html
Located at the Red and Assiniboine River intersection near downtown Winnipeg, The Forks and the Johnston Terminal have restored buildings with a rich history. This area was once an aboriginal settlement and has historical origins in the fur trade, the Canadian Railway, and immigration. Today, the Forks is a vibrant public space where locals come together for celebrations, recreation, and gatherings. The 4 million visitors the area receives each year love to partake in its activities such as:
• Shopping at the local stores inside the Forks Market
• Eating at the Forks Food Hall, which hosts over 24 local restaurants
• Boat rides at the Port
• Take a stroll on the river-walk, Prairie Garden, the Historic Rail Bridge, and more!
• Skateboarding at the Plaza
• Watching live venues at the CN Stage
• Visiting the Canadian Museum of Human Rights
• Visiting the Manitoba Children’s Museum with family
• Site seeing at the Forks Market Tower
• Skating on the river and at the Plaza
• Checking out the restored rail cars
• Taking a trolley tour
• Enjoying the warm hospitality while staying at the Inn at the Forks
• Shopping at the number of unique boutiques at the terminal
• And a whole lot more!
This area is one of the most popular destinations to visit when arriving in Manitoba’s capital city and a great outing for everyone!
If you would like to know more about the recreational activities at the Forks, visit their website at https://www.theforks.com/attractions
FORT WHYTE ALIVE
Want year-round entertainment and an educational experience for the whole family in Winnipeg? FortWhyte Alive offers just that. With a 640-acre enclosure, visitors can choose from a variety of indoor and outdoor activities like:
• Interactive learning activities at the Interpretive Centre
• Lunch at the Buffalo Stone Café
• Gazing at all the fish at the Aquarium of the Prairies
• Visiting the Burrowing Owl Enclosure
• Get up close with Canada’s beasts on a Bison Safari at the Bison Enclosure
• Stepping back into the past by visiting the Pioneer Sod House
• Take a hike on any of the Forest trails and marsh boardwalks
• Go wildlife watching
• Participating in their public events and programs held each year like the Sod House Homesteaders and Early Birders.
• Snowshoeing in the winter
• Tobogganing on their Toboggan Run onto the frozen lake
• And a whole lot more!
Visit FortWhyte’s local farm outside the enclosure to purchase fresh produce and honey! The farm also creates employment opportunities for youth in the community and is a great way to support their sustainable farming.
Leave with new insights into the natural world and Manitoba’s heritage while creating unforgettable experiences. For more information on their public events and programs, visit https://www.fortwhyte.org/
SPRUCE WOODS PROVINCIAL PARK (SPIRIT SANDS)
Named after the Spruce Trees surrounding the provincial park, this area’s popular feature is its soft sand dunes. Being one of the unique destinations in Manitoba, these dunes are a remnant of the once giant Assiniboine River and takes you to a desert world. Just two hours west of Winnipeg, the mixed-grass prairie and sand drifts offer a great place to hike, camp, view the wildlife, wander, and photograph the beautiful scenery.
And try to spot the Northern Prairie Skink, Manitoba’s sole lizard species that lives in the Spirit Sands. To plan out your next trip to the park, visit https://www.gov.mb.ca/sd/parks/park-maps-and-locations/western/spruce.html
Open from may long to September long weekends, Caddy Lake is a prime camping spot located in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. This lake is most famous for its man-made rock tunnels that you can canoe or kayak through. Blasted through when the Canadian railway was under construction, the area holds a lot of history dating back to the 1880s. With beautiful sights and shores lined with Pine trees, there are many outdoor activities available for campers:
• RV camping
• Kayaking and canoeing
• Fishing/ice fishing
• And more!
Spending your long weekends here at Caddy Lake’s beautiful private campsites will make unforgettable memories. For more information, visit https://www.explorethewhiteshell.com/.
If you take the time, you will find that Manitoba is an underrated province with many unique sights, experiences, and memories to be made. We hope this list has helped you plan for your adventure when exploring Canada’s heart!
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Vialux Hospitality Team