With plenty of outdoor activities, summer is the perfect time to visit this city on the Prairies. And, with its rich connection to Indigenous cultures, growing food scene and secret messages hidden in the architecture of its provincial legislature, Winnipeg is a must-visit destination.
Where to Stay
For foodies: Inn at the Forks
Located at The Forks, a dining and entertainment hub where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet, the luxurious, 117-room Inn at the Forks is steps away from Winnipeg’s best eateries. The hotel’s on-site amenities include the Riverstone Spa and Smith Restaurant, known for its hearty weekend brunch.
For history buffs: Fort Garry Hotel
Settle into the downtown Fort Garry Hotel, a railway hotel built in 1913 by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. Unwind with a Cosmopolitan beneath the ornate ceiling of The Palm Lounge. Then head to the 10th-floor Ten Spa and indulge in the Hamam Fully Loaded, a traditional Turkish bathing ritual.
For culture cravers: The Fairmont Winnipeg
Located near the famously windy intersection of Portage Avenue and Main Street, The Fairmont Winnipeg is the posh choice with its indoor, 21st floor pool and top-notch dining. Don’t miss the VG Restaurant, which makes use of local ingredients including herbs and honey from the rooftop garden and bee hives.
For nature lovers: Mere Hotel
Though it’s located in the city’s bustling Exchange District, Mere Hotel has a serene vibe thanks to neighbouring Red River and Stephen Juba Park. Grab a route map from the front desk and go for a morning run along the riverside pathways. Rooms at this boutique hotel are stocked with juice and Nespresso machines.
What to Do
For foodies: Do a cycling food tour through the city
Rent a bike and helmet—White Pine Bicycle Co. offers half-day rates—and join A Moveable Feast for a food-centric city tour with stops at a revolving cast of the city’s best eateries, including East India Company, Little Sister Coffee Maker and Oh Doughnuts. The tour includes menu samples, but beverages are extra.
For history buffs: Tour the Manitoba Legislative Building
Sphinxes etched with hieroglyphics keep watch from the rooftop and Freemason symbols abound at the Manitoba Legislative Building. Sign up for the weekly Hermetic Code Tour to unravel the where and why of these secret messages hidden in plain view. You can also take free, self-guided tours daily.
For culture cravers: Visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Inuit art collection at the Winnipeg Art Gallery boasts more than 11,000 sculptures, prints and drawings that offer a look into the life of Indigenous peoples of the far north. For performing arts, visit Rainbow Stage where open-air musical theatre delights audiences in century-old Kildonan Park.
For nature lovers: Go canoeing at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre
Drive 20 kilometres north of Winnipeg to Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, which is marking its 25th year. Sign up for a guided voyageur canoe tour to explore the meandering wetlands, while keeping an eye out for the dozens of bird species and countless other critters that live among the swaying cattails.
Where to Eat
For foodies: The Forks Market
A massive makeover at The Forks Market, which houses a food hall and specialty shops, has delivered The Common, a beer and wine kiosk with 20 craft beers and as many wines available by the glass or in flights. For a sit-down dinner, try Passero, chef Scott Bagshaw’s interpretation of contemporary Italian fare.
For history buffs: Rae and Jerry’s
To experience a classic Prairie steakhouse, visit Rae and Jerry’s, a Winnipeg institution that opened in 1957 on Portage Avenue. From the ruby- red carpeting and leatherette banquettes to the chilled tomato juice starter, history remains firmly in place at this beloved spot. Reservations are suggested.
For culture cravers: Feast Café Bistro
Get a taste of Indigenous culture at Feast Café Bistro where chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther pays homage to her heritage with a menu that includes the Sundance Indian Taco, piled with slow-roasted maple chipotle chicken and all the toppings. Leave room for the Saskatoon Smoothie, made with local berries.
For nature lovers: Buffalo Stone Café
After exploring FortWhyte Alive, a nature centre and wildlife refuge inside the city limits, order lunch at the Buffalo Stone Café—try the roasted beet and dragon kale salad. Much of the produce used in the restaurant is grown on the facility’s farm, which holds a weekly summer market on Tuesdays.
[This story appears in the July 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]
Why Winnipeg is One of Canada’s Best Winter Cities
Rather than suffer, Winnipeggers have decided not just to embrace their winter, but to rock it. Skate along the Red River Mutual Trail (one of the world's largest), eat maple taffy at Festival du Voyageur, visit The Forks National Historic Site and warm up at the outdoor Thermëa spa.