Winnipeg is a city of about 700,000 in central Canada. I lived there for many years, and know of many fun things to do in Winnipeg.
The suggestions I have on this page are free or reasonably priced. If you are planning to visit the city, this article will give you some ideas which should make your trip enjoyable.
The city has an excellent transit system, so if you if you do not have a car you can still get around easily to main attractions. If you do have a car, the city is quite easy to navigate. Most streets and avenues run straight north and south or east and west. It's located in the Red River Valley and has a very flat terrain.
Winnipeg has its own distinct communities as most other cities do. One of them is St Boniface, which is a largely French speaking community. Here you will find interesting shops, excellent restaurants, and the French Canadian cultural center. This center displays their rich and interesting culture.
St Boniface is one of the largest French communities in Canada outside of the province of Quebec. Many street signs are in both French and English. These are the two official languages of our nation. English is still spoken by almost everyone, so if you want to visit but do not speak French you will not have any difficulties communicating with others.
The Esplanade Riel is a bridge for foot traffic which spans the Red River. The river separates St Boniface from downtown Winnipeg. It is shown in the image above. The bridge has a restaurant, which is known as the Salisbury House. This is a restaurant chain found only in Manitoba. It is legendary among Winnipeg residents. Salisbury House restaurants are family friendly and inexpensive. It's not fancy dining, but their hamburgers (which they call "nips") are really good.
The St Boniface Cathedral is another point of interest. It was built in the 19th century. The original cathedral was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt following that episode. However it continued to have bad luck, as another fire in the 1960s caused some damage.
Other Winnipeg communities include St Vital, East Kildonan, St James and Transcona. St Vital has a large indoor mall with about 150 stores. The nicest feature about this community is the park. It is located at the river front and has lots of areas for walking, biking and other activities.
Tuxedo is one of the most affluent communities in Winnipeg. The largest park in the city, Assiniboine is located here.
The Forks is located in the central part of the city, just a short walk from downtown. The Forks is where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. The Esplanade Riel connects this area to St Boniface.
This is a very popular place during the summer, as it draws thousands of people daily. There is a lot to see and do here.
The Forks market features fresh fruit and vegetables, a bakery, a butcher, as well as many artisans. There are four restaurants located in the market. The Pancake house is a family friendly and economical place to eat. The name of the restaurant is misleading, because they feature lots of items on their menu, not just pancakes. There is a wide variety of other breakfast items. They are also open for lunch and dinner and offer sandwiches, salads and burgers at those times.
Sydney's at the Forks offers high quality upscale dining. There are other vendors that provide fast food and take out meals. Across from the market is the Johnson Terminal, which has several boutiques and a huge antique mall. Located here is the family friendly Old Spaghetti Factory.
If you have kids, you will want to take time to visit the wonderful children's museum, and The Manitoba Theater For Young People.
The Assiniboine Riverwalk is a pleasant walkway that goes along the riverside. It provides nice views of the St Boniface Cathedral and concludes at the provincial capital buildings. An outdoor stage provides free entertainment on weekends and special occasions. . This stage is used a lot in the summer months. Buskers often preform in different areas.
The Forks is a fun place to spend some time. I highly recommend it.
This park is the largest one in the city. It is centrally located and has many attractions. I would suggest setting aside several hours to be able to enjoy it all.
The main Pavilion has a very nice dining room, and another area serving fast food. There is an outdoor stage right by the pavilion that features free entertainment during the summer time.
Other attractions at Assiniboine park include a sculpture garden, which is pictured here. There also is a botanical and English garden, and a very wonderful zoo. There are over 300 animal species here, including giraffes, polar bears, lions, reptiles, and a petting zoo for children.
Journey to Churchill is a new attraction recently added to the park. It is the most detailed exhibit featuring Arctic species in the world. There are underwater viewing tunnels where you can observe polar bears and seals swimming. A domed theater gives people the illusion of standing in an Arctic landscape. This is an unforgettable experience for kids to enjoy.
Adjacent to the zoo is the Assiniboine forest, consisting of 700 acres of evergreens. I have many happy childhood memories of times spent at this park. You can read more at the Assiniboine Park website. The park itself is free, but there is an admission charge for the zoo, which is well worth it.
Winnipeg has one of the most extreme climates of any city. Winters are notorious for the long periods of extreme cold. Temperatures of minus thirty and even colder may occur. This is not typical of every Canadian city. In fact some people move to warmer climates at the Pacific coast or southern Ontario just to escape the cold.
Winter sports such as cross country skiing, skating, and bobsledding are popular despite the extreme cold. Of course, not every day in the winter is bitterly cold, but the winter season is long. Pictured here are people skating outdoors at The Forks.
On the other hand, summer temperatures can be very hot. Most summer days have a lot of sunshine and thunderstorms often occur in the late evening or overnight.
Temperatures in June, July and August are typically at least 80 degrees. There are days that it can be in the 90s. Many residents have central air conditioning in their homes, as the hot weather usually lasts for many weeks. It does not cool down much at night either.
Winnipeg does not usually experience extensive storm damage and tornadoes that are typical in the central United States. On some occasions sudden downpours may cause flooded basements in homes. It is always advisable to check the forecasts because these storms can move in quickly.
The days are very long in the summer time. Itt does not get dark until about 11 PM, at the beginning of summer, and the sun starts rising before 5 AM. Of course, as summer progresses, the days get shorter, but even in August it isn't dark until after 9 PM.
Winnipeg's pro summer sports teams are the Blue Bombers, who play for the Canadian Football League, and the Winnipeg Goldeyes, who play baseball at The Forks.
Other Winnipeg Activities and Attractions
One of the highlights of summer in Winnipeg is the annual Folklorama Festival. This is the largest and most successful multicultural festival in the world. It runs for two weeks in August. Each year about 50 countries participate in the festival, with half on for one week, and the other half taking the second week. Each area has its own venue, which is known as a pavilion.
These venues are often in schools, churches, and so on. They feature entertainment, food, and cultural displays. This is a family friendly event, although they do serve alcohol. I have attended many pavilions, and can tell you it is a lot of fun. You can order a complete dinner, or just a dessert or snack.
The people who run the venues, as well as those who provide the entertainment, are Winnipeg residents who have immigrated to Canada from other countries. Winnipeg is a very multicultural city. It is easy to find restaurants that serve Polish, Greek, Indian, and other food. It all comes together at Folklorama. This is a very popular event that draws international visitors, and gives a big boost to the economy. Most pavilions are open until midnight or even later, giving people ample opportunity to enjoy great entertainment and have fun. It is run largely with volunteers. This event is well worth attending, and is the pride of Winnipeg.
The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is one of the most acclaimed dance companies in the world. the season starts in the fall and concludes in the spring.
There are several large shopping malls in the city. Polo Park, located on Portage Avenue, is the largest. Other malls are located in St Vital, West Kildonan and St James.
If you are looking for something different, the downtown Exchange District is a great place to spend some time. This has been designated a National Historic Site. There are many heritage buildings in this district, which have been converted into art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and condos. It consists of 30 blocks in total, and contains the largest number of terracotta and stone architecture in North America.
Also located within the district are the Manitoba Museum, The Planetarium, The Manitoba Theater Center and Concert Hall.