One of my favourite parts about my job is coming up with creative itineraries for visiting media. Last year we had two travel writers visit us at the beginning of December. I prefer any tourists visiting the province to stay in summer, not winter. How was I supposed to come up with fun activities and show off our city when it was already way below zero? I accepted the challenge and came up with this three day itinerary: a mix of some of my local favourites and the more typical tourist activities.
Head over to Parlour Coffee and kick start your morning with a perfect latte and a sugary doughnut from Oh Doughnuts.
Visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery and while away the morning wandering through one of their latest exhibits or take in the largest public collection of Inuit art.
Stellas is a local Winnipeg chain restaurant and their Portage Avenue location is walking distance from the art gallery. The restaurant is famous for their brunches, in-house made bread and home made jams. Warm crusty bread aside, the Mexican breakfast is out of this world.
Enjoy creative cocktails in one of the city’s most iconic bars at the Fairmont Winnipeg Hotel before indulging in a chef’s tables in the Velvet Glove restaurant. This takes a bit of bravery as you basically let the chef send out a series of courses that aren’t on the menu. Take my word that it is completely worth it and something everyone should experience once in their life.
If you’re able to walk after dinner, take in some live music in the historic Exchange District, or just collapse into a food coma.
If you’re lucky (or smart) enough to have timed your visit around Raw Almond’s restaurant on the river, be sure to indulge in brunch on the ice. And by restaurant on the river, I don’t mean perched on the banks. I mean sitting bang in the middle of the ice. It’s freezing but incredible and will give you a whole new level of respect for Winnipeg.
Warm up with a skate down the Red River Mutual Trail or by heading indoors to browse the unique shops at The Forks. Nibble on artisan cheeses, taste the fine wines, or sample local honey from the market.
If you’re really feeling indulgent buy a thick slab of maple fudge from The Fudge Guy.
Walk over Esplanade Riel bridge (or skate if the trail is open) into Winnipeg’s French Quarter, St. Boniface.
This is one of my favourite suburbs and although it’s easier to explore in summer (isn’t everything in Winnipeg?) it’s still just as lovely in winter when the trees are strung with fairy lights and the park blanketed in snow.
Stop at the Saint Boniface Cathedral for photographs of this iconic site, and then pop into La Maison Gabrielle Roy, a museum in the former home of writer Gabrielle Roy.
End the day with a bottle of French wine and watch the lights twinkle on in the city from the comfort of Promenade Cafe. Don’t leave without a slice of their sugar pie!
Have you ever seen a polar bear? Before I moved to Winnipeg I hadn’t. My first experience was of one swimming above my head, proof that you can visit Manitoba and see a polar bear without spending thousands of dollars. A visit to the city wouldn’t be complete without a browse of the Assiniboine Park and Zoo and the Journey to Churchill exhibit.
Stroll down Sherbrook St. in West Broadway for a coffee at Thom Bargen or lunch at the Tallest Poppy. Don’t make the mistake we did and sit near the window. You’ll freeze and you’ve already had that experience when you ate brunch on the river.
Choose a cozy table in the back and dig into their famous chicken & waffles (if you’re there for brekky) or a pickerel po boy and Manitucky cocktail (lunch).
After lunch head back to The Forks and squeeze in a few hours at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. If you’ve got the time, you should really give the Museum half a day. I’ve done it in a couple of hours and still enjoyed myself.
The highlight for me was standing stories above the city in the Tower for Hope and watching the snow fall around me. That and the old ballot box from 1995/96 South African elections.
And of course, when in Winnipeg a Jets game is almost compulsory. The city lost their ice hockey team in 1996, only to have them return in 2011. Winnipegger’s are extremely proud of their team and the atmosphere at their games is electric. Since most of Downtown Winnipeg shuts down on a Sunday, you may as well fill up on popcorn, jumbo jet dogs and beer. Cheers.
- A tour of the Canadian Mint
- Dumplings in Chinatown
- An afternoon spent in McNally Robinson bookstore
- Outlet shopping in Kenaston
- Wine tasting at Banville & Jones
- Skating on the duck pond at Assiniboine Park
- Cross country skiing in Bird’s Hill Park
- Snow Shoeing at Fort Whyte Alive
Do you live in Winnipeg? What are some of your favourite spots you like to take out of town visitors to?