Travel guide to the city of Winnipeg in Canada

Canada Road Trip #6: Winnipeg

The city of Winnipeg in Manitoba

The city of Winnipeg is located in the province of Manitoba (the capital and the biggest city - more than 700 000 people), just near two rivers: the Red River and the Assiniboine River. The city name comes from the Lake Winnipeg, that can be found north of city. Winnipeg is filled with great tourist attractions and interesting places, and the area is suitable for trips outside the city.

Winnipeg is a great city to spend a few days. You will find here not only awesome and interesting places but also many tourist attractions, pubs, restaurants, and many activities. Also, many Hollywood movies were made here. Winnipeg is the city where Keanu Reeves was born. Okay, so let's write a bit about the things we can do and see in the city and surroundings.

Exchange District

The Exchange District is one of the National Historic Site of Canada and it's located downtown of Winnipeg. The name of the district comes from the Winnipeg Grain Exchange, which was the center of the grain industry (and some others) in Canada. This area contains about twenty Chicago-style city blocks and more than 150 beautiful heritage buildings (financial institutions, warehouses, skyscrapers), that was built between 1880 and 1915. In that years Winnipeg was one of the fastest growing cities in whole North America.

The good times of the Winnipeg end after the opening of the Panama Canal because it opened a new route for shipping goods that was cheaper than the old one. Winnipeg lost its status of the wholesale center and almost all of the Exchange District was changed into shops.

In 1997 the Exchange District in Winnipeg was listed in the National Historic Site.

Nowadays the Exchange District in Winnipeg is an awesome area and tourist attraction filled with interesting places. There are a lot of art galleries, restaurants, shops, and nightclubs. You will find here Manitoba Opera, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Centennial Concert Hall, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Also, all travelers should visit the Old Market Square, which is home to all the concerts in the Exchange District in Winnipeg.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (in short: CMHR) is a world-scale unique museum that is dedicated to the human rights. It was created to be a national hub that not only to show the evolution and future of human rights but also to inspire and teach people.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg offers great interactive experience, that tries to convince people to take an effort to make a difference in the lives of others. On all the eight levels of the museum, you will find all kind of information related to human rights - from Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama to Constantine and Jesus. There is a huge room dedicated to Nazi Germany, another one is dedicated to the native peoples of Canada and North America.

All of this makes people think that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a depressing place, but it's not. Of course, the current exhibitions are very powerful because of the historical importance, but you will find here also a lot of hopeful energy as well.

The full address of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg. The museum is opened from 10:00 to 17:00, with two exceptions: it's closed on Mondays and it's opened till 21:00 on Wednesdays. The adult ticket costs $21.

The Forks National Historic Site in Winnipeg. Source: Jessica Losorata / Wikipedia.

Forks National Historic Site

The Forks National Historic Site is a part of Parks Canada and it's a more than 9 acres gorgeous riverside park that can be found across the Red River and goes up to the historical Saint Boniface (you will find a description of that tourist attraction in the next paragraph).

This Forks National Historic Site is a great history teacher, as its dedicated to show you the 6000 years of history of human presence in the area of Red River and Assiniboine River, as the Indigenous peoples used to fish and camp here from ancient times. As we go along the river, we will understand the connection between the floating water and the people that used to trade here, forming the Canadian west.

You will find here not only walking trails and canoe beach, but also exhibits, sculptures, amphitheater (where you can watch many events and performances) and native prairie garden. The Forks National Historic Site in Winnipeg is a great tourist attraction and interesting place, that will teach you a lot.

Saint Boniface

Saint Boniface in Winnipeg is a home of Franco-Manitobans (the largest community of French Canadians and other French-speaking people living in Manitoba), so while visiting this area you will meet unique and different architecture, that is really worth to see.

This community was settled here at the beginning of the 19th century as there was a great demand for clerics near the Red River. Saint Boniface really fast started to be Francophone and Catholic religion capital of the whole Manitoba.

St Boniface in Winnipeg. Source: Tony Webster / Flickr.

There are many great tourist attractions and interesting places in Saint Boniface in Winnipeg. You will find here old city hall, post office, St Boniface Cathedral or fire station, all of them built at the beginning of the 20th century.

Assiniboine Park Zoo

Assiniboine Park Zoo, established in 1904, is located just a few minutes walk from downtown Winnipeg, 2595 Roblin Blvd, at the West end of Assiniboine Park. The Zoo has more than 80 acres of area and is a great place for families and provides an opportunity to see the animal from all over the world.

Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. Source: Erik Araújo / Flickr.

You will find here the "Churchill exhibit" with the Leatherdale International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, which is home to muskoxen, arctic fox, wolves, polar bears and other animals from the north. During the visit to Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg, you will not only see the different species, but you will also learn a lot because there are a lot of interactive displays everywhere.

There is also the McFeetors Heavy Horse Center (to be found in the north of the Assiniboine Park Zoo), where you will be able to see a few Percheron horses. You can experience here barn tours, and during the summer wagons ride. The great tourist attraction during the winter is a sleigh ride, but this will cost 3$ extra.There is also an area called the Polar Playground, which offers climbing and sliding for the children.

There is, of course, a restaurant called Tundra Grill and two gift shops in Assiniboine Park Zoo. The adult ticket costs $20.50. Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg is opened daily from 09:00 to 17:00 in the summer season, and from 09:00 to 16:00 during the winter season.

Canadian Mint in Winnipeg. Source: Ryancormack / Winnipeg.

Other Winnipeg Tourist Attractions

Winnipeg is a great city in Canada and has a lot of other tourist attractions and interesting places. Below you will find the ones that I enjoyed the most during my travel.

Canadian Mint

The Canadian Mint in Winnipeg is a factory which makes the Canadian money, that people use every day. Every people in Canada uses that money, which means that the Canadian Mint produces more than a billion coins in every day! Additionally, this facility produces coins for over 75 other countries. It can be found in the east part of the city, and it was opened in 1976.

Canada stopped making the penny a few years ago, as the production of 1 cent costs about 1.7 cents.

Canadian Mint is a great tourist attraction and a very interesting place to visit. You will learn here how the Canadian Mint in Winnipeg works, how the images of the coins are impressed into the metal discs and how old coins are recycled. There are also many different exhibitions, for example, one with the special coins.

The Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg. Source: ajbatac / Wikipedia.

The Manitoba Museum

If you are looking for the science center and the Michelin Green Guide award-winning heritage, the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg is a perfect place for you to visit.

There is a great Planetarium where you can watch the special two wide-angle digital projection on the dome. Only for that one thing, you should visit the Manitoba Museum, as it's a really great experience.

Of course, there is not only a single Planetarium here. There are nine awesome museum galleries, that will show you such things as early bison hunt or full-size ship from the 17th century. There is also the Science Gallery that is filled with a lot of great interactive exhibits. All of this can be found inside the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG)

The Winnipeg Art Gallery, called also WAG, is more than a hundred years old (founded in 1912) public art gallery. You will find it just near the University of Winnipeg and Manitoba's Provincial Legislature, in the city center.

You will find here more than 24 000 works, mostly Canadian and Manitoban art, which makes the Winnipeg Art Gallery the 6th largest gallery in Canada. There is a lot of content here to see, from 2400-years old Greek sculptures to the black and white videos from the 20th century. There are 10 special areas, where exhibitions are changing every three months.

Bison at the FortWhyte Alive in Winnipeg. Source: Travel Manitoba / Flickr.

FortWhyte Alive

If you want to take a breath from the Winnipeg city, go to the FortWhyte Alive, which is a recreation an education center located on more than 600 acres of forests, lakes, and prairie. You will find it in the southwest part of the city. There are a lot of things to do inside the FortWhyte Alive:

  • See bison on the 70-acre bison Prairie.
  • Learn how water sustains live at the Planet H2O center.
  • See different species of Manitoba area inside the Kiwanis Touch Museum and endangered species in the Prairie Partners Live Exhibit.
  • Visit Prairie Soil Diorama to see the many different landscapes from pre-settlement to the modern day.

FortWhyte Alive in Winnipeg is one of the best tourist attractions and interesting places in Winnipeg and it's definitely worth to visit it.

Music Festivals in Winnipeg

Winnipeg Festivals

Well, I really could call Winnipeg the city of festivals, as there are so much great ones all year around. Below you will find the list of the best festivals in Winnipeg, of course in my opinion.

Festival Du Voyageur

Festival Du Voyageur is western Canada's largest winter festival. This whole festival was created to celebrate a fur-trading past of Canada and also a French culture and heritage. It was founded in 1970 by Georges Forest. Every year you will find at Festival Du Voyageur in Winnipeg many great music bands, artists, crafts and other entertainment.

In 2019, the Festival Du Voyageur in Winnipeg will start on 15th February and it will last for 10 days, till 24th February. You will find more information about this festival here.

Jazz Winnipeg Festival

Another great festival, this time directed to jazz. Jazz Winnipeg Festival is a main Canadian jazz festival that was founded in 1989. In previous years people living in Winnipeg had an opportunity to listen to such people and bands as Charlie Haden, The Roots, George Benson, Dave Holland, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Preservation Hall Jazz, Al Green, Herbie Hancock, Dave Brubeck, The Neville Brothers and many, many more.

For jazz fans, the Jazz Winnipeg Festival should be on the travel to-do list. In 2018, the festival lasted from the 14th to the 24th of July. The date of the 2019 Jazz Winnipeg Festival is still unknown, but for sure it will take place in July, like every year.

Winnipeg Folk Festival. Source: Vince pahkala / Wikipedia.

Winnipeg Folk Festival

Started by the Colin Gorrie, Ava Kobrinsky and Mitch Podolak in 1974, the Winnipeg Folk Festival is, with more than 80 000 people yearly, one of the biggest (and probably the best one) summer folk music festival in Canada. It takes place every year in the Birds Hill Provincial Park, 24 kilometers from the Winnipeg city.

There is a lot of different music types at the Winnipeg Folk Festival: blues, roots, Indie folk, folk rock, gospel, Celtic and much more. Bands are mostly from the Canada and United States and perform on a few stages along the Birds Hill Provincial Park area. There is also some kind of food village, where you will eat not only fast food but also healthy, local and organic meals.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival takes place yearly second weekend of July (5th - 8th of July in 2018). There is also a popular tradition that many people comes here camping with their own tents - there are two campgrounds here and a free shuttle bus that will take you to the festival's area.

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is an awesome adventure, experience and a tourist attraction in Winnipeg and if you are planning your travel here, it's a good idea to go in July.

Folklorama in Winnipeg. Source: Robert Linsdell / Flickr.

Folklorama

Folklorama is the longest festival described here - it runs for two weeks every August - in 2019 from 4th to 17th of August. it's also the world biggest multicultural festival. Folklorama gives you an opportunity to try Canadian cuisine and to better know many of the cultures that have created the city of Winnipeg. 

On the area of the Folklorama Festival in Winnipeg, you will find more than 40 different pavilions. Every one of them is focused on the different culture, with different cuisine, dance shows, and music performances. The Folklorama Festival is a great opportunity to meet different cultures.

Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg

For the people that miss the water and have a car, Lake Winnipeg is just 55 kilometers (about an hour drive) from the city. There is winter? No problem! You can always go here to ice fishing. But if the winter is far, far away, Lake Winnipeg is a great place to swim and take a sunbath on the beach.

The huge advantage of the Lake Winnipeg is that this lake is really huge and there is not a big problem to find a part of the shore even just for yourself.

Warning: There is no public transportation that will take you to the Lake Winnipeg. You will have to rent a car to get here.

Conclusion

Winnipeg is an awesome city in Canada with so many great interesting places and tourist attractions: Exchange District, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Forks National Historic Site, Saint Boniface, Assiniboine Park Zoo, Canadian Mint, the Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), FortWhyte Alive, and Lake Winnipeg. There is also a lot of great festivals in Winnipeg: Festival Du Voyageur, Jazz Winnipeg Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, and Folklorama.

This is already my 6th travel article from Canada trip, so if you are interested to discover more of that beautiful country, here you've got a list of my other articles:

In this travel blog and guide, I have tried to describe to you what to do and what to see in Winnipeg, but it's my subjective opinion. If you know any other great places in Winnipeg, have any questions about the Manitoba or just enjoyed my travel article, feel free to leave me a comment in the section below.

Wojciech Kuźma

Hey there! My name is Wojtek and I am very happy that you came to my travel blog. I've been traveling the world for a few good years now and I still want more.

On my website I describe the adventures that have happened to me, you will also find here a collection of valuable tips for tourists and travelers. If you liked this article, be sure to leave a comment and read some more!


4.90 | 10 votes
Comments: 1
  •   28th September 2018, 12:38

    I have never been to Canada, but the town of Winnipeg looks like a great place, full of great things to do, interesting places and tourist attractions! This text was translated automatically. Original text is below: Nigy nie byłam w Kanadzie, ale miasteczko Winnipeg wygląda na świetne miejsce, pełne świetnych rzeczy do zrobienia, ciekawych miejsc i atrakcji turystycznych!

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