Looking for the best things to do in Winnipeg Manitoba?
You’re in the right place!
Winnipeg is a city near and dear to my heart, as not only did I grow up just a few short hours away in the adjacent province of Saskatchewan, I now find myself living here as an adult.
Because while other Canadian destinations such as Vancouver, Banff, Montreal, and Toronto get all the buzz, Winnipeg has just as much culture at a fraction of the price.
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Winnipeg is a city characterized by grace and grit — it’s proud of its prairie heritage, it has a bustling arts scene, and it doesn’t shy away from wintertime adventure. Because yes, Winnipeg does get mighty cold in the wintertime!
So, to help you prepare for your Canadian adventure, I’ve put together this list of the best things to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba – from a local’s perspective!
Oh, one more thing before we start: be sure to check out my list of the 11 Best Winnipeg Hotels to find your perfect place to stay!
Ok, let’s dive in:
The Best Things To Do in Winnipeg Manitoba (From a Local’s Perspective)
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#1 – Explore The Forks
No matter how many times I’ve visited Winnipeg over the years, I always make a point to hit up The Forks.
Named for being at the intersection of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, the Forks has been a meeting place for over 6000 years as a place for trade by the early indigenous people, followed by the European fur traders, Metis buffalo hunters, and railway pioneers.
Today, the Forks is a year-round community center of sorts with one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, performances, and activities.
Not to mention, the Forks market is a total foodie mecca – you could do your own food tour in the main hall and dazzle your tastebuds for days on end.
Just keep in mind that the Forks market is Winnipeg’s top tourist site and is visited by more than 4 million people every year – so chances are you’ll have to share the space with quite a few others!
#2 – Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Having opened in 2014, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was the first museum in the world dedicated to the “evolution, celebration, and future of human rights.”
Located right beside the Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights contains six floors of poignant galleries that cover issues such as “What are Human Rights”, “Turning Points for Humanity”, “Protecting Rights in Canada”, “Indigenous Perspectives”, and “Examining the Holocaust”.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a uniquely Canadian angle to it but covers an international range of subject matter.
#3 – Stroll The Exchange District
A uniquely artsy 20-block area, The Exchange District is where to go to indulge in some of Winnipeg’s most popular restaurants, cafes, boutique shops, and art.
A Canadian National Historic Site, the Exchange district was once the Winnipeg hub of all things commerce, with the grain industry and other commodities finding a home here.
Today, you’ll still find a lot of business being done here, but with more of a hipster flair.
In particular, one of the most popular meeting places in The Exchange District is Old Market Square — a park that often features musical performances and festivals.
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Not to mention, the mural game in The Exchange district is strong – I highly recommend just taking an afternoon to walk around and appreciate all the murals here.
If you’re interested in a customized walking tour, then check out this Winnipeg Like a Local tour.
#4 – Explore Saint Boniface Neighborhood
If you’re looking for the best French Canadian culture that Winnipeg has to offer, then Saint Boniface is the place to go.
Saint Boniface is located right across the pedestrian bridge from the Forks, and the neighborhood features one of the largest Francophone populations in the prairies.
While here, take a walk along Le Boulevard Provencher, pop into the French boutiques and cafes, pay a visit to the Cathedral.
#5 – Explore Osborne Village
Another artsy area of Winnipeg, Osborne Village is home to some of the city’s best dive bars, pubs, music venues, vintage stores, and record shops.
In comparing Osborne Village to the Exchange district, while you’ll find art in both areas of the city, Osborne Village is a little more gritty compared to the upscale vibe of The Exchange District.
That’s not to say one is better than the other, it’s just that you’ll get a more raw vibe in Osborne.
If you’re looking for a great night out in Osborne Village, I recommend going to the Toad in the Hole Pub for a couple of pints before catching a comedy show at Gas Station Arts Center (or the other way around!)
#6 – Take a Tour of the Royal Canadian Mint
For a truly unique thing to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba, take a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint.
The Mint facility is not only where all Canadian coins are made, but it’s also where the tender is produced for 75 additional countries all around the world.
The Winnipeg Mint was opened in 1976 and is where billions of coins are made every single year.
You can purchase tour tickets right at the Mint itself.
#7 – Shop at McNally Robinson Bookstore
Looking to get your reading on while in Winnipeg? Then head to a McNally Robinson Bookstore in the Grant Park area.
Visiting independent bookstores is a great way to get to know a city, and Winnipeg’s McNally Robinson Bookstore is one of the largest of its kind in Canada.
Not to mention, the bookstore often brings in musicians, authors, and speakers to give performances.
#8 – Hang Out in Assiniboine Park
Open year-round, Assiniboine Park (in the west end of town) is the place to be to catch free concerts and buskers in the summer, hike the fitness trails, or have a barbecue in the wide green expanses.
Plus, Assiniboine Park also boasts the Conservatory and English Garden — a great little dose of nature in the city – and the Assiniboine Park Zoo (which hosts polar bears).
If you’re looking for things to do this weekend in Winnipeg, it’s always one of the best choices!
#9 – Take a Hermetic Code Tour in the Manitoba Legislative Building
Are you ready to take one of the coolest urban tours in the country?
Then head to the Manitoba Legislative Building and take the Hermetic Code Tour!
With an academic as your guide, you’ll uncover hidden clues in the building’s design including hieroglyphics, numerological codes, and Freemason symbols.
Ever wonder why there are sphinxes on the roof of the building? You’ll find out on this tour!
You can get tickets for the tour right at the Legislative Building.
#10 – Visit the Manitoba Museum
If you’re into natural history and heritage museums, then put the Manitoba Museum on your list for top things to do in Winnipeg.
There is a planetarium, science gallery, and they always have special exhibitions on rotation – including exhibits on hockey and a Stranger Things laser show.
#11 – Attend Winnipeg Folk Fest
Taking place every July at Birds Hill Provincial Park, Winnipeg Folk Fest is a fabulous music festival that is a staple in Manitoban culture.
Attendance usually exceeds 70 000 people, and you can expect a range of musical styles including roots, electronic, indie rock, Celtic, and Americana.
There are usually at least 75+ artists in the lineup each year, so chances are you’ll find a performance that you love.
#12 – Be Dazzled at the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Located right downtown Winnipeg off Portage avenue, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is a must for any fine art fans and one of the top attractions in Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery features plenty of regular and rotating exhibitions, and they have adult programs and art classes to check out as well.
#13 – Catch a Sports Game
Winnipeggers love their sports teams, and you’ll have no trouble finding a game to attend – whether that be hockey, baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, or curling.
It should be noted that Winnipeg is home to two high-level professional teams – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Winnipeg Jets (football and hockey, respectively).
Grab a drink and a jersey and settle in!
#14 – Go on a Bison Safari
Going on a Bison Safari is one of the most iconic things to do in Winnipeg.
I mean, what’s better than a guided tour amongst some of the most iconic animals that have ever graced the prairies?
The Bison Safari Adventure at FortWhyte Alive park (in south Winnipeg) will have you up close and personal with the largest land mammal species in North America, and give you a rundown on some prairie history.
You’ll even get to take some buffalo selfies, so don’t forget your camera on this one!
#15 – Take a Craft Beer Tour
Home to well over a dozen breweries, going on a craft beer tour is a great thing to do in Winnipeg if you’re a beer fan.
Some of the best breweries in Winnipeg are Barn Hammer Brewing, Brazen Hall Kitchen & Brewery, Devil May Care Brewing Company, Fort Garry Brewing Co., and Half Pints Brewing Company.
While you can absolutely do your own (walking or designated driver-propelled) craft beer tour in Winnipeg, this 3.5-Hour Brewery Trolley Tour is a great option as well.
#16 – Soak Up Local History at the Manito Ahbee Festival
Indigenous History is a huge part of Winnipeg’s identity – and what better way to honor that than by attending a festival dedicated to celebrating the culture?
The Manito Ahbee Festival happens around May every year and is a festival of indigenous art, music, and culture.
The festival features a traditional Pow Wow, a music conference, a trade show, an art challenge, and an education session.
#17 – Catch a Royal Winnipeg Ballet Performance
Did you know that Winnipeg is home to a world-renowned ballet company?
It’s true — founded in 1939, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet is Canada’s oldest ballet company and even features an exclusive full-time ballet school.
While they’re on the road roughly 100 days out of the year, the company regularly puts on performances in Winnipeg.
If you’re a dance fan in the city, then catching a performance is a must!
#18 – Explore the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival
Happening every July, the Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival is the second-largest Fringe Festival in North America and one of the most entertaining things to do in Winnipeg.
Along with theatre performances, there are also street performers, musicians, food trucks, beverage pavilions, and merchant vendors.
What About the Best Things to do in Winnipeg in Winter?
If you’ve decided to forgo sipping a margarita on a beach this winter and instead brave it out with the best of us Winnipeggers, then power to you!
With almost six full months of winter weather, Winnipeg, also known as “Winterpeg,” becomes a winter wonderland come the cooler months. Snow covers the ground, the rivers freeze over, and a whole lot of different activities open for business.
Here are some of the best:
Winter Activity #1 – Go Skating at the Forks (red River Mutual Trail)
In the summertime, The Forks is a great place to lounge around, grab some ice cream, and soak up the summer vibes – but in the winter, it becomes a mecca for winter sports and activities.
Tie up your skates and hit the water on the Red River Mutual Trail, which, at 9 kilometers long, is one of the world’s longest skating trails.
There are warming huts along the way so you stay nice and toasty and keep out of the winter wind.
This is also a popular spot if you’re into a bit of shinney (hockey just for fun).
Rent some skates, grab a stick, and show those Winnipeggers what you got!
Winter Activity #2 – Snowshoeing at FortWhyte Alive
Back to where the Buffalo roam, snowshoeing at FortWhyte Alive is a quintessential thing to do in Winnipeg come winter.
Touring with a guide, this activity will take you along the trails and lakes of FortWhyte Alive by snowshoe, all the while have you searching for animal prints and various wildlife.
Of course, if you’re not into snowshoeing than Fort White also provides other winter activities such as sleigh rides, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing.
Winter Activity #3 – Have a Spa Day at Thermea Winnipeg
Granted, visiting a spa is a great idea no matter the time of year, but there’s something so cozy and relaxing about visiting one in Winter.
Surrounded by snow-covered Fir trees, Thermea Spa is a Scandinavian-style spa that features mineral pools and bathing routines for ultimate detoxification and rejuvenation.
Located in Downtown Winnipeg’s Crescent Drive Park, Thermea is dedicated to providing guests a full wellness experience through massage and thermotherapy.
They have plenty of options depending on what you’re looking for and are even committed to being environmentally friendly and eco-conscious.
Winter Activity #4 – Festival du Voyageur
A festival that happens in the midst of every chilly February, Festival du Voyageur is Western Canada’s premier winter festival.
Held in Saint Boniface, this festival features concerts, buskers, giant snow carvings, and the most exquisite variety of French Canadian food this side of Quebec.
This annual festival has been happening since 1970 and regularly receives an average of 95 000 attendees from all over the world.
Winter Activity #5 – Catch a Hockey Game
If you want your trip to Canada to be in classic Canuck style, then add watching a hockey game to your list of things to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba!
Canada’s national pastime, you’ll have no shortage of hockey games to check out while in the city, but for a top-notch experience, I highly recommend nabbing some tickets to a Winnipeg Jets home game.
Winter Activity #6 – Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
If you’re looking for a great winter destination in which to shred some powder, then you’ve come to the right place.
Of course, you might be thinking “but it’s the prairies, what could it possibly have for ski resorts?”
Well, this may not be the mountains, but if you’re looking for some quality, well-maintained resorts, then there are plenty to choose from:
- Stony Mountain Ski Area – Located just north of Winnipeg in Stony Mountain, Manitoba, this resort has 10 runs for snowboarders and skiers, features night skiing, and is usually the first park to open in the season.
- Asessippi Ski Resort – While almost a 4-hour drive out of the city, Asessippi is Manitoba’s largest ski resort, and features 25 runs of all levels of difficulty, a tubing park, two freestyle parks, a beautiful resort village, and three chairlifts. This is where I routinely went downhill skiing as a kid – it’s worth a visit!
- Ski Valley – A two and a half-hour drive from Winnipeg (right near the town of Minnedosa), Ski Valley features nine runs of all skill levels.
- Falcon Ridge Ski Hill – For some seriously picture-perfect views, come to Falcon Ridge Ski Hill near Whiteshell Provincial Park in the east of the province. This alpine resort lies just beside Falcon Lake, and features skiing, tubing, music, skating, and more.
That’s it for our ultimate list of things to do in Winnipeg, Manitoba!
Winnipeg truly has so many great aspects to it, and I feel honored to be able to call it home.
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Enjoy your time in Manitoba!