Referred to by many as the “Heart of Canada,” Winnipeg, Manitoba, played a vital role in the country’s development. Today, that heart can be felt from the moment you step foot on the city streets, surrounded by a unique mix of history and modern flair. From creative urban murals to guided historical tours, you can easily spend a weekend (or longer) and still feel like you couldn’t see it all.
With so many options, you may be feeling overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. Don’t worry; we have you covered! Check out our list of the best things to do in Winnipeg Canada, with options for travel lovers of all ages and interests. There’s sure to be something on this list for everyone!
Before we get started, let’s quickly address some of your perceptions about the capital city of Manitoba.
1. Winnipeg is the murder capital of Canada, with high levels of poverty and violent crimes, with the large Indigenous population bearing the brunt of these issues.
2. The winters in Winnipeg can be harsh, while the summers are plagued with mosquitoes. Spending too much time in one season can make you yearn for the other.
As Canadians, we cannot deny the harshness of winter, but if you dress appropriately, you will be fine. During summer, mosquito repellent is essential. Crime is a problem in every large city in North America, and Winnipeg is no exception. Furthermore, there is no part of Canada that does not need to work towards better understanding and respecting our Indigenous friends.
History of Winnipeg
- The name “Winnipeg” is derived from Cree and loosely translates to “murky water” or “muddy water,” inspired by its proximity to Lake Winnipeg.
- Located at the meeting point of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, archaeological evidence and oral history show it served as an important meeting place for Indigenous peoples for at least 6000 years.
- The first fur trading post in this area, Fort Rouge, was built in 1738.
- French traders lived in the area for several decades, marrying local Indigenous women and starting families. Their French/Indigenous descendants are now known as the Metis.
- Fort Gibraltar, later renamed Fort Garry, was built in 1809 but destroyed in a flood in 1826. It was rebuilt in 1835, and a portion of the fort still stands in downtown Winnipeg today near the Fort Garry Hotel.
- Winnipeg was the site of the Red River Rebellion in 1869-70, a conflict between the local Metis government (led by Louis Riel) and newcomers to the area.
How to Get to Winnipeg
The first thing to consider, logistically, for your next trip to Winnipeg is how you plan on getting there. After all, there are several options depending on your available budget and timeline. Here are a few ideas, including estimated costs and timelines from Toronto, to help get you started:
The drive from Toronto to Winnipeg isn’t short. At just over 20 hours one-way if travelling through the United States or 21 hours when travelling through Canada, you will either need multiple drivers or prepare for multiple days. If your schedule permits, we highly recommend embracing the multi-day trip and visiting incredible destinations along the way (like Thunder Bay, Ontario).
There are public transit options if you are stuck without a vehicle or prefer not to take on the lengthy drive from Toronto to Winnipeg. Ontario Northland does have a route that will take you from Toronto’s Union Station Bus Terminal to Winnipeg, however, it is estimated to take between 32 and 33 hours with 3 transfers and will cost approximately $275 each way. Unless you have your heart set on a bus trip, we believe better options exist.
VIA Rail is also an option. Starting at approximately $255 each way and taking an estimated 34 ½ hours, it falls under the same category as the bus route above – it’s an option but not our recommended option.
Surprisingly, this is one trip where the cost of airfare makes flying an optimal choice. Porter Airlines offers a direct flight from Toronto to Winnipeg that takes only 2 hours and 45 minutes. Depending on the day and time you wish to fly, flights start as low as $200 round-trip for their PorterClassic Basic Fare.
20+ Things to Do in Winnipeg, Canada on Your Next Road Trip
Relax With a Massage and a Restful Night at The Fort Garry Hotel, Spa and Conference Centre
Are you looking for the perfect place to rest your head when you visit Winnipeg? During our stay, we stayed the night at The Fort Garry Hotel. First opened in December 1913, the hotel played a key role in the city’s past and continues to today.
This historic location was a beautiful blend of century-old architecture and modern design. The guest rooms were comfortable and cozy while feeling incredibly luxurious. In addition to a great place to sleep, they also offered several amenities on-site, including the Ten Spa, Yuk Yuk’s Winnipeg, the Mistletoe Moose Bar, the Sunset Terrace, Oval Room Brasserie, Vida Cucina Italia, and Jazz at The Fort Garry.
Kick Your Day Off with Breakfast at Modern Electric Lunch
Whether you’re looking for a full breakfast menu of eggs, bacon, sausage, and toast or simply a good cup of coffee, Modern Electric Lunch has you covered.
This downtown restaurant has a tasty menu of breakfast and lunch items available all day. They describe their menu as a “love letter to comfort food” It’s easy to see why with menu items like pork belly tostadas, mushroom hash, and apple cinnamon overnight oats. They can also accommodate vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free meal requests.
Finish your meal with a mimosa or espresso martini off their cocktail menu.
Celebrate the Art of Dance with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet
Whether you have been a lifelong lover of dance and ballet or are interested in witnessing your first performance, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is well worth the visit. The renowned organization is dedicated not only to putting on incredible performances to be enjoyed by crowds of all ages but also to inspiring and teaching the next generation of dancers.
Initially founded in 1939 by Gweneth Lloyd and Betty Farrally, the RWB is North America’s longest continuously operating ballet company. It was honoured with its royal title in 1953 under the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
Performance information for the current season is available on the RWB website. Single tickets for the 2023/2024 season range from $35 to $120 for adults (depending on seating location) or $35 for children 12 and under in all sections. If you are travelling with several people, they offer a discount for groups of 10 or more.
Catch a Live Show at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre
Another attraction that must be included in your travel plans if you love the arts is the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, which was formed in 1958 with the merger of the Winnipeg Little Theatre and Theatre 77. Since then, they have produced over 600 plays with hundreds of actors. The theatre company’s royal designation was granted by Queen Elizabeth in 2010.
Shows are performed on one of two stages – the John Hirsch Mainstage and the Tom Hendry Warehouse. Like the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the performance schedule for the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre can be found on their website.
Enjoy a Delicious Meal at One of the City’s Brunch Spots
Not ready to get up and moving right away for breakfast? If you’re a fan of brunch, you’re in luck. During our trip, we discovered multiple cool brunch spots around the city, each with incredible food and an atmosphere that is sure to start your day on the right foot.
Clementine Café (123 Princess Street) offers a creative menu with unique items like Mushroom Toast, Braised Bacon Benedict, and Rootbear Pudding. You can pair your meal with a coffee or tea for a boost of caffeine. If you want something a little stronger, consider choosing a drink off the wine, beer & cider, or cocktail lists.
Another great option with a delicious and traditional brunch menu is Juneberry (531 St. Mary’s Road). Some tasty and popular choices include the Juneberry pancakes, eggs benedict, and the breakfast Reuben. Their coffee menu offers some fun latte drinks, like the ginger caramel latte and the raspberry matcha latte. They also have milk alternatives available for those with dietary concerns.
Visit The Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR)
Located on Indigenous ancestral lands, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) is a must-see location for anyone interested in learning more about the history of the area and the human population as a whole. This is the only museum dedicated to the evolution, celebration, and future of human rights.
The building itself is a sight to see with its unique curved design. It was constructed with an impressive 1,669 pieces of custom glass and 5,400 tonnes of steel. Committed to respecting and protecting the environment, more than 15% of the building’s materials contain recycled content.
Inside, the exhibits explore various essential topics relating to human rights. Permanent exhibits include an introduction to human rights, the road to greater human rights in Canada, an examination of the Holocaust, and a dedicated display of Indigenous perspectives, including a 360-degree film that shares Indigenous rights and responsibilities told by four generations.
Near the museum, you will find a bronze sculpture of Mahatma Gandhi. The High Commissioner for India to Canada gifted the statue to the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on behalf of the Government of India in August 2004.
Go Shopping at The Forks Market & Learn About the Area’s History at the Forks Historic Site
This year-round market building is a one-stop shop for delicious foods, clothing, craft beer and wine, and gifts from local makers and retailers. The location has been a meeting place for over 6,000 years, starting with trading among the local Indigenous peoples. Today, the site welcomes over 4 million visitors every year.
Of course, you can’t visit Winnipeg without taking a picture of the WINNIPEG sign itself. Located by the CN Stage and Field, the illuminated sign is a popular tourist attraction.
In addition to The Forks Market, visitors can take a guided walking tour with a Parks Canada interpreter to learn about the area’s history, including the four fur trading posts, Indigenous connections, the innovations that drove development in the area, and more. You’ll also be given the opportunity to try your hand at some traditional games. The guide will also share valuable information about the importance of understanding and honouring treaties in the modern age.
You will see several attractions around the Forks Historic Site that you will discover during your walking tour. The Forks National Historic Amphitheatre can seat up to 600 guests between the raised concrete platform and the grassy hill, making it an excellent location for concerts or shows. It’s also a popular wedding venue.
The Oodena Celebration Circle and Orientation Circle provide incredible views and more options for those planning a wedding. The sculptures, sundial, and ceremonial fire pit at the Oodena Celebration Circle make it a truly spiritual experience.
For those interested in the city’s history, this is one of the must-see Winnipeg attractions.
The Children’s Museum is a great way to add an educational experience if you are travelling with children. Each exhibit is designed to incorporate hands-on fun, encouraging children to actively explore and learn. There are twelve galleries, including learning about cows and milk production at the Milk Machine, conducting water-based experiments at the Splash Lab, and taking the conductor’s seat to learn about trains at Junction 9161.
Have Lunch at Hargrave Street Market
A newer addition to the local food scene, Hargrave Street Market brings together some of the city’s finest restaurants and breweries in one place. Conveniently located in the heart of the Sports, Hospitality, and Entertainment District, it offers the perfect place to grab a drink before heading out to enjoy many of the most popular places to visit in Winnipeg.
With so many options in a central location, there is certain to be an option for any taste or preference. Your options include:
- Gusto North
- Yard Burger
- The Good Fight Taco
- Saburo Ramen & Donburi
- Fools & Horses
- Miss Browns
- Rose Bar
- Lake of the Woods Brewing Company
Recently, upscale grocery store Mottola Grocery also opened in the building. Here, you will find an assortment of pastries, breads, meat, seafood, snacks, produce, and more.
Take in the Artistry on a West End BIZ Walking Mural Tour
You will discover a collection of eye-catching murals throughout the city’s West End urban landscape. While you can appreciate the artistry of this work, you may be left wondering about the meaning behind the art and the story that each piece was created to tell. If so, a walking tour with West End BIZ is the perfect solution!
The informative tour will take you through one of the largest collections of outdoor murals. Your tour guide will share tales of urban history, local heroes, the community’s many different cultures and histories, and more, as depicted through the city’s murals.
The tours run Tuesday to Friday, from June through August, and last approximately 2 hours.
Enjoy the Taste of Jamaican Cuisine at Gladys Caribbean Kitchen
If you have a love for international cuisine, Gladys Caribbean Kitchen is a great addition to your Winnipeg travel plans. The restaurant, owned by Deidre Coleman and Patrice Gilman, is a beautiful homage to their grandmothers and Jamaican ancestry. Here, you will find authentic dishes like curried goat, whole-fried snapper, and more. If you want vegan options, their jerk portobellos with plantain croquettes are well worth the trip.
Located at 726 Sargent Ave in the city’s West End, it’s the perfect place to stop and refuel after your West End BIZ walking mural tour.
Are you interested in learning more about the location and its inspiration? During our visit, I had the pleasure of interviewing co-owner Patrice Gilman. You can see our interview in our full 2-Day Thunder Bay to Winnipeg Road Trip YouTube video.
Explore the Outdoors at FortWhyte Alive
With an outstanding 660 acres of reclaimed urban green space, FortWhyte Alive provides locals and visitors to Winnipeg with a unique opportunity to get outdoors and spend time in nature.
For those searching for outdoor activities in Winnipeg, they offer forest trails, a marsh boardwalk, an aquarium, an interactive museum, cycling, paddling, and an on-site café. You can also participate in scheduled events like hatchet throwing and children’s nature crafts.
If you prefer a guided tour, there are several to choose from. You can learn basic foraging skills on their Wild Edibles Walk, take part in a Bison Safari, or learn more about the local ecosystem on a Habitat Secrets tour.
We enjoyed a guided cruiser bike tour hosted by Barret Miller, FortWhyte Alive’s Group & Corporate Programs Manager.
When you’re done, grab a bite at Buffalo Stone Café. Here, you can enjoy the relaxing natural views of the area’s lake, forest, and wetlands from the dining room while enjoying tasty meal options like their signature bison burger, grilled sandwiches, or homestyle soups.
Grab a Drink at La Brasserie Nonsuch Brewing Co.
Located in Winnipeg’s Exchange District, you’ll quickly discover that La Brasserie Nonsuch Brewing Co. is more than just a brewery. They also offer a mouth-watering rotating menu featuring burgers, smoked & marinated olives, beer-battered onion rings, beef tartare, and cavatelli, among other options.
As a majority Indigenous-owned brewery, they take pride in sharing the history of their craft. This includes brewery tours and hands-on workshops where you will make your own Bannock (a historic bread that the local indigenous population often made).
They also offer a “Dinner and a Show” package featuring a four-course meal (paired with their craft beers, of course) followed by a performance by local artists, such as the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, each just a short walk away. This is a convenient way to package some of the best things to do in Winnipeg for a perfect evening out.
Swing Over to the Patent 5 Distillery
The newest distillery in the Winnipeg area, Patent 5 Distillery, is dedicated to using local ingredients when possible, using 90% Manitoban wheat and 10% Manitoban barley. Stop by for a quick drink or book a distillery tour to try their small batch, premium gin, vodka, whisky, and other spirits.
Have you always been intrigued by the artistry behind creative cocktails? Are you interested in improving your cocktail-making skills? Consider taking one of the on-site cocktail classes, where you will learn how to craft the perfect cocktail under the instruction and supervision of a talented bartender. By the end of the class, you will have learned how to make three cocktails that are sure to impress your friends and family at your next party.
Visit the Burial Site of Louis Riel at St Boniface Cathedral
If your ideal travel plans involve getting to know and honouring the history of a location, then you must plan a trip to St Boniface Cathedral. In 1818, this was the first Roman Catholic church built on the east bank of the Red River, serving as a chapel, school, and residence. It wasn’t long before it was replaced with a larger building to meet the growing need in the area.
The original wooden cathedral was destroyed by fire on December 14, 1860. After funds were raised to facilitate its reconstruction, the new cathedral was constructed from stone in 1862.
As the number of Roman Catholics continued to grow, another upgrade was made with an even larger cathedral dedicated in August 1906. This served the needs of the area until fire once again struck in 1968, damaging many features of the building and destroying parish records.
In an effort to maintain its history, a new, smaller cathedral was built in 1972 behind the 1906 façade, resulting in the historic building that still stands today.
The cathedral cemetery is the burial location of many important historical figures, including Louis Riel, the founder of the province of Manitoba.
Enjoy Live Music at Blue Note Park
If you’re searching for ways to enjoy Winnipeg in summer, we recommend adding Blue Note Park to your must-see list. This outdoor concert venue opened during the pandemic when many restaurants and bars turned to outdoor spaces to bring their customers together. Here, they welcomed musicians from a wide range of genres, creating a go-to location for music lovers in the area.
After seeing how much people loved having this musical hub, the decision was made to continue with a colorful pop-up by the Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club, where visitors can enjoy local beer. Ticket prices for the pop-up vary from event to event. You can see the complete list of upcoming performances and associated ticket prices on Eventbrite.
Celebrate Winter at the Festival du Voyageur
Western Canada’s largest winter festival, the Festival du Voyageur tops our list of things to see in Winnipeg during the winter months. This iconic festival takes place in February each year and showcases snow sculptures, snowshoe excursions, workshops, crafts, horse sleigh rides, a playground, and a giant slide. Heated tents are available to warm up, attend concerts, or enjoy a bite to eat.
Tickets for the festival are sold for specific dates and times, ranging from $25 to $40 for adults, $15 to $25 for teens and seniors (13-17 and 65+), and $5 to $10 for youth (6-12). Children 5 and under can attend for free.
Check Out the World’s Largest Travelling Carnival at the Red River Exhibition
Of course, we can’t list things to do in Winnipeg, Canada, without mentioning the impressive Red River Exhibition. The festival has been operating at Red River Exhibition Park since 1997, but the association behind the event has been in operation since 1952.
This ten-day festival takes place every June, featuring over 200 hours of live music, stage shows, a midway with more than 50 midway rides, and agricultural exhibits. While many cities and towns host festivals and exhibitions, this one holds the title of being the world’s largest travelling carnival, making it a sight to be seen!
Visit the Historic Manitoba Parliament Building
Designed in 1912 and opened on July 15, 1920, the Manitoba Legislative Building serves today as the meeting place for the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. Not only does this make the building a key location politically, but it also holds an important place in Manitoba’s history as the twelfth provincial heritage site.
The impressive neoclassical-style building features a gold-covered bronze statue of the Roman God Mercury facing northward atop the building’s dome. This iconic statue, known as “The Golden Boy,” represents Manitoba’s prosperity and entrepreneurial spirit.
Take in the architecture, observe the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly when it is in session, or simply take photos on the grounds with this monumental backdrop.
Take In the Winnipeg Art Gallery – Qaumajuq
First opening its doors to the public in 1912, the Winnipeg Art Gallery has been a staple in the city’s art community. The 185,000-square-foot location in downtown Winnipeg is home to a world-renowned art collection including the world’s largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art. In addition to their indoor display, you can also enjoy the many outdoor sculptures around the property.
Admission is $18 for adults 18-64, $15 for seniors 65+, and free for all youth under 18.
In addition to an impressive display of art, you can also take part in WAG-Qaumajuq’s many events, including crafting, a fundraising gala, the Art in Bloom floral exhibit, their signature dinner and tour program, and Wellness @ WAG, which features art talks, yoga classes, and other workshops designed to promote wellness personally and in the community.
When you’re done taking in the artwork, grab a bite on the main floor of WAG-Qaumajuq, the outdoor patio, the Katita Café, or the Rooftop Sculpture Garden.
Enjoy Dinner at the Feast Café Bistro
Located at 587 Ellice Ave, in the city’s West End, this indigenous-owned bistro has a mouth-watering modern menu heavily inspired by First Nation foods. The owner and executive chef, Christa, aims to celebrate the spirit of her culture by incorporating indigenous inspiration in every element of Feast Café Bistro, including its renowned food (with recipes featured in Canadian Living, Chatelaine, and Food Network Canada).
Discover the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada
Another great stop for history lovers is the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, which will walk you through the history and advancements in aviation, including 14 immersive galleries and 22 aircraft.
The museum is dedicated to collecting and restoring artifacts, including preserving an estimated 60,000 images spanning the history of flight around the globe. This includes restoring faded images and returning photographs to their original appearance. It’s a vital step to ensure that these memories will not be lost in time.
Admission is $16 for adults, $13 for students (13-17), and $9.50 for youth (3-12). Children 2 and under can visit for free. For this price, you can explore the museum at your own pace or participate in the daily public guided tour. Tours start at 1:45 pm and run for approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
Plan a Trip to Assiniboine Park Conservancy
Founded in 2008, the Assiniboine Park Conservancy is dedicated to sharing the wonders of nature with all who visit. In addition to the historic Assiniboine Park, a beautiful spot to take in the area’s natural beauty, it is also home to the Assiniboine Park Zoo and The Leaf, an indoor horticultural site.
The Assiniboine Park Zoo is an excellent option for families, allowing visitors to interact with over 180 animal species in indoor and outdoor exhibits. You can explore the over 80 park-like acres on your own time or take a guided tour. Programs and workshops are also run throughout the year. Tickets can be purchased online in advance at $22.45 for adults, $12.75 for children (3-17 years) and $19.65 for seniors (60+). Prices are slightly higher if purchased at the gate on arrival.
Those interested in exploring the incredible gardens at The Leaf are invited to visit year-round. Here, you will find over 30 acres of gardens and greenspace and four distinct biomes – the Hartley and Heather Richardson Tropical Biome, Mediterranean Biome, Babs Asper Display House and the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden.
Discover the Past, Present, and Future of the Province at the Manitoba Museum
This award-winning heritage and science center features museum exhibits, a planetarium, and a science gallery. You can choose to purchase a ticket to any one of the three attractions, with adult admission costing $15.75 for the museum or $8.40 for either the planetarium or science gallery or bundle all three at a price of $24.15 for adults, $15.75 for youth (3-17), or $20.99 for seniors (65+). Children under 3 visit free of charge.
The museum will take you through the history of Manitoba and its natural landscape, including galleries dedicated to different ecological areas, including the grasslands, arctic/subarctic, boreal forest, parklands/mixed woods, and the Ancient Seas underwater observatory. You will see incredible artifacts and displays from different eras of the province’s history, from indigenous peoples to modern-day Manitoba.
For those who love space and the universe, the Planetarium is a great place to visit. It offers a wide range of shows and presentations and its dome features 360-degree projection, creating a uniquely immersive experience.
If you are more interested in the laws of science and technology, the Science Gallery is a must-see. Here, you can explore hands-on activities and exhibits for all ages, encouraging you to learn more about engineering, humanity’s achievements in space exploration, the science surrounding the Lake Winnipeg watershed and ecosystem, and more. The gallery prides itself on offering exhibits that can be touched and explored rather than keeping its displays hidden behind glass cases.
Final Thoughts – Things to Do in Winnipeg Canada
Whether you’re searching for things to do in Winnipeg this weekend or just starting to plan a trip for the future, we hope this list was helpful. It truly is an incredible place to visit for all ages. The city has incredible festivals, including the Red River Exhibition and the Festival du Voyageur. Plus, there are many great restaurants and breweries to enjoy when visiting Winnipeg, keeping you fueled and ready to go.
We’re positive you will have an incredible time, and when you leave, you’ll already be planning your next visit!
Is Winnipeg worth visiting in winter?
Yes! There are many things to do in Winnipeg in the winter! However, if you aren’t familiar with the colder winter temperatures, you may want to pick up some gear to stay warm and cozy.
Throughout the winter months, the temperatures in Winnipeg will often drop below -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). We recommend outfitting yourself with a warm, insulated coat, a toque, winter gloves, and a warm pair of wool socks before heading outdoors for any length of time.
But don’t let the cold weather scare you away! The city is bustling this time of year, from ice skating and snowshoeing to the indoor Farmer’s Market and other activities safely sheltered from the snow!
What is the best time to visit Winnipeg?
This is a city that offers an incredible range of activities all year long. There is no one-size-fits-all answer when deciding the best time to visit Winnipeg. Instead, it will depend on the activities you prefer most.
Do you love exploring a winter wonderland on snowshoes or hitting the slopes? If so, the winter months have a lot to offer. Is snow and cold not your cup of tea? No problem! There are many fun attractions in Winnipeg during the summer months, too!
Where can I find things to do in Winnipeg, Canada?
In addition to our list, check out the Tourism Winnipeg website. Here, you can browse special events scheduled for the time you are visiting, additional places to stay, and a comprehensive guide to what to see in Winnipeg.
What is Winnipeg best known for?
Historically, the city was a railway and transportation hub. It served as a vital distribution point for the Prairie provinces and an essential stop on Canada’s first transcontinental railroad, the Canadian Pacific. The city has grown into a thriving spot to enjoy great art, dance, music, and food. It’s also a notable location to learn about the country’s Indigenous history.