Exploring Manitoba: Go Beyond Winnipeg & Churchill

For those looking to be ahead of the travel curve, Manitoba is having a huge resurgence at the moment. Our local insider Brenna shows you why there's always something to do here.

With plenty of outdoor activities, award-winning restaurants, and cultural events happening every week, Manitoba won’t be overlooked for much longer.

Found smack dab in the middle of Canada, Manitoba encapsulates the true spirit of the Canadian prairies. Despite cold winters, Manitobans stay busy throughout the year with 92 provincial parks and some of Canada’s best festivals, so no matter wht you're after, there’s always something to do in Manitoba.

The Forks

Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, has been a trading hub for thousands of years. The meeting of two rivers, the Red and the Assiniboine, created a confluence, or “forks”.

Today, The Forks is the site of the always-popular public space known for showcasing local entertainment, food, and handicrafts.

It’s also neighbor to the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Assiniboine Park

Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park is perfect for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing in winter. In summer, it comes alive with bike trails, outdoor entertainment, botanical gardens, and the Assiniboine Park Zoo – where the permanent Journey to Churchill exhibit is the next best thing to seeing polar bears in Churchill.

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Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park

This park in Winnipeg is most notable for the abandoned monastery, which is ideal for a wander or an impromptu photo shoot.

The monastery looks particularly stunning against a prairie sky sunset.

Riding Mountain National Park

As one of the two national parks in Manitoba, Riding Mountain is the place to spend some time camping and hiking.

By day, walk the sandy shores of Clear Lake – in a province with over 100,000 lakes, this is one of its most beautiful.

At night, pitch your tent under the endless stars and fall asleep to the distant howls of wolves.

Camping under the stars at Riding Mountain National Park. Photo credit: iStock

Churchill

No guide to Manitoba would be complete without Churchill.

Found on Hudson Bay, this tiny northern town is best known for being the polar bear capital of the world, and is arguably home to the province’s most incredible wildlife-viewing experience.

In summer, Churchill is perfect for snorkeling with beluga whales, scuba diving, and taking in the town’s murals – all of which depict the history and the struggles of this cultural and geographical focal point of Manitoba.

Polar bears in Churchill. Photo credit: Alicia Crosariol

Road Tripping Manitoba

With all that prairie landscape, road trips are one of the best ways to discover Manitoba.

The best Manitoba road trips? Check out Souris for its swinging bridge, Altona for its gorgeous sunflower season, Whiteshell Provincial Park for some serious wildlife-spotting and fishing opportunities, or Narcisse for its snake pits (not for the faint of heart, naturally).

A woman tries her luck at fishing in Whiteshell Provincial Park. Photo credit: iStock

Cultural Experiences

Throughout the year, festivals and cultural events exhibit the diversity and creativity of Manitoba’s people. Winnipeg hosts the lively Festival du Voyageur every February, complete with live music, ice sculptures, and a showcase of First Nations, Métis, and Voyageur histories – all integral to Manitoba’s culture.

In summer, Winnipeg bursts to life with the Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg Fringe Festival, and Folklorama – a celebration of the province’s multiculturalism.

Other festivals worth attending are Gimli’s Icelandic Festival, Dauphin’s Countryfest, and Rainbow Trout Fest, an up-and-coming folk festival. 

Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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