Winnipeg is the center of Canada and an often overlooked city for parents looking to visit more of Canada with their kids. But it shouldn’t be—it’s an excellent place for your clients who want to vacation in Canada. Sitting at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, the city has a long history of commerce. It was an aboriginal trading center prior to the arrival of the Europeans and quickly became the heart of the country’s fur trade, and was also instrumental in developing Canada’s gateway to the west. Winnipeg has the highest percentage of Aboriginal people of any city in Canada, as well as the highest percentage of people of Metis descent.
The vibrant city is the birthplace of Canadian icons such as Clara Hughes, Burton Cummings, Anna Paquin, Terry Fox, and Fred Penner. Winnipeg is home to four major sports franchises—the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, and the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the ABL. If your clients are looking for culture, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet is the longest continually operating ballet company in North America and one of Canada’s premier dance companies.
For those who love to be outdoors, Winnipeg is one of the sunniest cities in Canada—averaging 316 days with at least some bright sunshine measured. There are urban parks and nature trails throughout the city ready to be explored.
After a recent visit to Winnipeg with my 8-year-old son, I’ve compiled this list of places your clients might enjoy on a visit to Winnipeg.
Our home base for the 4 day trip was the Residence Inn by Marriott Winnipeg. This was a great option because it had a waterpark on the first floor, breakfast in the morning was included, and it had a lively lounge bar in the evenings.
One of the first places we visited was The Forks, which is the #1 tourist destination in Manitoba. It’s a great spot for craft beer, ethnic cuisine, and has a great outdoor spaces that the whole family can enjoy.
Located at The Forks is the Manitoba Children’s Museum, where we could have easily spent an entire day. The Children’s Museum is housed in the oldest surviving train repair facility in Western Canada and houses real train engines that kids can explore. Some of the favorite exhibits were the Tapescape (a play area made completely from packing tape), the splash lab, and the train.
In the evening of the first day we took the 2.5-hour city tour from Winnipeg Trolley Company to learn all about Winnipeg. It’s a great first day in Winnipeg activity because you see many of the attractions and get a real feel for the city.
Day 2 found us exploring Assiniboine Park, where we started at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. It has a permanent exhibit called Journey to Churchill that has the most comprehensive exhibit of northern species such as polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic foxes, and wolves in the world. Seeing the polar bears frolic and play was definitely a highlight.
Next up was the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, which is the only national museum that isn’t in Ottawa. Winnipeg was chosen as the location for the museum because of the city’s history with social justice. It is the world’s only museum dedicated to human rights education and awareness and is a must-see on any visit to Winnipeg. The architecture was designed to emphasize the museum’s content and it is breathtaking.
In the evening we went to Folklorama, which is the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the world. It runs for two weeks every August. There are more than 40 different volunteer-run pavillions to explore. We went to the Africa/Carribbean and Métis pavilions and loved the dancing and other cultural activities that guests can experience.
The third day of our trip was the busiest. We started at Oak Hammock Marsh where visitors can do tours by canoe, watch birds being banded, and learn about the natural history of the area.
This was followed by a trip to Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site of Canada. Operated by Parks Canada, it’s a mid-nineteenth century trading post that has been restored. Interpreters dress in historical costume and depict daily life in the 1850s in the Red River Valley.
The afternoon was spent at the Manitoba Museum to explore the science centre and planetarium. There are other parts of the museum that are dedicated to Manitoba and Canada, too. There’s truly something for everyone at the Manitoba Museum.
The 4th day brought the end of the trip to Winnipeg, but not before visiting another iconic landmark—the Royal Canadian Mint. This is where all the coins used in Canada are produced—billions of coins each year. They have tours where you can watch coins being pressed, and learn about the history of Canada’s currency.
There were tons of attractions and things to do in Winnipeg and we could have easily spent a week or more and still not have seen everything the city has to offer. If your clients are looking for a great Canadian destination with lots of entertainment, cultural, and outdoor attractions, look no further than Winnipeg!
Recommend magazine has partnered with the Family Travel Association to bring you monthly columns to help travel advisors sell family travel. This column was written by Claire Kerr-Zlobin, a travel writer, founder of lifewithababy.com, and Family Travel Association Media Center member.