What do Winnie the Pooh, the Royal Canadian Mint, Jets and James Bond have in common? Winnipeg. If a visit this summer is in the cards, we’ve got 8 reasons why your family will love Winnipeg — one of which is a boat tour that will explain some of the more obscure connections to Manitoba’s capital city.
8 things your family needs to do in Winnipeg this summer:
- Indulge in ice cream.
- Tour the Royal Canadian Mint.
- Explore The Forks.
- Check out the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
- Head to Grand Prix Amusements.
- Spend a rainy afternoon playing board games.
- Sample local breakfast fare.
- Stay in a family-friendly hotel at the centre of it all.
I know when you think of “The Peg,” sub-zero temperatures come to mind; and with records that show a city dusted in snow for more than 130 days a year, you might wonder if summer even exists there. It does (I promise).
And there’s plenty to do in the sunshine! Our recent visit was filled with good fun, great food and lots of local exploration. For your itinerary inspo, these are Winnipeg’s best family activities:
1. Indulge in ice cream
I never would have guessed that Winnipeg would blow us away with its ice cream. But I suppose they really get how to make things cold out there, because between the Bridge Drive-In (known to locals as simply “The BDI”) and Chaeban’s there was no shortage of delicious.
BDI’s Cloud Cone. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
Look to The BDI to satisfy the quirky kid inside you — try the Cloud Cone — and to Chaeban’s for artisan ice cream worthy of the most demanding sweet tooth (go for the $9 flight and try four different scoops).
Chaeban’s ice cream flight is big enough to share…if you can. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
2. Tour the Royal Canadian Mint
Slow down to see which flags are on display as you drive into the Mint. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
You might think a factory tour would be a little ho-hum for kids, but this one was interesting from the moment we drove through its alley of international flags — showcasing the 70+ countries for whom the Mint has produced coinage — through to the interactive activities near the gift shop and the tour itself.
My nine-year-old was so intrigued that I counted no less than 37 “WOWs” during the tour, and he continued to ask our guide questions after it was over. Keep in mind that it’s about an hour long so kids under seven or so may get restless.
3. Explore The Forks
See Winnipeg’s famed Golden Boy atop the Legislative Building as you cruise along the Assiniboine River. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
The Forks is literally where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet, and it’s been a meeting place for centuries since Winnipeg was originally considered the trade centre of North America. In more recent years, it’s become home to shops, a food hall, buskers, a skate park and more.
Eateries in The Forks Market include everything from pancakes to Greek, Sri Lankan and Caribbean food, while nearby Johnston Terminal houses some eclectic shops — many of which include jewelry or pottery from local artists. Don’t leave without doing the Splash Dash river boat tour; not only will you get a great view of the Legislative Building and a glimpse of the St. Boniface French Quarter, you’ll also learn about Winnipeg’s history and its connection to the famous 007 spy and Winnie the Pooh.
4. Check out the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
My kid in the refugee exhibit. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
Aside from being an incredible architectural feat that respectfully uncovered more than 400,000 indigenous artifacts while breaking ground, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the only national museum located outside the nation’s capital.
Although some of the subject matter is heavy, there’s more for kids to do there than you might imagine. That said, there’s a lot of reading so parents will probably be rushed from one exhibit to the next relatively quickly. The elevator ride to the tower is an exciting one and if you have little feet coming along, consider starting at the top and working your way down.
5. Head to Grand Prix Amusements
My other kid getting her bounce on! (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
Spend hours outdoors at Grand Prix Amusements enjoying go-karts, mini golf, bumper boats, water balloons, trampolines, bumper cars, air cannons and more.
Purchase tickets inside after you scout out which activities your family wants to do and how many tickets each one requires. We bought the 96-coupon pack, which offers the biggest savings, and it allowed two adults and three kids to spend two hours doing nearly everything offered. Use up any leftover single tickets at the Water Wars Balloon Bomb zone where it’s only one ticket for three water balloons, which can be shared among more than one person if you wish.
6. Spend a rainy afternoon playing board games
So many board games you could come for a year and never play them all! (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
This licensed café features more than 1,400 board games; for $6, your table can play as many games as you like for as long as you like. There’s even a store in case you want to take a new game home with you. Snack on the house-made popcorn or if you’re feeling more peckish, dig into the enormous Vietnamese salad rolls or tasty Banh Mi sandwich.
7. Sample local breakfast fare
Winnipeg’s food scene is on the rise, and after all of the eating we did, I can write with confidence that breakfast is where it’s at.
If you’re in need of casual breakfast dining options, you can’t do better than Stella’s and there are nine locations in Winnipeg — including the airport! Ask for your freshly baked cinnamon roll to be toasted and they’ll slice it in half, butter it and toss it on the grill for a few moments to make something that was already yummy into something otherworldly.
Toasted cinnamon bun? Make that a YES. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
For quintessential avocado toast, the most exquisite breakfast bagel and a homemade hot chocolate that you’ll want to steal from your offspring, head to Forth. It evokes that lazy Sunday lounge vibe smack in the middle of the week.
Forth’s tasty breakfast bagel, with prosciutto and melted Saganaki. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
There are few breakfast experiences in my lifetime that compare to Clementine. Go hungry and prepared to share so you can sample a bunch of dishes. The braised bacon Benedict is elevated thanks to its peppered biscuit, but a safe choice if you’re there with folks who aren’t adventurous eaters; for everyone else, dig into the smoked Arctic Char, tomato and ricotta toast, and yogurt panna cotta (with kiwi, freeze-dried raspberries, hemp hearts and green granita). Total perfection, and the mocha will blow your mind.
You haven’t lived until you’ve had smoked Arctic Char for breaky. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
8. Stay in a family-friendly hotel at the centre of it all
If you want extra space and a proper bedroom, upgrade to a family suite. (photo credit: Andrea Traynor)
We loved our stay at the newly renovated Holiday Inn Winnipeg Airport West, located on the main drag and within 15 minutes of both the airport and pretty much everything else in The Peg. Families will love the waterpark and giant play structure on the hotel’s pool level, and the Kids Eat Free program doesn’t hurt a bit.
Heads up: Winnipeg is sprawling and we strongly recommend a rental vehicle to get here, there and everywhere once you arrive. Make sure you surf the Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba websites for events and other family-friendly ideas while planning your visit to Winnipeg.
Disclosure: Consideration may have been provided by brands mentioned in this post.