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Walk, Bike, Run: 5 Ways to Get Moving in Winnipeg This Summer

So you’ve discovered Winnipeg’s incredible outdoor attractions and you’re looking for more ways to get outside and get moving. Have no fear! These fun tours and activities make getting active and exploring the city easy.

walking paths

ROUTES ON THE RED

A collection of self-directed walking, biking, and paddling tours along the Red River. Put yourself in the shoes of a voyageur and try out a half-day walking tour that follows the paths of the historic fur trade. Routes and maps found on routesonthered.ca

THE LOOP

Get a crash course on the city by walking this 3.5 hour self directed route that covers Winnipeg’s significant historic, cultural, and architectural sites. Download the route map at tourismwinnipeg.com

BEE2GETHER BIKE RENTALS

Find a willing partner and take to the streets on a bicycle built for two. Bee2Gether’s cute yellow campers can be found at The Forks and Assiniboine Park, with tandem, single rider, buggy, and surry bikes for rent. Visit bee2getherbikes.com or call 204‑298‑2925 for more information.

EXCHANGE DISTRICT BIZ WALKING TOURS

The entire Exchange District neighbour-hood is designated a National Historic Site, and there’s plenty of history to explore. Tours with themes like “Death and Debauchery” bring to light the dark secrets of Winnipeg’s early years—when it earned the nickname “the wickedest city in the Dominion”. Call 204-942-6716 to book.

DOWNTOWN BIKE TOURS

Pig out and get active at the same time on the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Moveable Feast tour. Diners bike between 5 restaurant stops to sample eats at the neighbourhood’s prime restaurants. Visit downtownwinnipegtours.com to book.

More Ways to Explore Winnipeg:

Journey to Churchill at the Assiniboine Park Zoo
What to Expect at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Walk in Louis Riel’s Footsteps
Free Things To Do in Winnipeg

Discover Secrets at 7 Incredible Winnipeg Attractions

By Joelle Kidd

Though it is the province’s largest city, Winnipeg has plenty of green space. Immerse yourself in nature and discover the secrets of Winnipeg’s outdoor attractions.

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Conservancy.

PLAYING WITH POLAR BEARS

For up close animal sightings, the Journey to Churchill Exhibit at Assiniboine Park zoo is the place to be. The main draw is a chance to come face to face with a swimming polar bear, separated by only 15 cm of polymer. This massive exhibit covers 3,714 square metres, and is home to caribou, muskox, snowy owls, arctic foxes, and, of course, seals and polar bears, whose aqueous environments are constructed side by side to encourage interaction—buffered by another polymer wall of course.

The secret to catching polar bears at play is to visit in the morning when the animals are most active. Arrive before 11 am to get the best view of the bears frolicking and swimming. The bears’ underwater enclosure is placed over a tunnel, called the Sea Ice Passage, so the curious can get an up close look at bear bellies swimming above. Get your phone ready; you’ll want to snap a selfie when a polar bear comes to check out the crowd.

  • Assiniboine Park, 2595 Roblin Blvd, 204‑927-6000

Learn more about Journey to Churchill

Courtesy Travel Manitoba

Courtesy Travel Manitoba

JUST AROUND THE RIVER BEND

Winnipeg grew out of the meeting place at the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, as these waterways made trade and travel much easier. Though planes, trains, and automobiles have superseded birch bark canoes in modern days, it is still possible to take to the river by boat for a new perspective on the city. Splash Dash Boat Tours and Rentals opens mid-May, sending river adventurers off from its perch at The Forks. Take a guided river tour and hear historical insights on points of interest along the way. When the water is calm, canoe rentals are available for those who want to paddle the Assiniboine.

  • Main dock at The Forks Historic Port, 204‑783‑6633

Where to shop while at The Forks

Photo by Ian Carter.

Photo by Ian Carter.

AU NATUREL

FortWhyte Alive is a haven for adventurous outdoor fun and environmental education, all within city limits. Paddle or go fishing on one of five lakes, walk through the wetlands on a floating boardwalk, and hike the trails that wind through surrounding aspen forest. Eco-explorers can learn about Manitoba wildlife at the site’s interpretive centre, but the best way to get up close and personal is on a bison safari—throughout May and June, buggies roll out on Thursdays at 1:30 pm to join the herd of huge hairy bison that live on the prairie.

If visiting in May, you’re just in time to catch the spring migration. Join a weekly Birding and Breakfast event to take a hike led by experienced birding guides and compare finds over pancakes at the on site Buffalo Stone Cafe.

Photo by Dan Harper.

Photo by Dan Harper.

TIME CAPSULE

It almost seems as though time has turned back to 1815 … until someone pulls out a smartphone to snap a pic of the blacksmith at work. Other than its visitors, everything at Fort Gibraltar is meticulously reproduced and restored, from costumed interpreters that explain the ins and outs of the fur trade on the prairies to the cabins filled with bundles of animal pelts.

Take a tour of the Fort to learn more about the daily life of early settlers and voyageurs from the North West Company.

Want more St Boniface history? Follow the Louis Riel walking tour

Photo courtesy of Thermea.

Photo courtesy of Thermea.

SOAK UP SOME SUN

Getting outside doesn’t necessarily mean getting active—sometimes all one needs is some fresh air and sun. The perfect place to spend a day outdoors and horizontal is Nordic-style spa Thermëa, an outdoor oasis cradled unexpectedly in an old Winnipeg residential neighbourhood.

Deep relaxation involves cycling through treatments of heat, cold, and rest. First, a toxin-clearing sit in a sauna, steam room, or hot bath, then a dip in the cold or temperate pool, followed by a period of relaxation. After a soak in the luxurious outdoor baths, journey out to the “Forest Beach”, a secluded rest area filled with loungers, Adirondack chairs, and comfy hammocks, all tucked in a lush grove of trees—the city will seem miles away.

  • 775 Crescent Dr, 1‑855‑284‑3344

See a full list of Winnipeg’s best spas and salons

MLL Heritage Wall at Upper Fort Garry Park. Photo by Pattern Interactive.

MLL Heritage Wall at Upper Fort Garry Park. Photo by Pattern Interactive.

WILD WALL

Upper Fort Garry was an important centre of the fur trade for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the late 1800s, and though only the Fort’s gate remains standing today, the recently completed Upper Fort Garry Park commemorates the site with historical markers and an interactive installation set along the site of the fort’s original wall. The Heritage Wall spans more than 400 feet and depicts the history of this land from First Nations communities to the fur trade and European settlement. Watch the wall light up with an artistic LED interpretation of the Metis buffalo hunt—come at dusk for the best view.

For total tech integration, download the park’s smartphone app which highlights points of interest and provides information on the symbols on the Heritage Wall. Historical facts hidden around the park turn each visit into a scavenger hunt.

Learn how tech integration sets the Canadian Museum for Human Rights apart

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Conservancy

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Conservancy

A WALK IN THE PARK

Assiniboine Park, the city’s largest urban park, becomes a hotbed of activity in the spring and summer months. Beautiful blooms grow in the English gardens and Leo Mol sculpture garden, which also displays bronze figures created by the renowned artist. With winding paths and benches set in shady nooks, these gardens are a perfect place to while away the afternoon. Those itching to get active can start up an impromptu game of frisbee or fly a kite on the park’s manicured lawns.

The best way to take a tour of the park is to hop on board the miniature train that has been operating, run by the same family, for more than 50 years. This little locomotive runs daily from noon to 6 pm, and for $3 will take you on a spin around the park’s perimeter.

MORE WINNIPEG ATTRACTIONS

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Where to Shop Downtown

Visit Wild Churchill Without Leaving Winnipeg at the Assiniboine Park Zoo

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Zoo

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Zoo

By Dunja Kovacevic

Tundra Treasures

Peer into the little explored but often mythologized world of the Arctic tundra with the Assiniboine Park Zoo‘s landmark exhibit, Journey to Churchill. Cutting-edge technology, top of the line research facilities, unparalleled attention to authenticity and environmental stewardship have set the bar for polar bear conservation centres, now recognized as the “Manitoba Standard”.

Mother bear and cubs by Keith Levit

Mother bear and cubs by Keith Levit

Majestic Manitoba

The story of Canada’s north is still a largely untold one. With environmental crises looming, the role that Manitoba has in protecting the legacy of the north and shaping the narrative of future generations is becoming increasingly important. By dazzling the senses and engaging the public, Journey to Churchill represents a monumental step towards Winnipeg’s growing reputation as a global leader in environmental and human rights.

The ambitious exhibit is both a love song to the untapped beauty of the north and a ringing call to arms. Opened in 2014, it is the first exhibit of its kind, aimed at education about climate change and conservation issues focused on northern species. According to Margaret Redmond, President and CEO of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy (APC), Journey to Churchill is “unparalleled in the zoo world in terms of its focus on northern wildlife and the immensity of the space given.”

Photo by Brad McCann

Photo by Brad McCann

Polar Bear Pilgrimage

Some 10-12,000 eco-tourists and adventure seekers file northward to Churchill, Manitoba’s Arctic jewel, each year in search of the Great White. Aptly named the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”, the wind-swept tundra has become a mecca for the world’s largest terrestrial predators, located at the crosshairs of their migratory patterns. Thrill seekers take to the frozen expanses of the tundra to catch a glimpse of these incredible carnivores.

While nothing can mimic the heart-pounding adventure of interacting directly with the bears in their icy environment, Journey to Churchill offers and experience of observing polar bears and other northern species undetected. Within the expanse of the exhibit are four main areas: the Wapusk Lowlands, Gatewa to the Arctic, Churchill Coast and the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre.

The Gateway to the Arctic contains polar bears and their primary food source, the ringed seal, in adjacent pools separated only by a thin clear wall. Expect dynamic interactions between the animals, who are able to see and smell one another through the wall, as they pivot and thrash in the exhilarating quickstep between predator and prey.

Perhaps most exciting is the Sea Ice Passage, a 10-foot wide acrylic tunnel that serves as the primary vantage point for viewing polar bears and ringed seals beneath the water. The exhibit functions as a “living laboratory” says Redmond, presenting rare and unique opportunities for field researchers to observe behavioural patterns of polar bears and seals beneath the ice.

Along with boundless roaming space, the exhibit features an on-site state-of-the-art research facility. The International Polar Bear Conservation Centre not only promotes conservation research, but is home to the only transition centre for orphaned and at-risk polar bear cubs rescued by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. At the centre, they are rehabilitated before being relocated to designated safe areas.

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Zoo

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Zoo

Staggering Specs

In order to begin construction on the exhibit, 86,699 metres of earth had to be transported. The tundra area of the exhibit, home to caribou, musk ox, snowy owls, and arctic foxes, covers 3,714 square metres. Polar bear roaming grounds within the exhibit span an immense 9,507 metres squared. Pools for polar bears and seals contain a total of 1,959,714 L of water. The indoor Polar Playground and Tundra Grill alone house some 238 people. The cutting edge 360 degree domed Aurora Borealis Theatre measures over 13 metres in diameter, and 5.5 metres high. Despite these scale considerations, the zoo is making every overture towards sustainability, even seeing a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification from the Canada Green Building Council.

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Zoo

Courtesy of Assiniboine Park Zoo

Gathering Ground

Parks and zoos have long been spirited gathering grounds for families and larger groups. With this in mind, the Churchill Coast area is focused on immersive family fun. Children can explore the Polar Playground, which is packed with interactive and educational activities such as a moving ice-mass floor that responds to footsteps. Parents can unwind at the Tundra Grill, a fast-casual cafeteria-style setting with massive windows overlooking Churchill.

Also located within the Gateway to the Arctic is the Aurora Borealis Theatre, which hosts a domed 360 degree viewing screen. An interactive video weaves the interconnected legacy between the people, plants, and animals of Canada’s north. At night, the room is transformed into a bewitching backdrop for storytelling and concerts while the Northern Lights play above.

Visit the Assiniboine Park Conservancy’s website for information on hours and admissions.

Read More

 

Long Weekend Roundup October 5 to October 8

Patricia Piccinini. Still Life with Stem Cells, 2002. Courtesy of the Artist.

Friday, October 5  If you’re looking for activities the whole family can enjoy this weekend, check out Fairytales, Monsters and the Genetic Imagination at the Glenbow Museum. The exhibition is comprised of works by contemporary artists who are inspired by the fantastic stories and characters of myths, fairytales and science fiction in which the boundaries between human and animal are blurred. The exhibition includes approximately 60 paintings, photographs, sculptures and video works by contemporary artists from Canada and around the world. The exhibition will run until January 2nd. Tickets are $14 adults, $10 senior, $9 student and youth $9. 

Scared yet? Screamfest 2012 starts this weekend. Photo: Courtesy Screamfest.

Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6 This Friday and Saturday, check out the first weekend of Screamfest. During the month of October, Stampede Park transforms into a carnival of carnage. This Halloween festival includes six terrifying haunted houses, a renovated Bates Motel, indoor maze, rides, musical entertainment, food vendors and contortionists. Tickets are available at Ticketbud and range from $20 to $40. The event runs from 7 pm to midnight.

On Friday and Saturday, check out Soulocentric Festival 2012 at Vertigo Theatre. The festival showcases independent performing artists that are creating new and original solo works in dance, theatre, music and multi-media. Start times vary. To purchase tickets, call 403-221-3708 or visit the festival’s website. (more…)

Thanksgiving at Heritage Park

This holiday long weekend, take the kids back in time at Heritage Park and enjoy free rides, a pancake breakfast and a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

As a thank you for a great summer, Heritage Park is offering free rides all weekend long ($10 value) and a free pancake breakfast for the first 500 guests through the gates each morning before 10:30 am.

Take the family down to Heritage Park this weekend. Photo: Courtesy Travel Alberta.

And to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving, the Wainwright Hotel will serve a three-course family lunch. The meal includes roast turkey with mashed potatoes, butternut squash soup and, for dessert, a slice of pumpkin pie with Chantilly cream. The meal will be served from October 6 until October 8, between 11 am to 3:30 pm. The meal is $22.95 for adults and $14.95 for children (under 12).

Good To Know: While Heritage Park is closing for the season, several attractions outside the park’s main entrance will remain open year-round. These include Gasoline Alley Museum, Selkirk Grille Restaurant, Railway Café and the five shops that make up the Haskayne Mercantile Block. Also, as of the beginning of November, the area will feature a free skating rink, open daily.

Select Historical Village venues will reopen for special and ticketed events during the off season, including Ghouls’ Night Out, Ghosts and Gourmet and Once Upon A Christmas, which is held on the five weekends prior to Christmas Day. However, the Historical Village won’t reopen for the 2013 summer season until the May long weekend.

Weekend Round-up August 17 to 19

This weekend calls for beautiful weather so get outdoors and take in some fantastic summertime traditions!

Friday 17 – Saturday 18  The Calgary International ReggaeFest runs Friday and Saturday at Shaw Millenium Park. Visitors can expect hot performances by Bryan Art, Cherine Anderson and Jermaine Cowan. Also enjoy Caribbean cuisine, beer garden and a youth area. Tickets are available at Calgary Co-op locations or by calling 403-355-5696. (more…)

Hot Date: Chinatown Street Festival

Interior of the Chinese Cultural Centre. Photo: Courtesy Travel Alberta.

This Saturday, the annual Chinatown Street Festival takes place in the vibrant historic area between Centre Street and First Street SE and along Second Avenue and Third Avenue SE.

Savour the flavours of authentic Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese eats in the Dragon City Mall shopping complex or at one of the food booths located along Third Avenue. Merchant booths will also be set up along Third Avenue with various clothing, accessories and gifts for sale. Karaoke, tai chi and other demonstrations will be held along Second Avenue SE. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Editor’s Picks: Top 5 Winnipeg Toy Stores

Hatchin’ Grow Dino from the Children’s Museum Shop

Unleash your inner child with fun trinket and knick-knack stores at some of Winnipeg’s greatest family attractions. These toy stores will keep your kids, and yourself, amused for hours.

1. In the heart of the historic Exchange District, the stacked shelves at Toad Hall Toys will peak your interest. Pick up a Big Bang Rocket for a day of outdoor play. Simply fling overhead, let go and watch it fly sky-high, eventually hitting the ground with a bang. 204-956-2195, 54 Arthur St. (more…)

Canada’s Best New Summer Attractions Awards 2012

Each year, the editors of Canada’s Where magazines release their top picks for summer’s most anticipated attractions. Winners of the Best New Summer Attractions awards could be brand new, significantly improved, or celebrating major milestones.

From adrenaline-pumping roller-coaster rides to rich explorations in science and history, this year’s coast-to-coast list offers a set of thrilling diversions for travellers planning their summer vacations in Canada.

See the best new attractions for 2012 »