Located in the prairies of Western Canada, the city of Winnipeg is defined by six thousand years of history, fascinating museums, culinary delights, and plenty of outdoor recreation. The capital city of the Manitoba province, Winnipeg creates a welcoming spirit of inclusivity and diversity that welcomes visitors with open arms.
Where to Stay
The pinnacle of luxury in Winnipeg is the Fairmont Hotel, conveniently located in the heart of the city and within walking distance to many of the must-see sites. What I loved about the hotel was my Fairmont Gold Room with access to the Private Lounge that offered deluxe buffet breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres and nightly dessert bar. It was a great place to dine and relax, day and night. My spacious room with great city views offered a super-comfy pillow-top bed with Egyptian cotton linens that made me feel like I was sleeping inside a cloud. Try breakfast at the Velvet Glove. Recommended is the breakfast sandwich or the Benny Your Way.
During the holidays, the Fairmont hosts a Nutcracker High Tea on November 27, Dec 4, 11, and 18 from noon – 2:30. Enjoy a selection of hand-crafted sweets & pastries, traditional tea sandwiches, English scones, and preserves, all prepared in-house daily. Cost is CAD $59 per person and $33 for children 6 – 12. For reservations, or call 204-957-1350.
What to See
One must-visit is Thermea – by Nordik Spa-Nature, an outdoor Scandinavian spa just a few miles from downtown Winnipeg. Discover an ancient relaxation and rejuvenation experience using a series of hot, cold, and resting rituals. Or opt for their urban detox face care, intensive massage or anti-aging facial. Enjoy an authentic gourmet experience at Resto with freshly sourced ingredients, while you dine in your robe. Then go back and repeat the rituals or just relax in the hot tub or hot stone slabs by the fireplace. Starting at $77 for the day, this multisensory experience will help you connect to nature and creates the ultimate sense of well-being.
The Forks National Historic Site is Manitoba’s most popular tourist destination with walking paths that tell the story of the tribes, green space, skateboard park and lots more. The Forks has served as Winnipeg’s meeting place for over 6,000 years, starting with indigenous peoples. Nearby are the train stations, which contributed to the city’s vast growth with vintage rail cars. Inside Forks Market is a collection of restaurants from around the world, Caribbean, Asian Fusion and my personal favorite, Fish & Chips. On the second floor, you’ll find a variety of stores like Manitobah Mukluks filled with all kinds of indigenous goods from moccasins to boots to tapestries and more. Look for live music and other performances at the Plaza. The Travel Manitoba Visitor Information Centre is located right outside the Forks Market. Check them out for expert trip-planning services around the province.
Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum of Human Rights is the only museum in the world dedicated to human rights issues, located on ancestral lands, treaty one territory. Founder Israel Asper wanted to educate people about the struggle for human rights around the world and created this family-friendly experience. Designed by architect Antoine Predock from Albuquerque, New Mexico, this unique structure opened in 2014 and serves as the icon of the city. It is filled with interactive exhibits that address the Holocaust, slavery, and people with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and others who have been marginalized. You will leave inspired, wanting to do more to heal the world.
Be sure to visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) with a permanent collection of over 24,000 works from Canadian, Indigenous Canadian, and international artists. Opened in 2021, the new Qaumajuq centre features Inuit art from the people of the North.
Where to Eat
Winnipeg is somewhat of a foodie town, influenced by the First Nation’s heritage as well as French, Russian and Icelandic-Canadians. You’ll find ethnic restaurants in every neighborhood.
Located in the famous Exchange district, Peasant Cookery serves up local specialties with a twist. I recommend the cream of cauliflower soup to start and the Hunter’s Chicken Palliard for an entrée. Served with wild mushroom sauce, arugula, cherry tomatoes and new potatoes, this savory dish was wholesome and satisfying. For dessert, my dining companion and I shared the vegan carrot cake which was out of this world.
CIBO Waterfront Café
Located in the former “Pump and Screen House” complex, this repurposed building houses the CIBO Waterfront Café known for their amazing bruschetta’s and Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. Try the Ricotta/Prosecco Figs and Brie/Apple bruschetta. Their cherry cheesecake is the best, sweet and rich.
Journey to the Polar Bear Capital of the World
One of the best reasons to visit Winnipeg is your relative access to Churchill, the polar bear capital of the world, a mere two-hour flight away. I had an opportunity to travel with Heartland International Travel & Tours to Churchill, a company that has everything down to a science. They’ve created a perfect one-day itinerary in October-November for those who long for adventure, but are short on time. We departed via charter jet early in the morning, landed two hours later and was whisked away to the launching pad. Here we boarded our comfy, heated tundra buggy, driving around on the lookout for polar bears, Arctic foxes and muskrat.
There are three kinds of bears in North America — black bears, brown bears, and polar bears. In Churchill, you’ll find all three. In the spring/summer, visitors come to Churchill to search for Beluga whales, bird watching, eagles and to catch the illusive Northern Lights. Look! Two polar bears have been spotted, sparring in the snow. What a sight and immediately riders head to the viewing area for pictures.
What amazed me was the different terrain we passed by from rocky coastline along Hudson Bay to frozen lakes and glacial remnants from the Ice Age.
As the sun sets, you enjoy dinner in Churchill, shop for a few souvenirs in town, and fly back to Winnipeg the same day. Heartland makes it easy to encounter all of Churchill’s wonders in a very short amount of time. With Heartland Travel’s scheduling and implementation, I found the experience to be seamless.
If you have more time, Heartland also offers multi-day packages that also include dogsledding through the boreal forest and to look for the spectra of the Northern Lights.
All too soon my adventure to Winnipeg and Churchill was over, and I came home loaded down with smoked salmon, maple syrup and warm, winter mittens. Can’t wait to go back!