10 must-see attractions you need to experience in Winnipeg

Posted August 17, 2022

Planning a trip to Winnipeg this year? No matter when you visit the city, you need to experience these 10 must-see attractions.

1. Assiniboine Park + Zoo

If you're spending time in Winnipeg this fall or winter, the Assiniboine Park Zoo is an absolute must. Watch the seasons change by walking the trails of the park and admire works of art in the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. Then, explore the 30 acres of the outdoor Gardens at The Leaf. The Seasonal Garden shows a collection of perennial plants that peak at different times throughout the year with activities in all four seasons.

At the tail end of The Gardens is an incredible piece of architecture called The Leaf. Visitors will soon be able to explore The Leaf's gorgeous interior - with a tropical biome (featuring Canada’s tallest indoor waterfall), Babs Asper Display House (with gorgeous floral exhibits) and the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden.

A trip to the Assiniboine Park Zoo needs to include a few hours (or easily an entire day) dedicated to the many animals who call it home. Stand beneath swimming polar bears and seals in the incredible Journey to Churchill exhibit, or meet the goats of Aunt Sally’s Farm.

Once the ice freezes, the Riley Family Duck Pond comes to life with skaters of all ability levels, with hot chocolate and warm comfort food available nearby from the Park Cafe. There are also several events to look forward to at Assiniboine Park in the fall and winter: Boo at the Zoo (October) and Zoo Lights (December).

2. The Forks

As a National Historic Site of Canada, The Forks has been a place of significance for over 6,000 years. Its location at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers connected Indigenous people who used the site for transportation, trade and settlement.

Today, this meeting spot remains a vibrant attraction with countless activities. Venture into The Forks Market to find a number of unique vendors and shops, as well as an amazing array of eateries at The Forks Market Food Hall. Grab a pastry from Tall Grass Bakery, one of Manitoba's best homegrown bakeries, or get a taste of Manitoban cuisine with pickerel from Fergie's Fish and Chips.

The Forks Market Food Hall is also home to The Common; a trendy bar with both indoor and outdoor service and a curated selection of craft beer and wine on tap.

In the wintertime, The Forks becomes a hub for activity with its famous Nestaweya Skating River Trail (dotted with architectural warming huts along the way) and the Arctic Winter Glacier Park, where you'll find more beautifully lit skating trails and a toboggan hill.

Other attractions at The Forks include Johnston Terminal (with even more shopping and a coffee shop), Inn at the Fork’s Riverstone Spa, The Children’s Museum, Oodena Circle and many works of public art.

3. Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Located next to The Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights literally can't be missed. Designed by Anthony Predock, the building's curving exterior (known as the Cloud) is made up of 1335 pieces of glass which mirror the sky and is sure to catch your eye on your visit to Winnipeg.

Inside the building, the museum's architecture is equally as impressive with illuminated Alabaster-clad ramps which lead you on a journey from darkness into light as you move through the museum.

As the only museum in the world dedicated to human rights, this thought-provoking museum recounts tragic and triumphant moments in history and celebrates hope for the future through a number of interactive and innovative galleries. Permanent galleries include Indigenous Perspectives, Canadian Journeys, Examining the Holocaust and Breaking the Silence.

4. Thermëa Nordic Spa

If relaxation is the name of your game, you simply can't pass up an opportunity to have the mind-and-body-melting experience that is Thermëa. This serene, outdoor spa practices a number of Nordic traditions: from the hot-cold cycle to the Aufguss ritual.

Spend time unwinding in thermal pools ranging from hot-to-cold, with sessions in the saunas, steam and relaxation rooms in between. Plan to dine at the on-site restaurant known as Restö, where you will be treated to a delicious gourmet meal that perfectly compliments this luxurious experience. Another fun activity is ordering a round of s'mores, which you can roast over the bonfires throughout the spa.

5. Historic Exchange District

Whether you’re staying at a hotel within its limits or just visiting it for the day, the Exchange District is one of Winnipeg’s most vibrant and intriguing neighbourhoods.

The neighbourhood maintains its charm with historic turn-of-the-20th-century warehouse buildings that are now home to independent boutiques, restaurants, cocktail bars and more. For this reason, the Exchange is a popular spot for walking tours — check out the Socina Travel and Square Peg Tours for fall dates. In the wintertime, Old Market Square is transformed into a skating rink with regular curling events.

Exchange District has a lively nightlife scene with nightclubs and bars like Patent 5, Nonsuch Brewing Co., Little Brown Jug, King’s Head Pub and Palomino Club. The Exchange also is the location for exciting fall and winter events including Hot Beverage Week (December) and New Music Week (January).

6. Manitoba Museum

Another major attraction located within the Exchange District is the Manitoba Museum. This family-friendly destination offers three areas to explore: The Science Gallery (perfect for those with kids), the Planetarium (featuring daily shows all about the universe) and the main gallery space.

The main gallery space showcases captivating stories from the natural world as well as from human history in Manitoba. Highlights include the new Prairies Gallery and the Nonsuch Gallery - where you can step aboard a life-size replica of the 17th century sailing ship that launched the Hudson’s Bay Company.

7. Winnipeg Art Gallery

For the artistically inclined or just those who want to expand their perspective, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is a world-class attraction that has recently been enhanced with the addition of Qaumajuq. Home to the world's largest public collection of Inuit art, Qaumajuq is a site to behold with its visible vault spanning multiple levels.

Other collections housed within the gallery includes remarkable pieces of Canadian art, contemporary art and decorative art. Upcoming shows to check out this summer are Kwaata-nihtaawakihk: A Hard Birth, Tunniit: Inuit Embodied Practices and Esmaa Mohamoud: To Play in the Face of Certain Defeat.

8. FortWhyte Alive

Get closer to nature without having to leave city limits with the urban oasis that is FortWhyte Alive.

The site has over seven kilometres of trails that wind through prairie, aspen forest and alongside lakes.

For fall activities, head to FortWhyte Alive for their mesmerizing Sunset Goose Flight experience and see thousands of Canadian geese descend over the lake. In winter, try a number of quintessential activities like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, tobogganing and ice fishing.

Other events like Alive in the Woods, Storytelling by the Fire and Sod House Homesteaders continue all year long.

9. Winnipeg's Art Scene

Winnipeg is home to a stellar performing arts scene and a tight-knit creative community. Visit in the fall or winter to make the most of the arts season.

The Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre has an incredible lineup to look forward to, with main stage shows like Network, The Three Musketeers, Into the Woods, and the Secret to Good Tea on the roster.

Ballet lovers can't miss the chance to see the reputable Royal Winnipeg Ballet. RWB is Canada’s oldest ballet institution, with four performances coming up this season, including holiday favourite The Nutcracker.

For the musically inclined, treat yourself to the classical melodies of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Choose from performances of timeless classics or movie soundtracks.

10. Royal Canadian Mint

Located 20 minutes from downtown Winnipeg, the Royal Canadian Mint is a unique attraction with a major international impact, manufacturing coins for more than 75 countries around the globe.

The best way to learn about the facility is on a 45-minute tour offered regularly throughout the summer and delivered in both English and French. You will have the opportunity to strike your own coin and feel how heavy a pure gold bar worth over $700,000 is.

Be sure to stop into the Mint’s gift shop on your way out to browse a wide selection of collector coins!