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Manitoba Winter Explorer Guide: 10 places for family fun this season

Posted November 08, 2021 | Author Jillian Recksiedler

Families who play together, stay together. Embrace winter in Manitoba by planning some family activities - both indoors and outdoors - that will have you enjoying the snowy season with some extra laughs.

A visit to Manitoba means travelling through Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Territory and through communities who are signatories to Treaties 6 and 10. It encompasses the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak and Nehethowuk and the homeland of the Métis. To learn more about Manitoba's Treaty areas, click here.

Hit up a waterpark

Elkhorn Resort

Plan a getaway to Elkhorn Resort or Hecla Lakeview Resort, two all-inclusive family resorts that boast top waterparks with outdoor options. For a simple change of scenery, check into a hotel for a night that has a pool with waterslide, such as Days Inn (Steinbach), CanadInns Destination Centre (Brandon), and Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott (Winnipeg). If a hotel stay is not in the budget, plan a day trip to a nearby community pool for some affordable family fun: Swan Valley, Steinbach and Portage La Prairie all have impressive indoor waterparks at their recreation complexes.

Get lost in a snow maze

Liz Tran

Amaze in Corn, located 15 kms south of Winnipeg in St. Adolphe, is home to the world’s largest snow maze that holds the official Guinness title. The maze spans over 30,000 sq. ft. and uses over 300 truck-loads of snow, making a labyrinth that will take a family over 45 minutes to navigate. Along the way, encounter warm-up fire pits and snow sculptures to help navigate the snowy passageways. Other activities on the grounds include a giant snow climbing hill, a sky-high toboggan run, horse-drawn sleigh rides and an ice bar serving hot chocolate for the kids and hot toddies for the parents.

Snow party

festival

Festival du Voyageur gives families many reasons to celebrate, not hibernate, in winter. This is western Canada’s largest winter festival, which spans 10 days every February, and families can admire giant snow sculptures, dance and jig to lively music, attend concerts, enjoy French Canadian foods and meet the historical characters of Fort Gibraltar. Festival du Voyageur is a kitchen party not to be missed that bonds the traditions of the past with Manitoba’s vibrant francophone and Métis communities of today.

Animal fun

Family in the tunnel at the Assiniboine Park Zoo's Journey to Churchill Exhibit, looking up as a polar bear swims overhead

Travel the world with at Assiniboine Park Zoo where kids learn about animals and habitats from around the world, and can also discover more about Manitoba at the award-winning Journey to Churchill. The exhibit’s comprehensive line-up of northern critters - from Arctic foxes and ringed seals to wolves and polar bears - is a main attraction, especially in winter when these animals are more active in the cold weather. View polar bears in the Sea Ice Passage underwater viewing tunnel or while you dine with them outside your window at the Tundra Grill. Save time to let your kids burn some energy at the indoor Polar Playground.

Slide and Smiles

Slide to your heart's content at the Valley View Tubing Hill, located 15 kms south of MacGregor, MB in the Assiniboine River Valley. Valley View is a perfect day trip for families with little ones (or let's be real, the adults too) who don't feel comfortable on skis or snowboards just yet. Kids of all ages will love swooshing down the hill, spinning in delight. The groomed run includes a tow rope system and tube rentals. Snow tubing is also available at popular downhill ski hills like Spring Hill, Falcon Ridge Ski Slopes, and Asessippi Ski Resort.

Hands-on learning

Child smiling and splashing in water area at Children's Museum
JP Media Works

Families with young kids definitely need to plan a winter visit to the Manitoba Children’s Museum at The Forks in Winnipeg. Kids love being immersed in the 12 interactive permanent galleries, such as the tasty Lasagna Lookout climbing structure and the watery fun Splash Lab. They squeal in delight at the chance to hop aboard and conduct a real-life diesel locomotive, and to zip down a giant rainbow illusion tunnel slide (over and over again). There is also a dedicated tot spot for the museum’s smallest visitors.

Winter wonderland

FortWhyte Alive, located at Winnipeg’s southwestern city limits, is a haven for outdoor recreation in all seasons. In winter, thrill seekers go for the rush of the legendary toboggan slide (sleds are free), while those seeking solitude opt for snowshoe or Nordic hiking pole rentals to hit the multitude of groomed trails through the woods. On-ice action includes skating on the lake or practicing your patience while ice fishing (gear rentals available). Fort Whyte also programs very unique winter outdoor events for all ages, such as bonfire storytelling and guided walks studying wildlife tracks. Check their online events calendar regularly to sign up.

A virtual escape

Activate Games

Activate Games on Portage Avenue is a live-action gaming centre where families work together to complete 11 interactive video game-inspired challenges, ranging from dodgeball to a dance off on a motion sensored floor. Games are suited for ages 10 and up and are updated regularly so there’s always a reason to return. Other arcade and/or virtual reality gaming attractions ideal for spending a few warm indoor hours in Winnipeg include The Rec Room, Arena VR Inc. and Uptown Alley.

A good old hockey game

Plan a night-out at the hockey rink. Watching the NHL Winnipeg Jets live in action is at the top of everyone’s list, but there is plenty of other hockey action around Manitoba that provides a fun, high-energy atmosphere for everyone. Within the capital region, opt to take the kids to an AHL Manitoba Moose game at Canada Life Arena or show some support for the new WHL Winnipeg Ice. Brandon’s beloved WHL Wheat Kings is a perfect reason to plan a getaway to Manitoba’s second largest city. Meanwhile, Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) teams like the Portage Terriers, Neepawa Titans and Dauphin Kings are at the heart of those communities and a worthy reason to visit.

A festive mood

Canad Inns Winter Wonderland

CanadInns Winter Wonderland is a long-standing Manitoba family tradition for its seasonal drive-thru lights display at Red River Exhibition Park. This affordable family event showcases over one million lights in 26 themed areas. A must-experience: Zoo Lights is a new, outdoor walk-thru holiday lights experience at Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg. Light up Downtown is the signature event of Selkirk’s Holiday Alley when the city turns on 5,000 strings of lights draped over 40 buildings throughout its historic downtown. The lights stay on for 60 of Manitoba’s darkest winter nights, so there is plenty of time to tour with the kids.

Jillian Recksiedler, Travel Manitoba

About The Author

Hi, I'm Jillian, a marketer, communicator, traveller and Manitoba flag waver. Growing up in rural Manitoba during the '80s means I have a penchant for daytrips, maps (the paper kind), and prairie sunsets. I never tire of sharing stories about my home.

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