I love being a tourist at home. Since a tropical winter vacation wasn't in the budget this year, I'm taking full advantage of my kids being out of school for spring break to take them on a learning vacation...around their hometown of Winnipeg. Check out our 48-hours itinerary, which combines learning indoors, fresh air outdoors, hot eats and pool time.
Afternoon: Check in at a splash-friendly hotel
A water park makes or breaks a kids' hotel stay, so we're checking in at one of Winnipeg's top family hotels. The Holiday Inn Airport West is renowned for its giant indoor pirate-themed play structure next to the multi-pool swimming area. Various Canad Inns across the city are equipped with water slides at their Splashers water parks. Other hotel pools that entertain for hours are near Polo Park Shopping Centre: the spa-like Clarion Hotel & Suites, the dino-themed Victoria Inn, and the sparkling Fairfield Inn & Suites. We'll get a solid two hours of play time in before our tummies start to grumble.
Supper: Trans Canada Brewing Co.
This massive, airy taproom on Kenaston Blvd is bustling with long harvest tables filled with people, and I don't second guess about bringing my kids into the crowd - they are totally welcome! There are many TC brews on tap for mom and dad to enjoy, but the real draw is the much raved about Timmy Tom's Pizzeria, which serves up both artisanal and classic pies. The only-in-Manitoba pierogi pizza comes highly recommended and we can't wait to try it.
Evening: Activate Games
To burn off the 'za, we're going to check out the brand new Activate Games on Portage Avenue, a live-action gaming centre that's the first of its kind in Canada. As a team, we'll work to complete 11 interactive video game-inspired challenges, ranging from dodgeball to a dance off on a motion sensored floor (which my daughter will be all over). Games are suited for ages 10+ and it costs $25 per person to play.
Breakfast: Little Goat Food & Drink
This comfort food cafe tucked away in sunny St. James has quietly been serving some of the best breakfasts - and Sunday brunches - in the city for the past year. Little Goat is a family affair - run by the husband/wife team and their kids - and all ages and taste buds are welcome. While I'm eyeing up the harvest hash on the menu, my kiddos will swoon over the pain perdu: french toast loaded with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
Morning: Fun Park Amusement Centre
While waiting for the day to warm up, we'll spend the morning monkeying around one of southwest Winnipeg's newest indoor play areas. Fun Park Amusement Centre, near the Golf Dome, has activities for all ages - from rock climbing and laser tag for tweens, to a trampoline park and giant play structure for youngins.
Afternoon: Fort Whyte Alive
We'll start our outdoor adventure with a nibble at Buffalo Stone Cafe, the onsite restaurant at Fort Whyte Alive that serves delicious casual fare using local ingredients. The view from the large windows that overlook the lake beckon us. At FortWhyte Alive, we can choose our own adventure: walk forested trails to the pioneer sod house, explore the plains tipi and check out the resident bison herd, or engage in a scheduled spring break learning activity that brings us closer to nature.
Evening: Return to the pool & Order in Skip the Dishes for Supper
After a full day of indoor and outdoor play, we'll retreat to our hotel for an evening of water therapy at the pool. We won't feel like leaving for supper, so we'll engage in a true Winnipeg ritual and order Skip the Dishes and have the take out delivered to our hotel room.
Morning: Tour the Royal Canadian Mint
There's not a more entertaining way to educate kids about money than by touring this Winnipeg icon. We'll browse the coin collectors boutique and interactive gallery - the solid gold bar, which is worth over half a million dollars, makes for a brag-worthy photo opp. We'll sign up for an affordable public tour of the money making factory, and be amazed at the sheer volume of shiny coins that it produces.
Lunch: Leopold's Tavern
Some may overlook Leopold's as a neighbourhood watering hole, but word is out that this new South Osborne pub is super welcoming to families (as long as the kids are out by 8 pm). The kids will love the cozy space all decked out in retro memorabilia while mom and dad will feel like they managed to have a night out (despite it being midday).
Coffee Break: Little Sister Coffee House in South Osborne
While in the 'hood, we will stop in at the new Little Sister Coffee Maker on South Osborne Street for a little jolt to get us through the afternoon. This hipster hangout is cool with kids, who love hanging on the tiered banquette seating with a hot chocolate in hand.
Afternoon: The Forks
No outing in Winnipeg is complete without a stop at The Forks, and we're going specifically to check out Flipping Out, a temporary arcade pop-up in the market featuring old school pinball machines. After a few games, we'll wander over to Johnston Terminal to browse the awesome toy and board game selection at the newly renovated Kite and Kaboodle (one of Winnipeg's top independent toy stores).
Supper: Brazen Hall
Our last stop before heading home is supper at Brazen Hall on Pembina Highway, another trendy beer hall that turns out to be very inviting for families. We'll cozy up in a circular booth and share a platter of fried chicken and smoked BBQ and close out our adventure in one of the chicest restaurants in Winnipeg.