This summer, choose to explore Manitoba's capital city in way you've never done before. Here's a weekend itinerary full of all those experiences that any solid mini-vacay needs - a little retail therapy, a dose of nature, a sprinkle of history, and, of course, some play time.
Winnipeg - Treaty 1 territory. Traditional lands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Dene and homeland of the Métis.
Check in at a downtown Sparrow Hotel
Local hotelier Sparrow Hotels operates two properties downtown that are perfectly situated for your weekend romp in Winnipeg. Inn at The Forks offers a modern and welcoming vibe at the historic junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. The Forks is Winnipeg's riverfront playground and a must for dining and shopping, too, so there are endless options to keep you entertained once you've got your fill of your room-with-a-view and the Inn's on-site restaurant SMITH and Riverstone Spa. Read more ideas about how to have a staycation at The Forks here. Five minutes away along Waterfront Drive, sister property Mere, is the place to stay for design-minded visitors who love a minimalist, contemporary vibe. The boutique Mere - with coloured pipes adorning the outside of the building - stands out along the cobblestone streets and historic architecture of The Exchange District. Mere is the perfect home base for exploring Winnipeg's hip, indie district or to walk to nearby neighbourhoods such as St. Boniface and The Forks.
Day 1: Make money, spend money
Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint is one of those off-the-radar attractions for many, but a guided tour of this manufacturing facility will teach you how unique of a Winnipeg experience it is and how big of a role it plays internationally. Did you know Winnipeg's Mint, in addition to producing all of Canada's circulation coins, it has made over 55 billion coins for over 75 countries worldwide? Sign up for a 45-minute tour of this coin-making factory to learn about the precise art and science of coin-making. Save time to browse the coin boutique for cool keepsake gift ideas and the coin museum to learn about the Mint's role in making the Vancouver 2010 Olympic medals. If you're with kids, new for 2020 is a coin scavenger hunt around the grounds. Tours run daily from 10-5 pm. Reservations required.
The Exchange District
See how money is made, and then go spend it. The best place to do so is by shopping the local boutiques of The Exchange District, all located walking distance from your hotel. Tara Davis Studio Boutique is an emporium of local artisan talent and is a great way to take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir of Winnipeg - you'll find handcrafted jewellery, greeting cards, home decor and fashion accessories. Next door, the flagship boutique of designer/artist Lennard Taylor is the place for fashion-forward women's clothing. Nearby, Shop Take Care is the city's coolest and most colourful store for trendy second-hand fashion, while mainstay Haberdashery is a must-stop for accessories, namely for finding a cool cap for summer.
End the day with some play time. Enter a video game world at Activate Games where as a team you work together to mentally and physically complete levels and gain points throughout 11 game rooms. Challenges in the retro-arcade style rooms range from shooting hoops, throwing balls at targets, manoeuvring around laser beams, completing a colour-coded climbing challenge, and solving word problems by pushing buttons before a big eye spots you. Be sure to bring your agility, quick thinking, hand-eye coordination and, most of all, your sense of humour.
Day 2: Finding an escape
The Great Trail
Wake up and hit the trail. Don't think you need to head out of Winnipeg to do a cool hike; both Inn at The Forks and Mere are conveniently located on an urban portion of The Great Trail (formerly Trans Canada Trail), a 27,000 km path that connects Canada coast to coast to coast. Choose to walk, jog or bike this portion of the Great Trail - both Inn at The Forks and Mere offer free cruiser bikes for guests to sign out - as it winds through the flowery Stephen Juba Park along Waterfront Drive, over the Riel Esplanade pedestrian bridge, through St. Boniface's residential neighbourhood and past francophone attractions like Musée St. Boniface Museum. The trail loops back around to The Forks National Historic Site where a pavilion commemorates individuals involved in connecting The Great Trail.
The Real Escape
Assuming you don't lose your way on The Great Trail, spend an afternoon getting lost in an escape room. The Real Escape is Winnipeg's premier escape room with 7 themed mystery rooms that teams need to escape within 60 minutes by solving skill testing puzzles. Every room has a story-driven theme game that'll test your mental problem solving skills - choose from the medieval era Castle room, the spooky Mavis House or the new fairytale Oz room.
Phew! You escaped. Now sooth your nerves at Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature. The Scandinavian-style spa promotes thermotherapy, a series of hot-cold-relaxation techniques using the outdoor spa's pools, saunas, steam rooms and relaxation areas. If you crave more privacy, book yourself a personal treatment like a massage or brightening facial to really feel like you've escaped. A lunch box menu prepared by Restö is available through online pre-order and guests can dine in their bathrobe on the spacious patio as the sun sets.