Header photo: @knatez

Do you ever feel like you just want to dig into something and get your hands dirty? Maybe you'll want to take that literally, maybe not so much... Either way, if you've ever wanted to try something new and a little different, where you become an active participant instead of just watching from the sidelines, here are some ideas around Manitoba to entice you to roll up your sleeves and get started.

A Bird in the Hand at Oak Hammock Marsh

Oak Hammock Marsh is well known for being a major pit-stop in the migratory race towards bird-friendly climates. During peak migration season, the Marsh might see over 100,000 waterfowl per DAY and 300 species of birds travel through the Wildlife Management Area. Lend your hand and become a scientist for a day with the A Bird in the Hand tour to assist with important research by banding a live bird and setting it free to continue its journey. After, hop in a Voyageur canoe and paddle your way through the wetlands from water-level.

Insider tip: this tour is a Canadian Signature Experience – meaning it’s been specially designated by Canada's national tourism organization as being among the best tours in the country!

‘Carved in Stone’ experience at Journey Home Artist Retreat

If sleeping in a Mongolian Yurt and sipping on organic, home-grown herbal tea sounds just like a little slice of heaven to you, you’re right, it is. To kick up the soothing, relaxing vibes another notch, take part in Carved in Stone, a soapstone carving experience, at the Journey Home Artist Retreat in Waldersee, overlooking the picturesque Big Grass River. You’ll spend a few hours transforming soapstone into an intricate carving using everyday tools and your own two hands.

Games galore at Across the Board Café

Do you prefer games of strategy? Skill? Or straight-up luck and laughter? All of these and more can be found at Across the Board Café in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. Give yourself time to browse – the shelves are packed from floor to ceiling with every board game you can imagine. I challenge you to come up with a game they don’t carry! And if you’re having trouble narrowing it down, just call over one of the knowledgeable staff who will help you make the perfect choice. Once you’ve made your selection, grab a table, order a hot beverage and bite to eat and let your competitive nature take over. May the best player win!

Cooking classes at De Luca’s Cooking Studio

Not many of us have the skill or talent to be a professional chef. But step into the kitchen at De Luca’s Cooking Studio and after just a couple of hours, you can learn enough culinary techniques to trick your next dinner party guests into thinking you are! Chef Mike Brown will demonstrate authentic Italian dishes and then the best part? You get to taste test them all! Public and private classes are available year-round.

‘You can eat that?!’ Wild Edible adventure with Prairie Shore Botanicals

Have you ever been walking through a field or forest and wondered if the cluster of mushrooms beside your feet are chanterelles (yum!) or False Morels (yuck! And, more importantly, POISON!). Over the course of this full-day adventure, Laura Reeves, botanist and owner of Prairie Short Botanicals, will walk you through many common wild edibles, teach you how to harvest them and then help you prepare them into a full meal. As a handy take-away, you’ll never again have to wonder which ones you should avoid during your walk in the woods – because you’ll already know!

Blacksmithing at Cloverdale Forge

If you want to take us up on the literal “getting your hands dirty” experience, this might be the one for you! In the summer months, visit Cloverdale Forge just outside of Selkirk and learn the time-honoured art of blacksmithing. Using your hands, a hammer and an anvil (and you’ll want to throw some fire in there for good measure – into what is called the forge), find out how heavy metal and iron become tools, furniture and stunning works of art.