Riding Mountain National Park will always hold a special place in my heart. It was where my husband Matthew proposed to me on bended knee in front of a campfire almost 10 years ago. Now, here we are two kids, a dog, and a couple of houses later and it seemed fitting that we should spend a romantic weekend alone in this place where it all began for our family.
Riding Mountain certainly isn’t your stereotypical romantic getaway–there are no hot tubs and champagne (actually that’s not true, there totally are), but unlike your typical couples retreat, there is a sense of adventure you can’t get from a simple night in a hotel room. For the active couple, or the couple trying to capture that activeness they once knew (parents you know what I mean), the town of Wasagaming and its nearby access to adventure is the perfect way to say ‘I love you’, or if your relationship isn’t quite there yet, ‘I really really like you.’
Our adventure began at The Lake House, an adorable boutique hotel that was clearly the hub of activity in the townsite. Here, 20 & 30-somethings in toques and Canada Goose jackets gathered on plush couches in front of a merry fire in the lounge, planning the days ahead. We checked in and headed up to our charming room, complete with a rustic wood wall and sweet little touches like Lake House’s own signature lip balm. It even boasted a small kitchenette to prepare our own food should the need arise (which it didn’t in our case, but more on that later). For me, a holiday means getting some shopping done and the Lake House didn’t disappoint. Things like natural skin care products and gorgeous scented candles lined the wall in the lobby, while tables set up with handmade soaps, funky handbags and colourful socks awaited.
In the evening, the vibe of the hotel mellowed as twinkle lights strung all around started to come on and the hot tub was opened (see I told you there was a hot tub). Out front a crackling bonfire was the perfect compliment to a silent winter evening as the snow fell gently around us. A perfect place to get cozy and snuggle a little.
The townsite of Wasagaming is the perfect place to go for a stroll. We started with a walk around town taking in the cute and charming buildings that give so much character to the area. It was amazing to walk down to the lake and witness its vast frozen magnificence. I’m always blown away at the amount of activity that can take place on a lake during a Manitoba winter–there are few places in the world like this. There was a skating rink area cleared with a hockey game in full swing and throughout the town area, little paths of ice had been created beneath green twinkling lights, allowing you to travel through town on skates. We decided to rent ourselves a pair of snowshoes at the Friends of RMNP Learning Centre (only $5/pair for the entire day) and take a stroll across the lake. There are also fat bike rentals and numerous groomed cross country ski trails that will take you into the campground and around town.
Obviously, a romantic weekend getaway isn’t complete without some yummy food to go with it. And the restaurant at The Lake House fit the bill from salty to sweet to spirited. Our first meal was lunch at the counter. That day, they had a special Southern Style BBQ menu complete with beef brisket and jerk chicken. I opted for the hearty bowl of beef and bean chili with a brioche bun and Matthew had the pulled pork on a pretzel bun. Both were as good as they sound. We rounded out lunch with a shared cinnamon bun smeared with about an inch and half of icing–I don’t think I’ll be able to eat a cinnamon bun any other way again.
Dinner was a hopping affair in the hotel restaurant and bar where the menu consisted of a nacho bar, wings, wraps and salads all for just $10 a pop. We opted for the nachos where we piled our plates with pineapple, peppers and cheese, scooping up sour cream and guacamole with each bite. I decided to try the cocktail special – a sweet pineapple concoction infused with coconut and mint. Matthew opted for a locally brewed Farmery beer and we toasted with a glass of champagne simply to celebrate life (and there’s the promised bubbly). For dessert, we picked up a box of macarons from the coffee shop to eat in bed. What could be better than that?
In the morning, breakfast awaited in the form of light and fluffy cheese and bacon quiches and scrumptious apple walnut turnovers.
On our second day, we were out early, before the town had really woken up. The sun had come out to play and the sky was that brilliant Manitoba blue we all associate with winter. We decided to head down to the lake for another look, the only sounds were those of our boots crunching in the snow. It’s hard not to be blown away by the contrast of the bright blue overhead and the pristine white snow that goes on for miles.
If you’ve never experienced Riding Mountain in the winter, now’s the time to go. It’s a perfect way to experience winter and all it has to offer.