From pretty valley views to cool prehistoric finds and modern eateries, this road trip through the Pembina Valley and gateway communities showcases all sorts of fun waiting to be explored. Spend a weekend exploring the whole route or opt for just a portion for a day trip.
Pembina Valley views
Start with a crisp fall morning hike at Pembina Valley Provincial Park, a tiny 440-acre park tucked near the US border, approximately 50 kms south the cities of Morden and Winkler. Pembina Valley is one of the best spots to witness the colours of the changing of the leaves in Manitoba. This park protects the Pembina/Tiger Hills region of Manitoba and offers seven hiking trails, all of varying lengths and difficulty, through deciduous forest, grasslands and glacial river spillways. The 6.5 km Pembina Rim trail is a picturesque option that circumnavigates the park, offering multiple vistas of the Pembina River and a lookout tower.
Ziplining with HyWire
Add a jolt of adrenaline to a fall's day with an action-pack adventure to Hy Wire Zipline Adventures located 30 kms west of Pembina Valley Provincial Park. Hywire offers five or eight-line tours that have guests soaring 200 ft high above the Pembina valley for distances as far as 1500 ft. The adventure is ideal for all ages young and old (minimum age is two). It's guaranteed to produce hollers of excitement, and gorgeous changing-of-the-leaves views of Manitoba that make you forget you're in the prairies.
Detour: Nellie McClung Heritage Site
Before returning to Morden after ziplining, consider taking a short detour west on Hwy 3 to the town of Manitou to visit Nellie's Homes. Walk in the footsteps of the brilliant 20th-century speaker, novelist and champion of women’s and human rights at a heritage site in the town she called home for nearly 20 years. Go on a self-guided walking tour of Nellie's former homes that are on display, as well as other significant buildings in town such as the Manitou Opera House.
Explore what it's famous for
Chances are you've visited Morden for the Corn and Apple Festival, Manitoba's largest street festival that happens each August. You've likely heard of the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, too, another cornerstone attraction.
As a community, Morden has an undeniable entrepreneurial spirit and cultural flare. Be sure to make time to stroll the quaint business district and patronize some independent businesses. Sip on a pint of local brew at Rendezvous Brewery and Taproom; shop at organic cosmetic brand Pure Anada at their flagship store; browse local art at the gift shop at the Pembina Hills Art Council, located in the historic Dominion Post Office; or pick up some fresh baking at Legends Bakery.
Unwind at Lake Minnewasta
Head to Lake Minnewasta Recreation Area, just 1.5 km west of Morden, for fresh air and nature. Here you can book a tee time at Minnewasta Golf & Country Club. Colert Beach and boardwalk is at the heart of the park, and fall water activities like fishing, kayayking and canoeing are an option. In all seasons, a 16-km single-track trail encircles Lake Minnewasta and is an attraction for avid bikers and hikers.
Take a selfie with Bruce
A Manitoba Star Attraction, the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre houses the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada. It is open year-round, so when in Morden take your opportunity to see some of the most amazing and ferocious toothed beasts to ever exist in the seas, including Guinness Record holding ‘Bruce’ the mosasaur. Expect to spend over an hour in the museum, learning Manitoba's unique ancient history that was at one time entirely under water. There are also many hands-on learning and photo opps for kids.
Eat and explore in Winkler
Only a 10-minute drive apart, Morden and Winkler are essentially twin cities. When you visit one, you should really go explore the other. After a you spend some time exploring Morden, continue east on the highway to Winkler, an industrious community rooted in agriculture and Mennonite heritage.
Hungry in Winkler?
Charley B's Classic Grillis a seasonal drive-in worth the drive. Hit it up before the snow flies (usually closes mid-November) for creative burgers and fast-food specialties that tout using local, farm-fresh ingredients. Flavours of Mexico offers authentic Mexican tacos and street food that locals rave about, while Ralph's German Restaurant is the place to go for a variety of traditional schnitzel. If you're seeking traditional Mennonite fare like kielkje and perogies smothered in cream gravy, a visit to Del Rios with it's Mexican-Mennonite menu will satisfy.
Breathe in the outdoors
Bethel Heritage Park is at the heart of Winkler. With its well-manicured lawns and angelic water fountain, it's a peaceful stop for a stroll along the walkways (with a cup of java and fresh baking from Whitecap Cafe in hand). For more natural surroundings, the Discover Nature Sanctuary is the spot for bird and wildlife watching in fall along the preserve's easy walking trails. Next to the Winkler Art Gallery, the butterfly garden attracts those wanting to take a photo with the giant monarch butterfly on display.
When in the region, visitors can also travel beyond the twin cities of Morden-Winkler to learn more about the Russian Mennonites who settled the area and whose culture remains celebrated in nearby towns of Neubergthal and Altona.
A National Historic Site of Canada, Neubergthal is the best preserved, single-street Mennonite village in North America. In fall, do a self-guided walk through the village to admire the distinct yard layouts and architecture, mostly notable the housebarn, a building that allowed the farming families to live close quarters with their livestock (a sensible arrangement during the early 1900s and prairie winters).
Gallery in the Park
The town of Altona is home to rural Manitoba's top sculpture garden: Gallery in the Park. This beloved attraction, open throughout October, is located at the restored Schwartz heritage home near Centennial Park. The real draw is strolling the grounds for up-close connection with the cute and curious bronze sculptures.
Where to stay
Hotels: Best Western Plus (Morden & Winkler), Quality Inn & Suites (Winkler) Unique stays: The Herdsman House (Neubergthal), Bella's Castle B&B (Morden)