Manitoba road trips: Water, water everywhere

Posted April 01, 2023

Boasting 100,000+ lakes and waterways, Manitoba has no shortage of adventures, attractions and communities to draw visitors close to shore. This scenic road trip offers one of the best day trips to enjoy the mighty Winnipeg River. It commences in the town of Beausejour, where rich agricultural traditions give away to the rugged Canadian Shield.

This summer, we're featuring an amazing collection of road trips that will help you explore every corner of Manitoba. The Water, Water Everywhere road trip takes you along the water's edge of the historic Winnipeg River located on Treaty 3 territory, in eastern Manitoba. Take one part of the itinerary for a day trip, or combine them for a multi-day trip.

Part One

Fuel up in Beausejour

This ultimate summer road trip starts in Beausejour, a proud agricultural community of 3,000 people that is at the gateway to the north Whiteshell and communities along the Winnipeg River system. Explore the town for a bit, visiting chill attractions like the DayLily Gardens, a 3-acre world-class showcase of 600 daylilies, and the Beausejour Pioneer Museum (only open July and August), a re-creation of a small rural community in the early 1900s.

One thing to note about Beausejour is the awesome restaurant options - making it the perfect town to start off or cap off a full day of the outdoors. Casual drive-in fare like burgers and fries are on the menu at Vicki's Snack Bar and The Airliner Drive-In, both beloved staples in the community. For a more elevated experience, Colin's House offers a sophisticated menu featuring to-die-for beet chips and tacos. Around the corner, Blue Haze BBQ serves brisket and pulled pork on fresh buns all year long.

Before you head out of town, stop in at the Pennyweight Market, a modern general store that offers bulk foods, candy, coffee and baking for the road! Grad some snacks and go!

George Fischer

Part Two

Hiking & biking in Pinawa

Travel east of Beausejour for 55 km to Pinawa, nestled where PR 211 ends along the scenic shores of the Winnipeg River. Pinawa is a hub for outdoor recreation in all seasons because of the town's public waterfront and extensive network of trails, which are part of The Trans Canada Trail.

One of the most popular routes is the Ironwood Trail, which commences at the town beach (where you'll also find family favourite inflatable waterpark Hoopla Island every summer). The trail encircles the town and offers beautiful views of the area's granite ridges, mixed forests and calming waters. Be on the lookout for wildlife such as deer, beavers, turtles along the shore, and plenty of birds overhead. This trail connects to Pinawa Channel Heritage Walk, where a photogenic suspension bridge spans the iconic channel. On the other side of the bridge, the trail plunges deep into Canadian Shield wilderness.

Bike rentals are available at Pinawa Motel for those who prefer covering ground by two wheels.

George Fischer
Sean Scott

Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park

Built in 1906, Pinawa Dam was Manitoba's first hydro-electric generating station and was crucial to providing power to a burgeoning Winnipeg at the turn of the 20th century. Turning off the power in the 1950s, the dam is now a popular heritage park and day trip destination. The site is located just 10 kms from town, and includes self-guided walking trails around the concrete monolith to learn the engineering history. Consider packing a picnic and setting up on the flat granite rocks by the rapids to dip your toes while you lunch.

Play the Channel

Whether you choose kayak, canoe, SUP, or the ever-popular inflatable tube or raft, floating the Pinawa Channel is a must-do summer activity in Manitoba. Plan to spend 2-3 hours navigating the lazy river as it gently pulls you downstream from the launch near the golf course to the suspension bridge. To make it easy, visitors can book a tour time and equipment with companies Float and Paddle and Pinawa Unplugged Eco-Tours.

House on the water

Immerse yourself in the scenery with an overnight stay aboard Voyageur Houseboats, handcrafted tiny houseboat rentals anchored among the islands just minutes offshore from Pinawa in Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Part Three

Family fishing in Lac du Bonnet

Continue on your road trip to the neighbouring town only 25 kms away, the lovely Lac du Bonnet. With over 60 kilometers of nearby lakes and rivers, Lac du Bonnet is a popular, multi-species hotspot for both experienced and newbie anglers. Even if you don't own a boat to get out on the water, there are endless accessible shoreline spots where you can cast your line for a few hours. Head into town and cast a line from the lovely town pier, while the kids play off the dock at the town beach. Or drive just out of town on PR 313 to fish from the shore beside the Lac du Bonnet Bridge.

Turn your fishing afternoon into an overnight adventure by renting a cute family cabin at Granite Recreation Park off Cape Coppermine Road in the Lee River area. The resort also features GiGi's drive-in restaurant, a convenience store, seasonal RV campground and boat launch, making it the perfect all-inclusive getaway to fish around Lac du Bonnet.

Nearby Granite Hills Golf Course is in the top three of Manitoba's most picturesque courses. With sweeping views of Lac du Bonnet and fairways flanked by rock ridges, Granite Hills shows off Manitoba's incredible Canadian Shield scenery. If your road trip does not permit for a full 18-rounds, hit a few balls at the driving range at least.

Granite Hills
Granite Hills

Events under the sun

Lac du Bonnet has a few signature summer events that bring together the community, cabin-goers, and road tripping visitors. The town is renowned for having the best fireworks display in rural Manitoba on Canada Day, which happens over the water at the town beach. The award-winning Fire & Ice Music Festival brings live music acts to multiple outdoor stages in town every August long weekend. The Farmers' Market is one of the largest in Manitoba with over 90 vendors to discover local goods, gifts and produce. It takes place Saturday mornings from May long weekend to September long weekend.

Fire & Water Music Festival

Where to stay en route

Hotels: Pinawa Motel, Wilderness Edge Resort (Pinawa)

Unique stays: Hidden Haven Tiny Cabins (Pinawa), Lazy Days Lodge (Lac du Bonnet), L'Eau Calme Resort (Pinawa)

Campgrounds: Great Woods Campground (Beausejour), Relax Ridge (Pinawa)