Located right in the heart of North America, Winnipeg is the hip, happening capital of Manitoba. The city has it all, including world-class attractions, an innovative arts and entertainment scene, historic sites and exhibits, countless tantalizing local restaurants, luxurious spas, and fabulous shopping. This itinerary points out Winnipeg’s signature experiences that can’t be missed.
Throughout the year, you can take a tour and see the city through an expert’s eyes with both Ô Tours and Heartland International Travel and Tours. Led by fun and informative guides, both companies can show your group the best that Winnipeg has to offer — from architecture, to attractions, to our unique neighbourhoods — all while dropping fascinating tidbits about the city’s colourful history.
At the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), one can spend hours ascending its 11 permanent galleries while being immersed in new media exhibits featuring ground-breaking technologies that illuminate human rights stories that span the globe across space and time.
The CMHR also offers two guided tours in English and French throughout the day, including the Explore the Galleries Tour, which details the Museum’s innovative exhibitions and architecture and the Discover the Building Tour, which reveals the building itself to be one encompassing metaphor for human rights. Of particular note for groups is the special Mikinak- Keya Spirit Tour (which must be booked in advance), where Indigenous guides reveal how the sacred teachings and oral histories of the region’s Indigenous peoples have been presented in the Museum’s architecture.
A signature Winnipeg itinerary wouldn’t be complete without heading to Assiniboine Park — it simply is something you must do.
For starters, Assiniboine Park Zoo’s Journey to Churchill exhibit is a designated Canadian Signature Experience (along with being the winner of multiple zoo awards), and is the world’s most comprehensive northern species exhibit. Here, you can spend time watching polar bears play overhead, see movie star wolves (they starred in The Grey opposite Liam Neeson), muskox, Arctic fox, snow owls, and many more species in their massive enclosures that have been created to mimic the Subarctic region of Churchill, Manitoba.
On top of that, Assiniboine Park is verdant in the summer, with splendid attractions like the lush and fragrant Formal and English Gardens, along with the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden — where you’ll find hundreds of works from the master artist. There’s also plenty to see indoors in the park all year round, including the balmy Conservatory — which is choke full of towering trees and an impressive array of flora and fauna; the Pooh Gallery inside the Pavilion — where you’ll learn about the world’s most-famous bear’s connection to the city; Winnipeg Art Gallery at the Pavilion; and the Qualico Family Centre — a restaurant and event space overlooking the duck pond.
In the afternoon, a trip to FortWhyte Alive — a picturesque nature reserve located right within the city — is surely in order. Here, your group can experience another Canadian Signature Experience, that being A Prairie Legacy: The Bison and its People. This tour gets you up close to a grunting, munching herd of North America’s largest land animal, the bison (FYI: bison are heavier than polar and grizzly bears), while learning their importance in the history of the region’s Indigenous peoples. You’ll be regaled with tales in a Plains Cree Tipi, and either go snowshoeing in winter, or paddling on FortWhyte’s lakes in robust Voyageur canoes in summer.
Manitoba’s number one attraction, The Forks National Historic Site, is a four-season destination. Some of its many features include: a world-class skate park; entertaining walking tours from Parks Canada; a bustling market — home to shops selling local wares and food kiosks by some of Winnipeg’s best restaurants; river boat tours in the summer and the world’s longest naturally frozen skating trail in the winter; and spiffy art installations like the Cool Gardens (summer) and Warming Huts (winter), which have been designed by some of the globe’s most well-known architects, artists, and design firms.
Immerse your group in French-Canadian culture by spending the afternoon in Winnipeg’s French Quarter, St. Boniface. Begin with a guided walking tour of the neighbourhood, where you’ll discover the unique architecture, atmosphere and charm of this vibrant community that reflects both the determination and joie de vivre of Franco- Manitobans.
In the evening, head to the Manitoba Legislative Building, one of the most fascinating and impressive neoclassical buildings in Canada. Its primary architect, Frank Worthington Simon, was a freemason who secretly created a temple of hermetic knowledge using symbolism, Greek and Assyrian mythology, hieroglyphics and numerical architectural features — a fact that lay hidden in plain sight for over a century. On a Hermetic Code Tour – A Canadian Signature Experience often hosted by Dr. Frank Albo, the architectural historian who uncovered this mystery — this staggering building will be brought to life in an evening of intrigue that will ensure you never look at architecture the same way.