15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Winnipeg
Winnipeg, the "Prairie capital", is situated equidistant from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. Since the founding of fur trading post Fort Rouge in 1738, Winnipeg has evolved to become the capital of Manitoba. A leader in the arts, Winnipeg enjoys a very active cultural life offering everything from drama and ballet to concerts and opera. Some of the attraction highlights include the Forks Market, Assiniboine Park in the summer, and the Manitoba Museum. But the recently built Canadian Museum for Human Rights is now one of the city's must see attractions and a great addition to both Winnipeg and Canada.
Ethnic diversity is one of the hallmarks of Winnipeg, with Britons, Germans, and Ukrainians heading the list of the many ethnic groups. St. Boniface, the French quarter, has the largest Francophone community west of Québec.
See also: Where to Stay in Winnipeg
1 The Forks
The Forks, where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers meet, is a shopping and entertainment district that has been created within a number of historic buildings. The site was once a railway repair facility, and over the years, the various buildings have been meticulously restored to house a mix of interesting shops and services. A lookout is located in one of the buildings and is a good spot to get a bird's eye view of the area. Pleasant walking trails along the riverfront will take visitors over to another of Winnipeg's key attractions, the Legislative Building. Near the Forks, the Winnipeg Goldeyes play minor league baseball at the Shaw Park.
2 Canadian Museum for Human Rights
This recent addition to the Winnipeg cultural scene has become the city's state-of-the-art landmark, reflecting human rights in Canada and around the world. The museum is known both for it's unique building design and it's unique concept in presenting human rights stories. It has proved controversial in many ways but is no doubt an important Canadian cultural institution.
3 The Manitoba Museum
The Manitoba Museum is primarily devoted to the human and natural history of the province, with its broad range spanning 17th-century ships to the glam of the roaring 20s. A highly interactive Science Gallery is educational and fun, while the museum's Planetarium introduces the vastness of the night sky on its domed screen.
Address: 190 Rupert Ave, Winnipeg
4 Assiniboine Park
Winnipeg's oldest park, Assiniboine encompasses 445 hectares of grassy lawns, mature trees, cultural facilities, and an English garden. The Assiniboine Park Zoo is located within its grounds and is home to a wide variety of animals, flora, and fauna. Special emphasis is given to creatures of the northern latitudes (many of which are indigenous to Canada), though there are also some exotic species such as the Siberian tiger and red kangaroo. Other attractions in the park include the 4-8-2 steam train and the world famous Leo Mol sculpture garden. To the south, a nature reserve adjoins the park.
Address: 55 Pavilion Cres, Winnipeg
5 Legislative Building
Built of local Tyndall stone and Italian marble, the magnificent neoclassical Legislative Building in Winnipeg was completed in 1919. It contains the provincial legislative chambers, the Premier's office, and some government departments. The lavish grounds feature statues, monuments, and manicured gardens. Surmounting the 72-meter dome is a statue known as the Golden Boy, a four-meter-high bronze weighing five tons and plated with 23.5 carat gold. A torch in his right hand and sheaf of wheat on his left arm symbolize Manitoba's enduring agricultural prosperity.
Address: 450 Broadway, Winnipeg
6 Winnipeg Art Gallery
Housed in a very modern building shaped like the bow of a ship, the Winnipeg Art Gallery possesses fine collections of classic and contemporary art by Canadian, American, European, and Inuit artists. It is Western Canada's oldest art gallery and frequently hosts events and a wide range of artists, from poets to jazz musicians. Be sure to check out the very unique triangular rooftop sculpture garden for views over the city.
Address: 300 Memorial Blvd, Winnipeg
7 Exchange District
Turn-of-the-century Victorian and Edwardian commercial architecture defines Winnipeg's Exchange District, its name a reflection of the many financial institutions that sprung up in Winnipeg between the 1880s and 1920s. More recently, the Exchange District has seen a revival with old warehouses, bank, and business premises being converted into fashion boutiques, up-market shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Old Market Square is the unofficial heart of the area, and the site of various events and festivals in the summer months. The Exchange District is also a focus for the city's cultural life with an impressive selection of venues including the Pantages Playhouse Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, and Manitoba Centennial Centre.
8 Fort Whyte Alive
Spread over 259 hectares, Fort Whyte Alive is known for its five lakes, grassy parkland, and bog boardwalks. The interpretive center is home to an aquarium and nature exhibits. Outdoors, visitors can watch the bison herd, birds, prairie dogs, and other wildlife, or undertake a canoe or kayak trip.
Address: 1961 McCreary Road, Winnipeg
9 St. Boniface Cathedral
St. Boniface Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in western Canada, founded in 1818. The building was considered Manitoba's best example of French Romanesque architecture, but it has been rebuilt on several occasions due to fire - though the modern cathedral incorporates the historic façade. Set in a pleasant park, the cemetery is Western Canada's oldest Catholic burial ground. It has many old gravestones of the first settlers and key figures from days long past, including the grave of Louis Riel. The St. Boniface Museum, the oldest building in Winnipeg, was constructed in 1846 for the Grey Nuns and was the first convent, hospital, girls' school, and orphanage in the Canadian West. After restoration in 1967, it became a museum documenting the history of Manitoba's French minority.
Address: 190 Cathédrale Ave, Saint-Boniface
10 Manitoba Children's Museum
The Manitoba Children's Museum was started by Linda Isitt in 1982, and has grown exponentially over the years. Today, it is housed in a state-of-the-art facility located at The Forks, with an emphasis on creative learning and hands-on exhibits.
Address: 45 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg
11 Manitoba Centennial Centre
The Manitoba Centennial Centre consists of the Centennial Concert Hall, the Manitoba Museum, and the Manitoba Theatre Centre. It is the home venue for the city's premier arts organizations, including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and Manitoba Opera. Around the building, attractive fountains and sculptures embellish lovely terraced gardens.
Address: 555 Main St, Winnipeg
12 Festival du Voyageur
Festival du Voyageur is an annual winter festival (February) held in Winnipeg, carrying on the tradition of the French Voyageurs - the fur traders of early Canada. The festival includes entertainment and events. Large tents are set up outdoors with live music, food, dancing, and more. Visitors should dress warmly.
13 Riel House National Historic Site
Riel House belonged to Louis Riel's family and has been restored to reflect the social, economic, and cultural realities of life for the Lagimodière and Riel families in 1886. Louis Riel was the leader of the Metis and the founder of Manitoba. He led several rebellions in 1869 and 1884. He was executed in 1885, and his body lay in state at Riel House for two days. The house, in the Red River frame-style, is typical of early settler homes in the Manitoba region. Riel's descendents lived in this house until 1969.
Address: 330 River Road, Winnipeg
14 Kildonan Park
Some of the province's most ancient trees grow in the delightful Kildonan Park, along with splendid flower gardens, a Hänsel and Gretel Witch's Hut, and an open-air theater. Other tourist attractions include an outdoor swimming pool and golf course. Kildonan Park has a wide variety of walking and cycling trails, and park maps are posted to help visitors find their way.
The ultimate Kildonan Park experience is a picnic in the park, followed by a swim in the pool, topped off with an evening of entertainment at the outdoor theater.
Address: 2015 Main St, Winnipeg
Winnipeg's first Chinese residents migrated to Canada to work on the transcontinental railroad, more than a century ago. The rather isolated Chinese community only really started to expand in the 1920s, with many businesses ranging from exotic spice shops and silk emporia to laundries and restaurants. Although a tourist attraction, Winnipeg's Chinatown still manages to preserve its distinctive atmosphere.
Where to Stay in Winnipeg for Sightseeing
We recommend these great hotels in the city center with easy access to The Forks and Exchange District:
- Fairmont Winnipeg: four-star luxury, attentive service, well-appointed guest rooms, inviting saltwater pool with city views.
- Inn at the Forks: mid-range boutique hotel in The Forks, contemporary decor, soothing spa with a white cedar sauna.
- Mere Hotel: mid-range boutique hotel, riverfront location in the Exchange District, contemporary building, sleek design.
- Best Western Plus Downtown Winnipeg: budget-friendly rates, comfortable rooms, helpful staff.
Other Points of Interest
Royal Canadian Mint
The Royal Canadian Mint produces coins not just for Canada, but for a number of other countries as well. Anyone interested can follow the whole minting process with excellent tours that show how coins are manufactured from start to finish. The on-site museum does an excellent job of showing visitors how coins and currency first started. The ultra-modern building also contains a tropical garden and fountain.
Oseredok - the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre
Housed in a striking red brick building, this Ukrainian education centre comprises a historical and ethnographic museum, art gallery, and library. The folk art collection includes embroideries, weaving, pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs), wood carvings, ceramics, and traditional costume.
Winnipeg is noted for its large Ukrainian community, and Oseredok is a testament to the community's strong desire to preserve its history.
Address: 184 Alexander Ave E, Winnipeg
Prairie Dog Central Railway
The Prairie Dog Central is a fully restored, steam-powered locomotive offering trips across the prairies. The train consists of vintage coaches, which carry visitors to Grosse Isle and Warren. Various themed excursions are offered including train robberies, Halloween events, and more.
Portage Place Shopping Centre
Located in an architecturally striking development, Portage Place is a collection of shops, offices, restaurants, and movie theaters. The shopping center was parts of a 1980s downtown revitalization program. And for those visiting in the winter, the complex boasts underground heated parking.
Address: 393 Portage Ave, Winnipeg
Western Canada Aviation Museum
Near the airport, the Western Canada Aviation Museum is the second largest of its kind in Canada. As well as displaying several vintage aircraft, the museum traces the significance of aviation in Canada's history. There are also several modern aircraft, some of which visitors can climb into.
Address: 958 Ferry Road, Winnipeg
Living Prairie Museum & Interpretive Centre
The Living Prairie Museum is one of the few remaining vestiges of natural prairie land. It harbors 150 species of native grasses and wildflowers, and has an excellent interpretive center. A second-story platform allows visitors to gaze out at the preserved prairie - a now, greatly diminished ecosystem that once covered one million square kilometers throughout North America.
Address: 2795 Ness Ave, Winnipeg