18 Top Tourist Attractions & Places to Visit in Winnipeg
Author Michael Law grew up in Winnipeg. He and author Lana Law lived in the city for many years and return every year.
Winnipeg is known internationally as the home of the Winnipeg Jets, the city's NHL team, but nationally it is also appreciated for its outstanding arts and cultural scene. Residents, known informally as "Peggers," enjoy a very active cultural life, with everything from drama and ballet to concerts and opera on offer. More recently, the city has gained recognition for the addition of its newest major attraction, the impressive Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Situated equidistant from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers, Winnipeg is the heart of central Canada. One of Winnipeg's most popular attractions, The Forks is located where these two rivers meet.
The city's extreme climate of hot summers and cold winters means the range of things to do in Winnipeg varies by season. But there is always plenty to enjoy here. For ideas on where to start your visit, see our list of the top attractions and places to visit in Winnipeg.
See also: Where to Stay in Winnipeg
1. The Forks
Highlights: Restaurants, unique shops, and a fresh food market housed in a historical building
A year-round destination for locals and tourists, The Forks is the place to visit in winter or summer, with indoor and outdoor activities. Located where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers join, The Forks is a shopping and entertainment district set in 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, restaurants, and museums.
The main building is The Forks Market, where fruit and vegetable sellers set up in the main hall, and food vendors cook up a variety of tasty dishes. Stores are found on two levels. You can also walk up the lookout tower to get a bird's-eye view over the river and the city. The Johnston Terminal Building is another historic building with a variety of shops.
In summer, people come to The Forks to enjoy indoor and outdoor dining or play on the river. The Riverwalk is a pleasant walking trail along the riverfront, which will take you over to another of Winnipeg's key attractions, the Legislative Building. One of the most popular things to do in winter is to skate at The Forks ice-skating rink or on the frozen river.
2. Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Highlights: Eleven galleries showcasing human rights history housed in an architecturally stunning building
This recent addition to Winnipeg's cultural scene, The Museum of Human Rights, has become the city's state-of-the-art architectural landmark. The museum is known both for its spectacular building design and its unique concept of presenting human rights stories.
You enter the museum on the ground floor and ascend over six levels, visiting 11 galleries along the way. It has proved controversial in many ways but is no doubt an important Canadian cultural institution. In addition to the galleries, there is also the Israel Asper Tower of Hope, which provides wonderful views out over the city.
Address: 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg, Manitoba
3. The Manitoba Museum
Highlights: Fossils, a 17th-century sailing ship, a planetarium, and interactive exhibits
The Manitoba Museum is primarily devoted to the human and natural history of the province. The nine permanent galleries showcase the best of what the province has to offer, and the highly interactive Science Gallery and Planetarium introduces the vastness of the night sky on its domed screen.
Highlights of the museum include a 95-million-year-old Pliosaur fossil, a display that recreates the northern lights, and a recreated Hudson Bay fur trading post.
One of the most famous exhibits is the Nonsuch, a 17th-century replica ketch sailing ship. You can climb on board and explore all areas of the ship to see the hardships of the brave souls that crossed the Atlantic way back when. The museum is located downtown, not far from the Exchange District.
Address: 190 Rupert Ave, Winnipeg
4. Assiniboine Park and Zoo
Highlights: One of Canada's best zoos, a mini steam train, and the Leo Mol Sculpture Gardens
Assiniboine Park is Winnipeg's oldest park, encompassing 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, including a significant number of polar bears, though there are also some exotic species such as the Siberian tigers and red kangaroos.
Another attraction in the park is the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. Here, you'll find an extensive collection of his brass pieces created using the lost-wax method of sculpture. His beautiful works of art are arranged in a magnificent colorful garden complete with water features and mature trees.
Located in the same area is the Leo Mol Gallery, a restored schoolhouse where the artist created many of his works. The interior of the building has additional pieces along with a display showing how the lost-wax method works.
If you are traveling with youngsters, a fun thing to do in Assiniboine Park is ride the 4-8-2 miniature steam train. The train runs along a narrow gauge track and leaves from an area just west of the Pavilion building. The train runs daily throughout the summer and on weekends in September and October. The fee to ride is very modest.
Looking for a bit of nature? To the south, a large nature reserve adjoins the park, where deer and other animal sightings are common.
Address: 55 Pavilion Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba
5. Legislative Building
Highlights: A spectacular early 20th-century building, the Golden Boy statute, and lush gardens
Built of local Tyndall stone and Italian marble, the magnificent Neoclassical Legislative Building in Winnipeg was completed in 1919. Unique features of the building include hidden hieroglyphics, Freemason symbols, and secret numerical codes. Tours are offered weekly and are led by an architectural historian.
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 a sheaf of wheat on his left arm symbolize Manitoba's enduring agricultural prosperity.
Address: 450 Broadway, Winnipeg, Manitoba
6. Experience the Festival du Voyageur
Highlights: Live music, dancing, celebrations, French Canadian food, and wacky contests
Festival du Voyageur is Winnipeg's most popular winter festival. Taking place in February, this event celebrates the traditions of the French Voyageurs — the fur traders of early Canada. The festival includes entertainment and events for children and adults, with activities in French and English.
Large tents are set up outdoors at Voyageur Park and other sites in the city, where you can find live music, food, dancing, and more. Make sure you don't miss the stunning ice and snow sculptures, one of the highlights of the festival. Another festival tradition is the beard-growing contest. Participants have 10 weeks prior to the festival to grow their best beard in four categories.
7. Winnipeg Art Gallery
Highlights: An artwork collection of 25,000 pieces, an exceptional collection of Inuit Art
Housed in a very modern building shaped like the bow of a ship, the Winnipeg Art Gallery possesses 25,000 pieces spread across collections of classic and contemporary art by Canadian, American, European, and Inuit artists.
New in 2021, the former Inuit Art Gallery has been renamed and is now known as Quamajuq. In this brand-new architecturally stunning 40,000-square-foot building are over 14,000 pieces of Inuit Art. The craftsmanship of the Inuit is on display throughout the gallery, but the most impressive area is the three-story-high Visible Vault showcasing 7,500 pieces.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery 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. The gallery is located downtown and is not far from The Forks.
Address: 300 Memorial Blvd, Winnipeg
8. The Exchange District National Historic Site
Highlights: Trendy restaurants, shops, and galleries housed in turn-of-the-century buildings
Turn-of-the-century Victorian and Edwardian commercial architecture define 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, banks, 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.
9. Fort Whyte Alive
Highlights: Bison, prairie dogs, lakes for paddling, and an interpretive center
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, including burrowing owls. Outdoors, visitors can watch the bison herd, visit the bird-feeding stations, see the sod house, or watch the antics of the prairie dogs at the prairie dog town.
Fort Whyte Alive has seven kilometers of walking and cycling trails, and sailing and paddling courses are taught in the summer on the small lakes. In the winter, a giant ice-skating rink, toboggan run, and cross-country ski trails are available for those keen to get outside and enjoy the cooler temperatures.
Address: 1961 McCreary Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba
10. Royal Canadian Mint
Highlight: A rare chance to see how money is made
The Royal Canadian Mint produces coins not just for Canada, but for a number of other countries as well. In fact, over 55 billion coins have been produced here. You can follow the whole minting process in the recently renovated tour area. Interactive displays show how coins are manufactured from start to finish.
The on-site museum does an excellent job of showing visitors the ancient history of how coins and currency first started. The ultra-modern, triangular-shaped building also contains a tropical garden and fountain. Reservations for the 45-minute tours are recommended.
11. Corydon Avenue
Highlights: Restaurants, some with sunny patios, offering cuisines from around the world
This bustling tree-lined street is where locals come to unwind, catch up on the latest trends, and enjoy some downtime. Small, trendy shops with the latest unique fashions will pique your interest.
Restaurants, many of them with outdoor patios in summer, offer a wide range of cuisines. Also of note is the street art — eight large metal figures on display each summer represent the countries of Spain, Greece, Argentina, Japan, Ukraine, Italy, France, and Scotland.
Concerts also take place most Friday and Saturday nights and feature a diverse selection of musicians. The main area is Along Corydon Avenue from Daly Street to Harrow Street, and parking can be a bit challenging.
12. St. Boniface Cathedral
Highlights: A unique mix of historical and modern architecture
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 nearby 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: 180 Cathédrale Ave, Saint-Boniface, Manitoba
13. Manitoba Children's Museum
Highlights: Twelve interesting and interactive galleries that kids love, plus traveling exhibits
The Manitoba Children's Museum is housed in a state-of-the-art facility located at The Forks. Inside this unique building, you'll find 12 interactive permanent galleries, which will appeal to children of all ages.
The galleries range from the Milk Machine, featuring a giant cow cube you can actually go inside, to the Engine House, where kids will find a multitude of gears and levers to pull. Also of interest is the Lasagna Lookout, where your kids are allowed to play with their food.
In addition to the permanent galleries, the museum also hosts traveling exhibits and has special events around key dates like Halloween and Christmas.
Address: 45 Forks Market Rd, Winnipeg, Manitoba
14. Manitoba Centennial Centre
Highlights: The city's cultural heart, home to classical music, opera, and ballet performances
If you are looking for things to do in the evening in Winnipeg, particularly during the winter months, have a look at what's happening at the Manitoba Centennial Centre. Consisting of the Centennial Concert Hall, the Manitoba Museum, and the Manitoba Theatre Centre, this 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 Street, Winnipeg
15. Riel House National Historic Site
Highlight: A restored Red River-frame home from the late 19th century
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 descendants lived in this house until 1969.
Riel House is open seasonally in the summer, June, July, and August only.
Address: 330 River Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba
16. Kildonan Park
Highlights: A massive outdoor pool, theater performances in the summer, recreation trails
Some of the province's most ancient trees grow in the delightful Kildonan Park, along with splendid flower gardens and a Hänsel and Gretel Witch's Hut. The park is spread over 99 acres and has 2.7 kilometers of recreation trails, much of it running along the Red River.
This is an ideal spot for bird-watchers. Kildonan Park is also home to Canada's longest-running open-air theater, Rainbow Stage. Other tourist attractions include an outdoor swimming pool and golf course.
Address: 2015 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
17. Prairie Dog Central Railway
Highlight: A ride through the prairies on a restored steam locomotive train
The Prairie Dog Central is a fully restored, steam-powered locomotive offering trips from Winnipeg to Grosse Isle. The train consists of vintage coaches, which carry visitors on this 60- to 75-minute journey, including a stopover before returning to Winnipeg. Various themed excursions are offered including train robberies, Halloween events, and more.
18. Living Prairie Museum & Interpretive Centre
Highlights: Displays showcasing the history of the prairies plus an outdoor interpretive walk
The Living Prairie Museum lands preserve one of the few remaining vestiges of tall grass 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.
The museum grounds cover 16.3 hectares, and a self-guided trail winds its way throughout the area. Grab a pamphlet and stop along the way at the numbered posts to learn more about the flora and fauna surrounding you.
Address: 2795 Ness Ave, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Where to Stay in Winnipeg for Sightseeing
The best area for tourists to stay in Winnipeg is right downtown, close to many of the city's top attractions. These include The Forks, the Legislative Building, the Exchange District, and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, all of which are located in the city center. Below are some highly rated hotels in good locations.
- The Fairmont Hotel occupies a prime location at the junction of Portage & Main Streets, in the heart of downtown Winnipeg. From here, you can easily access the underground mall and walk to The Forks and the Exchange District, as well as several museums.
- For a completely different experience, try Mariaggi's Theme Suite Hotel & Spa. The uniquely designed rooms follow various themes, and the Caribbean and India rooms even have waterfalls. This hotel also offers easy access to the dining and entertainment of the Exchange District.
- Located right at The Forks, the Inn at the Forks has one of the best locations for visitors, especially in summer. This boutique hotel offers contemporary décor and sleek blown-glass vanities, along with the convenience of the on-site Riverstone Spa.
- For a historical experience, be sure to check out the Fort Garry Hotel dating from 1913. Rooms are a bit small due to the design style at the time, but the hotel offers the grandeur and sophistication of the era. The Fort Garry is conveniently located across the street from The Forks.
- Enjoying a prime riverfront location, the boutique Mere Hotel is another quality mid-range option, just steps from the vibrant Exchange District.
- A good-value option, not far from the city center is the Humphry Inn & Suites.
- If your main destination is the Winnipeg Mint, or you are just looking for good value, the Super 8 by Wyndham Winnipeg East is a great option.
- The Holiday Inn & Suites Winnipeg Downtown is a bit farther out from the heart of the city but is ideal for those interested in visiting the Winnipeg Art Gallery, located a short stroll away.
Best Time to Visit Winnipeg
Without a doubt, the best time to visit Winnipeg is in the summer. The months of July and August are the best, with guaranteed warm weather and sunny days. The city and parks are green and lush. Also at this time, the city is alive with festivals and events, including Folklorama and the Red River Exhibition.
June is also a good time to visit, with warm temperatures and exceptionally long days. The sun doesn't set until nearly 10pm. September is also good — you'll get the added bonus of seeing the leaves change color as the month progresses.
May is okay; the last two weeks see the trees and flowers bloom and the trees burst forth with their leaves. October sees the occasional burst of warm weather, but the days get shorter quickly, and the nights are cold.
Winter in Winnipeg is brutally cold. Most years it starts in November and doesn't end until late April.
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