AAA Travel Tips / 8 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in Winnipeg, Manitoba

8 Off-the-Beaten-Path Things to Do in Winnipeg, Manitoba

AAA/Katie McPhee
By AAA Travel Editor Katie McPhee
July 05, 2019
Whether you’re into historic districts or urban nature parks, there are plenty of interesting places in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that aren’t your typical tourist hotspots. Find the best hidden gems in Winnipeg with this handy list.
Old brick warehouse with a hand-painted advertisement in the Exchange District in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
Exchange District
Centered around Old Market Square (Bannatyne Avenue and King Street)
(204) 942-6716
Walk the streets of Winnipeg’s Exchange District to see why it has been called the “Chicago of the North.” The roughly 20-block area is said to have one of the largest intact collections of turn-of-the-20th-century architecture in North America. A few spots in the Exchange are worth a look: Tiny Feast (217 McDermot Ave.) has stationary and artsy gifts; Tara Davis Studio Boutique (246 McDermot Ave.) features handmade goods from local makers; and Forth (171 McDermot Ave.) is a hipster-cool coffee shop with a basement bar. To learn more about the area’s history, take a guided walking tour with the Exchange District BIZ (offered by appointment May-August; phone (204) 942-6716).
Colorful mural by Mike Valcourt on the Historic Rail Bridge at The Forks in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
The Forks
1 Forks Market Rd.
(204) 947-9236
You’ll want to spend at least an afternoon exploring The Forks, the 23-hectare (56-acre) site located where the Red and Assiniboine rivers meet. With a history dating back 6,000 years, The Forks has long been a favorite meeting place for locals and visitors alike. Today the site is home to big-name Winnipeg attractions like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), but you’ll also find some off-the-beaten-path spots. For starters, we recommend taking a waterfront stroll on the River Walk (open in summer), checking out the restored rail cars near The Forks Market food hall, browsing aboriginal art and gifts in Johnston Terminal and crossing the Historic Rail Bridge to see a colorful mural and the “Niimaamaa” sculpture.
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Central food court with communal tables at The Forks Market in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
The Forks Market
1 Forks Market Rd.
(204) 957-9236
When hunger hits, the best place to go for sweet treats and local eats in Winnipeg is The Forks Market. The sheer number of vendors inside the two-story market can be overwhelming, but we recommend sampling items from as many places as your eyes—and stomach—can handle. Some must-try goodies: cinnamon buns from Tall Grass Prairie, hot dogs and poutine at Skinner’s, fish and chips from Fergie’s, grab-and-go Indian food at Taste of Sri Lanka and colorful macarons from Jenna Rae Cakes. Once adequately nourished, head upstairs to browse unique souvenirs and handmade gifts at the Forks Trading Company and other stores.
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Tipi with bison painted on it against a background of pure blue sky at FortWhyte Alive in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
FortWhyte Alive
1961 McCreary Rd.
(204) 989-8355
Lace up your walking shoes and hit the trails at FortWhyte Alive for a one-of-a-kind nature experience just 30 minutes from downtown Winnipeg. Easy-to-follow maps and interpretive signs will guide you through aspen forests, past open prairies and around lakes and ponds to see birds, prairie dogs, deer and other wildlife. You’ll also have the chance to observe FortWhyte’s bison herd from a distance, step inside a tepee, climb to the top of a treehouse and walk across floating boardwalks in a marshy wetland. Check the FortWhyte Alive event calendar before your visit, as they offer guided walks and workshops throughout the year.
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Taproom with gold-painted umbrellas on the ceiling at Nonsuch Brewing Co. in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
Nonsuch Brewing Co.
125 Pacific Ave.
(204) 666-7824
Winnipeg’s craft beer scene is flourishing thanks to a recent relaxation of provincial liquor laws, so partake in the bounty with a stop at one of the city’s popular microbreweries. Nonsuch Brewing Co. serves Belgian-style beers in an Instagram-worthy taproom complete with gold-painted umbrellas on the ceiling. You can raise a glass with the locals and then pick up a souvenir sweater or gold-rimmed beer glass to remember your trip. (Keep in mind that many Winnipeg breweries are closed on Sundays and Mondays. If you’re visiting Winnipeg on those days, head to The Common at The Forks Market for a great selection of local brews available daily.)
Red upholstered booths and dark wood accents inside the Resto Gare restaurant in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
Resto Gare
630 Des Meurons St.
AAA Inspector Rating
(204) 237-7072
Housed in a converted 1913 train station—complete with an attached rail car that now serves as a dining area— Resto Gare is one of the best hidden gem restaurants in Winnipeg. The family-owned spot is a local favorite for French bistro cuisine served in a romantic setting. Plush red upholstery, dark wood beams, live jazz on Thursday nights and bilingual service (the waitstaff will greet you in French) set the mood for a memorable meal of foie gras, filet mignon, beef bourguignonne, seafood crepes and other classics. When the server rolls the dessert cart over to your table at meal’s end, be sure to try the maple sugar pie, a popular French-Canadian treat.
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Glass-windowed exterior of the Royal Canadian Mint with Canadian flags in the foreground in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
AAA/Katie McPhee
Royal Canadian Mint
520 Lagimodière Blvd.
(204) 984-1144
Did you know that all circulation coins in Canada—plus the coins for more than 70 foreign countries—are made in Winnipeg? Learn about facts like this one on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Royal Canadian Mint, where the production facility can mint up to 20 million Canadian coins in a single day. The 45-minute tour will give you a peek into the manufacturing process and the many steps involved, and afterward you can browse the gift shop for collector coins with colorful designs.
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Limestone facade and walls of the St. Boniface Cathedral in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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St. Boniface (Winnipeg's French Quarter)
Just east of downtown Winnipeg, across the Red River
(204) 233-8343 (Tourisme Riel)
Cross the Esplanade Riel footbridge to discover St. Boniface, the largest francophone (French-speaking) community in Western Canada. Stop by the Tourisme Riel tourist information center (219 Provencher Blvd.) to join a guided walking tour or explore the neighborhood on your own—the district is filled with historic buildings and photo-worthy spots. You’ll definitely want to visit the St. Boniface Cathedral (180 Avenue de la Cathedrale) to see what’s left of the 1908 basilica; while most of the structure was damaged by fire in 1968, the beautiful limestone façade and a few walls remain. In the churchyard is another landmark—the tombstone of Louis Riel, the Métis leader celebrated as Winnipeg’s founder.
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