Winnipeg is not representative of Manitoba as a whole – and I can only encourage people to come out of the city perimeter to find out what is going on outside, in the small towns, the micro museums, in nature and in the parks.
To start exploring smoothly without having to drive too much, I’ve compiled 12 things to do in Manitoba, all (or almost all) located within an hour’s drive of Winnipeg.
12 things to do in Manitoba near Winnipeg
- Birds Hill and Cooks Creek
- Oak Hammock Marsh
- Manitoba Marine Museum, Selkirk
- Gimli and Camp Morton
- Fort la Reine Museum, Portage-la-Prairie
- A maze in corn, Saint-Adolphe
- The Food Farm and Discovery Center, Glenlea
- The Centre of Canada
- Saint-Malo Provincial Park
- Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site
- Narcisse and its snakes
- Pinawa’s Old Dam
Birds Hill and Cooks Creek
Let’s start with the easiest and closest to Winnipeg: Birds Hill Provincial Park. The park has two beaches, many trails suitable for all types of activities: walking, cycling and horseback riding in winter, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or walking in winter.
Note: a pass, daily or annual, associated with the vehicle is required. I recommend the annual pass if you can because the value is unbeatable: $50 a year to access all parks across the province.
On the way to the park, it is also a must to see the magnificent Ukrainian Church of Cooks Creek, whose construction began in 1930.
Oak Hammock Marsh
I discovered Oak Hammock Marsh in the spring of 2021 and wish I had been there before – this bird sanctuary is awesome. I haven’t visited the interpretation center yet, but there are well-marked trails with free access, plenty of Geocaching and activities offered all year round.
Last summer, I was able to kayak among the ducks, it was a great experience.
Manitoba Marine Museum, Selkirk
A Marine Museum in a Prairie province? Yes, it’s possible!
The captain in you will love the Manitoba Marine Museum, which allows to board several ships that have been in service in Manitoba – for sure, there is no sea here, but there are thousands of lakes … We also learn a lot about the floods that hit the province at regular intervals and the slow transformation of popular tourism and public transport in favour of highways and cars.
Note: the museum is not open in the winter.
Gimli and Camp Morton
Two outings in Manitoba in one: the town of Gimli is a seaside resort, with a pebble beach and fish and chips. It is famous for its Icelandic heritage (there is also the New Iceland Museum which I must visit), the Viking Statue and the Viking Festival which takes place every year in August.
And a little further north, Camp Morton Provincial Park thrills me, summer and winter. The forest is beautiful and peaceful, the lake is majestic, it is always a pleasure. This is where I went for a walk after our very first snowstorm!
Fort la Reine Museum, Portage-la-Prairie
Fort la Reine is a pioneer museum, to discover Manitoban life between 1850 and 1950. The 25 buildings are authentic and the experience fun if you like history. But the museum is closed during the winter.
A maze in corn, Saint-Adolphe
Open in summer, fall and winter, A Maze in Corn has made the headlines: it holds the Guinness Book record for the largest snow maze in the world. And every year, the labyrinth gets bigger.
In summer there are thousands of sunflowers and in autumn it becomes a corn maze. Add to that a petting zoo, pumpkins, entertainment, snacks … it’s all fun.
The Food Farm and Discovery Center, Glenlea
The University of Manitoba has an agricultural research center in Glenlea, just south of Winnipeg. The place can be visited on your own to learn more about the livestock and grains produced in Manitoba, but it is their activities that are worth attending.
About once a month for a small fee, a workshop on cooking or agriculture is offered. I went there to make pizza for example and it was awesome. It’s a perfect outing with kids. The program is on this page!
The Centre of Canada
Manitoba being the middle province, the longitudinal center of Canada falls squarely on the Trans-Canada Highway. It’s a staple and a good photo op, although for now there is unfortunately only one sign and no development around – except for a skating ring this winter!
Saint-Malo Provincial Park
Saint-Malo Provincial Park is another provincial park, this time located in the south of the city with a beautiful lake and a good-sized beach, as well as several hiking trails and even a cave that replicates the Lourdes cave in France.
It’s a simple and perfect nature outing for a summer afternoon. In winter, the trails are also accessible and the lake becomes ice fishing ground!
Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site
New museum, this time managed by Parks Canada: Lower Fort Garry takes you back to the founding of Manitoba and will teach you all about the Hudson’s Bay Company and the fur trade. The site is closed in winter.
And I’m cheating a bit to suggest two other Manitoban things to do and see, located just over an hour’s drive from Winnipeg but totally worth it: Narcisse and Pinawa.
Narcisse and its snakes
Among the world records held in Manitoba, we have just seen that we have the largest snow labyrinth in the world. But we also have the largest concentration of snakes in the world. Yes, you read that right. Every spring and every fall, Narcissus’ pits swarm with snakes, not poisonous.
That’s all I can tell you, because I’m afraid of snakes. Am I going to overcome that in 2022 to offer you content? We’ll see ! In the meantime, the province’s website makes it possible to monitor the periods of activity of the snakes.
Pinawa’s Old Dam
I haven’t been in a while but really love the old Pinawa Dam. You have access to the ruins of an old dam, with a walkway and water power signs (a great addition to the Maitoba Electrical Museum in Winnipeg)
Pinawa also has a suspension bridge, it is an excellent place to go down the river in a giant tube in the summer or to go snowshoeing, the city itself is nice too, in short it is worth visiting!
Other Manitoba things to do and see?
– the Canadian Fossil Discovery Center in Morden
– Birds Hill Park
– Nopiming Provincial Park
– Spend a day in Neepawa
– Winter glamping and dog sledding
– 12 things to do less an hour away from Winnipeg
– 10 foods to try in Manitoba
– the Pinawa Old Dam
– a guide of Rural Manitoba Museums
– Lower Fort Garry and the Fur Trade