One of Canada’s coldest southern cities, Winnipeg is one of the longest stopovers on the Canadian line. Depending on whether the train is on time (it normally is), there is generally a 2-4 hour layover which allows passengers to go out and explore the city a little bit before the train departs. In some respects this is all you need, unless you are dying to stay in Winnipeg for a few nights, or you’re hoping to make a side trip up to Churchill to see the beluga whales or the polar bears. Winnipeg was built to be a major financial centre in Canada, but after the depression it was evident that Winnipeg would not meet that goal. The result? A city full of historical buildings, and not nearly enough people to fill them. On hot summer days it’s easy to feel as though you’re waking in a ghost town as most residents are at the cottage or hiding inside. A phenomenon that almost never happens in a capital city. In winter the wind whips around the buildings and chills one to the bones. Does that mean Winnipeg should be avoided? No. There are some interesting things to see, and a couple amazing restaurants to experience!
Where to Sleep
Inside room at The Fort Garry Hotel
Fort Garry Hotel • $$$ • Celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, the Fort Garry Hotel is a piece of Winnipeg’s history. The hotel is a 5 min walk from the train station and even comes with its own ghosts! The hotel is classically decorated and built chateau style similar to Banff Springs Hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, and Chateau Frontenac. • website • twitter •
Fairmont Winnipeg • $$$$ • Located near Canwest Global Park, the Fairmont Winnipeg is posh and cozy escape from the city. The rooms are contemporary, the beds are soft, and the service is impeccable. • website • facebook • twitter •
Inn at the Forks • $$$$ • A trendy boutique hotel located in the famed Forks area, Inn at the Forks is the perfect place for a quiet getaway. While staying with Inn at the Forks be sure to try their restaurant, Currents and try the pickerel cheeks! • website • facebook • twitter •
HI Winnipeg Royal Plaza • $ • Newly rennovated HI Winnipeg Royal Plaza is located downtown and the best choice for budget travellers visiting the city. The hostel has a large common area, restaurant, and FREE wi-fi. • website • facebook • twitter •
Where to Eat
Dinner at Deer + Almond
UNBURGER • $$ • Tucked away on a quiet street in Osbourne Village, UNBURGER is a healthy gourmet burger joint that is a MUST. The burgers are delicious, reasonably priced, and you can even order gourmet sides like TRUFFLE AIOLI for your fries! So. Good. • website • facebook • twitter •
V.J.’s Drive Inn • $ • For over 50 years V.J.’s Drive Inn has been serving up their speciality burgers topped with homemade chili, mustard, and pickles! Sure, it sounds odd, but they are fantastically delicious. V.J.’s is located right across the street from the train station. • facebook •
Peasant Cookery • $$$ • Located in the Exchange District, Peasant Cookery features a menu inspired by fresh local ingredients. Chef Tristan makes everything in house, including the cured meats! Reservations recommended. • website • twitter •
Deer + Almond • $$$ • Eclectic, cozy, and bursting with flavour, Chef Mandel’s Deer + Almond is one of my favourite places in Winnipeg. The food is fresh and inventive. Always order dishes as is. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. • facebook • twitter •
Fergie’s Fish n’ Chips • $ • One of the best fish n’ chip shops in the city, Fergie’s is a small stand in the Forks Market. While you’re in Winnipeg try the Pickerel, a local fish that is moist and delicious. You may also know this fish as wally-eye
Things to See & Do
The Forks Market
Hermetic Code Tour • By far one of the more interesting tours in Winnipeg, the Hermetic Code Tour takes place in the Manitoba Legislature. If you love masonic symbols and history, this is definitely the tour to go on. I will never look at buildings the same way again. The tour costs $39.30 per adult. • website •
Manitoba Museum • The Manitoba Museum is the place to learn about the province’s unique history, including the history of the Metis people, and the Hudson’s Bay Company. The museum is also home to a planetarium. Entrance is $23 for full access. • website •
The Forks • Located behind the train station, The Forks features a large park that lines the Red & Assiniboine Rivers, the Children’s Museum, and a market with shops and food vendors. In winter the walking paths & rivers are converted to skating paths and cross country skiing paths.
Shop in The Exchange District • Possibly the trendiest neighbourhood in Winnipeg, The Exchange District is home to boutique shops, pubs, gourmet restaurants, and Cake•ology where you can devour moist cupcakes and cake balls. Yum! It’s also home to many historical buildings. An architecture-lovers dream neighbourhood.
Winnipeg Art Gallery • WAG is an art-lovers dream. The gallery features works of art and exhibitions from some of the world’s best artists (I was in shock too). The gallery is a short walk from the legislature building.
Muddy Waters Ghost Tour • I do not believe in all the medium and ghost mumbo-jumbo, but many people do. If you’re looking for a tour that pushes the boundaries of ‘normal’ then this is definitely the tour for you. Cost: $12 per adult.
West End • The west end of Winnipeg is THE cultural hub of the city. This is where many immigrant families have established their home, and restaurants as well. You can truly travel the world’s cuisine in the West End, so make sure you’re hungry!
Canadian Museum for Human Rights • Located near The Forks, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights promises to be one of the most enlightening museums in Canada. The inauguration is slated for some time in 2014, but you should still swing by to view the outside. Very unique!
Bus • In Winnipeg you can take the Spirit Bus for FREE! The Spirit Bus makes stops at Canwest Park, Museum of Human Rights, The Forks, the Legislature, and a few other sights. Bus 15 or 20 will transport you between the airport and downtown. Fares are $2.50 Taxi • The airport is about 20km from downtown Winnipeg. If you want to take a taxi to the airport the fare will be roughly $30. Depending on where you’re staying downtown and how much luggage you have, you can probably walk to the train station. Otherwise the fare will be about $15 depending on traffic.
I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.