Whether it’s for one day, or maybe a few more, a road trip along the western shores of Lake Winnipeg will have you uncover the Interlake’s abundance of culture, heritage and nature galore. Throw in some fishing action, eclectic shops, slithery snake dens, velkomin vikings (yes, vikings!), and cottage country charm and you have one adventurous drive with infinite possibilities for fun. So what are you waiting for? Hit the highway already…
Start your engines
Leave Winnipeg by heading north on Henderson Highway (#204). If it’s still early, you’ll need a warm bevvie to wake you up. Stop in at Mountain Bean before you leave the city (and your troubles) behind.
Trip tip: Follow the lake. Take roads that keep you as close to the water as possible. Highway 9 is a slower highway, but offers some of the best views.
Picture Perfect. Historic churches
St. Peter Dynevor, dubbed “Old Stone Church,” was built in 1852-54. It is where Chief Peguis, friend to the Selkirk Settlers and defender of Native land rights, is buried. St. Andrew-on-the-Red (pictured) is the oldest stone church in Western Canada still used for public worship. Built between 1854 and 1899, many original fixtures still remain, including kneeling benches covered with bison hide.
Action Shot. Reel in new memories
Just north of the historic St. Andrew’s Lock & Dam the Red River becomes a fantastic fishing spot. This particular area is one of the best places in the world to catch monster channel catfish. Throw a line in and leisurely spend a morning fishing. If you want to go hardcore, contact Todd Longley at City Cats (pictured). He’s THE catfish whisperer.
Sweet Eats. Half Moon Drive In
If you’re hungry after hauling in big fish, the retro Half Moon Drive In is the best place to pick up a road snack.
Half Moon is famous for their hot dogs, but the coolest thing about this restaurant is that it makes you feel like you’ve walked back in time to the 60s. It’s the bees knees, daddy-o.
Time Travel. Explore the Fort
Step back in time to the 19th century fur trade at Lower Fort Garry, the oldest stone fur trading post still intact in North America.
Walk amongst Canada’s oldest collection of stone fur trade buildings to experience life of the trappers and traders of the Hudson’s Bay Company as they lived in the 1850s.
Detour! A nature lovers paradise
If you love nature, you need to take this detour. Oak Hammock Marsh is a reclaimed wetland teaming with wildlife.
A system of boardwalks and dikes allow you to wander through thousands of acres that more than 260 kinds of birds and 25 species of mammals call home.
Picture Perfect. Lake Winnipeg
Make sure your batteries are charged, because you’re going to want to take a bunch of photos of the famous piers of the Interlake.
These piers have been iconic fixtures on the shores of Lake Winnipeg for over 70 years. You will find the largest concentration of these piers in the charming cottage country area between Matlock and Ponemah.
A Shopper’s Delight. Whytewold Emporium
One of the best kept secrets in the Interlake!
This charming place is quickly becoming famous for having delicious food, goodies for gardeners and a fascinating collection of antiques and jewellery.
Relax and play in beach town
Got your picnic basket packed? Good, because the rolling hills and sandy beach that lies in front of the main drag of Winnipeg Beach is the perfect place to lay down a good spread of goodies.
After a nosh and a swim, try your luck at the iconic Playland arcade. Walk inside to feel like you’ve been transported to the 1970s. The walls are plastered with iconic posters of everything from Farah Faucet to K.C. and the Sunshine Band. You want groovy black light posters? They got groovy black light posters.
Sweet Eats. Casa Bianca
Those who discover this hidden gem of a restaurant give it the most glowing reviews. The place even made a fan out of one of Manitoba’s top food critics who declared, “Casa Bianca is still serving the best resort food I have ever found — quality ingredients prepared from sophisticated recipes with a sure and accomplished hand.”
Detour! A slithery hotbed of action
Wind through scrub aspen and grassland at the Narcisse Snake Dens to see red-sided garter snakes emerge from winter hibernation to perform a frenzied mating ritual. Best viewing times are typically the last week in April and the first three weeks in May. September’s also a good time to visit as the snakes congregate again to return to their winter dens.
Icelandic culture with a side of charm in Gimli
A haven for settlers who founded New Iceland on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in 1875, Gimli — Norse for home of the gods — is still a welcoming harbour.
Take a swim, build a sandcastle or stroll along the mural-covered seawall to savour the view of an inland ocean that stretches to the horizon. Spend an afternoon wandering through the museum, savouring fresh lake pickerel at a homey café, or taking glamour shots with the Viking statue. This town’s a treat!
Action Shot. Sailing windy Lake Winnipeg
If you’re a sailing enthusiast, the Gimli Yacht Club is home to a large flotilla of keelboats and dinghies. The club offers sailing lessons for children and adults from the White Sail to Bronze Sail levels. There is club racing every Wednesday evening for keel boaters and the Prairie Ocean Racing Conference (PORC), a week-long race for keelboats in July.
A Shopper’s Delight. H.P. Tergesen’s & Sons
No visit to Gimli is complete without a shopping trip to H.P. Tergesen’s & Sons. As the oldest operating general store in Manitoba, Tergesen’s is an institution, a must-see for anyone visiting the area.
The store features an eclectic collection of clothing, footwear, books and gifts.
Picture Perfect. Camp Morton
This place will surprise you. It’s like an old European village in the middle of a Canadian campground. Camp Morton was built in 1920 as a summer camp for orphaned and underprivileged children.
Today, this historic site continues to be a popular camping spot. You’ll definitely want to snap a few pics of the Arcade — a row of buildings constructed in 1943 as cottages, built from locally-cut logs.
Sweet Eats. Integrity foods
Located on a family farm, this welcoming bakery uses ancient grains to bake fresh breads, cookies and more in their wood-fired brick ovens. Stop in for their super special Pizza Nights on Fridays and Saturdays from June to September. Drive up, order your pizza pie, then relax and enjoy the farm’s garden while the kids play. You can even pick your own herbs and veggies to go on your pie.
Hiking Historic Hecla
The Hecla Village Self-Guiding Trail depicts the history of this small lakeshore settlement, with stops at the village’s centuries-old icehouses, sawmill, dockside fish station, general store as well as its modern museum.
The Grassy Narrows Marsh features a network of trails offering fine bird watching. Boardwalks and blinds provide vantage points for spotting pelicans, terns, hawks, grebes, red-winged blackbirds and bald eagles. A wildlife viewing tower not far from the main road promises early morning glimpses of moose and even the occasional wolf.
Action Shot. Golfing Hecla
Nestled within a forest setting along the shores of Lake Winnipeg, the scenery around the golf course at Lakeview Hecla Resort provides the perfect backdrop for a day on the links.
A perfect course for both beginner and experienced golfers. Oh, and the resort is the best place to end your day.
Roar like a Viking
August long weekend — Forge your legacy at Islendingadagurinn (Icelandic Festival) in Gimli and get a taste of Icelandic culture as it once was. Catch a fashion show of traditional Icelandic garments, enjoy Icelandic horse demonstrations, watch re-enactments of Viking weapon and warfare tactics, and last but not least, get “dinged.”
Get your Scottish on
July — Hitch up yer kilts for a day of good ol’ Scottish fun at the annual Manitoba Highland Gathering! This is a great day for the whole family to experience the colour, pageantry and centuries-old Scottish traditions right here in Selkirk, Manitoba.
Watch movies on the beach
July — Widely recognized as the most successful film festival in Manitoba, The Gimli Film Festival is a must-see for cinema enthusiasts and movie goers. Watch feature flicks, documentaries and short films under the stars on the beach or in one of four venues. Nothing is more relaxing than catching a movie with the soft sounds of the lake humming in the background.
Catch the WAVE of great artists
June & September — Twice a year, artists in Manitoba’s Interlake invite the public to visit their studios and share a slice of their creative lives. The WAVE Artists’ Studio Tour is a self-guided adventure where you can speak directly with artists in the area and view their work in picturesque settings.
Road Trip Extras
Places to stay
- Hotels — Lakeview Gimli, Lakeview Hecla Resort, Canalta Hotel
- B&Bs — Solmundson Gesta Hus, Post & Pelican, Fidler House, Harlequin House
- Campgrounds — Winnipeg Beach Provincial Park, Camp Morton Provincial Park, Hecla Provincial Park
More terrific eats
- Lockport/Selkirk — Skinners, The Upper Crust Bakery, Benjamins, Roxi’s
- Winnipeg Beach — Casa Bianca, Johnee’s, Salty’s Drive In
- Gimli — Beach Boy, Brennivins, Kris’ Fish & Chips, Seagulls, Ship & Plough
- Hecla — Seagull’s Restaurant & Lounge
For more info, check out some of the places mentioned here via our Trip Planner.
Happy road tripping!