Header photo by Austin Mackay
Maybe you need a break from city life, or perhaps you just want a new experience in our beautiful province. Whatever your reason is, there are plenty of exciting activities to do outside of our capital city. Plan a day trip or a weekend away with these 10 amazing things to do in Manitoba that are NOT in Winnipeg…
Unwind in a sauna in the woods
Winter, summer, spring or fall – any season spent in a sauna is a season well spent! Check into Falcon Trails Resort, located at the quiet south east end of Falcon Lake in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park, and snuggle into a cozy waterfront cabin for a weekend or two. Not only do the cabins have an outdoor hot tub to unwind in, but all guests also have access to the wood-fired sauna on the lake, open year round.
On the other side of Manitoba, Crooked Mountain Cabins nestles into the rolling hills of Riding Mountain National Park. While every cabin has its own charm, you will definitely want to book the Fiddlehead Cabin (open year round) to gain access to the eclectic, shire-esque steam sauna.
Meet cute critters on the farm
If most of your Instagram explore feed consists of cute animals, you need to visit one of Manitoba’s adorable petting farms. Thanks to a bright red barn, it’s nearly impossible to miss Kismet Creek Farm, located just 10 minutes south of Steinbach. This labour of love is a sanctuary for goats, sheep, alpacas and donkeys. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for other furry friends like cows, horses, bunnies, chickens and kittens. Similarly, 10 Acre Woods in Anola is a farm animal rescue that rehomes left behind or neglected animals. The farm offers the opportunity to pet and bond with the animals (or participate in animal therapy) as well as the strange yet kind of wonderful activity that is goat yoga.
For those who tend to travel only for food (totally normal, by the way), a trip to Pineridge Hollow will fit the bill if you want to meet some animals along the way. Located on the edge of Birds Hill Provincial Park, visit this picturesque restaurant to grab a meal or browse the shop before heading out to the yard to meet pigs, goats and more. Riverton’s Integrity Foods may also appeal, for its summer Pizza Nights and wide variety of farm animals (and kittens).
Sip the afternoon away at High Tea
Don a fancy hat and head to one of Manitoba’s tea rooms for a High Tea experience fit for a queen. Although the term is slightly misused on our side of the world, High Tea (which may be more correctly known as Afternoon Tea) is an ultra-posh dining style meant to be enjoyed in the mid-afternoon, preferably over gossip with good friends and socialites. The typical High Tea consists of assorted light sandwiches, sweets, and of course, tea!
Indulge in this dainty meal at McLeod House Tea Room, located in a historical home in Stonewall that was previously owned by Alan Arnett McLeod, who fought in WW1 and was decorated with the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration in the world. The home provides the right atmosphere that will send you back in time over a three-tiered tray of tea sandwiches, scones, devonshire cream and other nibbles.
Photograph the Pinawa Dam
Some days are better spent with a goal in mind, so head straight to Pinawa Dam Provincial Heritage Park to explore a Manitoban ruin from behind the lens. Manitoba’s first hydro-electric generating station makes for an excellent photo subject, from rushing rapids to mini water-falls to massive ruins.
Located just an hour and 20 minutes from Winnipeg, this is a great option for a day or half-day trip outside of the city.
Reel in a big one through the ice
If you haven’t yet tried ice fishing in Manitoba, what are you waiting for? Fishing doesn’t need to end in the summer months! The southern reaches of the province offers species like Walleye (Greenback phase), Sauger and Northern Pike. Lake Winnipeg is an especially sweet spot for fishing, with a village of ice fishing shacks setting up as soon as the ice gets thick enough. Visitors, casual anglers or those just starting out can rent fully insulated shacks from Lake Winnipeg Ice Fishing Shack Rentals.
Alternatively, Lake Dauphin (10 minutes from the city of Dauphin) is also a hot spot for hard water fishing. Novices and experienced anglers alike can book a day with local provider Don Stokotelny “Sticky” for a world-class ice fishing experience, complete with a gourmet shore meal cooked on site.
Explore the beauty of Hecla Island
Discover island paradise right here in Manitoba in Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park. This peaceful area has a rich Icelandic history dating back to the 1800’s. Dig into this culture on the self-guided trail to discover restored buildings like the school, church, boarding house and fish station.
The Wildlife Viewing Tower Trail offers the best spot for viewing moose in the wild, while the Grassy Narrows Marsh Trail offers marshes that stretch out as far as the eye can see. Old limestone quarries can be viewed on the West Quarry Trail while the Lighthouse Trail provides a stunning view of Lake Winnipeg’s shoreline and a path to the island’s most iconic feature, the lighthouse.
Stand up paddleboard at Steep Rock
Each summer, cabin-goers flock to the shores of Lake Manitoba, where impressive cliffs tower over the lake below. This is Steep Rock, where thousands of years of waves lapping against limestone have created unique rock formations. Steep Rock Beach Café is a popular spot for a light bite to eat while Steep Rock Canoe & Kayak offers rentals to get you out on the blue waters.
What’s more, Steep Rock Canoe & Kayak is also known for unique pets, goats, who don’t shy away from SUPing on the waters during the warm summer months too!
Release a bird at Oak Hammock Marsh
30 minutes north of Winnipeg, Oak Hammock Marsh is home to more than 300 different species of birds (half of all the bird species in Canada). A Bird in the Hand is a Canadian Signature Experience, and puts YOU in the centre of important research by banding a real, live bird. Learn about why Oak Hammock Marsh is such an important stop on the migration path and feel a bird’s feathers flutter in your gently closed palm a second before releasing.
After taking part in the research process, explore the marsh by Voyageur canoe and take in the scent of blooming wildflowers of the wetland as you paddle onward. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as amphibians, waterfowl and more.
Journey to our northern waterfalls
Dubbed “Manitoba’s Waterfall Alley” by Robin And Arlene Karpan, our north is a hot spot for powerful water. Start with the Karst Spring in Grass River Provincial Park before heading to the big show at Wekusko Falls Provincial Park, where the Grass River plunges 12 metres through a series of falls and rapids.
Pisew Falls is the next big drop in northern Manitoba. Visitors can view the surging water from a boardwalk and observation platforms. Don’t leave the area before hiking to the Rotary Bridge that crosses over the water below the falls. The ultra-adventurous can follow the bridge to get access to a 22 km (return) hiking trail that leads to Manitoba’s highest waterfall, Kwasitchewan Falls.
Wander through a Mennonite Village
Pioneer museums are kind of our thing here in Manitoba, and the Mennonite Heritage Village is a total stand out as far as turn-of-the-century street villages go. Step back in time and discover the Russian Mennonite’s tale of migration and settlement right here in Manitoba.
Located in Steinbach, the village paints a picture of days gone by with a blacksmith shop, a school, several homes and a church, as well as exhibits of art and farm equipment. The impressive windmill is the perfect spot for a photo-op, while an authentic Mennonite lunch can be had at the Livery Barn (yes, there will be perogies).