During our one month stay in Winnipeg Canada, we discovered that there are plenty of activities for family. We mostly stayed in Winnipeg and we discovered many free and non-free family activities in Winnipeg that helped us to blend with Canadian culture and to know some of its history. The city of Winnipeg, which is located just an hour drive from the boundary of North America, is the capital of Manitoba province. Manitoba is one of the prairies or grassland regions in the Western part of Canada next to Alberta and Saskatchewan. Much of the prairies are known for having notoriously cold winters. In fact, the city of Winnipeg is considered as the coldest city in the North America during winter, when temperature reaches -30 degrees Celsius on average (in recent years up to -40 degrees).
Winnipeg has been inhabited by the aboriginals and Indian natives thousands of years ago. Not only the country has been changed by the influences of French and English colonizers, but also by the steady inflow of immigrants over the years. Thus it is interesting to see how much Winnipeg transformed into a rich, multi-cultural population, which is now predominantly dominated by Canadians, Filipinos, and Indians.
Our main purpose of visiting Winnipeg is to reunite with family members from Philippines. In addition to family visit, we were also interested to explore the place and to have an introduction to the Canadian culture and way of living. We were glad to discover a bit of the history of Canada. In addition to Winnipeg, we had a quick and good impression of Montreal as you can find in this link. Winnipeg is different from other cities in Canada in such a way that its modernity is still lagging behind other Canadian cities. Of course, these give windows of opportunity to develop this region and attract more immigrants.
Since we travel in Winnipeg as a family, we discovered many free and non-free family activities when in Winnipeg Canada. I will provide an overview for each of these categories.
Free family activities in Winnipeg Canada:
Canada in general is a child friendly country. At least we managed to witnessed this in two places that we visited in the region. There are many free and non-free family activities when in Winnipeg Canada. In this part, I will highlight first which activities are the free ones to do.
1. Explore The Forks and climb the tower.
The Forks, which is a popular area among tourists, is the place where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers intersect. It serves as a meeting place for aboriginals or natives in the region for thousands of years. Up to the present era, the influence of the natives are clearly visible in the structures and still live in the heart of the region.
The free things to do in The Forks for families, as well as other types of tourists, range depending on the type of activities that families are up to. For instance, if your family likes visiting shopping malls and wants to have a carefree day, you can enjoy shopping in the native shops or eating in one of the many restaurants in the Forks market. In addition, it is possible to enjoy the view from above of the Red River, the Winnipeg Bridge, and other historical monuments in the Forks by climbing the Tower that reaches up to 6th floor. The other shopping areas that are possible to shop is the Johnston Terminal, which is just adjacent to the Forks Market.
If your family is up to some historical stuff, another free family activity when in Winnipeg is to walk along the River trails in the Forks. This will bring you to many historical areas, such as the Oodena or ampitheater, where the natives have been gathering and celebrating for more than 6,000 thousands years. Along the port and river walk of the Forks, there are also some nice information and artifacts that are engraved in the walls.
2. Visit the Parks Canada Playground in the Forks.
Parks Canada Playground is a free children play area in The Forks. This playground is relatively bigger than the normal playground in many residential areas in Winnipeg and manifests modern designs and architectures for children. The good thing in visiting this area is that they provide a nice view of many famous landmarks of Winnipeg, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Esplanade Riel.
3. Tour the Kildonan Park.
For family that seeks immersion with nature, visiting Kildonan park is a must do experience. The Kildonan park is a 39 hectares park that is is home to many of the largest and oldest trees in Manitoba. There are many landscaped gardens inside the park and it never runs out of playgrounds. Traversing the other side of the park gives a nice view of the Red River. This park also features the Witches’ Hut from the Grimms Brother’s story of Hansel and Gretel. In addition, it is also a home to Canada’s longest-running outdoor theatre Rainbow Stage.
4. Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Visiting the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is another free family activities to add in your checklist when in Winnipeg. This museum is free to the public every 1st Wednesday of the month from 5-9pm. You might get curious what is being shown in this museum. In fact, this is a seven floor museum that tackles the issue of human rights, which include respect, dignity, and inclusion, dated back in history since thousands of years ago up to the current times. Some of the important issues this museum addresses include the evolution of human rights such as women and ethnic empowerment, labour rights, and other important world events like the holocaust, apartheid period, and genocides to name a few. On each floor of the museum, particularly on the upper level, provides a good overview of the famous landmarks of Winnipeg.
5. Visit the Manitoba Legislative Building.
The previously known Manitoba Parliament Building, now known as Manitoba Legislative Building, is a famous icon due to the Golden Boy statue on top of the building. The golden boy is patterned to the Roman God Mercury, or its Greek counterpart Hermes. This building serves as a meeting place of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba. This building is also free to the public, thus also a nice place to include in the bucket list.
6. Enjoy the view and walk at Lockport’s Heritage Park.
Lockport is not exactly located in Winnipeg city, but a 28-km North of the city (around 20-30 minutes drive). The Lockport Heritage Park is a national historic site that reminds us of the first farmers that visited the Red River Valley. This region gives a refreshing view of Manitoba. There is a scenic path towards the view of St. Andrew’s Lock and Dam that passes to the Red River. The pelicans and the fishers in the region is a sign that this place is a good fishing ground.
7. Enjoy the playgrounds everywhere
One thing that we notice in Manitoba region, including Winnipeg, is the enormous number of playgrounds everywhere. Children can freely play in the playground in case parents opt to have a free or relax day.
8. Immerse in the nature areas of St. Vitals park.
St. Vitals park is a park located in the Southern part of Winnipeg along the Red River. This park has a pond that serves as a skating area during winter. It also has many mallards and wood ducks (Canadian geese), chickadees, and blue jays. And of course, it has quite a huge playground for kids. So if you are looking for a relaxing family activity that is for free, this is another one in the lists!
Non-free family activities when in Winnipeg Canada:
The free family activities in Winnipeg are already quite culturally and historically enriching. However, if you want to further enhance your family experience in Winnipeg or in Canada in general, then you must do the non-free activities. Below are some of the activities that we have done to enhance our Canadian experience.
9. Visit the Manitoba Children’s Museum.
The Manitoba Children’s museum is a non-profit, charitable children’s museum located at The Forks in Winnipeg Manitoba. This museum is suitable for kids of various ages. Young toddlers (1-2 years old) have their own place to explore, while a little bit older ones have more space to explore science, technologies such as trains and excavators to name a few.
10. Visit the Manitoba Museum.
The Manitoba Museum is a renowned museum for combining human and natural heritage aspects of Canadian life. This museum has three parts – the Museum Galleries, Planetarium, and Science Gallery. We have only been to the Museum Galleries since we were a little bit late in our arrival, but it gives us a superb impression. We discovered that this museum is built around the ship that was docked in this area. Moreover, this museum depicted the astonishing natures of Manitoba, including the wildlife, the prairie environment, the Aurora Borealis, and the history of the many inhabitants in this region. From the website of Manitoba Museum, the other two parts are also very good for the kids. This is highly educational and thus recommended for family!
11. Enjoy a day at Tinkertown.
The Tinkertown is an outdoor amusement park with rides suitable for kids of different ages. The entrance to this amusement park is for free, but the rides need to be paid. Instead of buying tickets for the ride, it is best to get the wristband, which is $19.00, good for the whole day of ride.
12. Enjoy the outdoor swimming in Kildonan Park.
The Kildonan park also has an outdoor swimming pool, in which you have to pay for an entrance fee. It’s a nice activity for family to do outdoor swimming especially on hot weather. Best to come in the weekdays when there are less people.
13. Visit the Assiniboine Park and Zoo
The Assiniboine zoo’s important feature is the Journey to Churchill, which tours its visitors from the southern prairies to the boreal forest and northern tundra, while maintaining the connection with amazing animals and wildlife that live in these unique parts of the province. The Churchill is the home of many polar bears that’s why it has been known as the “Polar Bear Capital of the World”. Moreover it is also a famous place to see the aurora borealis, also known as the northern light.
14. Do boat tour of the Red River in The Forks.
There is a regular boat tour in front of the Red River in the Forks. It costs CAD $11.50 per person, with less than 4 years old free of charge. The boat tour is a nice way to orientate in the history and culture of Winnipeg and Manitoba. The tour takes 30 minutes and you will be taken in the famous landmarks of the city.
15. Enjoy fishing and kayaking in the lake.
Canada is famous for many lakes. It is greatly recommended to visit on one of them and enjoy fishing. Of course, fishing is one of the free and non-free family activities in Winnipeg. You need to get a fishing license valid for one year, which costs CAD $25, and to buy fishing bait. However, the fishing itself is free and can keep your occupied days. Fishing reminds us that the simplicity in life is the path to happiness – simply sitting in the nature clears your mind, and catching your own meal feels very rewarding. In case you get tired of fishing, kayaking on the lake is also possible as long as you have your gears.