We’re staying 2 hours south of Winnipeg, Manitoba for 3-4 weeks for work so since we’re in the neighborhood….let’s go to Winnipeg!
We arrived around 11:30 a.m. and left around 4:30 pm. Not a lot of time and I didn’t have a great plan laid out (lesson learned for next time). First off I knew we needed coffee and I wanted to see a few things downtown so I located a Tim Horton’s downtown and there we headed. There was lots of parking lots but fitting our big ass truck into the spots was a bit of a problem. We did finally locate one that would work. Fees: $3 an hour in public lots, pay with a credit card at the machine in the lot.
Pumpkin spice latte for him and chai latte for me. We also split an apple pie muffin. This is basically the Dunkin Donuts of the north!
Afterwards it was head one way to see the “Chicago of the North” – The Exchange District, or head the other direction to the market. We headed to the market. Once we saw that there was quite a bit there (after a 20 minute walk) we headed back to get the truck and park closer to the Forks market.
We found free parking at the Forks parking area. Not all the spots are free but it is clearly marked which ones are and it’s much nicer than trying to find parking directly downtown. Inside, there are shops and food places. Outside there are walking paths, parks, a children’s museum, and the river walk. We browsed the shops, had a bite to eat, grabbed a latte and then headed outside and took a half hour riverboat cruise.
The river is not the most scenic, but we learned a lot of history about the area and got ideas on areas to go see. Did you know that Winnipeg has the biggest French Canadian population outside of Quebec? Me neither! Most of the signs are in English and French. We got to see the beautiful Manitoba Legislative Building. It was built by the mason’s and contains all sorts of “secrets”. You can take a tour in the summer months of this building and learn all those secrets. But in September…nope, closed. Off season. Boo.
We walked the Esplanade Reil bridge and photographed the Human Rights Museum. We didn’t go in but it is listed as one of the top attractions in Winnipeg on Trip Advisor. We just didn’t have enough time.
We took a drive up through the Exchange District, a national historic district of about 20 blocks of buildings from the late 1800s and early 1900s which was heavily influenced by the Chicago style of architecture. It did remind us of Chicago, but no pizza or Portillos!
We also checked out the Saint Boniface Basilica over in the French Quarter. It’s a beautiful facade of a church that has burned down twice.
I was hoping to get over to Assiniboine Park to see the gardens and the zoo…but that’ll be another day.
This day ended the way it started, with Tim Horton’s coffee at the last shop in Canada before crossing the border.
My take away for a short trip like this – pick one area of the city and see the things there. Park once and walk everywhere you can. Don’t rush. We didn’t need cash, we used credit cards for everything from parking meters to coffee shops to the little shop at the market to the boat tour. Look for free things to do. Research somewhere to eat ahead of time. Is there a free tour? Check it out. We didn’t locate one here at this time of year, but the boat tour was short and sweet and gave us ideas on what to do and see with the rest of our time. It was nice to get to sit for 30 minutes during the tour and the boat gives you a different perspective. Get out before rush hour or wait until it’s over. Most of all, relax so you can enjoy your day!