It’s easy to get stuck in the city and forget all the great things Manitoba has to offer. Get out of Winnipeg for the day to some of these destinations around southern Manitoba!
Here’s our list of the ten best and most varied day trips, ordered from closest to the city to furthest away.
1. Lockport, Lower Fort Garry, St Andrew's
Distance: 30 minutes from city center
Go if you like: History, Food, architecture
Start your day early at Lower Fort Garry, Manitoba’s oldest collection of stone fur trade buildings. Get a glimpse of life in the 1850s with a guided tour or just by taking a self-guided stroll through the historic site. Head to Lockport for lunch at one of the three fast food places embroiled in a long time friendly competition for day trippers’ dollars. Where will you cast your vote? Half Moon Drive-in, with its 50s diner theme and famous curly fries, Skinner’s Hwy 44, which has been proudly serving hot dogs since 1929, or Sonia’s Stand, a no-frills destination for fantastic cheeseburgers and ice cream cones?
Wherever you grab food, we recommend you enjoy your grub on the banks of the Red River, overlooking the iconic dam.
Head back to the city along the red river through St Andrews, which offers more history and architecture to see. The Captain Kennedy House was built in 1866 for Captain William Kennedy, using stones sourced from the Red River banks at nearby St. Andrews Rapids. St Andrews Anglican Church is architecturally significant, having been built by expert mason Duncan McRae and designed by Archdeacon William Cockran.
Distance: 1 hour from city center
Go if you like: Unique cultural celebration, beaches
The town of Gimli boasts excellent local food, a scenic lakeside boardwalk, a relaxing beach, and unique connection to Icelandic heritage.
Check out the outdoor seawall gallery, a collection of murals curated by the Gimli Art Club to beautify the seawall, as well as the Gimli Beach, perfectly set up for soaking up the sun or getting some activity out on the water. For lunch, stop in at any one of the famous local spots such as Brennivins Pizza Hus, Ship and Plough, and Seagull’s Restaurant. Wash it down with a coffee from Flatlander’s Coffee Roasters, and even grab a bag of beans to go.
After fueling up, focus your trip on the local culture with a visit to the New Iceland Heritage Museum and H.P. Tergesen & Sons, selling locally made wares since 1899.
Before heading home, taking a photo by the iconic Viking Statue is a must. Located in the small Viking Park, the statue stands 5 metres tall and represents the largest population of Icelandic descendants outside of Iceland.
Bonus: If you’re a whiskey drinker, head just north of Gimli for a tour of the Crown Royal Distillery.
3. Grand Marais
Distance: 1 hour 15 minutes from city center
Go if you like: Beautiful beaches, great hiking
Grand beach is consistently named one of North America’s best beaches, mostly due to the gorgeous soft white sand. The boardwalk features standard beach side food and shops, perfect for a leisurely stroll between the West and East beaches.
The town itself has basic amenities such as a small grocery store and liquor mart, as well as a coffee shop and information center. After dark, Potenza’s is the go-to spot to enjoy great pizza and live music, making it a great destination for an overnight stay in one of its many rental cabins as well.
There is also a network of fantastic hikes in the area, ranging from easy (Ancient Beach Trail) to treacherous (Elk Island Loop).
Distance: 1 hour 30 minutes from city center
Go if you like: Nature, recreation, unique attractions
There’s a huge variety of things to keep you busy in Pinawa! For those who are looking for an active day, you can play a round on the Pinawa Golf Course, try to get the catch of the day on a fishing boat, enjoy swimming in the Manitoba River, and try out one of the many hikes in the area.
For a more relaxing trip, walk along the famous suspension bridge, hit the lazy river in an inflatable tube, or try to spot some wildlife at dusk.
There are a few small restaurants and food stands to help keep you energized for a busy day at Pinawa, including the clubhouse at the golf course and The Burger Boat right by the water.
5. Pine Point Rapids and Whiteshell Provincial Park
Distance: 1 hour and 45 minutes from city center
Go if you like: Nature, hiking
Whiteshell Provincial Park is one of the most popular day-trip destinations in Manitoba for a reason; it has incredible scenery, a huge variety of wildlife, and plenty of recreation possibilities. It’s also about 2700 square kilometers. To make a more targeted recommendation, we’re just going to be discussing Pine Point Rapids hike in detail here, but we advise you to check out the rest of the park as well!
Pine Point Rapids can be accessed from the Provincial Road 307, and takes about four hours to hike the entire 8.7km loop. Bring your bathing suit, because after passing Pine Point Rapids, Acorn Falls and Viburnum Falls, there’s an area to swim and cool off before beginning your journey back.
Other notable trails:
Hunt Lake Trail
Blueberry Rock Trail
Sturgeon Falls Trail
6. Morden and Winkler
Distance: 1 hour 45 minutes from city center
Go if you like: Small town charm, unique museums, great food
These side by side towns south of Winnipeg are great destinations for day trips, offering plenty to keep you busy with a unique Manitoban charm. In Morden, dine at Bella’s Castle for a quaint brunch experience in a beautiful stone building. If you find yourself here later in the afternoon, opt for the Rendezvous Brewery and Taproom to try out one of their fantastic beers on tap with a hoagie or pizza. For afternoon leisure, check out the local museums and art galleries such as The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, The Winkler Arts and Culture building, and The Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame for sports aficionados.
Before leaving, make sure you grab some famous Morden chocolate or a Dead Horse Cider to take back home.
Just down the road at Winkler, enjoy more small town Manitoba by checking out the Winkler Aquatic Center and the Discovery Nature Sanctuary.
If you aren’t too beat by the end of the day, hit up Stardust Drive In Theatre for a night at the movies under the stars.
Both of these towns are also situated in Pembina Valley, an expansive area of rolling hills and untouched nature, which provides a valuable sanctuary for local wildlife and birds. It also is home to a number of research stations and facilities.
Distance: 2 hours from city center
Go if you like: Nature, lakes, resorts
Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park is nestled on Lake Winnipeg just a few hours north of the city. It offers plenty to do with golfing, boating, fishing, hiking, and cycling around its small resort area. A must-do hike is the Lighthouse Trail, which leads through a forested area to an open bay and a view of the iconic lighthouse, perfect for a photo opportunity.
There are a number of beaches and quarries to check out, and a walk through the Hecla Village rewards with views of quaint Icelandic homes, cottages, and public structures.
7. Spruce Woods Provincial Park and Spirit Sands Hike
Distance: 2 hours and 15 minutes from city center
Go if you like: Nature, hiking
For a departure from the forests and lakes of the other notable provincial parks, visit Spirit Sands located in Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Often called ‘Manitoba’s Desert’, this 4km area is made up of rolling sand dunes and dry, arid climate. It’s also home to northern prairie skink (Manitoba's only lizard), western hognose snake and two species of cacti.
The Spirit Sands hike is a popular challenge for seasoned hikers in Manitoba. The first part of the ~10km hike leads you through an exploration of the desert, around and through the famous sand dunes. Then, you take a detour through meadows and forests to a bowl shaped depression with a small lake. Beautiful, unique views make this often hot and challenging hike well worth the effort.
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