During my last work trip to Northern Saskatchewan, I decided to make an impromptu stop in Winnipeg on my way back home, for a ‘mini-vacation’. Although it was short, it was exactly what I needed. Some time all to myself, in a place I’ve never been, left to my own devices to wander aimlessly down the streets, happen upon new yarn shops, discover new museums and try out new coffee shops. Winnipeg has a fantastic amount of street art as well, making me reminisce of one of my all-time favorite places: Penang, Malaysia!
If you happen to have 24 hours in Winnipeg, I’ve laid out some of my personal favorite things to see and do from my short time there.
Where to Stay on a Budget
When planning my trip, one thing I knew for sure was that I wasn’t interested in spending a small fortune on accommodation. I also wanted to find a place filled with like-minded travelers new to Winnipeg, with whom I could potentially explore the city. I stumbled upon La Cabane Guesthouse’s website, and their beautiful aesthetic appeal immediately drew me in. Their dorm rooms were also very reasonably priced, at only $38 CAD/ night. Unfortunately, I planned my trip a little too late, and by the time I contacted them all of their rooms were already all booked up. I decided on the next best thing (and there didn’t seem to be too many alternatives in the low-budget area): The UofWinnipeg Downtown Hostel. They had single rooms available at just $68 CAD/night. Not a bad price, considering you also had a private bathroom. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend them for the following reasons:
- No wifi in the rooms (only in public spaces). If wifi is lower on your list of must-haves, maybe this wouldn’t be a deal breaker, but in my case, it was.
- Staff were less than helpful and not always available. In their defense, they do mention their hours of availability on their website. In my experience, I found it inflexible and inconvenient compared to other options. When I first arrived, there was no one at reception. I was told by the security guard that I could leave my luggage at the front desk and come back later to pick it up, but when I returned just before 3 pm, the door was locked and no one was around to let me in (even though I had let the guard know the time that I would be back around 3 pm to pick it up). Luckily, another student showed up and was able to unlock the door for me, so I could make it to the airport in time.
- Not easy to meet other travelers. Most of the other people I saw in the common rooms were students, and there was no kitchen where you could mingle and meet new faces.
What to Do
My first stop was to the Museum of Human Rights. This museum is in an incredible building, with eight floors and a beautiful viewpoint at the top which gives you a great view of Winnipeg. They had an incredible amount of interactive and modern exhibits, which kept me entertained for hours, as did their ultra-speedy glass elevator (just like the one in Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator). 😉
The Museum of Human Rights is conveniently located right next to The Forks, which is a National Historic Site of Canada. The Forks is shrouded in history and significance, not only for the city of Winnipeg, but for Canada as a whole. It is located at the confluence of the Assiniboine River with the Red River, marking a meeting place that has been used by Aboriginals for up to 6,000 years! Now, it serves as a meeting place and commercial area for tourists, local businesses and Winnipeggers . The marketplace houses multiple food stalls and restaurants, and is a great place to sit down for a break after wandering along the walking paths of the Assiniboine and Red Rivers.
Saint Boniface is a neighborhood in Winnipeg located east of the Red River, and is home to one of the largest francophone communities to the West of the Great Lakes in Canada. Originally a separate city from Winnipeg and founded in 1818, it was merged with the city of Winnipeg in 1971. It is also known for being the birthplace of Louis Riel, known as the founding father of Manitoba. Two popular places to visit in Saint Boniface include the Saint Boniface cathedral and the Saint Boniface Museum. I will have to save these spots for a future visit, as 24 hours didn’t give me quite enough time to fit them into my itinerary! I did manage to fit in an interesting meal of Mochi Cheese Okonomiyaki at a quirky Japanese restaurant called “Dwarf no Cachette“. Although the restaurant was lovely, my tastebuds were definitely nor ready for the combination of fish flakes with cheese.
I didn’t get a chance to make it to the Manitoba Museum, so this will also have to be saved for a future trip. It also includes a Science Gallery and Planetarium, and judging from the amount of exhibits shown on their website, you would probably need to budget at least 3 to 4 hours for a visit here!
Wolsely Wool Shop
The first thing I noticed when walking into the Wolsely Wool Shop was the beautiful Zweig sweater worn by the lovely shop owner. The yarn shop has a wonderful selection of wool, ranging from locally dyed yarns (including some very cute shawl kits from local knitwear designer and yarn dyer Ash Alberg). It’s also located in a very pleasant and green residential / hipsteresque area of town, surrounded by a couple of local businesses, including a worker’s co-op, juice bar and shoe store. In addition, there is such a great display of colourful shawls on display.
Verde Juice Bar
This place is right next to the Wolsely Wool Shop, and its juice and smoothie menu sounds amazing. Just one more thing to add to my list of things to do the next time I’m back in Winnipeg.
Favorite Coffee Shops
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things to do when wandering around a new city, is checking out their coffee scene. Winnipeg pleasantly surprised me with their wide variety and options of cafes to choose from. I didn’t make it to all the ones I would have liked (Cafe Postal, Little Sister Coffee Maker, Parlour Coffee and Fools & Horses were also on my list), but there’s only so much coffee a girl can drink in 24 hours without going slightly insane.
My first stop was to Grey Owl Coffee. I loved this place for it’s classy style, delicious menu, and amazing coffee. Had I stayed in Winnipeg longer, it’s very likely I would have tried to go back here more than once, at least to snap a discrete but well styled knitting-while-eating-mango-toast-with-hazelnut-pepita-butter-and-spicy-dukkah shot. Yum.
Stella’s Cafe has eight locations all over Winnipeg, including a location at the Winnipeg airport, meaning you can try this place out even if you’ve just got a quick layover. They seem to be the go-to place for brunch in Winnipeg, and it’s not hard to see why. I stopped in for dinner one night, and was treated to stellar service, a delicious veggie lasagna, a super friendly vibe, and all at a decent and reasonable price.
Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea has three locations in Winnipeg (the third location just opened up last week). They are another good example of a classy and modern coffee shop, with excellent brews and lots of plants. Plants on the wall, in front of the coffee machine, plants everywhere. This scores many points in my books. Their food didn’t exactly blow my mind, but if you’re just going here for coffee (and tea) they serve up excellent brews!
Neighborhood Bookstore & Cafe
The Neighborhood Bookstore & Cafe had stellar reviews on Google, and I was pleased to see that it was located just across the street from something that was on my ‘must-do’ list (Wolsely Wool shop). I went in at a not-so-great time for the company, as they were putting up ‘For Lease’ signs onto the windows while I was sipping my Americano. The bookstore definitely had a great cozy vibe to it, but their coffee selection (if you are a coffee snob) was not as impressive as the Grey Owl or Thom Bargen. If, however, you are a book lover, and just want a low-key place to chill, this place is fantastic. Unfortunately, it might not be around for your next trip to Winnipeg.
What are your favorite things to do when discovering a new city?