The first time I visited Winnipeg was in 2012, on my first trip as a blogger — I had been invited by VIA Rail to discover the new menu aboard The Canadian train. During this 4-day Canadian trip, a 4-hour stop was planned in the middle of Canada, in Winnipeg. During this short stop, I was charmed by the metropolis of Manitoba and I had sworn to return.
Winnipeg is definitely not the first destination we think about when we think about our holidays — what can a city in the middle of the prairies offer? The answer is a lot of culture, good food and a multitude of activities that will make you want to go back.
My favorites in Winnipeg
I spent about 6 days in Winnipeg, I had enough time to explore several neighbourhoods and even the countryside. Here are the places and activities that caught my attention and that will definitely make you want to add Winnipeg to your list of travel destinations. No wonder why Manitoba made it to Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” list, ranking number 8.
Clementine Cafe for brunch
We begin our adventure with a good brunch at Clementine’s. The place is located in a downtown basement and does not look like anything from the outside, but when you get in, it’s super charming and welcoming. The menu is made to be shared easily and the coffee served there is very good!
The architecture tour in Exchange District
After a good brunch, it’s time to take a guided tour like no other. This guided tour of art and architecture provides an excellent overview of Winnipeg’s architectural heritage — also known as Chicago of the North. And this nickname suits the city very well, it’s easy to spot similarities between the two cities on the architecture side — in particular with skyscrapers as well as generously decorated buildings.
Doughnuts and coffee at Parlour Coffee
While you’re in the area, after the guided tour, go to Parlour Coffee — the first third wave cafe in Winnipeg. I had an excellent filter coffee by Dogwood Coffee Co — a local coffee roaster — and an excellent vegan doughnut by Bronuts.
Hermetic Code Tour by Dr. Frank Albo of the Manitoba Legislative Building
If you’re a fan of conspiracy theories like me, you’ll love this guided tour of the Manitoba Legislative Building. Guided by Dr. Frank Albo who studied this building for ten years, you will learn more about the different facets of Freemasons and all the codes they incorporate into the construction of a building. That’s truly impressive.
deer + almond
After a good day exploring the city, what better than to have a good meal in one of the best restaurants in town. It was at deer + almond where I had my first dining experience in Winnipeg and I was really impressed by the freshness of the ingredients, the quality of the food served, the atmosphere and the cocktails. Oh, and one of the best desserts I’ve had in my life is there: the semifreddo — a chocolate cake with a peanut butter filling and a caramel coulis to finish it off. Chef Mandel Hitzer and his team do such an amazing job that I went back twice in the same week!
Coffee and croissant at Café Postal
After a good night’s sleep at the Inn At The Forks, it’s time to have lunch on the side of Saint Boniface at Café Postal. I had a simple espresso which was very good as well as a delicious croissant. I loved that the baristas spoke French to each other, it’s always fun when you find a place where people speak your mother language while traveling.
While sitting at the café, I take the opportunity to do some research on brutalist architecture in Winnipeg — during the Exchange District tour yesterday, the guide mentioned that the city was full of this architectural style. I take this opportunity to identify some buildings to take pictures to document this unexpected side of Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Architecture Foundation has helped me a great deal with their online resources.
Bike ride via North River Heights & Wolseley
I rented a bike at the hotel where I was staying and I biked through different neighborhoods to get a different perspective on the city. I made some great discoveries in North River Heights and Wolseley. These are mainly residential neighbourhoods, but there are some restaurants and shops that you will find on my Google Maps.
Apero time at Langside Grocery
The Osborne Village neighbourhood
After having a drink at Langside Grocery, I took the opportunity to go to Osborne Village and I had a real crush. A vibrant neighborhood, with lots of small shops, cafes, etc.
Coffee and shopping at Small Mercies
I arrived at Small Mercies by chance — I had spotted a second hand clothing store, but it was for women only — so I took the opportunity to explore the surroundings and I discovered this shop that had just opened a few days ago. I really liked the selection of objects for the house and I even brought some accessories for my photography.
After doing some shopping in Osborne Village, I went to the restaurant that had been recommended to me the previous evening by the server of the deer + almond: Sous sol. I had to walk around the building several times before finding the entrance to the restaurant located in the basement of a residential building.
Inside, there is an underground bar atmosphere: candlelit, black walls, blacked out windows.
On the menuy, French cuisine superbly executed with an impressive wine list and a superb variety of homemade cocktails.
I was really charmed by the place and as soon as I get back to Winnipeg, I will make a detour to Sous sol.
Lavender Ice Cream at Little Sister Coffee Maker
To digest my excellent meal from Sous sol, I took a walk to Little Sister Coffee Maker a little further down the same street. I had heard about their cold brew float and lavender ice cream so I had to go try it. Verdict: I had it twice!
Thom Bargen for coffee and toast
Idéalement situé au centre-ville, Thom Bargen est un café troisième vague qui a également un superbe menu pour déjeuner. J’ai pris deux tartines et un café filtre et j’ai profité du moment avant de continuer d’explorer Winnipeg.
Perfectly located in the city center, Thom Bargen is a third wave cafe which also has a superb lunch menu. I had two toasts and a filter coffee and relaxed a bit before continuing to explore Winnipeg.
Thermea is a Nordic spa located in the suburbs of Winnipeg. The facilities are super modern and ideal for relaxing all day. My favorite time at the spa was lavender salt scrub, a must!
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
After relaxing all morning at the spa, I went to a inevitable stop in Winnipeg, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Initially, I went mainly for architecture but I discovered several very interesting and relevant exhibitions.
If you want a breathtaking view of the city, I highly recommend going to the 8th floor through the elevator. You will not be disappointed!
The Forks Market
When I first visited Winnipeg in 2012, I had the opportunity to explore this public market located near the train station. I was very happy to see the evolution of the market after all these years. My two favorites of the moment at the Forks Market go to Fools & Horses and Jenna Rae Cakes.
Explore Winnipeg’s countryside (Gimli, Miami, etc.)
After filling my picnic basket at the market, I took the road to the countryside and visited several cities including Morden, Portage la Prairie and Gimli — the latter became the heart of New Iceland after the major volcanic eruptions in the late 1800s.