A Weekend Away in Winnipeg

Gabrielle Bossart, General Reporter

If you are new to North Dakota or you are just looking for a fun travel destination that is not too far away, consider looking north to Canada. Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, Canada and is about a three-hour drive away from Grand Forks, making it a great place for a quick weekend trip. Winnipeg may look unassuming, but there is actually a lot to do there. The city has something for everyone from arts and culture to outdoor adventures.    

If you are looking for a slow, restful weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a spa is a great way to go. Winnipeg has many spas, but there are a couple that stand out. The Ten Spa is a Turkish spa located within the historic Fort Garry hotel. This spa specializes in a luxurious treatment known as hamam and has several customizable experiences available for guests.   

The Fort Garry hotel that hosts the Ten Spa is a gem in itself and is worth exploring. The hotel opened in December of 1913 and has seen a lot of action since then. A 1977 fire left the hotel water damaged, but it was opened again in 1988 after numerous renovations. It was rebranded in 2009 and is currently affiliated with Choice hotels. Now visitors can enjoy the splendor of a past era in Fort Garry by taking in the restored architectural style or dining in the grand Oval Room Brasserie located within the hotel.  

Thermëa is another great spa located not far from bustling downtown Winnipeg. Thermëa focuses on different relaxation techniques and invites visitors to enjoy various saunas, outdoor hot tubs and baths, and other relaxing spaces. An onsite restaurant provides nourishing meals in a cozy atmosphere where guests are encouraged to remain in robes or comfortable attire.   

If you are more interested in art or history, Winnipeg also maintains several excellent museums. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights that recently opened in the last decade is a beautiful architectural building offering guided tours as well as general admission. The museum tells the stories of people from all over the world and encourages meaningful conversations about human rights. Several exhibits located on multiple floors explore both contemporary and historic issues.   

The Manitoba Museum is another local museum and a great way to learn more about Canada’s history and culture. Several interactive and immersive galleries make up the museum with exhibits ranging from geological history to the history of Winnipeg itself. A beloved gallery holds a fantastic replica of a ship known as the Nonsuch. Though the ship in the museum is simply a replica of the Nonsuch, which was built in 1650, it did actually sail almost 8,700 miles before it’s addition to the museum in 1974. The museum also includes a hands-on science gallery that introduces visitors to technology and the laws of the universe. A planetarium located within the museum also plays various shows that take guests on journeys from Manitoba’s skies all the way to Mars.   

If art is more your style, the Winnipeg Art Gallery is worth checking out. This gallery holds over 27,000 works of art in all kinds of styles. The gallery describes the collection as expansive but with a special focus on contemporary Indigenous artists. Though not a gallery, the Manitoba Legislative Building is also open to visitors and is a fantastic display of architectural beauty. The building holds free guided tours inside and a pamphlet for an outdoor self-guided tour.   

For outdoorsy people, FortWhyte Alive is a great way to experience nature. The 660-acre space located just outside the city is dedicated to connecting people with nature and offers activities like wildlife watching, hiking, snowshoeing, cycling, skating, fishing, and more. FortWhyte Alive is open in all four seasons, each of which offers a host of activities. In the winter, visitors can participate in plenty of snow-related hobbies and can even take a turn riding down a toboggan slide onto a frozen lake. The facilities also offer gear rentals for those who do not have their own equipment but want to experience the great outdoors.   

For those wanting a one-stop shop for eating, shopping, and more, the Forks in Winnipeg is the perfect place to visit. Located right downtown, the Forks is a gathering place consisting of the Forks Market, the Shops of Johnston Terminal, a market plaza, and more. The Forks Market includes various restaurants with a range of international flavors. A host of shops also makes it the perfect place to pick up a gift for a friend or to take part of Canada’s culture home with you in the form of a souvenir. The Johnston Terminal likewise holds a variety of small shops and some local restaurants.   

While Winnipeg has a variety of great things to do, there are some things you should know before visiting. A lot of things in Canada are similar to the United States, but it is still a different country. In order to get into Canada, you will need to have a valid passport. and you should be prepared to state your reasons for visiting. U.S. customs are typically stricter, and it is possible that your vehicle may be searched upon re-entry to the states.  

The currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar and right now $1 is equal to about 1.34 in Canadian dollars. Exchanging your currency in advance with a trusted bank is recommended. Alternatively, you could use your credit cards to purchase things. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Canada, but other cards, such as Discover, may not be accepted at most retailers. Anytime you are travelling, but especially when you are leaving the country, it is a good idea to contact your credit card companies and let them know where you will be traveling and when. This will prevent your credit cards getting frozen under the suspicion of fraud.   

If you are driving your own car, you will also want to pay attention to traffic laws. Driving in Canada is very similar to driving in the states, but it is important to note that speed is measured by kilometers per hour and not miles. Before travelling, check your speedometer to see if it has kilometers per hour built in, or if you have a digital display, and see if you can change the measurements.   

It may not be Canada’s most impressive city, but Winnipeg is a great way to experience another country without worrying about language barriers, flights, or extreme culture shock. It’s proximity to Grand Forks also makes it an attractive weekend getaway and the many things to do in the city make for an exciting or relaxing trip, depending on what you are looking for.   


Gabrielle Bossart is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].