Nutimik Lake, Whiteshell Provincial Park | Image: @joshuaa_blade
We've rounded up the coolest (most quintessentially Canadian) nature adventures in and around Winnipeg.
Step one: Fly to Winnipeg.
Step two: Rent a car.
Step three: Have the adventure of a lifetime!
Friendly Manitoba is the place for fun, sun and breathtaking scenery—even on a budget. Make Winnipeg your home base for good food, live music and shopping, then add one or more of these outdoor adventures to your itinerary and ensure your summer trip to Manitoba is one for the books.
Image: Enviro Foto
1. Plan a day at FortWhyte Alive
If you like the thought of minimal driving time, swing by this park, nature centre and farm in southwest Winnipeg. It has an exhaustive list of attractions including seven kilometres of hiking and cycling trails (cruiser bikes are available for rent), five lakes (you can rent canoes, rowboats and fishing equipment), floating boardwalks, a herd of bison, a family tree house, a tipi encampment, plus workshops and weekly markets at the farm. There's even a café with local, organic foods made from scratch, so you truly can spend the whole day traipsing around the property.
Image: Lakeview Hotels
2. Paddle around Hecla Island
No trip to Manitoba would be complete without a journey north of the city to Lake Winnipeg, and Hecla Island is the perfect spot to make the most of your time on the water. The drive takes about 2.5 hours, and then you're free to splish and splash in the shallows, or rent a kayak or Seadoo from the Gull Harbour Marina and explore the limestone cliffs along the shore. Be sure to enjoy the island's scenic hikes and stroll through the restored Hecla Village, which memorializes the area's Icelandic heritage. If you want to stay the night, book a room at Lakeview Hecla Resort and play a round of golf at the adjacent Hecla Golf Course, one of the best 18-holers in the province. You can also visit the lighthouse, indulge in a fire-and-ice stone massage at Salka Spa and nosh on pickerel cheeks at the resort's on-site restaurant.
Image: Travel Manitoba
3. Set a wild bird free at Oak Hammock Marsh
A wetland just 20 kilometres north of Winnipeg, Oak Hammock Marsh is an important stop on the migration path of many winged beauties. The centre offers a peek at classic prairie landscapes with 30 kilometres of hiking trails and has one extra special experience called A Bird in the Hand—a must-try activity for nature lovers. As part of the two-hour learning session and canoe tour, you'll take part in banding (where a small, non-invasive band is placed around a bird's leg to help track migration, behaviour and survival rates) and the bird's release back to the wild.
Image: Garth Merkeley
4. Hike the Hunt Lake Trail
Ditch WiFi for the day and take the two-hour drive east of Winnipeg to Hunt Lake Trail, which runs 12.6 kilometres along the shore of West Hawk Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park. The three-hour backcountry hike boasts majestic cedar and white pine trees, traditional Canadian Shield landscape, a few steep climbs and a final scenic reward at Little Indian Bay. On the drive to and from the start of the trail, you'll pass Falcon Lake, which is the perfect spot to lounge on a beach, lick an ice cream cone or play a round of mini golf.
Image: Thinkstock Photos, Olya Solodenko
5. Live the farming life at Aurora Farms
Three words: baby goat yoga. Located just a 15-minute drive south of FortWhyte Alive, this family farm is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays (plus some additional evenings) for yoga sessions with adorable four-legged kids, horseback riding, goat milk soap workshops and alpaca ogling. The farm also sells their soap and body-care line, as well as alpaca yarn and socks, if you're looking to stock up on local goodies.
And if you want to round out your trip with stay at a hip hotel, a reso at a trendy restaurant or a touch of arts and culture, travelmanitoba.com has you covered with even more Manitoba hotspots worth visiting.