By David Janeson
It’s never too early to begin planning your summer getaway. Here’s a look at six kid-friendly excursions and activities that won’t break your budget this summer, and what you need to know to make them successful.
1. Experience Upper Fort Garry
The confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers is arguably the most significant historical site in Manitoba, at least during the 150 years since the Canadian Confederation’s official founding. Here sits Upper Fort Garry Heritage Park, where residents of a wild frontier region made the fateful choice to join Canada. Learn about their choice, and the complex sociopolitical forces that drove them to make it.
2. Discover Your Inner Kid at the Manitoba Children’s Museum
Need a break from the sun and humidity? Duck inside and discover your inner kid at the Manitoba Children’s Museum, one of Canada’s foremost all-ages museums.
“No matter how old your kids are, they’ll find something to enjoy amid the constantly changing exhibitions and permanent collections here.” — David Janeson
Budget at least four hours of your time, as you never know what you’ll get up to here.
3. Spend a Weekend Exploring Riding Mountain
Rising hundreds of meters above the surrounding prairies, Riding Mountain National Park is an accessible wilderness just a few hours from Winnipeg proper. You could easily spend a week wandering the more than 400 kilometers of well-maintained hiking and multi-use trails here, but a couple days of camping works just fine too. One of the highlights is the Manitoba Escarpment, a popular mountain biking destination.
4. Lose Yourself in Assiniboine Park
Back in Winnipeg, Assiniboine Park is the crown jewel of the city’s much-touted park system. Spend a day picnicking on its expansive lawns, exploring its wooded recesses, and admiring the handiwork of world-class artists at Leo Mol Sculpture Garden. The 80-acre zoo is a must-visit, too.
5. Step Back in Time on Hecla Island
Head up to our corner of Manitoba and step back in time. Hecla is just two hours north of Winnipeg by road, but it might as well be on a different planet. Don’t miss Hecla Village, a well-preserved ode to the hardy Icelanders who made their homes here a century ago.
6. Visit the Old Country, Without the Price Tag
Keep the Icelandic theme going through August with a visit to Gimli, home of the annual Manitoba Icelandic Festival. This is Canada’s largest celebration of Icelandic heritage and culture, and it’s fitting that it takes place in the province that’s home to more than one in three Canadians of Icelandic descent.
Book Early, Book Often
Most of the activities listed here lie within a few hours’ drive of Winnipeg, well within reach on a long weekend. Some won’t take more than a day of your time. And nothing here is likely to break your family’s bank, though of course your household budget will dictate what you are and aren’t able to accomplish.
Bottom line: you can easily fit all the activities on this list, and more, into your summer getaway plans. Avoid disappointment, and guarantee space at the proverbial inn, by booking as soon as you’re able to get the time off. Summer will be here before you know it.
David Janeson owns Gull Harbour Marina, a seasonal lakeside resort on beautiful Hecla Island, Manitoba.