We know most Winnipeggers haven’t travelled in over a year, and like us, you may be yearning for new adventure. While overseas vacations might still be a ways off, we’ve put together a list of awesome daytrips that are no more than two hours from Winnipeg, but will make you feel like you’re a world away.  We hope these ideas can help you scratch that travel itch this summer, and let you explore some incredible attractions in our beautiful keystone province.

Please note: We make a lot of recommendations below, and these suggestions are all our own; we do not receive any kind of compensation from any of the businesses we mention, and none of them reviewed this work. We just think they’re awesome.


Hecla Island Provincial Park (2 hours from Winnipeg)

Do you remember in 2010 when a volcanic eruption in Iceland created so much ash that airlines cancelled flights in Europe and around the world? Back in 1875 there was a similar eruption, but instead of just leaving grumpy tourists in its wake, the ash was so heavy it killed livestock and poisoned the soil in Iceland, leading to massive famine. As a result, tens of thousands of Icelanders emigrated from the windswept shores of Iceland to the windswept shores of Lake Winnipeg (they went to what they knew). Still, they must have been relatively happy to be here, as they named the largest of their towns ‘Gimli’, which means ‘Heaven’ in Icelandic, and established a number of successful fishing communities along the lake. Today the fishing industry has largely disappeared, but just north of Gimli, Hecla Island Provincial Park takes you back to the sites, sounds, and aromas of an old seaside fishing village, and may just be one of the most serene places in the province.

There are two major historic sites at Hecla: Hecla Village and the Gull Harbour Lighthouse. Hecla Village is a collection of quaint heritage homes, cottages, and public structures. Highlights include the Hecla Church and the Sigurgeirsson Log House, but the real charm comes from wandering past these Icelandic homes, seeing Lake Winnipeg stretched out across the horizon and imaging what it must have been like over a century ago as the Icelanders struggled to learn new ways of life—like how to fish on a frozen lake rather than an ocean!—and build a vibrant community.

Driving down the road, you’ll find Gull Harbour where you can make the thirty-minute trek to the Gull Harbour Lighthouse. Built in 1906, for the first half of the 20thcentury it was looked after by a lighthouse keeper. (Care to guess how many of Manitoba’s dozen lighthouses ever had a lighthouse keeper? Just two—and the job became made obsolete with the arrival of electricity in the 1970s.) Unlike the stereotype of the reclusive lighthouse keeper, the one who worked here, Oli Grimolfson, brought his family with him every summer. Technically there are two lighthouses in Gull Harbour, but the smaller one is more photogenic and used to house a foghorn—that proved useful one night when Oli awoke to find a ship barrelling down on his cabin, forcing him to rush to the lighthouse to blast the horn and warn the ship off before it struck land.

The normal hike to the lighthouse is through the forest, but if you feel adventurous, throw on some water shoes and wade through the water to reach it. While you’re out there you might see the huge flock of pelicans, which are fun to watch (and great for quoting some of your favourite scenes from Finding Nemo). If you’re hungry after your hike, consider dropping in to the Lighthouse Inn Restaurant. It has what may be the coolest patio in Manitoba, with great views of Lake Winnipeg. They’re most famous for their pickerel and chips—in fact, being freshwater fish, many people think pickerel makes for some of the best fish and chips anywhere.

Making a Day of It

For the full Icelandic experience, stop in Gimli on your way to Hecla. You can visit Sugar Me Cookie Boutique & Bakery, whose head baker, Carrie Arsenault, has fed a number of celebrities including Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez, and Patrick Swayze. Today her shop is most well known for its vinarterta, a traditional Icelandic buttercream torte. Grab a slice, or a vinarterta sandwich cookie. Once you have your treat, head towards 1stAvenue and turn right at that street to get to Harbour Park to find the Viking statue. Were there ever Vikings in Manitoba? No. Did real Vikings wear horned helmets like the one in the statue? Also no. Is it still awesome to take a photo of yourself in your best Viking battle pose beside the statue? Absolutely.

Things to Note

During the summer, you can take a free walking tour of Hecla Village with one of the Provincial Park student guides.

You’ll need to purchase a Manitoba Provincial Park Permit to park in the Hecla Island Provincial Park parking lot. You can purchase a one-day ($9.50), 3-day ($16.50) or annual ($44.50) pass online at: https://www.manitobaelicensing.ca/privilegepos.page


Spruce Woods Provincial Park (2 hours from Winnipeg)

Want to guess the size of the largest beaver ever discovered? Over 200 pounds! Don’t worry though, you won’t run into one: They lived 15,000 years ago. Back then the Assiniboine River was a powerful current draining into a massive lake that covered almost all of Manitoba, called Lake Agassiz. As it entered the lake, the Assiniboine’s drainage created a 6,500-square kilometre sand deposit. Today the bear-sized beavers and Lake Agassiz are gone, and only four square kilometres of sand remain, but this sandscape is still very cool to check out. Spruce Woods Provincial Park offers a hike that takes you through the arid sand dunes along with wooded forests and grassy meadows, to give you a view overlooking the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a blue-green turquoise pond. Called the Spirit Sands, we should come clean they aren’t an actual desert—they receive twice as much precipitation as a true desert—but they sure feel like one! In terms of landscapes that take you across the globe, this hike is hard to beat.

There are two ways to approach the Devil’s Punch Bowl: An easy trail great for families, and one that has many stairs. If you are the adventurous type, take the more interesting stair trail out to the Bowl (but be prepared to climb!). You’ll start in the ‘desert’ surrounded by sand, eventually making your way to the recessed Devil’s Punch Bowl. Photos don’t do the turquoise pond justice, and the surrounding forest is impressive to take in. If you have the energy, follow the short, marked detour to another lookout point offering panoramic views of the Assiniboine River, then enjoy the flatter, easier trail through the forest to return to your car. There are a number of benches along the trail, so take your time to avoid getting tired and to enjoy the scenery.

While on the trail, stop to consider that you’re on hallowed ground. Indigenous communities believe the sand dunes are sacred, and they call the area where you enter the Spirit Sands (the east side) the Place of Beginnings, while the south is the Place of Plenty. The north is the Place of Wisdom, and the west, the Place of Endings. As you wander, also keep an eye out for Prairie skinks, one of just six lizards in Canada (and the only one in Manitoba), and the western hognose snake. While the snake sometimes imitates the sound of a rattlesnake, never fear! It is not poisonous—but the rattling is cool to hear.

The hike can take as little as ninety minutes, but we encourage you to take your time, enjoy the scenery, and snap some photographs, so 2.5-3 hours should be plenty. Arrive before 10:00 AM if you’d like the quiet and solitude of the trail by yourself, as it can get busy during the afternoon. Going early also means you’ll avoid the heat of the day on the sands.

Making a Day of It

If you’d like to feel like a bit like you’ve gone back to the Old West, after your hike head to the Town of Carberry, fifteen minutes north of Spruce Woods. Start off at the Summer Shack Drive Inn (3rdAvenue) where you can grab some food and enjoy some lunch-hour sunshine on the picnic benches, then either walk (ten minutes) or drive (two minutes) to Main Street.

If you’re still hungry, grab dessert at Modern Bakery (42 Main Street) and spend a few minutes wandering. Main Street has a significant collection of heritage buildings dating to the late 1800s and early 1900s, great for imagining you’re a cowpoke strolling through town. Head towards 4thAvenue and when you hit that street, turn right for a few blocks to get to the Carberry Plains Museum, or more specifically, the photo-worthy White House (510 4thAvenue). If you’re like us, you’ll take one look at the house and decide ‘White’ is not an appropriate name for it—but the original owner’s last name was ‘White’, so we guess we’ll allow it. We think a better name for it is the ‘Gingerbread House’ though, so you’ll have to let us know if you agree.

Things to Note:

Watch out for poison ivy at Spruce Woods Provincial Park!

There are outhouse-style washrooms at the main entrance and at various points along the trail.

You’ll need to purchase a Manitoba Provincial Park Permit to park in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park parking lot. You can purchase a one-day ($9.50), 3-day ($16.50) or annual ($44.50) pass online at: https://www.manitobaelicensing.ca/privilegepos.page


The 10 Acre Woods (20 minutes from Winnipeg)

Fun facts about alpacas:

  • While often confused with llamas, they’re smaller and have a shorter face, giving them a more ‘smooshed in’ (technical term) appearance.
  • They don’t have teeth in the top front of the mouths, which gives them an adorable underbite.
  • In high school, they were voted ‘Most likely to form a Beatles cover band.’ (We *might* have made this one up.)

Alpacas are originally from South America, but farmers discovered they adapt well to Manitoba’s climate and provide great wool, so a number of farms around Winnipeg have their own alpaca herds. If you’d like to check out these South American expats up close, on weekends from spring to fall you can head to The 10 Acre Woods petting zoo (38084 Vine Haven Road, Anola). Besides the herd, The 10 Acre Woods has a range of other animals including pygmy goats (one of the smallest breeds of goats available), ducks, ponies, turkeys, sheep, and rabbits.

This is our family-friendly recommendation, as children love getting up close and personal with all the kid-sized critters and because 10 Acre Woods is just twenty minutes from Winnipeg. They welcome guests of all ages so feel free to visit even if you don’t have any young ones on tow though. They were also the first farm in Canada to offer goat yoga—so for a unique and adorable experience, you can check online to see available classes. The 10 Acre Woods is an animal rescue farm, meaning all proceeds from goat yoga and general admission go to caring and finding homes for the animals you’ll meet on your day out.

Making a Day of It

If you’re up for a bit of a drive, you can head to Cooks Creek (about twenty minutes from the farm) to see one of the most surprising sites in Manitoba, the Church of the Immaculate Conception. This massive, colourful structure took over two decades to build, mostly by volunteers. It comes complete with its own grotto, a concrete reproduction of a famous grotto in Lourdes, France, where in 1858 a young girl supposedly saw a vision of the Virgin Mary—so you’ll find her in the Manitoba version as well. The Grotto is the site of the bi-annual Cooks Creek Medieval Festival slated to happen in summer 2022, if you’d like to head back next year to get your joust on. (There aren’t a ton of convenient food options out this way, but you can find a handful of restaurants in Oakbank or can pack a picnic lunch!)


Falcon Beach Ranch’s UFO Ride (1.5 hours from Winnipeg)

Where do you think the most well-documented UFO sighting in Canadian history took place? Manitoba’s own Whiteshell Provincial Park (cue X-Files theme). In May 1967, geologist Stephen Michalak made his way to the Whiteshell in search of interesting rocks—but as the story goes, he discovered so much more. Shortly after noon on his first day, he looked up to find two unidentified flying objects descending from a cloudless sky. One landed and when Stephen got closer to investigate, the spacecraft shot scalding exhaust onto his chest, leaving him burned and knocking him unconscious. When he came to, he hailed a passing police car that took him to the hospital, and in the days to come the burn turned into a weird grid pattern on his chest. Investigators have looked into his tale, and the consensus amongst believers is that it’s genuine. The unmarked site of the landing is deep in the boreal forest and difficult to find, however, so Falcon Beach Ranch (Lot 83, Barren Lake Road) in Falcon Lake offers a horseback guided tour to the site, where they’ll give you the full story of that fateful day.

It would be cool enough to pretend you’re an Alberta ranch hand, saddling up your horse and heading up and down the granite ridges and sand dunes of Whiteshell Provincial Park—but the fact that your destination is the site of an alleged UFO encounter provides an extra sense of excitement to the journey. After settling onto your mount, you’ll hit the trail with your guide. The ride winds its way through the forest with the occasional stretch of trotting that keeps you engaged (and gripping the reigns!). Arriving at the clearing where Stephen had his encounter (you go the last short distance on foot), your guide will tell the tale, complete with photos of Michalak’s burned chest and sketches he made of the flying saucers, and descriptions of the series of illnesses he suffered for many years after the sighting.

Depending on the group you’re with, perhaps the most interesting part of the tour is that other participants may begin to open up about their own UFO encounters—some even claiming they remember weird events that happened in that same year, 1967, near the landing site where you’re standing. (In 1992, a TV series called Unsolved Mysteries aired Stephen’s story, and a woman came forward with a drawing she’d made of an unidentified object she’d seen on the same day while driving nearby. When they compared her drawing with one Stephen had made, they were almost identical.) Whether you believe in these kind of encounters or not, hearing stories from folks who say they’ve lived them adds to the overall experience of this extraterrestrial ride.

The whole trip including saddling up is less than two hours, so there’s lots of time for more activity on your day out. You can head to Falcon Beach—the Ranch offers a horse-drawn wagon ride of the town site if you aren’t horse-d out—or can explore other parts of south-eastern Manitoba.

Making a Day of It

The major attraction between Winnipeg and Falcon Beach is the Mennonite Heritage Village (231 Provincial Trunk Highway 12) near Steinbach. If old-timey villages are your thing, this is probably our province’s best. The attraction brands itself as a ‘turn-of-the-century Russian street village’, though its most famous and photo-worthy landmark is a Dutch-made windmill. (Manitoba’s Mennonite population mostly came from Russia, but Russian Mennonites are themselves descendants of Dutch immigrants who’d headed east in the 1500s, so the windmill checks out.) Wander amongst the site’s century-old houses and shops, find the large slab of the Berlin Wall (from the 1970s, not the 1870s), and visit the Livery Barn Restaurant to try your hand at pronouncing authentic Mennonite dishes like ‘schmauntfatt’, ‘plueme moos’, and ‘foarma worscht’.

Still hungry after a day on the range contemplating what’s ‘out there’? Manitoba doesn’t have a ton of BBQ restaurants, so if you’d like to finish your adventure with an opportunity to chow down on Kansas City brisket, mac & cheese, and baked beans, head to Steinbach’s Bigg Smoak BBQ (375 A. N. Front Drive).

Things to Note:

The UFO Tour is between $80 and $90 per person depending on the number of riders. Call ahead (204-349-2410) to book your timeslot.


English High Tea at The Ole’ Farmhouse Café (30 minutes from Winnipeg), and pints at Rendezvous Brewery and Dead Horse Cider Co. (1.5 hours from Winnipeg)

To spend an afternoon living like Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess, put on your best dress and sharpest wit and head to the Ole’ Farmhouse Café (31 Rose Lane, Rosenort) for high tea. Manitoba has a few high teas to choose from but the Farmhouse may be our most elegant, with savoury finger sandwiches, delightful dainties and cupcakes, scones with Devonshire cream and jam, and a lengthy list of teas—including their signature Rhubarb Apple Pie blend. It’s all served on the screened porch atop fancy tri-level platters and fine bone china, just as Lady Grantham would expect.

While it’s common in North America to call this refined experience ‘high tea’, technically the name is misplaced. Back in the old days, the English termed a meal of finger sandwiches and other dainties ‘afternoon tea’ or ‘low tea’, enjoyed by the upper classes between lunch and dinner. ‘High tea’ was a heavy working-class meal served after work—basically supper, with meat, vegetables, and casseroles. You ate it at the high table, unlike low/afternoon tea served at low tables, hence the name. Since ‘high tea’ sounds like a more elevated experience though, most North American establishments adopted this term for their tea service. Whatever you call it, tea at the Farmhouse on a sunny afternoon makes for a quaint and classic experience that’s especially lovely when shared with friends.

If you continue down the highway for an hour, you’ll hit Morden where you can enjoy a harder, though no less English, drink at Rendezvous Brewery (368 Stephen Street). Rendezvous opened in an old printery (a fancy word for a print shop) dating to 1899, and they’ve kept up the early-20th-century vibe with antique furniture, a player piano, and the most eclectic beer tap line up in Manitoba—and we mean the actual taps, which include a salt shaker, shovel handle, and light bulb. Their taproom genuinely looks like the kind of place the Peaky Blinders gang would’ve gone for a pint. Tommy Shelby and his mates would’ve been equally comfortable with the Rendezvous beer list, as the brewery has a handful of classic amber and blonde ales, India pale ales (IPAs), and a nice English dark mild.

For a multi-stop taproom tour, fifteen minutes from Rendezvous is Dead Horse Cider Co. (15062 Road 22, Winkler), Manitoba’s only cidery (we wanted to write this section mostly so we could add ‘y’ to the end of words). The Brits are the biggest cider drinkers in the world, so a stop here is very much in keeping with the English theme of your tour. (What percentage of apples grown in the United Kingdom do you think are used for cider? Over 55 percent!) Dead Horse has their staple apple cider, as well as rotating flavours including cherry, pineapple, and grapefruit. Ordering a flight (a selection of four small glasses) allows you to sample their line up.

Whether you choose one of these establishments or visit all three, they’ll give you a delicious sip of life across the pond.

Making a Day of It

If you decide to check out all three locations, that’ll already be a pretty busy day! You’ll definitely want something to eat other than finger sandwiches, and both the Farmhouse and Rendezvous offer a selection of thin-crust pizza. The Farmhouse is also a bakery and has a full menu of burgers, sandwiches, and wraps. (This upgrade would turn your light afternoon tea into a true ‘high tea’—so ask your server if they have taller tables for a more authentic experience.)

For a break from eating and drinking, you can head to Pure Anada Cosmetics (363 Stephen Street) in Morden. In 2003, founder Candace Grenier was distressed by how unregulated the cosmetics industry was, so she began making a natural line of products in her kitchen using only plant oils and food-grade minerals. Today her company manufactures out of their certified organic lab in Morden, shipping to customers around the world. Pop into their boutique just down the street from Rendezvous.

Things to Note:

High Tea at the Farmhouse runs from 1:00-3:00 Monday to Saturday. It’s $22 per person and requires a reservation made at least 24 hours in advance.


Turns out, there are lots of places in Winnipeg that will also make you feel like a world traveller—from an Italian merchant’s palace to a Spanish villa to a Roman temple. To find out about our city’s international connections and a ton of other awesome stories, we’d love to have you join us on our Winnipeg Highlights and Undiscovered Sites tour. You’ll find out why Manitoba’s capital should be called ‘Secret New York’, where to visit Winnipeg in outer space, our city’s connection to James Bond, and much more.

We share an incredible and inspiring side of your hometown you’ve never seen before, and we love using games and trivia to do it. If you want to learn which cartoon character is an honourary Winnipegger (no, it’s not Winnie the Pooh), reflect at one of the last residential school buildings left standing in the country, help us figure out the coolest place in Winnipeg to throw a party, and learn the inspirational story of a young Winnipegger whose decision to go for a run changed Canada forever, then this is the tour for you.

We back our tours with a 100% Guarantee—meaning if you don’t love your experience, we’ll issue a full refund.

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