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8 of the Best Scenic Road Trips in the US
There’s something special and freeing about hitting the open road and exploring new places. And what could be more scenic than going on a road trip through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country?
If you’re looking for a breathtaking road trip adventure, look no further! Let’s explore eight of the best scenic road trips in the US. Pack your bags and get ready to hit the open road!
Pacific Coast Highway – California
The legendary Pacific Coast Highway runs along the Northern California Coast. The PCH route, as locals call it, is one of the most scenic road trips you can experience. The road gives a spectacular view of the land with gigantic trees, expansive beaches, historic bridges, and a sky that doesn’t quit.
The stunning road also gives a view of San Diego and San Francisco. More so, you can take a detour to Oregon to witness the grand Ecola State Park and the rocky tide pools.
The highway is an All-American Road and a major route for travelers from San Diego to San Francisco. It’s about 1,500 miles and can take you about four days to travel with no time for pit stops. Additionally, it has two lanes and frequent traffic that may slow you down.
Route 66 – USA
One of the original highways in the US is the iconic Route 66, which was established in 1926. You might have heard it called the ‘Will Rogers Highway’ or Mother Road . It’s famous in American Pop-culture, with legendary artists such as John Mayer, Brain Setzer, Glenn Frey, and Chuck Berry referencing the road in hit songs.
Route 66 starts in Chicago with the iconic Route 66 sign and stretches 300 miles onwards through Illinois. The road passes through eight states for a full stretch of 2,500 miles, ending at the Santa Monica pier.
A slight detour on your scenic road trip along Route 66 can get you to the Grand Canyon . You can also stop at some of the quirky museums and drive-in theaters, or have a piece of pie at the old-fashioned diners. If you are on a slow drive, the trip may last you a week.
Great River Road – New Orleans, St Louis, Minneapolis, and Memphis
Following the Mississippi River course, the Great River Road is one of the most scenic road trips in the USA. This grand road meanders its way from the start of the River in Northern Minnesota to the South in New Orleans.
The road runs for about 3,000 miles. It’s a mix of linked county, federal, and state roads that get you through 10 different states.
This road-waterfront trip will take you through a series of diverse scenery. You’ll see everything from grassy paddocks to wetlands and more than 550 miles of small towns. A journey across this rich picturesque road will take you six to 10 days at an average pace.
Blue Ridge Parkway- The Carolinas and Virginia
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a stunning way to experience the region’s biodiversity. The road runs for 469 miles, traversing through 29 counties. It provides a great view of the Appalachian heights. If you are lucky, you can pan for different minerals such as rubies, amethyst, emeralds, or even gold.
The curvy road twists through the Great Smoky Mountains and the Shenandoah National Parks. Additionally, it is an excellent site for birdwatching, with over 50 different bird species sighted in the area.
This area is also home to the deepest gorge to the east of the Grand Canyon. This includes Linville Gorge , the Whitewater Falls, Mount Mitchell, and New River.
17-Mile – California
For a scenic California road trip, you should try the 17-mile stretch located in Pebble Beach. It is famous for the monumental Lone Cypress, a single Monterey Species tree on a hillside .
The road is the primary accessway for residents in the gated community of Pebble Beach. As a non-resident, you will pay a toll fee to use the road. You can also access the road entrance in Carmel, Pacific Grove, or California State Route 1.
The road spans the Del Monte forests and a series of current-beaten cliffs. The best time for a drive is in the evening. This time allows you to witness the sunset with a symphony of colors over the Pacific.
Route 12- Utah
Located in Wayne County, Utah, State Route 12 stretches for 122.863 miles. It’s also known as “Highway 12 — A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway.”
The road has both scenic and historic sites. It passes through Bryce Canyon National Park, the Red Canyon, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
It then travels over Boulder Mountain and ends near the entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. The route passes through Henrieville, Tropic, and Cannonville. A trip along Route 12 road will take you approximately three hours.
Natchez Trace Parkway – Tennessee and Mississippi
Take a trip through 10,000 years of history along the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway road . Historically, the road was a buffalo trail. It later became a common route for Native Americans, who improved the route for trading and hunting.
The road is also known as the wealthiest drive because of the opulent mansions along its route. It’s also popular for its hiking trails, camping grounds, and recreational activities.
Other attractions include the Windsor Ruins, Grand Gulf Military Park, and the First Presbyterian Church of Port Gibson. A road trip would take you about three days at an average driving speed.
North Shore Drive – Minnesota
A trip along North Shore Drive provides breathtaking sight to behold. It features spectacular scenery, including a cluster of waterfalls, state parks, and hiking trails.
You’ll get an epic view of the lake’s shining waters and a chance to see majestic ships docked at the inland port of St. Lawrence Seaway . This 147-mile road can take you close to three hours at a slow pace.
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10 Amazing Road Scholar Trips
Are you looking for an adventurous, educational vacation? Road Scholar offers many different tours for older adults looking to explore the world. There are tours available to Peru, Thailand, Costa Rica, and more. Take a look at these amazing Road Scholar trips and start dreaming about your next vacation.
Rim to Shore: Costa Rica Multi-Sport Adventure
If you want a tour that has a variety of outdoor activities, check out the Costa Rica Multi-Sport Adventure. You’ll spend time in the sea kayaking, in the woods hiking, and rafting around Poas Volcano National Park and Tortuguero.
Stairs of Gold: Hiking the Chilkoot Pass
Travelers combine history and outdoor activity by hiking the Chilkoot Pass in British Columbia. This trail was once a major route during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush. The tour ends with a train ride through amazing scenery.
On Foot and On River: Mekong
Travelers on this tour sail the Mekong to visit rural villages in Cambodia and Vietnam. This tour includes a stop at the beautiful Angkor Wat Temple, a must-see landmark.
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Historic Machu Picchu is the highlight of this tour in Peru. You will hike a portion of the Inca Trail over several days through cloud forests and tundra, and will explore ancient ruins.
Finis Terrae: Exploring the Wilds of Southern Patagonia
The Finis Terrae tour takes travelers sailing and hiking in the southernmost part of Argentina and Chile. Learn about the local wildlife while on hikes in Tierra del Fuego National Park. You will spend part of the trip at sea exploring Cape Horn.
Italian Extravaganza: Rome, Florence and Venice at Their Finest
Those interested in a city adventure can head to Italy to visit three of its most popular cities: Rome, Florence and Venice. You will spend your time learning about ancient history, visiting art museums and tasting local cuisine.
Tropical USA: Hike, Kayak and Snorkel Puerto Rico
Visitors to Puerto Rico on the Tropical USA tour will get a different perspective of this island. You will get off the beaten path to hike rain forests and kayak in a bioluminescent bay.
The Greatest Road in Europe: Camino De Santiago
Join the Greatest Road in Europe tour and follow the footsteps of those who took a pilgrimage along the ancient Camino de Santiago. On this trip, you’ll see medieval architecture and learn about the legends along the route.
Four Jewels: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Death Valley National Parks
For those looking for Road Scholars tours on the mainland U.S., this Four Jewels tours is an excellent option. Enjoy hiking in four of the country’s top national parks: Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite and Death Valley.
Timeless Cultures of Southeast Asia: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia
This tour is the perfect option for those interested in Southeast Asia. The trip winds through four countries: Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. You’ll visit ancient temples and learn about local culture.
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The Perfect 2-Week Manitoba Road Trip Itinerary 
A 2-week Manitoba road trip itinerary that covers highlights in the southern half of the province. If you love nature, wildlife, culture and cuisine, don’t miss a drive around Manitoba!
On our very first foray into international travel, at the ripe old ages at 20 and 23, we landed in Canada, bought an old campervan and hit the road in search of adventure and wide open landscapes.
Over the course of three years we managed to put almost 50,000km on the odometer as we zig-zagged across the country, from BC to Newfoundland and back, and it’s safe to say that with vast wilderness, diverse wildlife, friendly locals, and endless scenic drives, this spectacular nation cemented our love of road trips.
During our travels we have managed to visit Manitoba three times, and the prairie province truly became one of our unexpected favourites.
Manitoba is massive, and you could easily spend a month at least exploring the entire province, especially if you add on a journey to the far north to see Churchill, the Polar Bear Capital of the World.
But for most travellers who aren’t planning a trip to the Arctic tundra, 2 weeks is a perfect amount of time to see the national parks and charming towns of southern Manitoba by car.
In this new Canada travel guide we outline our suggested itinerary for a 2-week Manitoba road trip, perfect for those driving across the country, or using the vibrant capital of Winnipeg as a base.
READ MORE: Don’t miss our epic guide to the best things to do in Manitoba to discover what else there is to do here!
Of course, you can modify the itinerary however you like, but we’ll recommend all the best national parks, hiking trails, and other attractions within driving distance from Winnipeg.
Whether you follow this itinerary exactly or just take away pieces of it, hopefully this article will help you plan your future Manitoba road trips!
Table of Contents
Where to Stay in Winnipeg
Where to stay in portage la prairie, where to stay in spruce woods provincial park, where to stay in riding mountain national park, day 6 – riding mountain national park, day 7 – return to winnipeg, where to stay in hecla-grindstone provincial park, where to stay near grand beach, where to stay in pinawa, where to stay in whiteshell provincial park, day 5-6 – falcon lake, day 7 – head back to winnipeg, our epic 2-week manitoba road trip itinerary.
The first week of this Manitoba road trip will cover a western loop from Winnipeg. The second week will cover an eastern loop.
So even if you’re just looking for 1 week Manitoba road trips, you can choose to do just half of this itinerary.
Either way, you’re sure to have an epic adventure while you explore the province by car.
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars , which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
Week 1 – Western Loop of Southern Manitoba from Winnipeg
Your first half of the Manitoba road trip will begin and end in Winnipeg. You’ll venture west from the city in a loop, passing towns full of history and national parks full of wildlife.
Manitoba has lots of well-equipped official campgrounds for those looking to camp, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sleep beneath the stars, or stay in a cozy local inn if that’s more your style.
Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed to have a fun-filled first week on your Manitoba road trip.
Day 1 and 2 – Fly into Winnipeg, Rent a Car, and Explore
With so many incredible things to do in Winnipeg , it’s a fantastic place to begin your adventure.
Fly into Winnipeg and spend your first two days relaxing, exploring, and prepping for your road trip.
You can organise your car rental , stock up on supplies, and make sure all your accommodations are booked for the rest of the journey.
If you’re travelling outside of winter (which is what we recommend), make sure you book things in advance because summer is the peak tourist season in Manitoba.
Also consider things like entry passes to national parks and weather patterns. Once you’ve gotten all your logistics sorted, you can enjoy Winnipeg!
Your first stop should be The Forks , which is the hub for culture and entertainment in the city. After you wander through the Forks Market, relax in the public parks, or visit the famous museums.
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a highly interesting space to learn about the evolution of human rights in Canada and abroad.
It is set in a modern glass building and has numerous exhibits, stories, art installations, and more. This Canadian museum is one not to miss! The Manitoba Children’s Museum is perfect if you’re travelling with small children too.
You can also check out the Assiniboine Park Zoo or stroll along the River Walk at The Forks while hanging out in Winnipeg. Or visit the Exchange District, which is a national historic site thanks to its beautiful architecture, and known for independent restaurants, boutiques and galleries housed in a few blocks of historically preserved buildings.
After spending 2 days in Winnipeg, get a good night’s sleep because tomorrow you’re setting out on your Manitoba road trip!
Winnipeg has lots of nice hotels and Airbnbs, though they’re a bit on the expensive side.
Expect to spend at least CAD$100 per night, but the quality is there which makes it worth the cost.
There are a few hostels in Winnipeg, but consider treating yourself to nice accommodation here, especially if you’ll be camping throughout the rest of your trip.
Humphry Inn and Suites is a good budget option, with a room costing around $140 a night.
If you want to treat yourself, stay at the Inn at the Forks . It’s right in the heart of the city and is quite luxurious.
Day 3 – Drive to Portage la Prairie
Today you can start heading west towards Portage la Prairie. This quaint town is only about an hour away from Winnipeg, so there isn’t much driving to do.
Once you arrive, spend the day enjoying this peaceful town in Manitoba.
There are two main highlights of Portage la Prairie. The first is Island Park , a gorgeous outdoor recreation area.
Here you’ll find walking paths, a golf course, parks and playgrounds for kids, as well as picnic and BBQ areas.
Also check out the Fort La Reine Museum , which showcases countless historic artefacts and buildings. If you’re interested in the history of Canada, this museum is a must-see.
The Microtel Inn and Suites by Wyndham Portage la Prairie is a comfortable, easy place to spend the night, ideal for couples on Manitoba road trips.
Day 4 – Spruce Woods Provincial Park
The next stop on your Manitoba road trip is Spruce Woods Provincial Park . It is only an hour away from Portage la Prairie, so if you leave early you’ll have the entire day for an outdoor adventure.
You could easily spend a few days in the Spruce Woods Provincial Park as there are so many activities to do here.
This national park is known for its abundance of hiking trails. Some of the best include:
- Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punch Bowl Hiking Trail
- Marsh Lake Trail
- Isputinaw Trail
- Spring Ridge Trail
- Hogsback Trail
All of these hikes are pretty short and can be done in one day.
The longest hike is the Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punch Bowl Hiking Trail, which takes around 3-4 hours.
This is also the most famous hike in the park, due to its unique landscape. Here you’ll find wide expanses of sand dunes, spiky cacti, and the small turquoise lake known as Devil’s Punch Bowl.
If you only have time for one hike, this is the one we recommend doing. The other trails mentioned are only around 1 hour each, so you could combine a few of them into one big day.
The area also has amazing biking trails and campgrounds. Stargazing and bird-watching are top-notch here as well.
The Assiniboine River cuts through the park and this idea is ideal for canoeing. Canoe rentals are available at the store near the campground.
READ MORE: Looking for more adventures in the Great White North? Check out our detailed guide to the top things to do in Canada !
There are two really good accommodation options for Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Kiche Manitou Campground is the best campsite in the park. It’s not far from the Spirit Sands, so it’s a convenient spot to camp after the hike.
If you’re not camping, head to the nearby town of Glenboro for the night. The Spruce Woods Inn is a modest option, with an on-site restaurant and bar as well.
Day 5 – Brandon to Riding Mountain National Park
Day 5 of your road trip will take you to the city of Brandon on your way to Riding Mountain National Park.
Located along the Assiniboine Rivers, Brandon is less than an hour from Spruce Woods Provincial Park and it’s a good place to stop for a break.
You can refuel, stock up on snacks, and grab some breakfast or lunch. While you’re in Brandon, you can also visit one of the interesting museums and art galleries.
The Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum showcases the history of the airmen who served in WWII. There are real aircrafts on display as well as other artefacts.
If you’re more interested in art than history, visit the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba . This contemporary art museum was one of the first visual art museums in Canada.
After you explore the history and art of Brandon, drive north for an hour towards Riding Mountain National Park.
Wasagaming is a small town on Clear Lake, and it’s the most convenient place to base yourself for exploring Riding Mountain National Park.
Wasagaming campground is the best spot to camp, and Honeycomb Bed and Breakfast is a cozy, rustic, moderately-priced place to stay outside of the Park and Wasagaming, in the town of Onanole.
We personally loved staying in the oTentiks in Wasagaming, run by Parks Canada. These warm and spacious A-frames are comfortable at any time of year and come complete with dorm beds, wood-fire heaters and cooking equipment.
Check out this site for more ideas on where to stay.
Like Spruce Woods Provincial Park, there is so much to do here in Riding Mountain National Park .
It’s one of the best places to explore on Manitoba road trips, and you could easily spend a few days enjoying the area.
The abundant wildlife and dense boreal forest make this a paradise for animal and adventure enthusiasts. If you’re lucky you may even spot an elusive black bear here!
Spend all of day 6 of your journey canoeing or kayaking on Clear Lake, hiking the Buris and Bittersweet Trail, and exploring the Ominik Marsh.
Alternatively, the Bald Hill Trail or Gorge Creek Trail are two of the most epic hikes in the park for the views along the Manitoba Escarpment, which is a large elevated ridge that cuts through the park.
In the winter, the park is amazing for cross country skiing or snowshoeing.
Another one of the top activities in Riding Mountain National Park is visiting the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure .
This is potentially the only place you’ll get to see plains bison roaming around in Manitoba.
Bison have been hunted almost to extinction, so this vast, protected space ensures that a captive herd of plains bison is able to thrive.
Drive through the enclosure in the hopes of seeing these magnificent animals up close.
READ MORE: Along with seeing the plains bison, see what else made our list of the top wildlife experiences in Canada !
You can stay at your accommodation in Wasagaming for another night, but before going to bed, drive out to the eastern end of Clear Lake for a popular sunset spot called the Wishing Well.
Colourful, lakeside sunsets are essential to the best Manitoba road trips!
After your week-long road trip through the western side of Manitoba, drive 3 hours from Riding Mountain National Park back to Winnipeg.
Take some time to do the activities you may have missed at the start of your trip. Go see the polar bears at the Journey to Churchill exhibit in Assiniboine Park Zoo, walk along the shores of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers or further explore the Forks if you haven’t already done so.
For a real treat head to the Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature . This relaxing spa has warm thermal baths, massages, and other luxurious treatments.
It’s easily one of the best things to do in Winnipeg, especially after a week of hiking and camping.
Also in Winnipeg, definitely make time for the award-winning Canadian Museum for Human Rights if you missed it before.
You can also visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery or the famous Royal Canadian Mint coin making facility.
Another fantastic option is Qaumajuq, the new Inuit Art Centre that houses the largest collection of contemporary Inuit Art in the world. It’s attached on all levels to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Before or after your Manitoba road trips is a great time to explore Winnipeg, as it’s the heart of culture and entertainment in the province.
Week 2 – Eastern Loop of Southern Manitoba from Winnipeg
Week 2 of this southern Manitoba road trip will cover the eastern side.
You’ll start with a journey up to Lake Winnipeg, then continue further east to explore the lakes and provincial parks.
Be sure to spend at least a few days in Whiteshell Provincial Park, as it’s one of the top places to visit in Manitoba.
Day 1 – Drive to Hecla Provincial Park
Start by driving about 2 hours north of Winnipeg to Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park . Set on Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba’s largest lake, this gorgeous park consists of islands, beaches, hiking trails, and cross country skiing trails.
You can walk along the rocky shores of the lake, hike to the Hecla Lighthouse, and observe the abundant wildlife and birds.
Grassy Narrows Marsh is the park’s top hiking trail. It will lead you through the marsh of the park.
The Black Wolf Trail and the Gull Harbor Trail are other popular hiking or cycling trails to consider.
After hiking, visit Hecla Village and the Heritage Home Museum to learn about the history of Icelandic settlers in the area.
Another great activity is to head to the Wildlife Viewing Tower for bird-watching and nature photography.
You’re almost certain to see geese, pelicans, ducks, and other water birds. But be on the lookout for moose, as they are also common in the area.
Manitoba Parks has numerous holiday cabins and a nice campground available for overnight guests.
You can stay right on the shores of the largest lake in Manitoba and enjoy a peaceful night surrounded by nature.
Check out the official Manitoba Parks website to view information on the Hecla Vacation Cabins and Gull Harbour Campground .
Visitors can also stay in guest rooms at Hecla Lakeview Resort (higher-end) or Gull Harbour Marina & Lighthouse Inn .
Day 2 – Grand Beach
For the next adventure on your 2-week Manitoba road trip, head to Grand Beach on the east shore of Lake Winnipeg. The drive takes just over 2 hours, as you have to journey around the lake.
When you arrive, spend your day enjoying one of Canada’s hidden gems. Most beach-loving tourists in Canada flock to the west coast, but Grand Beach is truly stunning.
Grand Beach is the longest white sand lake beach in Canada, so it’s extremely popular in summer.
Spend a day swimming in the freshwater and relaxing on the velvety sand. You can also take windsurfing or kite surfing lessons if you’re looking for a full-day adventure.
If you head about 15 minutes north of Grand Beach, you’ll discover the cutest bed and breakfast known as Pebble Springs Belair B&B . The cozy, family-owned beach cottage has a wood stove, hot tub, and top-rated local hosts.
Alternatively, you can camp at Grand Beach Campground on your road trip.
Day 3 – Drive to Pinawa
The next stop on your southern Manitoba road trip is Pinawa, one of the best outdoor adventure spots in the province.
It’s only a 1-hour drive from Grand Beach to Pinawa, so you have the entire day to explore the area.
Start by completing the Pinawa Channel Heritage Walk, where you’ll cross the impressive Pinawa Suspension Bridge.
Next, try whitewater kayaking! Many wouldn’t expect rapids in Manitoba since it’s a prairie province. But Pinawa Dam Provincial Park is perfect for kayakers of all experience levels.
Prairie Whitewater is an amazing local company in Manitoba that provides equipment and in-depth instructions for any travellers looking to try whitewater kayaking.
The most popular and accessible ways to get out on the water in Pinawa is by tubing, kayaking or SUPing the Pinawa Channel. You book times and equipment from tour companies like Pinawa Float and Paddle and Pinawa UnPlugged Eco Tours .
So any water-sport lovers doing road trips through central Canada should definitely stop in Pinawa.
This charming wilderness town in Manitoba has some lovely local accommodation, including L’Eau Calme Resort, The Pinawa Motel, and Voyageur Houseboats .
Visit the official Pinawa website for more details.
Day 4 – West Hawk Lake
After an exciting stay in Pinawa, head to West Hawk Lake, located in one of the most beautiful provincial parks in Canada, Whiteshell.
All Manitoba road trips should include a visit to Whiteshell Provincial Park. This is the largest park in Manitoba, so it is jam-packed with natural beauty including lakes, forests, rivers, wildlife, and hiking trails.
The trip from Pinawa to West Hawk Lake in the park only takes an hour, so you’ll have plenty of time for activities.
Once you arrive in West Hawk Lake, enjoy the area by hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, or canoeing.
One of the hidden gems in the area is the Caddy Lake Tunnels. Here you can canoe or kayak along the peaceful lake and pass through magical, mad-made tunnels.
A fun fact about West Hawk Lake: it was formed due to a meteor crashing into earth millions of years ago. So the water is surrounded by dramatic granite cliffs formed by the crash.
Days 4-6 of this Manitoba Road Trip are spent near West Hawk Lake and Falcon Lake.
The two lakes are only a 15-minute drive apart, so you can pick one nice accommodation and stay there for a couple of nights.
Falcon Trails Resort owns a number of stunning, lakeside log cabins in the forest that will fill the last days of your Manitoba trip with absolute zen.
This is our top recommendation for accommodation not just in Whiteshell, but all of southern Manitoba. Book early though!
The area also has lots of amazing campgrounds, including West Hawk Lake Campground and Falcon Lake Lakeshore Campground .
Spend the next two days enjoying another one of the most beautiful lakes in Manitoba.
Falcon Lake is surrounded by fun hiking and cycling trails and a rich boreal forest that is full of life.
A fun way to experience the area is by booking a horse riding tour.
Falcon Beach Ranch , which also has lovely cabins, offers highly-rated horseback riding tours through the forest, making for a very exciting and adventurous way to discover the beauty of the area.
The Ranch has tours for all experience levels, so even if you’ve never ridden a horse before, they will make sure you feel comfortable.
Other fun activities in this gorgeous area of Manitoba include hiking to Rainbow Falls, biking along the boardwalk, and hiking the Falcon Creek Trail.
If you’re visiting Manitoba in the winter, you can also go ice-skating, snow-tubing, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing in Falcon Lake.
Now it’s time to head back to Manitoba’s capital city, where you can return your rental car and get ready for your next adventure.
Whether you’re planning on flying to northern Manitoba, elsewhere in Canada, or elsewhere in the world, you’re sure to carry these unforgettable memories with you.
Manitoba road trips are perfect for travellers looking to disconnect from the hustle of daily life and get in touch with nature.
The forests, lakes, and wildlife of Manitoba are some of the best in Canada, so hopefully you made the most of your time here!
DISCLAIMER: This article was created in partnership with our friends at Destination Canada and Travel Manitoba. All words, opinions and days of epic fun driving across the province are, as always, our own.
About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd
Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook , YouTube and Instagram .
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Plan your next trip in Manitoba with us!
9 of the Best Manitoba Road Trips You Need to Take! (for 2023)
Compiled by the Road Trip Manitoba team
Last updated on January 13, 2023
If you’re looking to see more of Manitoba, Canada, a road trip is the best way to do so. We didn’t name our site “Road Trip Manitoba” for nothing… road trips are our favourite way to travel! Whether you’re after a scenic drive along one of our magnificent lakes, a short but beautiful drive just outside of Winnipeg, or an epic northern road trip across Manitoba, we’ve got you covered.
Get ready, because you’re likely to see forests, lakes, waterfalls, wildlife, roadside attractions, and much more on your Manitoba road trip adventure.
And let’s face it: there is nothing more freeing and more exhilarating than driving along a beautiful highway, the wind from the open window through your hair, your favourite playlist on the radio. Sometimes we forget just how gorgeous this incredible province truly is, and that’s why heading out on a road trip always reminds us how many things there are to do in Manitoba . For first-time visitors, we promise there’s a lot more to Manitoba than you might think.
Read on for our favourite Manitoba road trips, as well as a few general tips about driving in the province.
Manitoba is made up of Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 Territory, as well as communities that are signatories to Treaty 6 and Treaty 10. Manitoba is home to the original lands of the Anishinaabe, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak, and Nehethowuk peoples, as well as the homeland of the Métis peoples.
The Most Scenic Manitoba Road Trips
We couldn’t possibly fit every single one of our fave Manitoba road trips into one article, but we sure did try our best! Here are a few of our favourite scenic drives in Manitoba.
Riding Mountain National Park
Riding Mountain National Park definitely deserves its spot on this list, and it’s one of those Manitoba road trips that is stunning no matter what time of year you visit. In fact, winter is actually our favourite time to travel to Riding Mountain National Park!
Where to start/end
Neepawa to Dauphin, driving through Riding Mountain National Park.
If you took Highway 10 straight through Riding Mountain National Park from Neepawa to Dauphin without stopping, the 148 kilometre route should only take you about an hour and a half. However, we highly recommend staying for at least two nights in Riding Mountain National Park. This way you can experience the beauty and wonder of the area.
We’re including both Neepawa and Dauphin as part of this journey, as there’s a lot to see and do in each. But sandwiched between the two is stunning Riding Mountain National Park, one of Manitoba’s ultimate gems. In summer, take advantage of beautiful Clear Lake for swimming and canoeing; for winter, ice skate on the lakes skating trails, rent a fat tire bike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski in the park. During any season, the park is filled with incredible hiking and walking trails through the vast forest. These hikes range from the beginner level to the more advanced, and are some of the best hiking trails in Manitoba.
Also make sure to explore the town of Wasagaming, where you’ll find plenty of cool shops, restaurants, and places to stay.
Please note that your time in the park is not covered by the provincial parks permit, as you’re in a national park. You’ll need to purchase a daily pass for every day that you’re in the park (although the fee isn’t necessary if you’re simply passing through). You might want to consider an annual pass or a Parks Canada Discovery Pass , which covers all national parks in Canada for one year. More information about the fees for visiting Riding Mountain National Park can be found here .
Road Trip Highlights
- Take a tour of the Farmery Brewery in Neepawa.
- Visit the Margaret Laurence home in Neepawa to learn about the Canadian literary legend.
- Visit Deep Bay in Riding Mountain National Park and find out why it gets its name.
- Hike Bald Hill, one of the more challenging hikes in the province, for an unbelievable view.
- Walk either the short or the long loop of the Brûlé Trail; it’s perfect for families. The Kinosao Trail is another great option for a short and manageable hike.
- Check local Northern Lights forecasts for a chance to see the dancing lights in the sky; Clear Lake Boat Cove is a popular spot to watch them. (Check out our article full of tips for viewing northern lights in Manitoba .)
- Go bird watching at Ominnik Marsh.
- Visit the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure to see these magnificent creatures as they wander the prairies.
- Head to Dauphin’s Ukrainian Heritage Village for a taste of Manitoba’s past.
River Road Provincial Heritage Park
For a short but sweet Manitoba road trip, spend a few hours driving down River Road in St. Andrews, Manitoba. Found just outside Winnipeg, this road trip makes for a lovely summer afternoon adventure along the Red River, especially when combined with a visit to Lockport.
Lockport to Larter’s at St. Andrew’s Golf and Country Club.
On paper, this road trip is only about ten kilometres, and can be done in ten minutes. That being said, we recommend taking your time on this road, as there’s so much to see and do. We guarantee you’ll want to keep stopping for photos along the way!
Highlights of the road trip
- Grab lunch at one of Lockport’s famed diners; we love Sonia’s Stand, the Half Moon Drive In, or Skinner’s.
- Take in the views of the St. Andrews Lock and Dam and the Lockport Locks.
- Visit the St. Andrews on the Red Anglican Church for a photo stop.
- Wander through the gardens at the Captain Kennedy Tea House.
- Take in the winding river views from one of the many picnic table stops along River Road
- Still interested in other things to do in the area? Head back the way you came to visit Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site. Here you will learn how people lived on the land as trappers and traders in the 1850s.
- Want to head a little further? Make your way to Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail, an absolutely stunning walk (one of our fave Manitoba hiking trails ) that’s both stroller and wheelchair accessible.
Whiteshell Provincial Park to Pinawa Dam Provincial Park
Without a doubt, Whiteshell Provincial Park is one of our favourite places in the entire province. It just so happens to be one of our favourite Manitoba road trips, too! And if you’re after some of the best campgrounds in Manitoba , Whiteshell Provincial Park is the place to be.
It’s also a fantastic location for canoeing and kayaking, so those who love the water will feel right at home. Tack on a visit to Pinawa Dam Provincial Park and you have one of the best tours of Eastern Manitoba possible.
Falcon Lake to Pinawa Dam Provincial Park.
Again, this is a case of what the map says versus what we actually recommend. While Falcon Lake and Pinawa Dam Provincial Park are technically only about an hour’s drive apart, we recommend spending at least a few days exploring the area, especially if you’re camping and/or canoeing. But no matter how you see Whiteshell Provincial Park and the surrounding area, we guarantee you’ll fall as deeply in love with it as we are.
- Hike the Top of the World hiking trail at Falcon Lake for some of the best views of the entire park. It’s one of the best hikes in the province in autumn due to the beauty of the changing leaves all around you.
- Spend some time at West Hawk Lake for its fun restaurant options, fantastic beach, and excellent hiking trails, including Hunt Lake Trail.
- Take a peaceful canoe trip through the Caddy Lake Tunnels on Caddy Lake.
- Brereton Lake is one of Manitoba’s most beautiful lakes; there are lots of options to stay, camp, and eat around here, and it’s a terrific lake for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking.
- Rainbow Falls makes for an excellent photography stop.
- Pine Point Rapids has a variety of hiking options depending on your skill level, but no matter which route you choose, you’ll quickly see why it’s one of Manitoba’s most beloved hiking areas.
- Walk to Seven Sisters Falls for a view of the cascading water.
- Spend the afternoon at Pinawa Dam Provincial Park to soak up the views; it’s also a great picnic spot! And if you’re up for it, go tubing down the river for a relaxing way to finish your road trip.
- Want to tack on even more to this epic Manitoba road trip? Head up to Tulabi Falls and spend a few days camping and taking in the spectacular views.
Interlake Region North
The Interlake Region is one of our top Manitoba road trips. Do we sound like a broken record yet? We told you it would be difficult to narrow this list down! This gorgeous region along Lake Winnipeg is all about the beaches and the culture, especially when you spend some time in the community of Gimli. Make your way to Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park for gorgeous scenery and wildlife spotting.
Winnipeg Beach to Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park.
The distance from Winnipeg Beach to Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park should only take about an hour’s drive without any stops, but we recommend spending at least two to three days minimum to explore the area.
- Winnipeg Beach is a charming town that has both a great beach to laze on as well as plenty of spots to eat and shop in town. For dog owners, there is also a dog beach that makes for an incredibly fun day out.
- Why visit one beach when you can visit many? Check out Matlock, Whytewold, and Ponemah to find your favourite of all the Interlake beaches, some of the best beaches in Manitoba .
- Take some time to learn about Gimli’s Icelandic culture. This includes visiting Viking Park, the New Iceland Heritage Museum, and/or the annual Icelandic Festival every August. There are also lots of fantastic restaurants in Gimli !
- Walk along the Gimli Seawall Gallery; bonus points if you have an ice cream when you do so.
- Visit the Arnes Farmers Market, held on weekends in summer.
- Walk the Lighthouse Trail on Hecla Island for one of the most photogenic spots in Manitoba.
- Visit the Grassy Narrows Marsh in Hecla Grindstone Provincial Park for excellent bird watching and a peaceful walk along the boardwalk.
- Stay at the Lakeview Hecla Resort for a relaxing getaway that features a spa, fantastic dining options, and access to beautiful shoreline (some of the best Manitoba beaches ) and hiking trails.
Don’t sleep on the Parkland Region of Manitoba; it’s one of the most diverse and dynamic parts of the province! In fact, Swan Valley is one of Road Trip Manitoba founder Brenna’s favourite regions in all of Manitoba. The most beautiful time to explore this region is in summer when the canola fields are in their peak yellow glory.
Where to start/end .
Russell to Swan River
Russell to Swan River takes about two hours driving in total, but we recommend at least three days to explore all that Swan Valley and the Parkland Region have to offer.
- Explore the charming town of Russell, and make sure to say hello to Arthur the Bull (a statue and fun photo stop).
- Visit the Inglis Grain Elevators National Historic Site to take in this iconic image of Manitoba’s prairie roots; they’re some of the few remaining rows of grain elevators left in Canada.
- Spend some time in Asessippi Provincial Park. This gorgeous area, known for its skiing in winter, is perfect for mountain biking and hiking in summer.
- Visit Baldy Mountain, the highest peak in Manitoba at 831 metres above sea level. You can choose to hike to the peak or simply climb the viewing tower.
- Go hiking on the Blue Lakes Trail, a gorgeous trail through forests that takes you past both the East Blue Lake and the West Blue Lake, two of the most brilliantly turquoise lakes in Manitoba .
- Stay on Wellman Lake in Duck Mountain Provincial Park for excellent boating, swimming, and fishing opportunities.
- Explore Swan River, a vibrant little town, and the surrounding area. Make sure to check out the incredibly fun “Magnet Hill” (you need to see it to believe it!)
When the full view of Pembina Valley comes into view, you might forget you’re in notoriously flat Manitoba! This road trip is all about exploring some of the highlights of Southern Manitoba, including the cities of Morden and Winkler. End the trip in beautiful Pembina Valley Provincial Park, where excellent hiking and camping prevails.
Altona to Pembina Valley Provincial Park.
To drive directly from Altona to the Pembina Valley Provincial Park only takes about an hour, but of course, we recommend stopping as much as possible along the way. Add some of the other towns in Southern Manitoba to extend this road trip for as long as you want.
- Wander through Altona’s Gallery in the Park to check out the work of local Canadian artists.
- Explore the restaurants in Winkler, including one of the province’s best diners: Charley B’s.
- Check out Morden’s Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre to learn all about Manitoba’s dinosaur past
- Relax on Colert Beach.
- Take in the views over Pembina Valley in Pembina Valley Provincial Park on a hike or a camping trip.
Winnipeg to Thompson
If you want to see a huge portion of Manitoba in one trip, consider driving from Winnipeg to Thompson . The road trip up the MB-6N is adventure enough, but you can always add an additional journey to Churchill onto the route for an even more memorable trip. Along the way, you’ll spend most of your time along Lake Manitoba, as well as a few of our lesser-known (yet equally as stunning) smaller lakes, waterfalls, and a night in a boreal forest.
Winnipeg to Thompson.
From Thompson, you can then continue your journey to Churchill , making this one of the most all-encompassing trips in Manitoba. Although you can’t drive from Thompson to Churchill, you can take the train or fly.
Driving from Winnipeg to Thompson will take about seven to eight hours without stopping, but we recommend taking at least a few days in order to see as many sights along the way as possible.
- Stop in Lundar Beach Provincial Park, where you can explore a lesser-known Manitoba beach as well as bird watch in the local marshlands.
- Head to Steep Rock on the edge of Lake Manitoba, where you’ll find one of the province’s most popular spots for photography due to its stunning rock formations.
- Spend time at Little Limestone Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Canada; the limestone at the bottom of the lake causes it to change colours frequently, meaning you might catch it when it sparkles a vibrant turquoise.
- Stop in Pisew Falls Provincial Park to see one of the province’s most jaw-dropping waterfalls.
- Stay at family-run Paint Lake Lodge in the middle of a boreal forest.
- Explore all of the things to do in Thompson , Manitoba’s “Hub of the North”.
- If you’re feeling adventurous, take the train or a flight to Churchill to continue your journey through Northern Manitoba’s most untouched terrain; polar bears and beluga whales await!
There’s so much to see and do in Western Manitoba that it might feel impossible to fit it all into one for your Manitoba road trips. But this loop, taking you from Spruce Woods Provincial Park to Souris to Brandon to Portage la Prairie, is a pretty good introduction to all that the region has to offer! This road trip is particularly great for those who have a week or more to explore.
Spruce Woods Provincial Park to Portage la Prairie, passing through Souris and Brandon.
If you drove without stopping, this loop would take about three hours. But we recommend spending at least a week exploring each of the many stops along the way! Spruce Woods Provincial Park alone is worth a couple of days of your time.
- Spruce Woods Provincial Park is often noted as one of Manitoba’s best adventure playgrounds, and is definitely worth at least a day or two of your time for hiking, sightseeing, and camping. Hogsback Trail is a good place to start in the park.
- Spirit Sands, found within Spruce Woods Provincial Park, is a sight to behold. It’s not often you find a desert in the middle of the prairies, complete with sand and cacti! Avid hikers will love the trail to Devils Punch Bowl.
- Stop in Souris to cross the Souris Swinging Bridge, explore beautiful Victoria Park, and to try to spot one of the free-roaming peacocks in town.
- Relax on Oak Lake Beach to swim, bird watch, or golf nearby.
- Make your way to Grand Valley Provincial Park to explore a lesser-known Manitoba park; the Buffalo Chase Trail is worth a couple of hours.
- Head to Brandon, Manitoba’s second-largest city, for museums, restaurants, street art , a walk around the Brandon Riverbank, and more (see our full guide on all the things to do in Brandon for ideas).
- Drive from Manitoba’s second-largest city to its fifth, and enjoy all the things to do in Portage la Prairie . Spend some time getting to know the city and make sure to catch a sunset on Delta Beach.
Even though a lot of people focus on sightseeing in Southern Manitoba, we believe there’s just as much (or even more!) beauty in the north. If you choose to take a road trip through Northern Manitoba, we guarantee an adventure. With remote provincial parks and a rugged beauty you have to see to believe, consider taking a Northern Manitoba road trip on your next holiday.
The Pas to Flin Flon.
The Pas to Flin Flon is only about 1.5 hours driving, but again, we recommend taking your time and/or tacking this Northern Manitoba road trip onto another road trip we’ve mentioned; this would combine nicely with the Parkland Region road trip, for example. You can also head northeast and include Snow Lake, then make your way on to Thompson and then Churchill.
- Explore The Pas’ Indigenous history and culture; the Sam Waller Museum is a good place to start.
- Head to Clearwater Lake Provincial Park for crystal clear waters and plenty of hiking and camping to keep you busy for days.
- If you have the time for a detour, head northeast to Wekusko Falls Provincial Park for stunning views over the region as well as fishing, hiking, and so much more.
- Spend a few hours in Cranberry Portage to visit the Cranberry Portage Heritage Museum and the Irvin Head Gallery to see some of Manitoba’s most exquisite Indigenous carvings.
- If you like fishing in Manitoba , Bakers Narrows is the place you want to be; it’s known for its excellent fishing all year round, although canoeing and kayaking is also popular here.
- Discover dynamic Flin Flon, named after a science fiction character named Flintabbatey Flonatin (yes, we’ve been excited to type that for a very long time). There are tons of things to do in Flin Flon, so take your time and get to know the city over a few days.
Tips for Driving on Manitoba
While we’ve listed a few suggested timelines for some of these best Manitoba road trips, everything comes down to how long you want to spend exploring as well as any possible road conditions that may pop up unexpectedly. We don’t expect you to (nor do we recommend you to) drive the entire road trip in one straight shot; the whole point is to stop, take your time, and soak up as much of beautiful Manitoba as you can. In other words… be prepared to go slowly, and to take lots of photos!
In general, Manitoba road conditions are fairly good, although you’ll definitely experience bumpy roads and potholes, especially the further you get from the bigger cities. Many highways are only one lane, and it’s important to always use proper passing techniques when driving. Of course, if there is construction – a common occurrence in Manitoba, especially in summer – you’ll need to take extra precautions as well as plan for some extra time on the road.
Driving in winter in Manitoba can be challenging, especially if you’re not used to driving in snow or on icy roads. Make sure that the car you’re driving has the proper tires for the weather conditions (snow tires or all-weather tires) and always check the weather conditions before you head out on your trip. You might need to take it a lot slower than the recommended speed limit if there is a lot of snow, ice, or rain on your road trip.
The speed limit in much of rural Manitoba ranges from 90 to 110 kilometres per hour, but the specific speed limit will be clearly marked. Speeding tickets are common in the province, so it’s important to stick to the designated speed limit; they’re put in place for our safety, after all.
Impaired driving is an extremely punishable offense in Manitoba, not to mention how dangerous drinking and driving is for the driver, their passengers, and everyone else on the road. We can’t stress it strongly enough: don’t drink and drive.
It may seem obvious, but you need a valid driver’s license to drive a vehicle in Manitoba. If you don’t have a Canadian driver’s license, you’ll need to check if an International Driver’s Permit is needed. American driver’s licenses are usually accepted in Canada, but you should always double-check if any other documentation is needed to drive in Manitoba if your license is from outside Canada.
If you have any other concerns about driving in Manitoba, you can always check Manitoba’s road laws and driving regulations .
Renting a Car for Manitoba Road Trips
If you want to rent a car in Winnipeg for your Manitoba road trips, there are a few companies that offer car hires. Enterprise, Avis, Hertz, and U-Drive Car Rental are all found in Winnipeg, with a few locations around the city for convenience (including at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport).
In many other Manitoba cities, such as Brandon, Portage la Prairie, and Dauphin, you’ll find a few car rental options. Most companies will allow you to rent a car in one location and return it in another, i.e. you can rent the car in Winnipeg but return it in Brandon.
Purchasing a Provincial Parks Permit
If you’re going to enter any provincial parks on your Manitoba road trips, you’ll need a provincial parks permit. You can choose from a daily pass, a three-day pass, or an annual pass. Considering there are 92 provincial parks in Manitoba – many of which are included on this list – we think the annual pass is a pretty good deal! For more on park permits in Manitoba, and to purchase a pass online, click here .
If you plan on doing any fishing while in Manitoba, you must purchase a fishing license .
Planning to spend some time in the province’s capital before hitting the road? Don’t miss our guide on all the great things to do in Winnipeg . (Also, check out our article on our most beloved restaurants in Winnipeg , Winnipeg coffee shops , and Winnipeg bakeries as well!)
And if you’re making ANY drive in the province, don’t forget to download our FREE Road Trip Manitoba bingo cards to amp up the fun!
Brenna Holeman (she/her) has adventured to over 100 countries but is incredibly proud to call Winnipeg home. Brenna spent 16 years travelling solo around the world, living in Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Osaka, Antigua, and London, England. As well as being an editor and writer for Expedia UK for over seven years, she runs This Battered Suitcase, one of the most trusted and respected travel blogs in the world.
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Southern Manitoba road trip planner
Things to do
Manitoba External Link Title conjures images of rich, prairie farmland, but the truth is, Canada's central province showcases so many diverse ecosystems, it feels like three different countries. And the best way to explore is by car.
With its rolling prairieland in the south, sub-arctic tundra in the north and the rugged terrain of the pristine lakes region, road trippers will be living the dream. The southern Manitoba route, from Winnipeg to Riding Mountain National Park External Link Title and Spruce Woods Provincial Park External Link Title , takes in abundant wildlife, quintessential country towns and distinctive topography to confuse and delight the senses.
This driving route can be done in a single day, but you'll want to take your time enjoy the majestic hiking trails Manitoba offers and experience camping that is unparalleled.
Winnipeg to Riding Mountain National Park: 268 kilometres
One of the great road trips from Winnipeg begins with a cruise along the Yellowhead Scenic Highway (Hwy 16) into Manitoba's heartland across spectacular prairielands that feel like they go on forever. If you're lucky, you might just spot a black bear or two along the way, looking to hitch a ride (we recommend you let them walk!).
You'll want to make a stop at the town of Neepawa, halfway between Winnipeg and Riding Mountain National Park, for one very good reason. The Farmery Estate Brewery External Link Title is an iconic watering hole in Manitoba, where the barley and hops are homegrown right there on the prairie farm. The Pioneer Harvest Stout is a crowd favourite, with its subtle notes of chocolate, caramel malt and bitter coffee, best thrown back with a side of beer battered fish and chips from the Farmery's food truck.
Enjoy the scenic 268 kilometres through the Parkland region and stop for lunch at the Lakehouse External Link Title in the prairie town of Wasagaming on the shores of sparkling Clear Lake External Link Title , the largest lake in Riding Mountain National Park. Stroll the picturesque township, browse the boutiques and say hi to the friendly locals, or choose your own outdoor adventure, from fat biking around Clear Lake to kayaking External Link Title the crystal waters.
Riding Mountain National Park has to be seen to be believed. Perched atop the Manitoba Escarpment, this protected forested parkland contains three diverse ecosystems: grasslands, boreal forest and upland deciduous forest.
The best way to immerse yourself in this striking natural oasis is to get amongst it at one of the Park's numerous camp sites, offering perhaps the most outstanding camping in Manitoba. Stay in the comfy oTENTiks External Link Title , book a micrOcube External Link Title , yurt External Link Title or rent a cabin in Wasagaming, and spend a few days exploring more than 400 kilometres of hiking and biking trails, including Gorge Creek Trail, a 12.8-kilometre return hike that takes you through aspen, hazel and old oak forests.
Time seems to stand still as you stretch your legs among this ancient natural playground, teeming with wildlife External Link Title from wolves, moose, and elk, to black bears, bison and hundreds of bird species.
For the ultimate wildlife experience, take a self-driving tour to Lake Audy External Link Title for an up-close encounter with more than 40 protected bison. Be ready for a bison traffic jam and remember, these are friendly beasts. There's every chance you'll have one peering through your windscreen.
Riding National Park to Spruce Woods Provincial Park: 165 kilometre
Wind your way 165 kilometres south to Spruce Woods Provincial Park External Link Title , where the shifting landscape serves up another surprising vista: a sandy desert-like pocket in the midst of fertile, prairie farmland.
Known as Spirit Sands, the dunes provide a delicious contrast to the blue-green sea of spruce trees in the Devil's Punch Bowl, lush riverbank forests and grassy plains of this ecological wonder.
Ready for the most serene hiking trails Manitoba offers? Don your hiking boots and trek the quiet trails through arid desert and wooded forests, taking in scenic vistas of the Punch Bowl, with its glittering pond and grassy surrounds, and staggering panoramic views of the Assiniboine River.
Make sure you stop off at the Park's interpretive centre External Link Title , that showcases the cultural history and unique fauna and flora, including live specimens of reptiles, fish and amphibians found in the Park.
Spruce Woods Provincial Park to Winnipeg: 179 kilometres
The journey back to Winnipeg takes less than two hours, but the adventure is far from over. Soak up the vibrant buzz of this eclectic city, one of Canada's true urban treasures.
Check out the historic landmarks and boutique shops at The Forks External Link Title , a 6,000-year-old meeting place at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers, and then head over to the lively Exchange District External Link Title , a hub of pop-up artisan stores, galleries, entertainment venues and eateries to impress even the most refined foodie.
Take a selfie at the Manitoba Legislature Building, with the magnificent Golden Boy sculpture perched upon the dome acting as the perfect photo bomb. Dive deeper into the building's architectural secrets with a Hermetic Code Tour External Link Title , where you'll unearth hieroglyphic inscriptions and numerological codes inscribed in a Masonic language, so well hidden they eluded experts for 100 years.
Pining for polar bears? Just because you're in the south of Manitoba doesn't mean you can't explore the northern subarctic region. The Journey to Churchill exhibit at the world-class Assiniboine Park Zoo External Link Title serves up close encounters with polar bears and other exotic Arctic species.
Canada Ultimate Arctic Summer Adventure External Link Title
From CAD 6,603
7 days / 6 nights
On this 5-day summer adventure to Churchill, Manitoba, watch as 60,000 beluga whales fill Hudson Bay and polar bears leave the melting sea ice. Amazing wildlife viewing, museums and activities await!
The Ultimate Rail Journey aboard the Canadian External Link Title
From CAD 1,307 per person
5 days / 4 nights
On this classic 4-night train journey with VIA Rail, you’ll zip past boreal forests, watch the sun set over the endless horizon of the Prairies and wake up to the wonder of the Canadian Rockies.
Birds, Bears and Belugas External Link Title
From CAD 15,533
8 days / 7 nights
Takes place at Seal River Heritage Lodge and combines the thrill of beluga whale watching in July and August with the adventure of Churchill Wild’s signature “on the ground” polar bear walking safaris.
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Manitoba Road Trip: 7 Days of Canadian Prairie Adventure
Manitoba is Canada’s 8th largest province and it’s jam-packed full of adventure. As the eastern gateway to the Prairies, the province has so much to offer – much more than people realize! I took it on full-force with an epic week-long road trip, and let me tell you, be prepared to have not enough hours in a day. You’ll already be planning your next adventure before the trip is done. At the same time, this itinerary could easily be stretched into 10 days or even 2 weeks. I could have turned this into a 30-day Manitoba road trip easily! While people may look at you funny when you say that, you’ll understand why by the end of this post.
So, ready to road trip Manitoba from east to west in just one week? If your answer was challenge accepted , then read on to check out all these road trips from Winnipeg!
SOMETHING TO NOTE: My trip started on a holiday weekend which influenced some of this itinerary to avoid attraction closures and make the most of our trip. Feel free to switch this up as you like – this is meant to help plan your Manitoba trip, not be a strict itinerary!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links where if you make a purchase, I may receive a kickback at no extra cost to you. It helps keep IBB alive so thank you !
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I landed in Winnipeg late (11:49pm to be exact) on a Saturday from Hamilton International Airport. As such, I don’t really count this day as all I did is venture to the Comfort Inn Winnipeg Airport to catch some shut-eye as before heading west Sunday morning. If you’re looking for a hotel to just sleep in and then carry on, this is the perfect place. It’s cheap, comfy, the staff are great and there’s free breakfast included. Also, there’s a shuttle that goes to the airport from the hotel, so you’ll only have to pay for a cab one way.
Sunday morning came quick and after a quick bite to eat, it was time to hit the road! As it was Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend, I wasn’t sure what would be open so I stocked up on some groceries. Better to be safe than sorry!
Day 1: Spruce Woods Provincial Park, Souris & Brandon
After running errands in Winnipeg, I saw the city disappear in my rearview mirror as I made my way west on Highway 2. I recommend leaving in the morning to ensure you have plenty of time to explore!
Spruce Woods Provincial Park
I went full hog for our first day, with the first stop at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Home to some amazing hiking trails, one not to be missed is the Spirit Sands trail . For $10, you’ll get boundless natural beauty. The changing landscapes are absolutely breathtaking, especially in the autumn season! Seriously though, schedule at least 3-4 hours so you can enjoy the entire trail to its full potential. From beautiful lush forests to desert-like sands to breathtaking expanses, you’ll have trouble peeling yourself away from the sights.
INSIDER TIP: Depending on when you’re planning to visit, you can enjoy free entry in Mantioba’s provincial parks on the following dates: the entire month of February, Family Fishing Weekend (around June 10-12), Canada’s Parks Day Week (around July 11-17) and the Labour Day Weekend.
There are a number of ways you can enjoy the trail with the full loop from the Spirit Sands trail leading to the Devil’s Punch Bowl (Manitoba’s, not Ontario’s!) for a length of approximately 10 kilometres. However, be warned – if you do the Spirit Sands part first, the signage leading to the Devil’s Punch Bowl can be a bit confusing. I got a bit lost at one point in the dunes and ended up accidentally backtracking. It might be better to head for the Devil’s Punch Bowl first because trust me, hiking in the sand gets really hard, really fast! Plus the idea of getting lost in a “desert” in Manitoba of all places can be unnerving.
When you’re able to drag your heels away from the dunes, eerie pools and beautiful forest, keep heading west along Highway 2. You’ll come up to Souris, home of Canada’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge . This small town’s claim to fame is quite impressive as this overpass spans 184 metres across the aptly named Souris River. The original bridge was built in 1904, however this most recent rendition was opened to the public in August 2013. Souris suffered a flood in 2011 and the town decided to cut the bridge loose to save the river banks. This new version is 1.7 metres (5 feet, 6 inches) taller than the last.
FUN FACT: The bridge is supported by 4 high-strength steel suspension cables that are made from approximately 125 metres of wire!
Brandon & Onanole
By this point, you might be getting a bit hungry so make your way toward Highway 10 on your way to Riding Mountain National Park. Make a pit stop in Brandon where you’ll find plenty of culinary options. We grabbed a bite at Sabor Latino which has a large variety of traditional Spanish dishes. Their Carne Asada is pretty tasty! If you’re not feeling Spanish cuisine, there are a number of restaurants in town to choose from. Grab some gas and possibly make a stop at a liquor store as stores will be closed by the time you reach your final destination for the day.
Keep following Highway 10 north towards Riding Mountain National Park which will be your home base for 2 nights. There are a few accommodation options in Wasagaming at the base of the park, however they become more limited after the Thanksgiving weekend as many of the establishments close for the winter. I opted to stay about 10 minutes south in Onanole at the Honeycomb Bed and Breakfast . You’ll be greeted by Cindy who will promptly give you a warm welcome and tour of the place. It’s been a busy day so you’re probably exhausted. Rest up as you’ve got another busy day ahead!
Day 2: Inglis Grain Elevators & the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure
Rise and shine for your second full day in Manitoba! Fuel up with a delicious breakfast courtesy of Cindy and don’t forget the caffeine. You just might need the small boost! Don’t worry about any dietary restrictions as Cindy can whip up anything to cater to your needs. No matter what you’re served, it’ll be a tasty way to start the day! Although it can be easy to lose track of time so keep an eye on your watch. When you’re all set, hit the road and head northwest towards the small town of Inglis.
Inglis & the Grain Elevators
Home to the Inglis Grain Elevators , these disappearing giants are an icon of the Prairies. There used to be hundreds of grain elevators across the Prairie provinces, today this the last preserved vintage row of standard plan grain elevators in Canada. The natural grasslands surrounding Inglis made it an ideal location to farm prairie grains.
I was lucky enough that Thanksgiving Monday was the last day the Paterson elevator was open so I could actually go inside. If you visit in the cooler months however, don’t worry – there are plenty of informational signs outside where you can learn all about them!
A lot of towns home to grain elevators were built as a result of railways as they were there the main form of transport. Four of the five elevators in Inglis were built in the 1920s with the last added in 1941. Behind the elevators lie remnants of an old rail line where grain was delivered to be sorted and then shipped to various locations. Three times a week Inglis would also receive mail, fresh food, news, and even a few passengers. However, with the increased use of vehicle transportation, rail use declined. In 1953, the Canadian Pacific Railway discontinued passenger service to Inglis and then eventually grain shipments came to a gradual halt in 1995.
Upon stepping into the Patterson elevator, it feels as if you’ve been transported back in time. Wander through the halls as you learn how the elevators worked, what types of grains were sorted, and how transactions occurred in the early to mid-1900s. You’ll also learn more about the town of Inglis itself as it sprung up as a result of the grain elevators and the business they brought to the area.
Pit Stop in… Saskatchewan?
You may have noticed that Inglis is fairly close to the Saskatchewan border, so if you feel like doing a little time travelling, make a short 3o minute detour west. Head south to Russel, grab a Timmies and then take the TransCanada Highway west towards Langenburg, Saskatchewan. About 5-10 minutes in you’ll see the iconic Saskatchewan welcome sign – perfect for a photo op if you’re a total dork like me. Then drive a minute backwards for a ‘welcome to Manitoba’ photo-op and giggle about how your phone can’t decide what time zone it’s in.
Riding Mountain National Park
Now it’s time to get a taste of a true Manitoba gem – Riding Mountain National Park. Full of amazing hiking and biking trails, it’s also home to a one-of-a-kind experience. Head towards the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure and if you’re lucky, you’ll be in for a true Canadian Prairie treat!
Take Manitoba 354 to Lake Audy Road and follow it past the campground. You’ll then come upon the southern enclosure’s gate. Be sure to read all warnings and information signs to ensure a great experience for all. For your safety, please keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times . Okay so it’s not a roller coaster, but seriously don’t get out of the car. These are still wild animals and you could cause harm to yourself or the bison if you don’t respect it. The only place you can exit your vehicle is the lookout in the southern enclosure but always use caution.
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Obviously as these are wild animals, it’s not like the bison are going to come out just for you as soon as you enter. You’ll need a bit of luck and some patience. We did a full drive through the southern enclosure and only saw one bison way off in the distance. Be sure to check out both the northern and southern enclosures, and even bounce between a few times before even entertaining the thought of giving up.
As the sun was just about to set, we made a quick stop at the Lake Audy campground to see the brilliant colours. Right on the lake, it would be a fantastic spot to camp in the summer months. Take a moment to walk along the path and relax – it’s been a busy day so you earned it! When you’re ready, head back for a quiet night. If you’re not staying at Elkhorn, it’s still a great place to stop for dinner. As it was the Thanksgiving weekend we indulged in their special and it was to die for! Turkey with all the fixings arranged elegantly – it was almost too pretty to eat! Almost. Round it out with pumpkin pie cheesecake and we were in heaven! It was the perfect way to end the day.
Day 3: Riding Mountain National Park & Back to Winnipeg
After another great night of sleep at the Honeycomb Bed and Breakfast , we enjoyed another delicious breakfast thanks to Cindy. It was hard to bid farewell to such a beautiful establishment and such great company but alas, the road beckoned! Try not to doddle too much, there is a lot to see on the way back to Winnipeg.
Riding Mountain National Park: Round 2
If you’re looking for hiking trips in Manitoba, Riding Mountain National Park is the place to be. Many of them are long and would require a full day to complete. So if you’re an outdoorsy type and wanted to extend your trip, this would be the place to do it! As it was my last day in the park, I decided to check out a small trail towards the north of RMNP. While it was difficult to find a quieter, low-key jaunt, the Boreal Trail luckily offers just that!
This 1 kilometre loop trail is perfect for families with small children and offers a number of beautiful views. Follow the interpretive signs to learn more about the area itself. With plenty of bridges and boardwalks, you feel as if you’re wandering through an enchanted forest. You twist and turn past beautiful Tamarack and Black Spruce trees so tall it’s as if they’re touching the sky. Enjoy the burbles of Jackfish Creek as you cross it a number of times throughout the trail. If you’re lucky, you might spot a Pine Martin and other little critters!
On your way out of the park, be sure to stop at the Wishing Well . One of the oldest traditions within the park, throw a coin in and see if your wish comes true! Even if it doesn’t, you’ll be treated to beautiful views overlooking the eastern end of Clear Lake. Oh, and don’t forget to grab a photo with the iconic red chairs!
Afterwards, hop on the Manitoba 19 due east. As the road winds through the beautiful forest, you’ll come upon a gap in the trees as you come upon a lookout. Pull over and take in the magnificent view from this Riding Mountain National Park lookout. You can see clear across the prairies as you’re sitting atop the Manitoba Escarpment. Take a peek through the binoculars to get a closer view!
It’s this contrast that makes Riding Mountain National Park so unique. While surrounded by fields, the park’s boreal forest coexists with grasslands and eastern deciduous forests. It’s an icon within Manitoba and holds great importance to the Indigenous people. Another fun fact about Riding Mountain National Park is that it is home to the last standing park gate. I was told that back in the day many of the national parks throughout Canada had them, but Riding Mountain National Park’s East Gate is the sole survivor.
RELATED: Riding Mountain National Park is gorgeous in the fall and an absolute blast once the snow flies! Check out my winter guide to Riding Mountain National Park for all the fun things to do there.
On the Road Again… to Neepawa!
After a whirlwind adventure, it’s time to wave goodbye to Riding Mountain National Park and head for Winnipeg! Head south on the Manitoba 5 Highway for Neepawa. This is a great place to stop for gas and grab a few souvenirs, especially for the craft beer lover! Neepawa is home to the Farmery Estate Brewery , Manitoba’s only craft brewery outside of the Winnipeg area. It’s also the first estate brewery in all of North America! Keep an eye out for it on your right side.
Offering 5 standard brews along with a few seasonal options, Farmery Estate Brewery has something for everyone – even the non-beer drinker. I highly suggest their Pink Lemonade as it’s sweet, citrusy and tastes of summer. No matter what you indulge in, you’ll get a true taste of the Prairies as owners Chris and Lawrence grow and harvest all the ingredients themselves on their family farm. You can actually take a self-guided tour and see where the magic happens by touring the fields where they grow. Tours of the brewery itself are also available but unfortunately, I had to skip out on this as Winnipeg was calling… but not without grabbing a few beers to go.
Take Some Time to Relax in Winnipeg
While road trips are a blast, they can get tiring! Never fear, all the kinks in your back and tired muscles will be washed away at Thermëa . This tranquil gem is a must-visit when in Winnipeg. Honestly, it’s probably a good thing I don’t live close by otherwise I’d be there all the time.
Settle into the thermal cycle as your mantra becomes hot, cold, relax. Explore their many saunas, beautiful hot and cold pools, and picturesque relaxation areas. Also, be sure to take in at least one of their Aufguss rituals. German for infusion, these rituals are based on an ancient Finnish practice of vaporization with water enriched with natural essential oils. Each ritual is different, so you may want to enjoy a few! Check the times to see which rituals tickle your fancy.
This is seriously not to be missed on your itinerary. Not only will it relax you from head to toe, but their restaurant will satisfy your inner foodie. Take the evening to reset yourself. Trust me, your body and mind will thank you! Don’t believe me? I guarantee you will after reading my guide to Thermëa .
While I struggled to roll myself to the car, I was happy to settle into my room at the Humphry Inn and Suites . Nestled between The Forks and Exchange districts, it’s a fantastic spot to call home base while exploring Winnipeg. I decided to splurge a little and upgraded my room to include a jetted tub and king-size bed. Breakfast is also included in your stay though parking now costs $12 per night.
Day 4: Explore Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Capital City
It may be a struggle to get out of bed but alas, the Peg awaits! Stumble on downstairs for some breakfast and then freshen up for the day ahead. With a variety of options including hot breakfast items, waffles, cereal and more, I was never bored with the Humphry Inn and Suites ‘ breakfast options.
Check Out the Exchange District
Once you’re fuelled up, take some time to just explore. Winnipeg is an incredibly walkable city, at least in the downtown core anyway. I’d suggest heading towards the Exchange District. It won’t take long to realize why it’s considered a national historic site of Canada. The collection of huge stone warehouses and exquisite terracotta buildings built between 1880 and 1920 are the reason it has been nicknamed the “Chicago of the North”. You’ll stumble upon a few pieces of street art too!
It’s also home to Chosabi , where I highly suggest you stop for lunch. Chosabi is a delightful little bistro offering a variety of Japanese and Asian dishes, and while I’m sure it’s all tasty I HIGHLY recommend their Chosabi Burrito. If raw fish isn’t your thing – don’t worry. They also offer burritos with chicken, beef, and vegan options too!
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Walk off that sushi burrito baby by heading to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights . If you’re going to visit any museum in Manitoba, it’s this one. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is not just an iconic part of Winnipeg’s skyline but offers information that is too important to be missed.
Feel free to wander through the museum yourself, or sign up for one of their guided tours. I’ll tell you right now though, you’ll need multiple visits to take it all in. The information is heavy, but you’ll be in awe of how much you learn. If it’ll be your first time visiting, I’d say opt for a guided tour. This way you can get a general overview of the entire museum and then narrow in on where you want to focus afterwards. Be sure to check out their list of times so as to not miss out on the tour!
INSIDER TIP: The museum is open until 9:00 pm on Wednesdays, and you can come and go as you please with your ticket. If you want to rest your brain and then return, this is the best day to get the most of your visit!
Robin and I had the pleasure of Marina as our tour guide, and she began with an introduction to the museum itself and the architectural prowess behind the Antoine Predock’s design. From top to bottom, every design element has a meaning from the type of material used to the little details. As you move throughout the museum, you embark on a journey to enlightenment.
Starting with the “definition” of human rights, you quickly learn that there is no concrete answer. From personal tales of individuals sharing their experiences from helping those regain their human rights to important facts in Canadian history, saying you’ll be humbled is an understatement. I was amazed at the bravery of individuals like Lucille Teasdale Corti who made it her life’s work to treat over 300 patients per day in Uganda while fighting HIV. Or the horror and shame I felt when learning the residential schools were still in existence during my lifetime.
While the museum does cover pivotal moments in history such as the Holocaust and other genocides, I highly suggest focusing on Indigenous perspectives. While my knowledge of Indigenous rights and issues has grown since my original visit to Manitoba, these topics still aren’t covered enough. However, the museum does a great job of highlighting them so all those who visit can learn more and become more aware of this darker side of what is now Canada.
Indulge in a Craft Beer Tour
After the heavy topics covered at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, you might need a pick-me-up. One recommendation is a beer tour with the Winnipeg Trolley Company ! While it has evolved since I took it, you now get to enjoy two breweries and a distillery on their Ale and Cocktail Trail Tour . The tour leaves from The Fort Garry Hotel so make sure you arrive early as the trolley will leave without you if you’re late!
While the stops may vary depending on your tour, I was able to visit Little Brown Jug Brewery, Torque Brewing and One Great City Brewing Company during my time in Winnipeg. While Little Brown Jug Brewery is in the heart of the Exchange District, both Torque Brewing and One Great City Brewing Company are further out, meaning the Winnipeg Trolley Company’s Ale Trail tour is a great way to experience them responsibly without worrying about arranging a ride home if you’re staying in the downtown core.
Enjoy learning about each brewery and its processes while hearing about the history of Winnipeg between stops. Did you know there was a mind-reading duck named Felix who performed at the Pantegas theatre? Or that Winnipeg used to have a red light district? What about how veterinarians used to be able to prescribe ale as a remedy? These are just a few of the fun facts you’ll hear on the tour!
If you didn’t have a chance to eat before the tour, don’t worry. One Great City Brewing Company has a delicious menu you can indulge in and a popcorn snack at Torque will tide you over until then! The Winnipeg Trolley Company will drop you back off at The Forks Market, so you can always enjoy a nightcap there if you haven’t quite had your fill by the end of the night.
RELATED: No matter what time of the year you visit, the city honestly has so much to offer. However I cannot recommend a winter visit enough! Check out these fantastic things to do in Winnipeg in winter and you’ll find yourself planning your own snowy adventure!
Day 5: Waterfall Chasing in the East
So far I’ve covered the western area of southern Manitoba and spent some quality time in the capital, so now it’s time to head east! The next stop on our Manitoba road trip will pique the interest of waterfall lovers such as myself as you head to Whiteshell Provincial Park. Don’t forget to stop at the Centre of Canada for a quick photo-op first!
Whiteshell Provincial Park
Depending on how much hiking you want to do, this can be a quick half-day tour or a full-day adventure. If you’re an early riser, you can really take advantage of Whiteshell Provincial Park’s trails. However, if your feet are sore and you didn’t get your butt moving until around noon as I did, there’s still plenty to see. you just might have to skip out on a few hikes.
It’ll take about an hour and a half to get to your first stop, so if you’re feeling peckish I’d suggest stopping in Whitemouth for a bite to eat. There are some campgrounds which have corner stores within the park, but I’m not sure of their opening times or what they offer. I played it safe and grabbed a deliciously hearty meal from the Spicy Radish Cafés . They boast home-cooked meals from locally sourced ingredients as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options. I had their bacon, ham and onion quiche with a side spinach salad and both were so fresh and tasty. I think it was honestly the creamiest quiche I’ve ever had as I savoured every bite.
With a full belly, hit the road along Provincial Trunk Highway 44 to your first stop at the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary . Back in 1939, four orphaned Giant Canada Goose goslings fought against all odds and survived thanks to the help of Alfred Hole. This subspecies was thought to be extinct, but it was later determined otherwise thanks to his efforts. The geese who return to this sanctuary each year are direct descendants of those original four goslings. While I didn’t see any geese during my visit, I did spy a beautiful little waterfall on the Renny River just off of Goose Pond.
Hop back in the car and take off along the Manitoba 307 to Rainbow Falls . Accessible by car, this miniature block waterfall feeds the Whiteshell River into White Lake. Take a walk along the shoreline and even do a little rock-hopping towards the middle of the falls.
Make a U-turn and keep heading north along the Manitoba 307. Pull over at Pine Point Rapids for the trail to Viburnum Falls . This is a hike you may have to bail on depending on how much daylight you have left. Unfortunately for me, I was too late in the day to make it to the falls themselves as the hike is 8 kilometres long, taking approximately 3-4 hours. If you’re too late, don’t fret. Instead, wander through the Precambrian Boreal forest and enjoy the beautiful views from the lookout point which will take less than an hour. Plus I guarantee you’ll see a few fuzzy faces along the way!
Next on the docket is Sturgeon Falls , which is only accessible by trail. Park in the Nutimik Lake Campground by the Sturgeon Falls trailhead and follow the signs for a bridge. Here you’ll come upon an access point to the Borders to Beaches Trail which spans 370 kilometres from the Ontario border to the shores of Lake Winnipeg, also a part of the Trans Canada Trail. The Whiteshell River Bridge spans 86 metres and was inspired by bridges along many of New Zealand’s trails. Offering some amazing views of the Whiteshell River below, enjoy the pristine reflection of the treeline in the water as you cross. Take the trail to the left and follow the trail to Sturgeon Falls.
Along the way, you’re bound to see some wildlife along with a few interpretive signs. The area is also home to the northern river otter which you might spot if you’re lucky! I unfortunately didn’t but I was able to catch a peek at a woodpecker instead. To be honest though, I was more excited about having the tranquil view of Sturgeon Falls all to myself. You could honestly hear a pin drop while overlooking the stillness of Numao Lake. Coupled with the autumn colours, the area was absolutely breathtaking. While Sturgeon Falls look more like rapids, the whole area is still gorgeous so be sure to take a moment and enjoy the views.
Make your way back to the car and continue along Manitoba 307 to your last stop of the waterfall tour, Seven Sisters Falls . This one can be a little tricky if you’re using Google Maps for directions, as it’ll direct you to the town of Seven Sisters Falls rather than the waterfall itself. Take a right on Two Rivers Drive and follow it to Whitemouth Falls Provincial Park. Take the trail toward the water and you’ll come upon this thundering beauty. I made it just after the sun had set so it was a bit dark, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the view. There are trails around Whitemouth Falls Provincial Park which makes this a perfect spot for year-round adventures!
Returning to Winnipeg
And with that, it’s time to make the 1.5 hour drive back to Winnipeg! For dinner you have plenty of options, especially if you’re staying at the Humphry Inn and Suites . Swing by the Exchange District if you’re looking to go out for a bite as they have a number of amazing options. If you’re looking to stay close to home, say dinner in bed while enjoying a beer as I did, then head to Carbone . Just a 5 minute walk from the hotel, this Winnipeg chain has amazing wood-fired pizza. They also have a happy hour from 8:00 pm until close, so grab a beer or highball drink for $4 while waiting for your pizza to come fresh off the fire. Then stumble on back to the hotel for a solid night of rest with your pizza food baby.
Day 6: Gimli & More Winnipeg Wandering
Last full day in Manitoba! Don’t be sad, there’s still plenty of adventure to be had. It’s time to get a little taste of Iceland (yes you read that right, Iceland in Canada!) and head north to Gimli . This destination is so unique that it should be on every Canada bucket list .
Onwards to Gimli
Located on Lake Winnipeg’s western shore, Gimli was first settled by Icelanders as part of the New Iceland settlement in Manitoba. Learn more about the area by making your first stop at the New Iceland Heritage Museum , located in the Waterfront Centre.
You’ll hear the story of New Iceland as an introductory video gives you a glimpse into the life of Gimli’s first settlers. Afterwards, wander through the exhibits as you learn about the struggles families faced while emigrating to Canada, pivotal individuals in establishing New Iceland, and more. You’ll see examples of the clothes New Icelanders wore, their dwellings, and objects from their everyday lives. For 22 years Gimli was an Icelandic-only settlement until they opened their borders to other immigrants. Gimli has since evolved into a multicultural town in true Canadian fashion, however the ties to Iceland are still clear and strong.
INSIDER TIP: Gimli is home to the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba (or Islendingadagurinn) which happens every August long weekend. Here they celebrate Icelandic culture and how it is intertwined with Manitoba and Canada. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, I’d suggest planning your trip around this event.
Afterwards, head towards the Lake Winnipeg shoreline and say hello to Gimli’s resident Viking. Overseeing the town for over half a century, he is now surrounded by Viking Park which opened during 2017’s Icelandic Festival of Manitoba. Admire his magnificence while enjoying the beautiful park and walkway surrounding him. Interpretive signage you’ll find within the park speaks to the goodwill of Canada’s Indigenous people and how they aided in establishing New Iceland. Try your hand at the ancient Norse runes also on the signage and try to decipher the code inscribed on various tiles throughout Viking Park. Oh, and keep an eye out for the Viking faces carved in the stone!
If you’re looking for a place to warm up or need an energy boost, stop in at Flatland Coffee Roasters . If you can’t find it, just follow your nose as delicious coffee aromas hang in the air. Offering a few tables inside and out, take a moment to relax and rest up for the rest of your day. Flatland Coffee Roasters offers a number of hot and iced drinks with the usual culprits like an Espresso and Americano. However, I highly recommend their Miel which is their coffee with honey and cinnamon. It’s the perfect way to warm up! They also have a few food options if your tummy is rumbling.
Gimli is also where the aptly named Gimli Glider incident occurred. Air Canada flight 143 en route to Edmonton to Montreal had to make an emergency landing due to a number of errors which meant the plane didn’t have enough fuel to complete the flight. The crew successfully landed the Boeing 767 aircraft by gliding it into former Royal Canadian Air Force base turned motor race track. If you’d like to know more, stop by the Gimli Glider museum in town.
The Forks in Winnipeg
Say goodbye to the shores of Lake Winnipeg as it’s time to head back to Manitoba’s capital. If you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, be sure to head for The Forks . This beautiful green space is where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet. A meeting place for Indigenous peoples for over 6000 years, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1974. The Forks boasts a number of outdoor facilities and landscape features that are open to the public year round. Enjoy a stroll along the Assiniboine Riverwalk and take in the views of Winnipeg from the Esplanade Riel. If you’re hunting for an iconic Parks Canada red chair photo, you can snap one here.
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Once your stomach gets the better of you, head inside The Forks Market . Originally two horse stables owned by competing rail companies, it now boasts two stories of vendors and restaurants along with a six-storey viewing tower. You can grab a bite to eat at one of the four full-service restaurants, or indulge in one of the quick-service restaurants. I highly recommend the latter as you can get an amazing meal for $15 or less. Oh, and you can grab a beer from The Common to go with it as the entire floor is licensed. Talk about the best of both worlds! Chances are you’ll want to eat here more than once.
Optional Late Night Adventuring
As Winnipeg is geographically located at a higher longitude than our home of Kitchener in Ontario, I downloaded an aurora detection app as we had heard rumbles of high activity during our last few days in Manitoba. With the meter sitting at a 7 out of 10, I decided to chance it and make the most of my Manitoba road trip with some aurora chasing. I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right?
At 10:30 pm, I bundled up and drove 20 minutes north of Winnipeg to Bird Hill Provincial Park . On a clear night, the area can offer spectacular views of the aurora. While the app said there was some cloud cover, it promised clearer skies throughout the night. I managed to catch a few little glimpses, but after about 2 hours of shivering and no clear sky in sight, I called it quits. It’s just another reason to return to Manitoba!
Day 7: Homeward Bound
After a short night of sleep, we woke up to snow on the ground… no wonder we couldn’t see the Northern Lights last night! After stumbling down to my final breakfast at the Humphry Inn and Suites , I said goodbye to our beautiful jacuzzi tub and king size bed. It was time to strategically pack my souvenirs (aka beer) and head for our final destination of the trip.
Located just 15 minutes from the airport, Assiniboine Park Zoo is home to the Journey to Churchill exhibit. In case you don’t know, Churchill is the famous town located on the western side of Hudson Bay where scientists come from all over to study polar bears. Known as the polar bear capital of the world, tourists can also witness these majestic beauties in the wild. If you don’t have the time or money to actually head to Churchill, the Assiniboine Park Zoo is your next best thing.
Zoos can be a touchy subject as many animal lovers and animal welfare activists stand divided on the subject. For a bit of background, the Assiniboine Park Zoo aims to support the wildlife that call the zoo home through betterment programs and conservation efforts.
For example, one of their current projects is their polar bear denning study which has given them a $25,000 research grant. Another study is on the genetic structure of polar bears in which they have begun to discover the complex social structures of polar bears, especially in the southern regions of the species’ range when polar bears are closer to one another. Not only this, but the Assiniboine Park Zoo is an accredited zoo that participates in a number of programs focused on species survival and restoring over 30 different species of animals to healthy populations in the wild. You can read in further detail about their contributions and programs here .
Wander through the grasslands and boreal forest as you admire elk, cougars, and more that call this habitat home. You’ll also see gibbons, camels and other animals that reside in Asia as well as some critters from South America and possibly Australia depending on the season you visit. I guarantee though, the Journey to Churchill exhibit will steal the show.
The most comprehensive exhibit on northern species in the world, visitors experience a taste of the Wapusk Lowlands and Churchill’s coast. From snowy owls to Arctic foxes to, of course, the polar bear, you’ll leave with a new appreciation for our beloved cold-climate species. This award-winning exhibit has a plethora of information not just about the critters that call Northern Manitoba home, but also what we can do to help preserve the habitat. Climate change is a real threat, and every little bit helps to stop our impact on the environment.
Final Countdown… Last Minute Snacks?
Down to the final hours of this epic Manitoba road trip, I decided on one last meal at The Forks Market. I tried the sushi lettuce wraps from Fusian Sushi and WOW, who knew a lettuce wrap could taste so good? Organic king salmon with avocado, shiitake mushrooms and teriyaki sushi rice topped with a hint of mayo all nestled in a romaine lettuce leaf. All of the ingredients were so fresh and flavourful, I could have easily eaten another order and hated myself afterwards for being stuffed.
Though I did have a little bit of space left over so I couldn’t resist trying a chicken parmigiana empanada from Empanadas and Company by Simon’s Steaks. If you’re looking for a snack for under $5, this pocket of delight filled with chicken, ham, tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese is perfect. They also have a number of other flavours, including dessert empanadas like apple pie or Nutella and bananas.
Alas, this whirlwind week in Manitoba had come to an end as I said goodbye from my evening flight Saturday night. While I was pooped by the end of it, I would do it all again in a heartbeat! I’m already keeping an eye out for seat sales to solidify another trip so I can explore more.
So, Ready for a Manitoba Road Trip?
This province honestly has so much to offer all year round. I was lucky to enjoy it in the autumn season with the beautiful fall colours. Although I bet I could have seen even more if I had the summer sun on my side! If a road trip isn’t your jam or the full itinerary is way too much, feel free to break it down into some great day trips in Manitoba.
If you’re still not convinced about visiting the province, then I suggest checking out my round up of photos . I guarantee they’ll ignite some serious wanderlust to plan some Manitoba road trips of your own!
Does this road trip sound like your jam? Is there anywhere you suggest visiting that I may have missed? Are you planning a trip to Manitoba? I’d love to hear in a comment below!
For More Ideas of Things to Do in Manitoba: Check Out How to Make the Most of a Winter Visit to Winnipeg Don’t Miss this Ultimate Guide to Riding Mountain National Park
Disclaimer A huge thank you to Travel Manitoba for supplying me with the rental car for this amazing adventure. As well, many thanks to Thermëa by Nordik Spa-Nature and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights for hosting me as well as Tourism Winnipeg for arranging the craft beer tour. Also, this post contains affiliate links that if you use them, I may earn a small commission. You’re indirectly supporting IBB and keeping this site running so thanks! As always, all reviews, photos and opinions are my own.
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Thank you from another Canadian – I have never managed to visit Manitoba. Being an Ontarian it was always too expensive to travel in Canada which is something that really pisses me off. But what a great piece, I have passed it onto some British friends who are touring all across Canada next summer and they just loved it.
This looks like exactly the kind of trip I’d love! It definitely makes me want to fly over and check it out (Canada has long been on my list, but didn’t have a specific destination in mind) – thank you for the inspiration!
Wow! You did it all! I’ve lived in Manitoba all my life and there are several spots you hit that I’m ashamed to say I have yet to visit. Love your photos–that arctic fox is so cute!
This is awesome! I never realized how much Manitoba had to offer. Thanks so much for sharing- I think this itinerary is going to make it onto my list of future travels 🙂
Thanks for putting up the disclaimer that you did the trip on a holiday weekend. I would have totally forgotten to calculate that in. The trip sounds absolutely fantastic and makes me wanna go to Canada asap.
This post is awesome! And, I mean that in all aspects. Gosh, I need to do a road trip like this. Talking about inspiration! I have said a thousand times Canada is underrated. To be honest, I would be the happiest person in the world if I only can travel internationally to Canada.
Wonderful. I am from Manitoba and I’m impressed with how many great highlights you covered in 7 days.
OMG I love this so much. I always tended to skip over Manitoba for Saskatchewan and Alberta. But there is so much to do and see here. It’ll have to be on my list for next province to explore!
Great work on this super detailed itinerary!
Manitoba is super fabulous!! And thank you – I’m glad to hear I did the province justice! 🙂 I’d love to get to Saskatchewan too!
I had no idea there was that much to see in Manitoba. I went to Winnipeg once and stayed there for a day, but that was it. Since I didn’t have a car, I never got to see any of those beautiful national parks. Your road trip report makes me want to go back and hike through them because your pictures look amazing!
Also, the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg sounds amazing. It is definitely on my list if I ever come back to Manitoba!
Was wondering what time of the year you went?? Looks like you had a blast!
Hi JP! I was there in early October – landed on the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and stayed until just before the next weekend. The weather was perfect and I had a blast! I hope you’re able to visit Manitoba soon 🙂
I am going to Winnipeg with my daughter, for spring break. I love the detail in your blog. I’m not sure how far from Winnipeg we will venture, but lot a great places to return in the summer, to go camping with my husband. I too, love a great road trip. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you. We just retired and everyone laughs at us when I say our first trip will be to Manitoba:)
Haha you’re very welcome Denise! Manitoba is such a fantastic destination. I hope you have a wonderful trip!
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