Winnipeg: Little Spark on the Prairie   Leave a comment


National Geographic Magazine has just released its 30 best places to visit in 2016.  Unexpectedly and quite surprisingly, Winnipeg, Manitoba made the list.  The city on the flat prairie made the list along with Uruguay, Italian wine country, Botswana and many other very exotic locales.  National Geographic often recommends traveling to far-flung places way off the beaten path.  Winnipeg fits that description to a Tee. The nearest big city to Winnipeg, is Minneapolis, 500 miles south by southeast.  Winnipeg has no mountains or hills nearby.  There are beaches on the big lakes an hour north of the city.  But no one would consider Winnipeg a major must see place.  Or so we thought.

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National Geographic article:

Little Spark on the Prairie

Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, doesn’t usually find its way onto bucket lists. This multicultural, multilingual metropolis of 800,000, affectionately called the Peg by locals, blipped onto international radar screens in 2014 when the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opened here, and again this past summer when the FIFA Women’s World Cup passed through.

Planted midway between Canads’s Atlantic and Pacific coasts, Winnipeg is a whistle-stop on rail and road trips across Canada; polar bear and beluga whale enthusiasts know it as the starting point for their journey north to Churchill. But this unpretentious prairie city proves itself worthy of more than a glance from a train window.

Winnipeg’s 30-block Exchange District hums with music venues, galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Winter brings notoriously bone-chilling temperatures—but that doesn’t stop Winnipeggers from skating the frozen Red River to applaud winners of the annual warming-hut competition, or heading to St. Boniface, Winnipeg’s French quarter, for the Festival du Voyageur, one of the city’s many festivals.

Travel Tips

When to Go: June through September for farmers markets and outdoor concerts and events like the Winnipeg Folk Festival; December to March for skating and tobogganing at Arctic Glacier Winter Park.

How to Get Around: Use the efficient Winnipeg Transit public bus system. Routes connect the airport to downtown (5:50 a.m. until 12:49 a.m.), where you can ride the free Downtown Spirit. This daily transit service has three routes and stops near restaurants, shopping districts, and other major downtown attractions. Use Winnipeg Transit’s helpful Navigo tool to plan any bus trip.

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Where to Stay: The 20-story Alt Hotel, which opened in April 2015, is arguably the coolest recent addition to downtown. Located near the Exchange District and across the street from the MTS Centre, the city’s major sports and entertainment venue, the 160-room Alt blends local flavor and an ultrahip, minimalist aesthetic. The lobby art installation features more than 2,000 images by Winnipeg photographer Bryan Scott, and rooms and common areas have lots of bare cement walls and natural light.

What to Eat or Drink: When Vancouver-based chef Wayne Martin relocated to Winnipeg in 2015 to open Capital Grill and Bar, he brought a West Coast-inspired menu. The result is a boon to landlocked locals craving fresh seafood dishes such as beer-battered halibut and chips, Dungeness crab cake, and steamed mussels and fries. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and closed on Mondays.

What to Buy: First Nations’ artisans make, display, and sell their original pieces—including custom mukluks, carved soapstone seals, and rawhide drums—atCree-ations, a family-run artist studio and store with two Winnipeg locations.

What to Read Before You Go: Several short stories and novels by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carol Shields, including The Republic of Love (Open Road Media, 2013) and Larry’s Party (Penguin Books, 1998), were set in her adopted hometown of Winnipeg.

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Fun Fact: A time-honored wedding tradition in Winnipeg is the “Manitoba social,” a prenuptial fundraising party for the almost wed. Most socials follow the same formula: Hire a hall, sell tickets, and pack in as many people as possible to dance, drink, bid on prizes or buy raffle tickets, and raise a stash of cash for the happy couple.

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Posted November 22, 2015 by markosun in Uncategorized

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