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Locals’ Guide To Our Picturesque Prairie City

Follow our map to Winnipeg’s less well-worn spaces and places to get a locals-only angle on our picturesque prairie city.

The secret’s out: Winnipeg is beautiful. Historic buildings, lush greenery, vast, sunny prairie skies, and wide open spaces all make for postcard-worthy views. To take in the city from an unexpected angle, seek out these hidden gems, out-of-the-way spots, and secluded spaces at popular attractions.

Israel Asper Tower Of Hope

The recently completed Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a statement structure, engaging visitors through diverse stories and compelling galleries. Architect Antoine Predock designed the museum as a “mountain” in which visitors move from darkness into the light of “ice and mist” atop the Israel Asper Tower of Hope, a glassy beacon on top of the structure. Predock designed the tower to symbolize positive change in humanity, its shape symbollic of material changes in the physical state of water. Made from 334 custom-cut panes of glass, the tip of the tower rises to 100 metres.

Ascending up a spiral staircase – or, for thrill-seekers, an exhilirating glass elevator ride – into the tower, visitors emerge sky-level on the observation deck 58 metres above ground. For the best view, be sure to walk around the entire deck for a breathtaking panorama of never-ending sky merging with the city skyline.

Soak in the sights of prairie land and Winnipeg landmarks, including The Forks, St. Boniface Cathedral and Union Station. On warm days, details emerge of lush trees and the flow of the muddy waters of the Assinboine River. For peak snapshot opportunity, visit the Tower during sunset, when the world goes candy-coloured. Daytime visits may call for sunglasses as the spectacular windows on every side wash the space in warm rays.

The Forks

A meeting place for thousands of years, The Forks is now Winnipeg’s go-to attraction, housing shops, restaurants, family fun, and scenic natural spaces. Tucked within this lively gathering point are small hideaways with big views.

The balcony, which can be accessed from the second floor of The Forks Market shows off the Assiniboine River, the grounds below bustling with activity, and a city skyline. In the Market, past charming shops and locally owned restaurants, jostle through the crowds up to the viewing platform. Dare to stand near the edge and keep an eye out for Union Station, trains passing on adjacent railways, tall buildings lining the downtown skyline, and greenery weaving throughout. Inside the Market, get an aerial perspective onto the vibrant scene as visitors dine, shop and take in entertainment by local performers and artists.

Opposite The Forks, across the Esplanade Riel, a pedestrian bridge designed by Étienne Gaboury, onlookers can view the modern design of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with a backdrop of downtown architecture. Across the street, on the Northwest corner tucked off Tache Avenue, a small riverside area with picnic tables serves as the perfect spot to break away for lunch al fresco or a moment of Zen.

Lyndale Drive

While visiting The Forks, take the opportunity to seek out a hidden neighbourhood gem. On the north side grounds, The Forks Historic Rail Bridge, built in 1888, holds an ideal view of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers intersecting and a panorama of the city behind tree lined banks. The bridge’s original concrete counterweight now displays a mural by artist Mike Valcourt, a tribute to Jackson Beardy (of the Woodlands Group of Seven), adding inspiring artistry to the rivers’ natural beauty.

Across the Rail Bridge, follow a shady gravel path to Main St, where the Queen Elizabeth Bridge leads away from downtown. A pedestrian path passes under this bridge, but if the river is high, cross at street level and head south on Lyndale Drive. This winding residential road runs between the Red River and the quiet neighbourhood of Norwood, offering plenty of prime views of the river’s sweeping expanse and treed banks.

On Sundays and holidays, Lyndale is closed to vehicle traffic, and neighbourhood families take to the street to bike, jog, and roller skate. A grassy expanse separating the road from the river is a haven for dog owners and those who enjoy a riverside stroll, dotted with large fir trees, park benches, and a winding gravel path. Foodies stocking up on treats at The Forks should bring their provisions for a picnic on the grass, with a view of confusion corner and Osborne station poking out of the trees on the opposite riverbank.

Cathedrale de Saint-Boniface

Nestled in a cloud of treetops in the city’s French Quarter, the Cathédrale de Saint-Boniface (that’s St Boniface Cathedral for les anglophones) can be seen poking into view on the city’s skyline. The building’s iconic faÇade and round, glass-less window are remnants of the original cathedral, built in 1908, which was gutted by fire 60 years later.

While the flames destroyed the church’s stained glass window, roof, and spires, the original front remains, now shadowing the current church, built in 1972. The cathedral grounds also house the St Boniface Cathedral Cemetery, where many important historical figures – including Manitoba’s founder, Louis Riel – are buried. In the summer months, Theatre in the Cemetery offers engaging and educational entertainment, including the In Riel’s Footsteps tour, which is led by costumed interpreters for an engaging and interactive look at the province’s history.

For the best views at this historic site, stand inside the original church building and watch clouds drift past the round window. Or, visit at night, when the church’s faÇade is lit by warm yellow lanterns, and watch the lights of the city skyline twinkle over the Red River.

Assiniboine Park

Lyric Theatre - Assiniboine Park Just over a century ago, what is now known as Assiniboine Park was purchased by the city of Winnipeg. Spanning a whopping 283 acres of prairie and woodland along the Assiniboine river, this natural oasis within the city has become a hub for leisure, outdoor activities, family play and events.

While the Park has several entrance points, those in the know take the footbridge across the Assiniboine river where it connects to Portage Avenue. Join the line up for a chocolate and nut coated soft serve ice cream cone at Sargent Sundae before heading across the street into the park.

Cool breezes off the river and the swaying of trees along the bank impart instant tranquility. Enter the park and take in the view of vibrant green manicured lawns and shady trails perfect for walking or bike riding.

The Park’s current redevelopment plan has led to eye-pleasing additions like the Qualico Family Centre, which houses the Park Café and venue space, flanked on one side by a duck pond. Settle in the shade across the pond and watch sights  of family fun as kids and parents float boats across the water and toss crumbs to fowl. The Qualico Centre’s impressive architecture – featuring angular lines, sky-high windows, and an environmentally friendly green roof sprouting indigenous plant species – provides a picturesque backdrop that shows off the Park’s integration of natural space and man-made structure.