18 Free Things To Do In Winnipeg
Some of Winnipeg's most memorable experiences don't cost a cent. Check out the list below of some of the best free attractions and activities.
Bear witness to history
Winnipeg is home to a large and vibrant Jewish community that has left an indelible impression on the identity of the city. At the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, visitors pay no admission fee to see photographs, original documents and artifacts donated by Manitoba Holocaust survivors and their families.
Location: 123 Doncaster St., 204-477-7460
Discover Manitoba's Ukrainian heritage
Winnipeggers come by their love of perogies honestly—Manitoba is home to over 160,000 Ukrainians. Oseredok, the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre, houses a free museum that celebrates this culture, and is the largest Ukrainian cultural centre of its kind. There’s also a library, art gallery, archives and a boutique to browse.
Location: 184 Alexander Ave E, 204-942-0218
Get acquainted with Winnipeg's art scene
On the initial Friday of every month, galleries in the Exchange District—Winnipeg’s hub for local art—hold “First Fridays” events. Galleries offer free admission, artists open their studios and Old Market Square floods with pop-up art, shopping, and food vendors. Tour through Winnipeg’s vibrant cultural scene as you discover this historic neighbourhood’s many galleries and exhibition spaces.
Location: Exchange District, various locations, firstfridayswinnipeg.org
Go off to the races
Admission and parking are free at Winnipeg’s horse racing track, Assiniboia Downs, from May to the end of September. Experience the excitement of a live race, from the thundering hooves to the cheers of the crowd, as jockeys urge their horses over the finish line. Seating available trackside, in the second-floor clubhouse, or the third-floor open grandstand.
Location: 3975 Portage Ave., 204-885-3330
Learn how to brew beer
In a city that loves its suds, Half Pints Brewing Company was a pioneering independent brewery; it’s been crafting local ales and lagers since 2006. To take a behind-the-scenes look at how it cooks up its best beer, join one of the free brewery tours that take place every Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Arrive early as the tour is first-come, first-serve. After following the process from grain to bottle, sample the finished product in the on-site taproom.
Location: 550 Roseberry St., 204-832-PINT
Murals, murals everywhere
Winnipeg has a story to tell on almost every street corner. There are over 600 outdoor murals in the city that have been painted by local artists on stores, community centres, schools and stadiums. Some tell the story of Winnipeg’s history, like the portraits of ‘Peg-born actor Adam Beach or the three Winnipeg soldiers who recieved the Victoria Cross in the First World War; others are colourful expressions from local artists. Visit the West Broadway, Wolseley or West End areas to find some of Winnipeg’s finest murals.
Sample French culture
Winnipeg’s French-Canadian and Métis heritage is rich. In fact, St. Boniface is the largest francophone community west of the province of Quebec. On the neighbourhood’s main drag, Provencher Blvd, the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain offers a taste of the city’s French-Canadian culture. The cultural centre houses an art gallery of rotating exhibits with free admission as well as performance spaces and cultural events.
Location: 340 Provencher Blvd., 204-233-4888
See an iconic church and Canada's most fascinating rebel
What remains of the St. Boniface Cathedral-Basilica after a destructive fire in 1968 is breathtaking, the round frame that once housed a giant stained-glass window beautifully framing the prairie sky. But what draws many people here is who is buried nearby. The church’s cemetery includes the gravesite of Louis Riel, one of Manitoba’s founding fathers and political and spiritual leader of the Métis people. After visiting Riel’s grave, walk behind the cathedral to the grounds of St. Boniface College and see the controversial statue of Riel by renowned artist Etienne Gaboury.
Location: 190 av. de la Cathédrale, 204-233-7304
See striking outdoor art
At Millennium Library Park, take a seat on an outdoor chair and look up at one of the city’s most remarkable pieces of public art, emptyful. Created by Vancouver artist Bill Pechet, the 22,000 kilogram stainless steel fountain in the shape of a beaker incorporates coloured LED lights, water, and fog. The design represents both the “empty” landscape of the prairies and the fullness of life and culture that can be found here.
Location: 251 Donald St., 204-986-6450
Skate down the Assiniboine River
Starting in early January, the city creates a network of frozen pathways known as The River Trail. It’s one of the longest skating routes in Canada, and allows for skating, walking and skiing. Lace up your skates and enjoy this free outdoor adventure. Along the way, stop in at the “warming huts” fashioned by the artists and designers who submit their bids annually for the chance to build cozy and creative shelters. Access to the trail at several docks located in Norwood, St. Boniface, the Exchange District, The Forks or Corydon. There’s also a dock located near the Legislature Building.
Location: The River Trail, access points throughout downtown Winnipeg
Soar high on history
The Air Force Heritage Museum and Air Park includes an outdoor park with the largest permanent display of Canadian military aircraft in the country. History buffs will love examining 13 different Canadian Air Force planes that trace the story of military flight in Canada. Aircraft on display range from Second World War fighter planes to modern day CF-5 fighters. Inside the museum are rare artifacts including one of the few remaining Battle of Britain lace tapestries. Museum open by appointment.
Location: Bldg. 25 Air Command Air Force Way, 204-833-2500
Spend the day at Assiniboine Park
Walk, run, rollerblade, bike or cross-country ski through Assiniboine Park, the 283-acre green space inside city limits. Trails through the park’s lush greenery lead to Assiniboine Forest, while the manicured English gardens provide shady places to stop and smell the flowers. In the summer, catch an impromptu game of ultimate or a league cricket match on the park’s rolling lawn. In the winter, head down the toboggan slide or zip around the skating rink. Kids love the nature playground and duck pond. We highly recommend the renowned Leo Mol Sculpture Garden, which features almost 300 works by the famed sculptor.
Location: 2355 Corydon Ave., 204-927-6000
Stroll through Corydon and Osborne Village
The hip neighbourhoods that meet at Confusion Corner include some of the city’s most walkable streets, lined with local businesses and populated with the city’s stylish cool kids and eclectic eccentrics. Stroll down the bustling main strips of Corydon Ave and Osborne St and absorb all the action. Benches along the way offer perfect people-watching spots. Local boutiques scattered in between restaurants and patios provide a great chance to browse (and shop, of course).
Take in the beauty of The Forks
The Forks—a downtown spot where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet—has been a meeting place for thousands of years and maintains its trading-post roots today. Here, you can browse shops filled with local artisan creations at Johnston Terminal, sample regional cuisine and local craft beer at the Forks Market, relax with a book by the riverside or catch a live show at Scotiabank stage. There’s an endless list of things to do at The Forks throughout the year, making it one of Winnipeg’s most popular tourist destinations.
Location: 1 Forks Market Rd., 204-983-6757
Tour the political heart of Manitoba
Crafted from Tyndall stone and Carrara marble, the Manitoba Legislative Building is more than just a house of parliament—it is the province’s most prized architectural gem, with nods to Masonic and ancient temple design. The Leg, as locals call it, is home to the famous Golden Boy, a 17.2-foot statue that sits on top of the building, as well as the impressive Rotunda, a circular domed room. Free self-guided tours run daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Manitoba Legislative Building, Broadway and Osborne St., 204-945-5813
Uncover the dark history of the city
Discover Winnipeg’s criminal past and the history of the police force at the always-free Police Museum. With archives dating back to the 1880s, the museum has a fine collection of artifacts on display, including handcuffs, uniforms, and mugshots from the force’s early years. Pore over memorabilia from the famed 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, check out a restored 1925 REO Patrol Wagon, and find out what it’s like to be locked in a jail cell from 1911.
Location: 245 Smith St, 204-986-3976
Visit Winnipeg's oldest train station
Winnipeg’s Union Station was built in 1911 and was designed by Warren and Wetmore, the masterminds behind New York’s Grand Central Station. Architectural buffs will spot hallmarks of the beaux-arts style giving it family resemblance to the Big Apple landmark. The worn terazzo flooring is beautiful, but don’t forget to look up at the mesmerizing giant dome ceiling that looms overhead as people bustle through the station.
Location: 123 Main St.
Walk through the gate of a Hudson Bay Company trading fort
Amongst buildings and trees of Broadway Street is a slice of history: Upper Fort Garry Gate. The stone gate is all that remains of the Hudson Bay Company fort that once sat on this site, and represents a large part of Manitoba’s fur trade history. Check out the plaques adjacent to the site that help explain the gate’s significance. Next to the gate, a sunny park houses wooden walkways and prairie plants, along with an artistic wall installation. Carved images and a programmed light show tell the story of the history of Manitoba. Download the free Upper Fort Gary park app to learn more about the fort’s history and what structures once stood on this ground.
Location: Broadway and Main St.