Birds Hill Park
Home to the renowned Winnipeg Folk Festival, Birds Hill Park is a nature-lover’s paradise just 20 minutes north of Winnipeg. With an aspen and oak forest, blankets of wildflowers, prairie grasslands and a cedar bog, this three-and-a-half hectare park isn’t short on bucolic beauty. (Head north on Main Street, take Hwy 59 and follow signs.) Find a secluded spot to spread your blanket and don’t forget a soccer ball for a post-picnic match. Make a pit stop at Pineridge Hollow just south of the park to peruse the gift shop, wander the wildflower gardens and grab an ice cream. Round out your day trip with a meal inside the restaurant, which specializes in innovative regional cuisine sourced with ingredients from nearby producers.
Location: Birds Hill Park, St. Clements, MB; Pineridge Hollow 67086 Heatherdale Rd 25E, Oakbank, MB
Oak Hammock Marsh
For a wetlands adventure, start by heading north on McPhillips Street. The 36-square kilometre marshland is home to 300 species of birds. Spot the winged wildlife perched in the tall grasses as you stroll down the boardwalk. The tall, grassy maze opens up to the ground squirrel park, located next to a picnic area. Or pack your lunch and head upstairs to the interpretive centre’s grass-covered roof for a bird’s eye view of the wetlands. Wander the property for free or visit the interpretive centre.
Location: 1 Snow Goose Bay, Stonewall, MB
Lower Fort Garry
Located in St. Andrews, Lower Fort Garry is a gem in Canada’s park system (Head north on Main Street past Lockport and watch for signs). The national historic site has the largest number of original 19th century fur trade buildings in the country. The fort served as a supply station for explorers, traders and merchants. Today, costumed interpreters wander the fort re-enacting life during that era. Spread a blanket on the riverbank for a fresh-air feast with superb views.
Location: 5925 Highway 9, Saint Andrews, MB
Suit up for a trip to Winnipeg Beach, a cottage and beach-lovers’ enclave on the west side of Lake Winnipeg. Stroll the waterfront boardwalk or grab some grass while listening to an open-air concert at the bandstand. Head 10 minutes north on Hwy 9 to Gimli, where a thriving Icelandic community livens this fishing village and vacation destination. Walk the long pier at town centre and check out the murals painted on the breakwater. Take a dip in the lake, wander the shops or pick up some freshly caught and battered pickerel with chips from Kris’ Fish and Chips (78A 1st Ave, 204-642-8848).
Location: Gimli, MB (North of Winnipeg on Hwy 9)