Winnipeg, Manitoba is a quick 45-minute flight from Minneapolis which makes it an easy getaway from the Twin Cities. However, as a family of four on a budget we decided to use the family car and turn a long weekend to this Canadian city into a road trip. New to this region, we’re still learning the area and thought it would be great fun to explore Manitoba’s capital and introduce the kids to Canada.
As we crossed the border after a full day of driving, my husband and I were quickly reminded by the speed limit signs that the speed max is displayed in kilometers. We also observed a landscape similar to North Dakota. Miles of farmland seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. The children, not as interested in the land, were thrilled to observe that the highway signs were printed in French and English (they’re learning French in school).
Before long we pulled into Winnipeg, a busy metropolis which looked nothing like the desolate highway driving we had grown accustomed to. Batches of trees appeared along with rivers and city lights. We had arrived.
Family hotel. Being that Winnipeg is such a big city, in fact the largest city in the province, there are plenty of hotel choices, from your typical budget motel to the upscale Fort Garry in downtown. My family settled in at the mid-range Clarion which is about as family-friendly hotel as you can get. The hotel lobby and a number of rooms, including ours, overlook the hotel’s indoor water slide and pool area. However, the hotel offers more than a fun recreation area. We were pleased to find the rooms are comfortable, parking is free, internet is free (big in my book) and the staff is extremely helpful, especially when we needed help with directions. We were really happy with the hotel experience.
Hotel restaurant. Attached to the hotel is the family-friendly restaurant chain the Original Pancake House. We ate there the second day of the stay. While looking over the menu we asked what made the chain famous. Our server pointed to the Apple Pancake (there’s two versions: giant and a mini). I said what the heck and ordered the smaller of the two. I don’t think I’ve ordered pancakes at a restaurant since I was a kid and it ended up this menu item is more of a decadent dessert than a breakfast dish. Between the sautéed apples and cinnamon sugar I could see why this item was the specialty.
More to come. You may have heard Manitoba is known for its ice fishing and photogenic polar bears, but stayed tuned for more of Winnipeg’s family attractions. It ends up there’s plenty to see and do without having to fully embrace nature’s elements.
Before signing off, I have to share a fun tidbit of history…Winnipeg inspired the name of the famous bear character Winnie the Pooh. The original Winnie was a real black bear adopted as a cub and named by Lt Harry Colebourn of The Fort Garry Horse, Canadian Army Reserve Armoured Regiment based in Winnipeg. The bear eventually ended up in a London Zoo. A. A. Milne’s son Christopher Robin, fondly named his own teddy bear “Winnie” and as they say, the rest is history. A statue of the original Winnie and Captain Colebourn is located in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park.
Thank you Travel Manitoba for assisting in some of the expenses of our adventure.