Live and nice in Summer only...
See how entire city gets busy when temperatures after long, long, long winter start going up!!! Almost over night streets are full of people and it feels like life starts again. Outdoor activites become first form of entertainment. Beaches around the city get crowded almost over night. Then you feel how much you missed all of that during past 6 months of freeze. Patios get alive in walking city areas like the Forks (photo) and Corydon Street. This scenario: Saturday morning, summer, somebody gets an idea - let's go to WInnipeg Beach. In one hour 20 people are already there!!! Point is - it was easy to organize social gatherings of any kind (comparing to Toronto where everyone is busy and has different ideas about where to go).
The Issue of Culture - Come Out And Say Hi!
As a born and raised Winnipegger, I am going to go out on a limb and suggest the most beneficial way to experience the city.
I have heard from people who have been to Winnipeg and disliked it: on the other hand, every non-Winnipegger who has visited me here has adored it.
What's the difference? The issue of culture.
Winnipeggers are a notoriously insular group of people. There are few places in Winnipeg (even the wonderful Osborne Village) where culture will just be out and walking about the street like on Vancouver's Granville or Toronto's Queen Street: you have to go looking for it.
If any recommendation may be made, it's this: Winnipeggers are an uncommonly friendly people, by and by... I have heard Albertans, Ontarians, Europeans, and Americans alike rave about how amazing the people here are. And having been outside of the city a great deal, I tend to agree.
But you have to come looking for us. Travellers over the age of 18 (the age of majority in Manitoba) will have a great deal of luck visiting one of Winnipeg's lesser-known venues: places like Osborne's Toad in the Hole pub, Wolseley's Eddy's Garage, Corydon's Bar Italia, the Exchange District's Mondragon Cafe, or one of the several rock'n'roll dive bars (the Zoo, the Albert) in the city. If you're looking to party, put any one of these places on your list.
If you let people know you're new to the city, you'll find most Winnipeggers (and this is a generalization, but I'm comfortable with it) will be more than happy to chat, buy you a drink, invite you to one of the nearly institutionalized Winnipeg winter house parties, and elsewise welcome you to our city. Speaking for myself, I've taken many a visitor under my wing, and I'll do so again.
The point of this tip is: the key to appreciating Winnipeg is to get to know the people. Let them show you the way: the more "touristy" attractions, while fun, don't properly convey the culture of the city. If you want to have fun in Winnipeg, come out and let us know.
Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Club
The Goldeyes are our professional baseball team. They play in the Northern League. It is special because it is very affordable, and the fans, mascot (Goldie) and staff get behind the team, and cheer them to victory. You should bring a hat, sunscreen and a baseball glove because there are a ton of foul balls hit into the stands.
Major waterfowl flyway
Winnipeg is on a major flyway of geese and ducks. That means every spring and fall, we have thousands and thousands of birds that visit the retention ponds in the city for a rest on their migrations. The birds are smart enough to know that hunters do not shoot them in the cities. You can see by my photo that not only geese and ducks use the ponds, but even pelicans. One day in July some 25 pelicans were resting in the retention pond near our house.
We also have not-for-profit places that cater to the birds - the Oak Hammock Marsh - 45 minutes to the north of the city, and the Fort Whyte Nature Centre inside the city limits. Fort Whyte Nature Centre has boardwalks over marshes, a 70 acre bison enclosure, thousands of geese during migration times, and a building with birds during the winter, an aquarium with local fish, and many exhibits. If nature is remotely your thing, go to one of these sites. Check out my travelogue for pictures of our last visit to Fort Whyte.
Every Sunday, if the weather permits, crowds of people gather around the Portage and Main Street area to watch an array of souped-up cars and trucks "cruise" down the main road. Cars start to show up around 9ish and it becomes rather quiet at 12. A great place to be if you are into fancy, done up cars and trucks. I'll even throw in a few motorcycles just for the heck of it.