Beaconia Beach - beautiful, pristine 3km-wide sands on freshwater lake, clothing-optional, popular with gay men.
Bonnycastle Park - south end of Garry Street, between Fort Garry Place and Assiniboine River, the cruisiest spot in Winnipeg, especially on summer weekends. Also lots of pedestrian action along Assiniboine Avenue, up to Manitoba Legislature buildings.
One of the province’s most famous symbols is the “Golden Boy,” a beautiful gilded 17-foot figure perched atop the Manitoba Legislature Building. He embodies the province’s spirit of enterprise and youth and has been considered a good luck charm since he survived the bombing of the foundry in Paris where he was cast in 1918. Guided tours of the building are available.
Ever wonder how coins are made? All of Canada’s money is minted and printed right in Winnipeg, as are the currencies of more than sixty other governments around the world. Guided tours are available year-round and the interactive coin museum gives visitors the opportunity to strike their own souvenir coins and attempt to lift a gold bar worth more than $200,000. Unfortunately, visitors are not given free samples.
Winnipeg was founded and first settled by French Canadians and their Metis (mixed French and Native) descendents and only became majority Anglophone following the province’s admission into Canada and the resulting wave of immigration from English Canada. French still dominates in Winnipeg’s French quarter, St. Boniface and the area is a great place to experience la vie française. More than 30 designated historical sites tell the story of the original Metis settlement on the Red River. One of these, the St. Boniface Cathedral hosts theatrical productions of the province’s history in the adjoining cemetery, where the Metis leader Louis Riel is buried.
The heart of Winnipeg is in the Exchange District, a national historic site that comprises more than 150 Victorian buildings from when Winnipeg was the booming center of Canada’s westward expansion. The area is home to many art galleries, studio theatres, and major cultural institutions like the Manitoba Theatre Center and the Manitoba Opera. The world-class facilities here have made Winnipeg an unlikely cultural hotspot, premiering shows that have gone on to Broadway and featuring acting icons like Keanu Reaves. Old Market Square is packed all summer long with festivals like Folkarama, the Fringe Theatre Festival, and the Jazz Festival.
It may be a misnomer, but “The Forks” is the name given to the area where the Red and Assiniboine Rivers converge. The area has been an important meeting and trading point throughout the region’s history and today remains one of the city’s major tourist attractions. The Forks Market houses specialty food shops, an ethnic food court and a farmer’s market in a historic building overlooking the water. In the summer the area is often buzzing with buskers and musicians and in the winter you can skate along the Red River – the world’s longest skating rink. Soon the area will be home to the under-construction Canadian Museum for Human Rights.