When thinking of cities in Canada to travel to, it’s likely that you think of the bigger places like Montreal, Toronto, and maybe Vancouver. To be honest, I’ve always thought of the more popular cities as well, but I recently had the chance to check out another, less familiar city and it quickly became one of my favorite places in Canada. Where? Winnipeg, Manitoba!
During my five days in Winnipeg, I discovered plenty of activities to enjoy during the summer and I was amazed at all of the wheelchair accessibility. In this article, I will highlight some of my experiences in Winnipeg and showcase accessibility around the city. From seeing polar bears to learning more about disability rights in a human rights museum and much more, Winnipeg is a fantastic city that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In addition to things to do, I’ve also included places to stay with wheelchair accessible hotel rooms and wheelchair accessible transportation. Here is your wheelchair accessible travel guide to Winnipeg, Manitoba –
Things to Do in Winnipeg
St. Norbert Farmers’ Market
The motto of the St. Norbert Farmers’ Market is “We make it, we bake it, we grow it for YOU!” and this is exactly the atmosphere I experienced. This market is a non-profit co-op and is the largest and most well-known farmer’s market in Manitoba. In addition to the weekly market, there are also seasonal events, including a yearly Canada Day celebration, a Farmers’ Festival, and a Farmer’s Feast.
Each week, local farmers, bakers, crafters, and other community members come together to share their bounty and mingle with both locals and visitors. All of the vendors make, bake, grow, and craft their products right in Manitoba, which makes this a great space to support the community as a member or a visitor. There’s a little bit of everything at each week’s market and a full vendor list can be referenced on their website, as vendors can change with the seasons.
My favorite vendors were those that sold sweets of course, and I ended up making a few purchases and taking home quite a few items. I think this is a great place to stop on any visit to Winnipeg because you get a great sense of the community and can spend a few hours immersed in the culture. I had no problem getting around the market in my wheelchair and it was very enjoyable.
The St. Norbert Farmers’ Market is located at 3514 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg, MB R3V 1A1, Canada. There are seasonal hours, with summer Saturdays 8AM to 3PM, May 18 through October 12, and summer Wednesdays 11AM to 3PM, June 5 through September 11.
Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site
Lower Fort Garry is a stone fort that marks a turning point in Canada’s history. This location was once a fur trading post in the 1800s, where the First Nations trappers would meet the Hudson’s Bay Company traders, which is how modern Canada got its start. After it was a trading post, Lower Fort Garry was also the location of Western Canada’s first prison and the first asylum for the mentally ill.
The buildings are dated back to the 1830s, with many original buildings still standing today. The buildings have been restored by Parks Canada and this location serves as a national historic site to educate and preserve Canada’s history.
A visit to Lower Fort Garry is a must on any trip, as the site takes history a step further by having people dressed in 1800s costumes to show visitors what life was like at that time. It’s a great experience to not only visit this location because of its historical significance, but to also get a fun look into life back then. There are several hands-on experiences throughout the grounds to educate visitors on fur trapping, stories of the First Nations people, and trying tasks that the trading company did on a daily basis.
To be a historic site, Lower Fort Garry has taken great strides to be as wheelchair friendly as possible. It was smooth to roll around and most buildings were accessible with either ramps or elevators. Motorized carts and wheelchairs are available on site if those with limited mobility need assistance. Wheelchair users can use the west gate entrance to bypass some of the walking paths to get to the main sites. There are benches throughout the grounds for stopping points, and both the Visitor’s Center and the washrooms are accessible.
Operational hours are from May 13 to September 2, 9:30AM to 5PM, with special events and the full experience from July 1 to September 2. From May to June, you can go on a self-guided tour during the week and a guided tour on the weekends.
Assiniboine Park Zoo
The Assiniboine Park Zoo is a year-round destination for family fun. The zoo covers 80 acres and is very park-like, which makes it even more enjoyable to explore and meet all sorts of animals. There are over 200 species of animals, which offers a day’s worth of entertainment.
One of the most popular exhibits is the Journey to Churchill exhibit, an award-winning space that is home to polar bears, muskoxen, Arctic Fox, and several other Northern species. The exhibit is designed to provide very natural and realistic natural landscapes along with animal viewing areas. There are interpretive signage and interactive displays to educate visitors about what they’re seeing and where these species are from.
The exhibit showcases more than just the animals. It’s also designed to operate as an interactive classroom, teaching visitors about climate change, biodiversity, and environmental conservation. Journey to Churchill takes visitors from the Wapusk Lowlands to the Gateway to the Arctic and the Aurora Borealis Theatre, finishing with the Churchill Coast and the Polar Bear Conservation Theatre.
In my experience, the zoo is very wheelchair accessible with wide walking paths. There are wheelchairs and scooters available for rent and a zoo tram for those that may want a lift through the main areas of the zoo, but the tram is not wheelchair accessible. If you can step on to the tram though, it’s a great option for those that just need a little assistance.
I would highly recommend that you include a day at the zoo as part of your Winnipeg trip because it’s an amazing way to learn about Manitoba in a unique way. Visitors can learn so much about the location, as well as the animals, and locals can support their community and enjoy nature in a new way.
The Assiniboine Zoo is part of Assiniboine Park, which is one of the most popular places in Winnipeg on a nice day. It’s a natural gathering place to enjoy events throughout the year, meet friends, and connect with nature. The park also has attractions such as the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden, outdoor concerts, public art galleries, and public events.
After visiting the zoo, I wandered around Assiniboine Park for a while. There were paved paths all around the park. The park is very accessible and has winding paths along with lots of greenspace. I loved the English Garden and Pooh Gallery, which is about Winnie the Pooh. The exhibit brings all things Winnie the Pooh together, from the books and stories to art, objects, and archives, all to celebrate an iconic character. The goal of the exhibit is to educate visitors on the facts, rather than the fiction, and to highlight the bond many feel with this character. Did you know that Winnie the Pooh is actually named after Winnipeg?
The English Garden is a live flower garden that allows visitors to take their time and stroll through the English landscape. The garden was designed to flow and mimic an actual English garden with a more natural and realistic layout, compared to a planned and structured garden. There are several notable statues throughout this garden, along with the Queen Victoria Monument.
I visited the park after my time at the zoo, but you could easily visit the park for a whole day and the zoo on a separate day. There’s enough to do with the gardens, exhibits, and events to make two days out of it. The zoo was a lot of fun and the park was a nice way to enjoy more time outdoors on my own timetable.
Assiniboine Park is open all year, but has varying schedules depending on the season. The best way to know when the park is open and what’s going on is to visit their website. Here they share the hours of operation, as well as an events calendar.
Royal Canadian Mint
If you’re looking for an indoor activity, either to beat the summer heat or the winter cold or for a change of pace, a great option is the Royal Canadian Mint. The Winnipeg branch is a high-tech high-volume manufacturing facility that offers a walking/rolling tour. The tour takes about 45 minutes to an hour and reservations are strongly recommended. The tour is hosted with a guide and is available in either English or French. Each tour walks through the newly renovated area with an interactive coin display. Highlights of the tour include discovering the coin-making process, how the Mint produces coins to provide for destinations around the world, and how the metal is pressed into each coin.
The Mint is located at 520 Lagimodière Boulevard Winnipeg, Manitoba R2J 3E7 and has seasonal hours of operation. Summer hours are Monday through Sunday usually 9AM to 5PM, and winter hours are Tuesday to Saturday 9AM to 5PM.
The location of the Mint makes it easy to fit into a busy schedule, as it’s close to The Forks National Historic Site. I appreciated having a shorter tour on my schedule. It was nice knowing this was a quick trip filled with information and I still had time to visit local restaurants or other visitor sites around the area and see how the iconic Canadian currency was made.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
I personally think that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is one of the best museums I’ve ever visited. The museum strives to share human rights issues with everyone, representing past and present issues with thoughtful exhibits and an amazing accessible design.
My main takeaway from spending time here was that every visitor should leave with an awareness of how they can change the world and work to make it a little more inclusive for all. I especially appreciated the displays on disability rights, and I learned a lot about many other human rights issues.
If you’re planning a trip to Winnipeg, you definitely need to spend some time at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and plan to spend at least half a day here. There are so many things to explore and learn about, plus it’s one of the most wheelchair accessible and inclusive museums I’ve ever visited.
The exhibits have features to cater to hard of hearing or visually impaired individuals, and everything seemed like it was designed with accessibility in mind. There are ramps throughout the building, as well as accessible elevators, and the bathrooms were completely accessible with added equipment like a hoist and adult changing table.
The museum is open 7 days a week for most of the year, with seasonal hours, and is occasionally closed for a holiday. For reservations, tickets, rates, and current exhibits please visit their website for more information.
Another iconic location in Winnipeg is The Forks, which is located at the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers. This location has historically been a meeting place, first 6,000 years ago when Indigenous peoples traded here, pioneers built the railroad, and immigrants settled. The location was an abandoned rail yard and over 30 years, it has now been transformed into a modern meeting place, while keeping the essence that crafted the location from the beginning.
Currently, The Forks is a meeting place for all-season gathering, entertaining, and a place for recreation. This unique location merges history, culture, and recreation to provide a popular community hot spot. Main features of The Forks include The Forks Market, The Johnson Terminal, and a tour through Parks Canada.
The Forks Market is a large building housing an open marketplace. Inside vendors can sell local goods, food items, and retail spaces. The building covers two floors, the ground floor and the market loft.
The Johnson Terminal was once a cold storage railway warehouse and has been transformed into a commerce space with specialty boutiques, officespace, stores, a cafe and a restaurant.
The Forks National Historic Site was operated by Parks Canada and is a 9 acre riverside park. There’s an hour long guided tour that walks you through the history of the park and gives insight into how the space operated originally, as well as how it’s been transformed into what you see today.
I visited The Forks on Canada Day when the space was bustling with performers, a large market, and even fireworks at night, but this is a destination on any day. There’s plenty to do, from shopping and dining to exploring, and it’s in close proximity to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, making it easy to visit both in the same day.
Winnipeg Goldeyes Baseball Game
For something different while you’re in Winnipeg, score tickets for a Winnipeg Goldeyes baseball game. I had excellent accessible seats with a great view. There were family and companion care restrooms, and plenty of vendors for a variety of food and drink options.
You may want to try and get your tickets in advance in order to have wheelchair accessible seats, but tickets are generally affordable. There is specific wheelchair seating, which is at the top of a few sections throughout the park. These tickets may sell out quickly, so check online early or call the box office with questions.
The Goldeyes season is from April to September, which is perfect for adding to a summer vacation or fitting into a pre-planned trip. I think attending a game is a great way to round out any trip, if the schedule fits, as it’s an affordable family friendly and easily accessible event.
Where to Stay in Winnipeg
While in Winnipeg, I stayed at the beautiful Fairmont Winnipeg. I had a wheelchair accessible room, which was pretty spacious and there was enough room to move around easily. A hoyer lift could roll under the bed as well.
The bathroom had several wheelchair accessible features, including the roll-in shower, pull-under sink, grab bars, and a handheld shower wand. My travel companion had an adjoining room, room 504 to my 505, which worked well for accessibility and privacy.
The Fairmont Winnipeg is located at 2 Lombard Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3B0Y3 and embraces the spirit of the city. The hotel prioritizes quality and comfort, making it your home away from home. I found the hotel was pretty centrally located, as it’s near the convention center, top attractions like the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks, and a variety of restaurants. I ate in the hotel’s on-site VG Lounge, which is the number one lounge in the city. The hotel also offers in room dining, which is great for when your vacation schedule doesn’t follow typical dining hours. Check prices at the Fairmont Winnipeg by clicking here.
The Alt Hotel
Another great place to stay in Winnipeg is The Alt Hotel. While I didn’t stay here, I did get an opportunity to tour the facility while I was in town. The hotel was in a good location for visiting the surrounding city. The hotel has a couple wheelchair accessible rooms, and you can choose if you’d like a roll-in shower or a tub. The hoyer lift couldn’t roll under the beds, but the hotel is working to remedy this issue and it should be resolved soon, if not already.
The Alt Hotel is located at 310 Donald Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2H3, which is in the sports, hospitality, and entertainment district of Winnipeg. The location makes this hotel the perfect place to stay while attending a sporting event, as well as a destination for hitting the hot restaurants. Check prices at Alt here.
I visited the on-site restaurant, Merchant Kitchen, and it was hands-down the best meal I had in Winnipeg. I loved the grilled corn, the Thai fried rice, and the tempura lobster tacos, as they were absolutely phenomenal. Even if you aren’t staying at this hotel, I would highly encourage you to dine at Merchant Kitchen.
How to Get Around
Sunshine Transit Services
During my stay in Winnipeg, I got around the city with Sunshine Transit Service’s accessible transportation. I took this opportunity to ride around in their accessible limousine for my entire trip. In short, it was amazing! I’ve never seen a wheelchair accessible limo before and since they had one, I was thrilled to try it out. If riding around in a limo isn’t for you, they also have a variety of wheelchair accessible vehicles to suit your needs.
Sunshine Transit Services offers door-to-door service with vans, buses, and a limousine. The vans have a manual ramp and can accommodate 5 passengers, with space for 3 wheelchairs. I had my trip pre-planned, which made it easy enough to schedule pick ups and drop offs, and to make sure I had transportation for each event. It made everything easy and I could focus on enjoying my destinations over finding a car.
As you can see, there are a variety of wheelchair accessible activities and destinations in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I had a great time seeing the sights and enjoying the summer weather during Canada Day weekend. There was enough to do inside, as well as out, that I had a full five days of activities planned and enjoyed every minute.
Start planning your own Canadian getaway to Winnipeg and let me know once you visit!
*Thank you to Travel Manitoba and Tourism Winnipeg for showing me the best things to do in Winnipeg and working with me for this trip. While my experiences were covered, all opinions are authentic and my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click through on a link, you won’t pay a penny more, but we’ll receive a slight commission which helps us keep this information available to you. Thanks!