Spend A Day at Assiniboine Park Zoo!
We decided to visit the new Polar Bear exhibit at the Assiniboine Park Zoo and see what all the excitement is about. We were not disappointed! We arrived just before 9am and the line was not too long, it only took a few minutes to pay and get through the gates. The new Zoo Gate is beautiful, with ticket terminals just like the movie theater for credit card purchases, but the cash line was just as fast today. There were volunteers to help with the terminals and answer questions. Make sure you pick up a map on the way, and once you get through the gate you can follow the banners to the Journey to Churchill exhibit. Don’t forget to stop and see the other animals like bison and the cougars along the way.
We didn’t notice many animals outside in the Journey to Churchill exhibit, but once we entered the building and walked into the tunnel to find polar bears swimming above us! Just around the corner the seals were zipping around their pool, as one of the polar bears watched through the under water window. I wonder what she’s thinking…
There are lots of other exhibits in the building, including a short film about polar bears and their environment. The kids stuck their heads inside props to become seals for pictures.
Outside the Gateway to the Arctic building, you will see the giant skull and partial skeleton of a Bowhead Whale. My boys immediately tried to climb it. Yikes! But it’s ok! It’s actually a replica surrounded by rubber playground turf and sand, so let the kids play all day! (This appears to be the only outdoor playground located inside the Zoo at this time).
By this time we were getting hungry! After a quick look at the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre, we decided to head to the Tundra Grill for a snack. The whole area looks like you are in Churchill, the kids had fun exploring and playing inside the helicopter.
The Tundra Grill is a definite must see during your visit. They have a great play structure for the kids to play on and you have to go into the middle of it and check out the cool floor. It reacts to your footsteps, the ice cracks and the water waves when you walk across it. A very cool experience! Once the kids have done playing, check out the restaurant and you might get lucky like we did! Both male bears wandered over the hill while we were eating and started wresting right outside the window! Everyone jumped up to watch and they played for quite a while.
After visiting the rest of the zoo, we circled back to the Journey to Churchill exhibit for one more look at the polar bears only to find all five wolves had come down to the viewing area. It was pretty exciting, the volunteer said she had never seen all the wolves at the same time.
So start planning your own Journey to Churchill at The Assiniboine Park Zoo and let us know how your trip went in the comments below!
Be a Tourist in Your Own Home Town
Too often we spend the summer visiting other places, but never really get to know the town where we live. Touring your own town can be fun, educational and inexpensive in the summer months. There are lots of local attractions or public places to take your kids to for fun activities. Many are free or have children’s days or events that you can watch for to get in for free.
Going to the museum is always a treat for kids. Taking time to educate your child at your local museum will help him or her become aware of the history of Winnipeg and how it came to be. Being able to see, and in many cases touch, artifacts makes it come alive.
- The Royal Aviation Museum – Where adventure meets innovation! Family friendly and fun for the kids. Enthusiasts will love our unique one-of-a-kind aircraft, beautifully restored bush planes, towering northern workhorses and inspiring Canadian innovations.
- Manitoba Electrical Museum – Learn the story of hydroelectric development in Manitoba from 1870 to today. This unique museum guides visitors through the safe use of electricity and how electrical energy works.
- Winnipeg Railway Museum – Climb the stairs of the historic Via Rail Union Station to tracks 1 & 2 where you will discover the only museum in Winnipeg dedicated to the preservation of Manitoba’s rail heritage. See where it all began. View the first steam locomotive on the Canadian Prairies, The Countess of Dufferin. Continue on and view an early-generation diesel locomotive just like the ones still used today.
- Marine Museum of Manitoba – the Marine Museum is dedicated to the preservation of nautical history by restoring ships from the colorful past of Manitoba waterways. A storehouse of artifacts and records from Lake Winnipeg cruisers is housed aboard Manitoba’s historic vessels.
- Winnipeg Police Museum – The Winnipeg Police Museum displays many artifacts related to the history of the Winnipeg Police Force, dating from its beginning in 1874.
The local farmers market offers many opportunities for your children to learn and see new things. The obvious attraction is the local fruits and vegetables brought in by the farmers. This will give your child a chance to meet and interact with some of the people who grow food for your table.
The farmers market has much more than fruits and vegetables though. Some things you may find include:
- spray pads close by (St Norbert)
- beekeepers selling their honey
- fresh picked berries
- homemade goodies, such as jams, jellies, and baking
- crafters selling their wares
- live music and dancing
- food vendors
Lots of vendors offer samples of their items so your child may get to try new things she may never have gotten to try otherwise. Also, many markets will have events throughout the summer to draw in more people. The most popular Market is in St Norbert on Wednesday and Saturday, but did you know there is also one in West Kildonan on Saturdays too? You can find a list of all the farmers markets at the Manitoba Farmer’s Market website.
Taking your child to the local library can help to foster a lifelong love of reading. Your child will be amazed at the sheer number of books and may have fun the first time just exploring.
Many of our libraries offer summer events as well. Check the library website for details!
Older children may enjoy researching particular topic and being able to get the answers from both books and internet connection offered for free.
You could also go on an adventure and find the many Little Free Libraries that are popping up all over the city. You can borrow a book or drop off books you are finished with. If you are visiting Assiniboine Park, make sure you stop at Little Free Library #1849 on Mandeville Street. The City of Winnipeg Library website has a great map of all the locations!
Park Events and Festivals
Summer is a big time for social events such as festivals, parades, fairs, and carnivals. Children love the active atmosphere, bright colors and lots of people to see and things to do. These affairs will keep your little ones busy for hours. Another great thing about it is they are free or fairly inexpensive.
This is a great start to finding local places to take your children. But, explore your town – go to your city hall, library, check the newspaper – and keep visiting KidFriendlyManitoba.com for other fun things to do this summer!
Where Are You Going To Cool Down?
It looks like summer has finally arrived! Winnipeg has so many little pools and spray pads scattered across the city, it’s hard to know which one is the “best” for your child.
You can find all the pool and spray pad locations, open/close times and amenities in this City of Winnipeg Aquatic Fun Guide or use this very cool interactive map to see which facility is closest to you! Check for any pool closures at Winnipeg.ca before you head out!
Wading Pools and Spray Pads
I personally like the wading pools with spray pads, my kids are a little older and it keeps them occupied a little longer. My favorite location is in Central Park at 400 Cumberland at Edmonton Street. The pool is a meter deep and has islands in it with a beach style entrance. There is 2 hours of free parking available on the streets around the park, make sure you read the signs! Another favorite is Vimy Ridge Memorial Park (821 Preston Ave). There are lots of trees surrounding this wading pool and grass to sit on. Another bonus is the playgrounds near by are fantastic!
If you are looking for wading pools with slides, visit Dakota Park (1188 Dakota St) or McKittrick Park (790 Rathgar Ave). McKittrick Park has a nice playground close by and the slides into the water are at a great angle. Go early if you are heading to Dakota Park, it reaches capacity early!
The wading pool at River Osborne (466 Gertrude Ave) is lined so it’s easier on your crawler’s knees and hands.
FREE Non-heated Pools
Another great thing is the non-heated pools in Winnipeg are FREE again this summer! Freight House, Happy Land and Norwood have slides. These pools can be found at:
Freight House – 200 Isabel St.
Happyland – 520 Marion St.
Norwood – 87 Walmer St.
Provencher – 590 Langevin St.
Windsor Park – 333 Speers Rd
Special Features at Paid Pools
Kildonan Park Pool has 21 splash features and wading pool provide hours of splashing good times for toddlers and preschoolers, older kids will enjoy swooshing down the fastest two flume slides in Winnipeg or jumping off one of the three 1-metre diving boards, and the beach entry to the 50-meter pool is great for individuals of all ages.
St. Vital Outdoor Pool amenities include a beach entry, heated water and 8 splash features. The wading pool provides a range of water play experiences for toddlers and children. Older kids will enjoy diving or jumping off the 1-metre diving boards. The beach entry to the 25 meter pool is great for individuals of all ages and abilities.
The new Transcona Aquatic Park features include:
- four water slides
- zero grade entry (beach entry) with mini geysers and shallow water spray features
- 1-meter and 3-meter diving boards
- expanded spray pad
- shade sails and picnic areas
- new accessibility change rooms and lockers
- during inclement weather operations can proceed in to indoor pool area
A Great Way to Spend a Day!
- Feed the ducks – We find they are hungry by Wednesday, they have been fed so much over the weekend! But don’t feed them bread because that can make them sick.
- Geocache – Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Assiniboine Park is full of them, visit Geocaching.com to find out where they are hidden!
- Check out the playground – I think this is the most beautiful playground in Winnipeg! I love all the flower gardens they planted.
- Visit the Zoo – There are exciting changes at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, read about our Journey to Churchill at the zoo!
- Enjoy the gardens – The English Garden and the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden are our favourites!
- Draw – Bring paper and crayons or pencil crayons and draw some of those flowers.
- Fly a kite
- Bring some lunch (or supper!) and have a picnic
- Have a game of tag
- Play hide and seek
- Float a boat – Make a sail boat and have a race down the little river in the playground!
- Play follow the leader
- Build a sandcastle – Don’t forget to pack your buckets and shovels (and a change of cloths!) and play in the sand in the playground.
- Use some wheels – Bring your bike, scooter or put on some roller skates and ride the trails!
- Cross the bridge – Check out the Agassiz Ice sculpture and get a cone at Sargent Sundae
- Ride the train – The miniature steam train is located outside the Zoo on the south side of the main Zoo parking lot. The steam train runs daily from noon to 6:00 pm, (weather permitting), from May long weekend to September long weekend.
- Enjoy the show – Check AssiniboinePark.ca before you go, you may be able to listen to some music, see the ballet or even watch a movie in the park!
The City of Winnipeg has been making so many family friendly improvements lately! From bike routes and paths to new and improved playgrounds and spray pads popping up all over the city. Now there are free summer programs all over the city for kids to enjoy. I remember going to the local community club when I was a kid and making crafts and playing games with my friends, supervised by some Parks and Recreation employees. It’s organized by city area so you can find all the free city programs that are close by, including the mobile play vans, drop in programs, spray pads, free swim days in each area.
Click HERE for a document from the City with all the information.