When we relocated to Fargo, North Dakota, I wondered where we’d actually be able to road trip other than Minneapolis. What were our options? I used to think the edge of the world was at the northern border of North Dakota because if Fargo is that cold, how could life be sustained even farther north? I didn’t even know what the closest city in Canada was until we moved to Fargo. To my surprise, Winnipeg, a city of 700,000 people, was just three and half hours away. No one we had met since moving to North Dakota mentioned traveling there before we planned our trip so I was a little suspicious of venturing “north of The Wall.” However, the chance to visit an area of Canada I’d never been to was extremely appealing. I also thought it would be fun to take our three-year-old daughter on her first international holiday.
We took the plunge and were off on our Canadian adventure. Next thing we know, there we are, staring at the northern border of the United States. I expected the Canadians to waive us on through but to my surprise, we were asked to stop our vehicle and go inside for a somewhat lengthy interview. We provided our passports and Elle’s birth certificate, justified our Utah license plates and explained our reason for visiting the country. We were also asked about our jobs and to show proof of our hotel reservation. Getting into Canada was no joke! I had crossed the boarder into British Columbia before and into Mexico a handful of times but I had never experienced anything like this. Once we finally got our passports stamped, we were on our way!
The first difference we noticed upon entering the country was the road signage. Instead of miles per hour, speed limits were now indicated in kilometers per hour. We drove through just a couple of small towns and before we knew it, were entering the outskirts of Winnipeg. It felt very small at first. The downtown area wasn’t visible but as we got closer to the city center, it was apparent that we really were in a good-sized city, about three times bigger than Fargo in fact.
Our first stop was to “The Forks,” which included a wonderful marketplace on the edge of the Assiniboine River.
The Forks Market
Inside The Forks Market, we found an excellent place to grab a beer called, “The Common.” It was exactly what we were looking for! Deciding what food to pair with our beer was the toughest part.
The smells coming from all of the different vendors were all so enticing. I opted for sushi while Ryan had fish and chips and Elle nibbled on a gourmet cheeseburger. Délicieux!
The Almond Tree
From the top of a tower attached to the market, you can take in views of downtown Winnipeg as well as the confluence of the Red River and the Assiniboine River.
The Forks Market Tower
A celebration circle paying homage to the Aboriginal people that began meeting in the area 6,000 years ago is also nearby.
Oodena Celebration Circle
Just around the corner from the marketplace was the spectacularly designed architecture of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Other highlights from our weekend included a tour of downtown Winnipeg and St. Boniface, the French Quarter of Winnipeg.
Provencher Bridge, Red River
We also made our way around the Assiniboine Zoo which has an elaborate Polar Bear exhibit. It did take us a good part of the day to get through the zoo as the animals were quite spread out over the expansive grounds.
Canadian culture and art vibes were apparent through an extensive number of street murals spread throughout the area.
The weather and hospitality couldn’t have been much better during our early April stay in this northern city. We experienced some overcast and a little bit of wind on the first day but it was sunny and calm almost the entire second day with just a few rain drops. Everyone we spoke to was very accommodating and friendly too.
The Forks Historic Rail Bridge
Can’t say we had a bad meal in Winnipeg. The food was superb. My favorite meal might have been breakfast at Stella’s Cafe and Bakery in Osborne Village. The breakfast sandwich and the pancakes were to die for!
Stella’s Cafe and Bakery
I am curious to visit with more native North Dakotans about how common travel to the city really is. I am honestly shocked we were not directed there sooner!
The Forks Market
We could have spent several more days exploring Winnipeg. We will definitely be back. I would like to check out more of Osborne Village and St. Boniface as well as the downtown area, especially the theatre district.
At under 4 hours away from Fargo, I can really find no reason why you wouldn’t want to visit Winnipeg, so long as you are accepted into the country! I have to admit though, it was nice to hear “Welcome home!” when crossing back into the United States. Until next time, Au Revoir Canada!