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Outdoor Explorer

Forgot your telescope? Didn’t pack a rappelling rope? Been awhile since your spelunker days?

Then follow me, as I know all the go-to places to get you and your family to scratch that explorer itch. You might not get mistaken for Ferdinand Magellan right away, but give it time and you’ll be a regular Samuel de Champlain soon enough.

A grand beginning for this expedition is at FortWhyte Alive, where EcoTours like the Bison Safari will put you right beside North America’s largest land animal, and activities like sailing, canoeing and kayaking are offered to get you venturing into fun, new areas that us amateur explorers crave.

If the watersports are up your alley, you could find your way to Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, where over 30 square kilometers of wetland and open marsh is available for discovering more on the waterfowl that inhabit the area. Hold a wild bird, go on a voyageur canoe excursion, or try some geocaching as you take off on a modern-day treasure hunt.

If Sacagawea was able to work as a guide by zip lining across the plains, I’m sure she would have. But you can get the chance to zip line to your heart’s content at A Maze in Corn. You’ll zip though trees, climb rope bridges, and you can even take on some competition and race a friend.

Branch out into a new activity by embarking on a wild urban adventure at Tree Climbing Adventures, where you’ll ascend some mighty oaks and pines and explore the vast canopy of nature high above the city. You can get a whole new perspective on the city from up high and embrace the thrill as you rise up to the top.

Choose your own adventure with the load of trails in Winnipeg that can lead to an exciting time. If you’re a hiker, a cyclist, or a roller-blader (hey, we exist!), these trails have more than enough area to become your untamed horizon. There is a whole system of trails that stretches out throughout the city, so wherever you are, there’s an enjoyable trail nearby. Additionally, you can traverse the Trans Canada Trail, a trail that links all the provinces of Canada, connecting all three oceans the country touches. You can explore it here as it leads to FortWhyte Alive.

For an urban walking experience, try The Loop, a self-guided walking tour that will showcase the vibrant metropolitan areas of the city, going through the lively downtown, the historic Exchange District, the French district of St. Boniface, and the cultural hub of The Forks. You can also hike The Forks’ Riverwalk, along the riverbanks of Assiniboine River and underneath the Esplanade Riel pedestrian bridge, which is replete with plaques detailing the history of the area.

There’s always lots of ways to keep active at the park, so you can shuffle down to Kildonan Park, where kids in particular will enjoy seeking out the Witch’s Hut, a living representation of the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale.

Next, grab the Lewis to your Clark and expand west to the Assiniboine Park Zoo, for some close encounters of the second kind from all over the world. It’s one thing to see them, but it’s another to actually hear the roar of Asiatic Lions, Amur Tigers, or Polar Bears (oh my!), or to stand in a room as dozens of different butterfly species try and kiss your face with their soft wings. If Marco Polo could have taken a selfie with a Polar Bear swimming overhead, I think we both know he would have. But you can (take that, Polo) at the Journey to Churchill exhibit. Soak in the arctic adventure for a while, then stop for a bite at the Tundra Grill, where you and the bears can watch each other fill yourselves with your respective meals.

Find your way to the Nature Playground, a perfect spot for children to be whisked away by this fantastical, whimsical play area. They’ll swear they’re Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay as they traverse the Everest-like hills (with convenient slides back down, so you won’t actually need a Sherpa), get lost in the mazes, tunnels, and rope structures, and get all kinds of dirty (so bring some wet-wipes).

After getting tired out, you can power down at the Qualico Family Centre where the Park Café serves up a tasty array of breakfast and lunch items. Or if a cup of Joe is more your style, where better than Joe Black Coffee Bar, where you can relax on the patio with a platter of vegetarian samosas and a golden-brown espresso, and take one small sip for man, and one giant sip for mankind. Then walk across the footbridge to Sargent Sundae on Portage Avenue, for some succulent soft serve ice cream.

Call an end to the day with a free show at the delightful Lyric Theatre. This giant outdoor stage features family-friendly performances all through the summer, and is a fitting end to a bold adventure.

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