Why just spend one day celebrating your love when you can have a whole weekend? This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday, meaning you have three days to explore Winnipeg’s romantic side.
Friday, February 14, Valentine’s Day: Love is Nature’s Way
Start your romantic getaway strolling hand in hand, under the snow covered canopy of Assiniboine Park’s tree-lined pathways set in the heart of the city. Bring along a pair of skates and take a few turns on the frozen duck pond, or book yourselves a cozy sleigh ride around the park with McFeetors Heavy Horse Centre, just inside the Assiniboine Park Zoo.
While at the zoo, visit the must-see Journey to Churchill and all its cold weather loving inhabitants. Get an up-close look as playful seals and polar bears swim above your head, try to spot the illusive winter wolves that prowl between the enclosure drifts, and meet cheerful Arctic foxes, the only animals in the exhibit who mate for life. Awww.
Reserve a table for two at the park’s beautiful Park Café for a unique Valentine’s Day dining experience. A multi-course menu of delectable dishes influenced by both classic and modern interpretations will be expertly paired with a selection of beverages to warm your heart.
Check into the opulent Fort Garry Hotel, and finish off your night it the exquisite Palm Lounge - noted as one of the most romantic establishments in the city by Nuvo magazine.
Alternative: Check into the modern Inn at the Forks, then sink into the suede booths covered by HBC blankets at SMITH and cheers to forever with a hand-crafted cocktail.
Saturday, February 15: It’s all About Indulgence
Might as well start the day with breakfast in bed, and not even get out of your robes as you stroll to the Fort Garry’s Ten Spa for one of its couples packages. Try the five-hour “Hot and Steamy" which includes a signature hamam experience – an ancient hot air bathing ritual - hot peel facial, ultimate pedicure, and a bottle of champagne.
If you went with Inn at the Forks, the same leisure applies. Shuffle in your slippers down to the hotel’s Riverstone Spa for couple’s hot stone massage which will let you enjoy quality time together while you free your muscles of tension.
No one knows romance like the French, and lucky both hotels are minutes away from Winnipeg’s French Quarter - St. Boniface. Pretend like you’re in Paris on the prairies while you select from fresh, local cheese at Fromagerie Bothwell, flaky pastries and bread at La Belle Baguette, and melt-in-you-mouth artisanal confections at Chocolatier Constance Popp.
For dinner, let the sommelier at Resto Gare find you the perfect wine pairing to go with one of the restaurant’s old school French classics, or a reinterpretation of familiar bistro dish. This unique establishment, set inside a 19th century refurbished rail station and rail car, takes every opportunity to use fresh local Manitoba ingredients in their elegant plates.
Top off the evening by getting caught up in the joie de vivre of Festival du Voyageur, Western Canada’s largest winter festival. Find your vibe and dance the night away in one the many onsite tents that host a range of acts from Francophone medleys to Tom Petty tribute bands.
Sunday, February 16: The Weekend is History
Today, sleep in, but not so late that you miss a table at Clementine, one of Canada’s most buzzed about brunch spots, set in Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District. The smoked Arctic char is a must, as is the Chorizo Verde Tostada. Remember, sharing is caring, so order a few things to try together.
Mosey across Main Street and down to The Forks to take in some of their Sunday winter programming, such as skating under the canopy (complete with a DJ spinning tunes), trekking on heritage snowshoes (available to rent at the Parks Canada kiosk in The Forks Market), and bannock making inside a traditional teepee.
Head inside to warm up with a flight at The Common, or a specialty latte from Fools & Horses Coffee Company, and browse the multitude of shops with local-made products, souvenirs, and specialty items in The Forks Market. Maybe some candles from Coal and Canary. Possibly a bottle of wine for later… you know where this is going.
Spend the rest of the afternoon, arm in arm, contemplating the pieces in the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), Canada's oldest civic gallery. The world-renowned modernist building is host to the world's largest collection of contemporary Inuit art, along with Canadian and international historical and contemporary art spanning multiple modes and mediums.
Discuss your favourite painting from the WAG over the unfussy fare of Peasant Cookery, tucked inside the Traveller's Building, a 19th century high-rise. While the menu is considered French in influence, it has a more understated, approachable appeal, serving fresh oysters by the dozen, and plating in-house cured meats and pickled vegetables on the much loved charcuterie boards. Have a nightcap just across the lobby in the restaurant’s cozy lounge, which features scattered tables in front of a fireplace, rows of curiously named bottles behind the bar, and an incomparable wine list for the area.
Looking for more love in Winnipeg? Check out our top 10 romantic ideas here.
Galentine’s Day Itinerary
Sure, there’s a lot of hoopla around February 14, but the real fun happens the day before. So gather all the single ladies, and make it your special day in the city.
Start the day by treating yo self at the Outlet Collection Winnipeg, which features fashion brands like Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th. Girl, click here for some of the mall’s best deals.
Lunch at Pauline, one of the city’s newest restaurants, which pairs charming 1920s style with elegant but light dishes inspired by French cuisine.
Stop in at The Common at The Forks and pick yourself up a wine flight before heading over to the area’s hottest attraction - sauna | Winnipeg. Spill the tea over a 90-minute sauna sesh, which has you popping between the six-person cedar barrel and a fire pit overlooking the river bank.
Don some evening attire and get a little frisky at the Manitoba Museum’s After Hours: Wild Romance. This fun-filled science-based evening includes complimentary snacks, a bar featuring local brew, tango lessons, and some, er, interesting presentations that will make you realize what animals will do for love. Spoiler, it’s a lot more than a sad Tinder profile.
Spend more time with the ladies by taking in our top 10 girl’s weekend ideas here.