Know what's awesome? The Earth. Just look at this thing. (Did you know the planet's core has enough gold to wrap a 1.5 ft. thick layer around its surface?) Know what else is awesome? FortWhyte Alive! I was lucky to be able to spend a spring afternoon visiting the award-winning nature centre last week, and I can't encourage you enough to check it out. I'd never been before, and from the moment I walked in, I was greeted with smiling faces eager to show me around and talk about the incredible array of offerings, including the upcoming Earth Day celebration on April 27.
The activities will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast and continue all day, with live entertainment and countless family activities including carnival games, face painting, voyageur games, crafting and more. Of course, there's also an extensive list of special Earth Day activities such as orienteering, where you can pick up a map and take in the sights; channel your inner Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen with archery and atl atl (an ancient projectile), or hunt for buried treasure with a fun geocaching excursion. Interpretive bison hikes (one of Canada's signature experiences) will be offered, where you'll have the chance to have an up close and personal experience with FortWhyte’s herd. You'll also be able to stop by and ask CBC Meteorologist John Sauder your questions at FortWhyte's Weather Station. Oh, and if you curb the car and walk or cycle to FortWhyte on Earth Day, you'll be entered to win an awesome prize package! For a complete schedule of events for April 27, click here.
One of the first things I learned about upon my arrival was the Birding and Breakfast program. Offered Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:00 a.m. (April 30 and May 2), and Wednesdays and Fridays at 6:30 a.m. (May 7-30), this program offers the chance to join other nature enthusiasts with a team of skilled birding leaders on a beautiful sunrise hike through the grounds. Make sure to bring a pair of binoculars, pack a camera, and dress for the weather—birding goes on rain or shine!—and start the day spotting countless species of spring migrants. A thorough checklist is provided, and you can snap shots and trade stories over a tasty continental breakfast at the on-site Buffalo Stone Café. At only $15 ($11 for members), it's a truly unique experience, and a wonderful way to begin a day. You can register by calling 204.989.8355, or find more information on birding here. Birding and Breakfast is just one of numerous upcoming public activities and workshops, including learning how to identify birds by ear, a birding scavenger hunt (May 10), a craft sale featuring local artisans, "Inside Out Yoga" and many more.
Despite arriving in the afternoon, my visit was definitely not short of encounters with nature and creatures of all types. The centre is open year-round, so whatever the weather, there's always something to learn, see and do. In the springtime sun, it was a perfect day to spend taking a picturesque walk through the trails (you'll find over 7 km of them at FortWhyte), alongside lakes, and over floating marsh boardwalks. With the day-to-day busyness so many of us are faced with, it was a welcome and beautifully enjoyable way to spend the afternoon, and I was overcome with a sense of peace and tranquility that allowed for reflection, appreciation of nature, and some great photos. (A newfound squirrel friend and I really hit it off with an impromptu photo shoot on the roof of the observation deck. He totally knew how to strike a pose.)
After my walk, I spent a good chunk of time exploring the 10,000 sq. ft. Interpretive Centre, which featured fascinating exhibits, dioramas, educational displays, real burrowing owls and prairie dogs, and Manitoba's largest indoor aquarium. On the way out, it was hard to resist picking up something delicious at the Buffalo Stone Café, and the Nature Shop offered an abundance of gifts, clothing, jewellery and accessories, nature-inspired home and garden decor, as well as uniquely Manitoban food and drink products.
Whether you're looking for a unique encounter with nature, a fun-filled family day out, a new skill, the peace of a solitary trek, or to celebrate the planet, FortWhyte Alive is definitely the place to be. For more information on their events, facilities and programs, check out their website here. Only twenty minutes away from the city centre, it's a close-by escape that will leave you feeling rejuvenated, inspired, and appreciative of the beauty that surrounds us right here in Winnipeg.
Only in The Peg chronicles the adventures of the Peg family–Missus, Mister and Lil' Peg - as they discover everything there is to see and do in Winnipeg. Follow them on Twitter at @tourismwpg or visit them on Facebook. For even more info on Winnipeg, visit www.tourismwinnipeg.com.
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