Built in 1889, Manitoba's oldest surviving train-repair facility now houses the Children's Museum. So it's no surprise to find Junction 9161 inside?a life-size train upon which youngsters can climb aboard to push buttons, pull levers, and take turns sitting in the conductor's chair. Over in the Engine House, meanwhile, kids learn all about the gears, pipes, and handfuls of magic dust that power actual locomotives.
Not everything in the museum harkens back to the building's heritage. Named a top summer attraction in 2011 by Where Magazine, the museum's other galleries range from play structures shaped like giant lasagnas to stations where you can build your own cityscape. More creative expression abounds at the Pop m'Art, where children shop through an ever-changing stock of art supplies before drafting their very own projects. Beyond its permanent and travelling exhibits, Manitoba's Children's Museum hosts events for kids and grownups alike, including an adult trivia night.
Sundance Balloons' vibrant hot-air balloons float adventurous passengers over scenic landscapes. Each one-hour journey commences as sojourners greet their flight crew at a pre-determined location, receive a briefing on what to expect during the excursion, and observe their balloon as it swells to more than 10 stories in height.
The woven gondolas glide 1,000 feet above the ground but can sometimes gently skim treetops or cornfields when wandering over the countryside. Since balloons drift with prevailing winds, there is no wind chill and travellers feel only a slight sensation of movement. As is tradition for ballooning, explorers of the appropriate age end their flight with a champagne toast to tranquility, beauty, and neighbourhoods that appear as giant smiley faces only visible from the air.
The Manitoba Museum takes visitors on a tour through the human heritage and natural history of the province, with selections from the museum’s collection of 2.3 million artifacts on display in nine permanent galleries. Travel back to a time of sea scorpions and scary cephalopods with the Ancient Seas exhibit, which depicts prehistoric marine life across three-screen animation, or soak up the ghostly seasalt of the Nonsuch, a replica of the 17th-century ship whose crusades for fur brought commerce to western Canada and beaver shawls to naked napes. Other galleries explore the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Boreal Forest, and the Internetless eclecticism of 1920s Winnipeg. The Manitoba Museum also houses a planetarium and a science gallery, ideal for guests looking to get eyes- and hands-on.
For $52, you get a seat in level 300 (an $89.50 value before fees, or up to a $103.50 value online, including all ticketing fees). For $83, you get a seat in level 100 (a $149.50 value before fees, or up to a $165.50 value online, including all ticketing fees). Britney Spears hurtles back into the earth’s stratosphere, pulling out all the stops, raising roofs, and dousing all of mankind’s melancholia in glitter and beatitude on her fiery Femme Fatale tour. From Mouseketeer to multifaceted entertainer, Britney Spears has seared dance floors throughout her career with infectious sonic shrapnel while soothing countless ears scarred by the sound of exploding chalkboards. Unleashing fresh cuts dripping with danceable dubstep beats and tireless techno melodies, the Femme Fatale tour shares its stagecoach with a lineup of glam girl-powered acts. Spunky rhyme funambulist Nicki Minaj joins electro-pop teases Jessie and the Toy Boys and the feisty twisted-sister duo of NERVO to round out a night stuffed with golden throats, brick-thick beats, and floor-shaking choreography that will undoubtedly awaken the stadium’s downstairs neighbors.
Encased within a hangar at Winnipeg's International Airport, the historical and scientific elements of Canada's rich aviation history reveal themselves in more than 25 exhibits sprawled throughout more than 90,000 square feet. Explore the exterior of Canada's first helicopter, built by the Froebe brothers in the 1930s. The Vickers Viscount, a Trans-Canada Airlines airplane, reflects Canada's involvement in commercial flight. The Avrocar, a replica of the flying saucer built by a secret collaboration between the American military, Avro Canada, and the Canadian government during the Cold War years, entices onlookers with its super shiny, supersonic curves and promises of candy.
When red panda cub Kiah tumbled into the world in the summer of 2012, she joined both an endangered species and a family of zoo animals that number more than 2,000 and sort into nearly 200 different species. Kiah’s new home, Assiniboine Park Zoo, has been welcoming creatures like her for more than a century—the zoo traces its roots to 1904, when the city Parks Board acquired native animals such as bison and elk. In the decades since then, the zoo has spread over 80 acres, blossoming into one of Tourism Winnipeg’s Top 10 Must Sees.
Today, visitors can glimpse the stripes of a siberian tiger or a zebra, marvel at Asiatic lions, enjoy other big cats such as snow leopards and cougars. While passing through the tropical oasis of Toucan Ridge, they can peer at South and Central American animals and plants, such as caiman crocodiles and goeldi monkeys. Next door, air-locked entry vestibules open into the Shirley Richardson Butterfly Garden’s two 2,000-square-foot quonsets open from late spring to early autumn.
Although these exhibits are impressive, the zoo hasn’t been content to rest on its laurels. Instead, it has initiated a massive, multiyear construction project, the first part of which opened in January 2012: the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre. Part of the upcoming 10-acre Journey to Churchill exhibit, the IPBC aids orphaned cubs from northern Manitoba, supports research efforts that help polar bears survive, and educates the public about the bears’ plight and our fragile Arctic ecosystem. Next up in the zoo’s construction plans is the Polar Playground—an interactive, indoor play area—will open in January 2013.