Your Health

Family summer fun guide

A list of kid-friendly activities

Liam Martin has fun with an emu at Assiniboine Park Zoo
Liam Martin has fun with an emu at Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, Summer 2013

Winnipeg offers a multitude of choices for families looking for a bit of summer fun.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo, for example, has created an Australian Walkabout exhibit featuring kangaroos and emus from Down Under. Over at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, staff have developed a cool way for families to enjoy "100 Masters: Only in Canada." Kids can choose their own adventure by following a trail of interactive exhibition labels created just for kids and families. Read on for more information about these and other great things you can do in Winnipeg with your family this summer.

Out & about

See the Emus

There's a mob at the Assiniboine Park Zoo, and it's not the people showing up in droves to enjoy the new Australian Walkabout exhibit.

Fourteen red kangaroo females and their joeys make up the mob inside the expansive outdoor enclosure near the Zoo entrance on Roblin Boulevard, where visitors can enter and walk around with the animals. Docile and good-natured animals, red kangaroos are the largest of all the kangaroo species and the largest mammal native to Australia. While they are not a new species to the Zoo, this is the first time they're part of an exhibit where visitors can get this close to them.

Also in the enclosure are four emus, also natives of Australia, and the second largest bird in the world by height, after their relative, the ostrich. These big birds can run 35 km per hour, but spend much of their time stalking slowly around on their three-toed feet, pecking gently at the ground, and sometimes at visitors! Be sure to talk to the guides in the enclosure about how close you can approach the animals.

Visit: Call: 204-927-6001

Safari Thursdays at FortWhyte Alive

Go on safari this summer at FortWhyte Alive, as you get up close to the resident bison herd and their latest bunch of calves. The Plains Bison were the monarch of the prairies and once roamed the grasslands of Manitoba. The 30-plus head of bison at FortWhyte Alive spend much of their time grazing on grass, and you'll see them using the mud wallows and rubbing stones in their enclosure. What makes this tour special is that your ride takes you inside the fence on this one-hour safari. Weather and ground conditions do affect the tour dates, which run on Thursdays to the end of August. Book early, and remember to bring your camera!

There are plenty of other attractions at FortWhyte Alive for families, including dip-netting, hiking the trails and watching the birds and wildlife. Go on a guided walk, learn about sod house pioneers, try canoeing and kayaking, or go fishing in their lakes.

Visit: Call: 204-989-8355

Meet a Master at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

The Winnipeg Art Gallery has lots of ways for families to enjoy the 100 Masters: Only in Canada exhibit this summer. Many of the works have special kid-friendly labels that encourage them to view and discuss the work. The mini-tour booklets guide families on thematic adventures. And in the Family Interactive zone, parents and kids can read books, learn more about the artists, and create their own works of art. 100 Masters: Only in Canada brings together works by some of the greatest artists in the world - Rembrandt, Renoir, van Gogh, Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Warhol, and many others. The works span six centuries, from 1500 to 2010, and are on display until Aug. 18.

On Sunday, July 14, join in the Interactive Family Tour of the exhibit hosted by a gallery facilitator, as you explore works of art created by the most celebrated artists in the world.

Visit: Call: 204-786-6641

Explore outdoors

History Park

The Variety Heritage Adventure Park brings The Forks' history to life while encouraging imaginative play for children of all abilities. In 1989, archaeologists digging at The Forks unearthed two 6,000-year-old campfire rings, containing catfish bones and stone tool chips. This means that Aboriginal people were already visiting The Forks before the great pyramids of Egypt were even built. While playing, your kids can learn why a single bison was like a grocery store on legs, or create their own pattern on the traditional beadwork board. On hot days, everyone loves the water spray park.


Splash Around

There are 10 outdoor swimming pools in Winnipeg to keep you cool on hot summer days. Many parks have splash and spray pads and children's wading pools, or you can head for the big pool at Kildonan Park, which has a "beach entry," making it accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

Visit: Call: 311

Nature park

From your first steps down the tree-lined path toward the Nature Playground at Assiniboine Park, you will be transported into a world of wonder that encourages children of all ages to run, jump, climb and explore! Explore the sand and water play area, slides, crow's nest, willow tree tunnels, basket swings, giant robin's nest, net bridges, and a garden laid out like a Snakes and Ladders game.

Visit: Call: 204-927-6000

Play Frisbee

For kids with a good throwing arm, grab a Frisbee and head to one of the four disc golf courses in Winnipeg, at Happyland, Kilcona, Bruce and Scurfield parks. Instead of knocking a ball into a hole, you toss a disc into a basket or at an object. All that is required is a flying disc and a score sheet. The Disc Golf locations are put together by the Manitoba Organization of Disc Sports.

Visit: Call: 311

Scavenger Hunt

If your kids love scavenger hunts, they'll love using technology to find what is hidden. Tourisme Riel rents GPS units to hunt for geocaches in St. Boniface. You can go on a group GPS hunt, or go geocaching on your own. Tourisme Riel also offers guided tours of old St. Boniface, the Cathedrale de Saint-Boniface and the St. Boniface Museum.

Visit: Call: 204-233-8343


Fort Gibralter

Originally built at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in 1810, Fort Gibraltar was a NorthWest Company fur trade post. During the summer months, Fort Gibraltar is a historical site featuring colourful characters living to the beat of 1815. Guided tours last approximately two hours.

Visit: Call: 204-237-7692

Manitoba Children's Museum

The Children's Museum is making noise with Much More Munsch - this summer's interactive travelling exhibition based on the books of celebrated children's author, Robert Munsch. All summer, you can mix and match words, phrases, scenes and sounds, and discover the art of storytelling at Much More Munsch. The museum itself has 12 galleries, including the Lasagna Lookout, the Illusion Tunnel, Mellow Marsh, Splash Lab and the huge locomotive that forms the spine of the museum.

Visit: Call: 204-924-4000

Manitoba Museum

Kids adore the Science Gallery, located on the lower level of the Manitoba Museum. Here, they can explore technology at more than 100 hands-on stations. Kids can build a race car and put it through its paces on the test track. The "Living in Space" exhibit goes through a day in the life of an astronaut. The nearby Planetarium recreates the magic of the night sky. There are two new shows this summer: Dark, about the search for dark matter, a mysterious substance that makes up 80 per cent of the universe; and Ice Worlds, which explores ice, water and the existence of life. The museum keeps kids on the move from gallery to gallery, exploring the Parklands, spying the animals in the Boreal Forest, and pretending to be pirates while on the Nonsuch, the replica of a 17th century ship. Celebrate the building of Fort Rouge at The Forks at the new exhibit in the Discovery Room.

Visit: Call: 204-956-2830

Western Canada Aviation Museum

Where else can you fly a plane, spot a flying saucer, take a trip to outer space and still be back in time for lunch? Skyways! Skyways is an inter-active play area where children can climb into a cockpit and aircraft control tower, play with aircraft instrumentation, and experience the thrill of a wind tunnel - all great hands on fun! A historic World War ll 4-engine bomber, the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, is coming to the Western Canada Aviation Museum from Aug 12 to 18. This is your chance to "step into history" and see what an airman's life was like in a combat plane. Climb into the plane and talk to the pilots of the Commemorative Air Force, Arizona Wing. See the nose art featuring Betty Grable and hear why the plane is called "Sentimental Journey."

Visit: Call: 204-786-5503

Mark your calendar

Winnipeg Folk Festival - July 10 to 14

The Winnipeg Folk Festival is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Chickadee BigTop tent in the Family Area features performers like singer Bob King, and the interestingly named Seanster and the Monsters, Shelley Bean and the Duckety Muds, the Great Balanzo and the Okee Dokee Brothers. From facepainting, hula hoop making, and circus fun to more relaxed activities like yoga or settling in for a story under the Reading Tent - there is no shortage of things to do in the Family Area. They also have special activities that tweens (ages 9 to 12) can enjoy, too!

Visit: Call: 204-231-0096

Kids Fringe - July 17 to 28

The Winnipeg Fringe Theatre Festival has a special place just for the young and young at heart: the Kids Fringe. The Outdoor Stage at Old Market Square offers free, kid-friendly entertainment from noon to 6 p.m. daily, coming to life with music, street performers and a host of other live acts. There's a theme each day at the Kids Fringe activity area, where kids can have hands-on fun with sound and music, outer space, onstage skills and superheroes. Explore your world, create something beautiful and learn something new! The Kids Fringe also features a theatre venue, where some of the shows include musicals, storytelling, puppets and a Chinese fairytale.

Visit: Call: 204-943-7464

Dragonfly Festival at Oak Hammock Marsh - July 20, 21

During this festival, discover the fascinating world of dragonflies that inhabit the marshes at the Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre and other wetlands. Participate in a dragonfly safari and dragonfly food art contest to win great prizes. Activities for the whole family will be offered throughout the weekend. Return Aug. 3 to 5 for the Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer. Try a toe-dipping contest in the artesian spring and build your own milk carton boat to race. Join a tour to see the flowers of the tall-grass prairie in bloom.

Oak Hammock features a restored prairie marsh, aspen-oak bluff, waterfowl lure crops, artesian springs, some of Manitoba's last remaining patches of tall-grass prairie and 30 kilometres of trails for families to explore.

Visit: Call: 204-467-3300

Movies in the Park - Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23

Assiniboine Park screens favourite summer blockbusters on the cinema-style outdoor screen at the Lyric Theatre lawn. Bring a blanket, chairs and bug spray, and catch the early feature at 7 p.m. or keep the kids up later for the second feature at 9:15 p.m. Early feature movies include kid-friendly flicks like Brave, Ice Age, Escape from Planet Earth and The Croods.

Visit: Call: 204-927-6000

Folklorama - Aug. 4 to 17

This two-week long multicultural festival isn't just for adults. There are plenty of kids' components at a dozen of the 46 pavilions, including the Chilean, Croatian, Greek, Romanian, Russian and Tamil pavilions. The kick-off to Folklorama on Saturday, July 27 is a free event held at The Forks, which offers fun for the whole family, and includes kids' activities, cultural performances and an ethnic market.

Visit: Call: 204-982-6210

Mary Poppins - Aug. 9 to 29

The popular family show about the world's most famous nanny boasts the musical classics Chim Chim Cher-ee, A Spoonful of Sugar, and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Mary Poppins takes both children and adults alike on many magical and memorable adventures, discovering a world where "anything can happen if you let it." The show is currently running on Broadway, but your family can catch the magic at Kildonan Park this August at Rainbow Stage.

Visit: Call: 204-989-0888

Manito Ahbee Pow Wow - Aug. 18 to 21

The Manito Ahbee Festival is a gathering that celebrates Indigenous culture and heritage. The international competition pow wow at MTS Centre showcases traditional and contemporary styles of dance, drumming and singing. The pow wow - one of the largest in North America - is open for everyone to enjoy a spectacular celebration of Aboriginal culture. The pow wow begins at 12 noon each day, with a second start at 7 in the evening. Your family will enjoy watching all the age categories, including tiny tots, juniors and teenagers in classes like Jingle, Fancy Shawl for the girls, and Grass and Fancy Bustle for the boys.

Visit: Call: 1-855-985-5000

Shakespeare in Central Park - Aug. 22 to 24

Celebrate Shakespeare in the Ruins' 20th anniversary with them during six free public performances of A Stripped Down Midsummer Night's Dream at Central Park by the beautiful and historic Waddell Fountain. Central Park is a popular spot for inner city families to gather, and these one-hour theatre performances are a great way to introduce your family to Shakespearian plays held in the great outdoors.

Visit: Call: 204-957-1753

Wave: Summer 2013

About Wave

Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.

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