The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Manitoba

When I think of Manitoba, I think of fields of bright yellow flowers, forests with endless lakes, and that time a beluga whale bumped my kayak then gave me a cheeky grin. Manitoba is easily Canada’s most underrated province, but secretly holds a lot of hidden treasures and beautiful locations.

Many Canadians react with surprise when I tell them that I spent several weeks in Manitoba and loved it. It’s often overshadowed by the gorgeous coastline of British Columbia, or the mountains of Alberta. It doesn’t get the love it deserves, and yet the smaller crowds there are part of what makes it so wonderful.

Manitoba boasts thousands of lakes; gorgeous provincial parks; the city of Winnipeg with a cool, hipster vibe; polar bears; and beluga whales. Plus, as a solo traveler, I found it to have some of the friendliest people in Canada, which is saying a lot since Canadians are already friendly people!

These were my favorite experiences during my three weeks in Manitoba as a solo traveler. I was able to drive to most of these spots in my rental car, which I picked up in Winnipeg.

Nopiming Provincial Park

Picture private islands, camping in the wilderness, and saying hi to several friendly beavers as they pass. Located less than three hours northeast of Winnipeg, this provincial park is easy to access and is the perfect place for a paddling adventure.

I joined a multi-day canoeing adventure with Twin River Travel and absolutely adored every gorgeous sunset and sunrise, as well as camping and swimming on islands with nobody else around. It’s the perfect summertime activity, though I imagine it’s gorgeous when the lakes thaw and spring arrives, too!


Hecla Island

Hecla Island is a bird watcher’s dream and a perfect spot for a spa day, golfing, camping and even catching the northern lights, regardless of the time of year!

I stayed on Hecla Island for a few days visiting the Wetlands Boardwalk, catching the sunrise and sunsets on the beaches, mostly all to myself, and doing nature walks with a local owl expert. Even in the summer it wasn’t crowded at all, which made it the perfect spot to just relax and unwind.


Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail

Break up the drive back to Winnipeg from Hecla Island with a stop at the Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive trail. The signage has quotes and information about the area from the native Ojibwe people.

The trail features an easy, self-guided nature walk on a boardwalk through a forest and out to a wetlands area with tons of birds, plant life and lots of peace and quiet. It’s a wonderful way to kill an hour or two, and you might even get the trail all to yourself!


Winnipeg

Winnipeg has an artistic side to it, with amazing local artists like Kal Bartesky, a muralist who organized the Seawalls Murals in Churchill with an international group of artists. There’s also an emerging foodie scene with fantastic restaurants like Deer and Almond, and the Fringe Festival with music and plays each summer.

There’s the architecturally awe-inspiring Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a zoo with a walkthrough under the polar bear enclosure and even an old Trappist monastery; all are worth visiting.

Churchill

A Churchill excursion is best booked through a local tour operator who will fly you in and take you to see the polar bears and on excursions kayaking, snorkeling and boating with beluga whales.

After a particularly tough winter, the rail line that used to serve Churchill has been badly damaged, and now the only way in is to fly. That said, a tour is the perfect way to experience Churchill as a solo traveler. You get a chance to get up close with beluga whales in the summer months, which is such a treat!

Though flying well under the radar of most of Canada’s other provinces, I found that Manitoba’s prairies had so much to offer in terms of uncrowded summer excursions, outdoorsy activities, delicious food and super friendly locals.

As a solo traveler, I found it to be safe, welcoming, and beautiful, which checks all of my boxes! If you’re looking for a less crowded, but equally amazing summer experience than the usual suspects in Canada, take a look at Manitoba. It’s truly a hidden gem.

Kristin Addis

About the Author

Kristin Addis is a solo female travel expert who inspires women to travel the world in an authentic and adventurous way. A former investment banker who sold all of her belongings and left California in 2012, Kristin has solo traveled the world for over five years, covering every continent (except for Antarctica, but it’s on her list). You can find more of her musings at Be My Travel Muse or on Instagram and Facebook.