The Best Things to Do in Winnipeg: Hockey and Beyond

From national championships to catching away games for your favorite team, traveling to experience a sporting event can be a wonderful way to get to know a new city.

When my winter travels took me to Canada, I knew to get the full Canadian experience I had to attend a hockey game. That meant heading to Winnipeg’s arena, also lovingly referred to as “Winterpeg,” to experience hockey game like a Canadian. To do that, I simply had to fly into the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport (YWG) in the city, pick up an Alamo Rent A Car, and explore.

Though I’ve been to hockey games before, I suspected that the energy and fandom at a hockey game in Canada would be quite different, and indeed it was! To understand why hockey is so loved in Canada, let’s dive into a little history.

Hockey arena in downtown Winnipeg Catch a hockey game at "Winterpeg" arena.


Hockey’s History in Canada

To most people, Canada is synonymous with hockey. The sport has been both a symbol of national pride and the epitome of Canada's identity as a country for generations. But where does the Canada-hockey tie come from? The two have been inextricably linked since the late 19th century. After a Canadian named James Creighton created contemporary ice hockey rules, the first real game took place in Montreal in 1875. Hockey immediately began to challenge lacrosse as the nation's favorite sporting activity, and in 1885, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada was established in Montreal. Then, the early 1900s gave rise to the National Hockey League, and Canada soon “became a nation of hockey players,” according to Canada’s Sports Net.

With hockey’s growing popularity came a collective sense of nationality, which was (and still is) able to transcend political and even language differences between Canadians. Hockey created unity where there might otherwise have been none. Beyond that, the sport is an intergenerational pastime able to instill the inherent values of the game, such as persistence and teamwork. "As the Canadian Museum of History stated, "For millions of Canadians, winter means hockey and hockey means everything."


The Game

One of the first unique things I experienced while attending a hockey game in Canada was the resounding “true north” portion of the Canadian national anthem. Every sports team has a different kind of fan base – some can be fanatical, dress up with face paint, swirl towels, etc. In Winnipeg, I felt a friendliness in the stadium, like the game was meant to be fun and lighthearted. There was a lot of dancing, air guitar and ‘celebrity lookalikes’ for obscure or classic TV celebrities. Of course, the best part was when the home team scored, and the arena erupted in cheers and high fives. Luckily, the game I attended featured a good amount of scoring on both sides, ultimately resulting in a win for the home team. You can’t hope for a more exciting sporting experience!

Light tunnel at The Forks Get lost in the light display at The Forks.


What to See and Do in Winnipeg

Traveling for a sporting event, like a hockey game in Winnipeg, offers wonderful opportunities to explore the surroundings. In the winter there’s plenty to do around the city before or after your hockey game; these were some of my favorite activities:

The Forks

Each winter over 150 ice skating trails open at the Forks, a riverside community hub, that welcomes over 4 million visitors each year. You will see lights and ‘warming huts’ designed by artists and architects from all over the world during the wintertime. Rent skates from Ice Land at the commons and warm up with a hot beverage and food at Fools & Horses Coffee Company when you’re finished.

The Human Rights Museum

Marvel at the architecture while learning about the history of human rights struggles around the world at the Human Rights Museum at the Forks. The museum addresses human rights issues and triumphs, with permanent exhibits about the Holocaust, First Nations history in Canada, minority rights, and women’s rights.

Assiniboine Park Zoo The playful seals at Assiniboine Park Zoo are sure to make you smile.


Assiniboine Park Zoo

If you are visiting with your family, the Assiniboine Park Zoo is famous for its swimming polar bears, all of whom are rescues from northern Manitoba. Though the bears didn’t feel like swimming when I was there, I did get to see the seals playing in the water in a neighboring enclosure; they were very entertaining!

Festival du Voyageur

This nine-day festival in mid-February celebrates Winnipeg’s French fur trade history and culture. Eat local delights like poutine and maple taffy, marvel at the snow sculptures and enjoy the tunes in the indigenous music tent. Check out the activities and musical lineups here. Not visiting in February? Check out other winter festivals like the Gimli Ice Festival, Snowdance Festival and more.

Ice Climbing

Believe it or not, there’s ice climbing in Winnipeg! Each year the climbing wall at St. Boniface is covered with ice and made available for climbers. Sign up on the weekends for lessons if you’re up for the challenge.

Where to Eat in Winnipeg

Winnipeg has some seriously good food. Some favorites of mine were Deer and Almond, Peasant Cookery, Maque, and Clementine, plus the numerous options at the common at the Forks. I still think about the Pastrami on toast from Clementine.

Traveling for a sporting event can mean experiencing local culture and, in my case, an entirely new climate. Canada’s winter wonderland provided the perfect opportunity to enjoy a mix of hockey, snow and history. I hope your next sporting adventure will take you to Winnipeg!


Is Alamo open during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak?

Yes. Alamo is an essential services provider that remains open to meet critical transportation and personal mobility needs.

How do I rent a vehicle from Alamo during the COVID-19 outbreak?

You can make reservations via our website or Alamo mobile app. To save time at the rental counter, you can check in online with your driver’s license information and rental confirmation number.

To streamline your rental experience further and enable you to safely practice social distancing when picking up your rental vehicle:

  • You can skip the counter (for select locations) in advance after activating Online Check-In. Then, you can go straight to your car without visiting the counter or kiosk.
  • Another option is Alamo’s Self-Service Kiosk at select locations. All you need to check in is your driver’s license and credit card. When you’re finished, just show your rental agreement and driver’s license at the exit booth before you hit the road.

What steps are being taken to clean the rental cars?

Clean vehicles have always been important to us, but at this moment in time, we know vehicle cleanliness is even more critical. Each rental vehicle is thoroughly cleaned between every rental and backed with the Complete Clean Pledge. This includes washing, vacuuming, general wipe down, and sanitizing with a disinfectant that meets leading heath authority requirements, with particular attention to more than 20-plus high-touch points including:

  • Key / key fob
  • Steering wheel
  • Steering column
  • Seat belts
  • Center console
  • Door interiors
  • Door pockets
  • Interior door handles
  • Exterior door handles
  • Seat pockets / seat surfaces
  • Areas between seats & consoles
  • Areas between seats & doorjambs
  • Cupholders / compartments
  • Instrument panel
  • Accessory panel / touchscreen
  • Rearview mirror / side mirrors
  • Visors / visor mirrors
  • Dashboard / vents
  • Gear stick / gear shift
  • Trunk release
  • Among other high-touch areas

As part of the Complete Clean Pledge, we've also extended our already rigorous cleaning protocols to our shuttles and rental locations.

Read more COVID-19 FAQs.

Vacation Stories

More Destination Guides


The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Manitoba

The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Manitoba

Manitoba is easily Canada’s most underrated province. Check out its best hidden treasures and most beautiful locations.

Banff and Jasper: Two of Canada’s Must-See National Parks

Banff and Jasper: Two of Canada’s Must-See National Parks

Explore Jasper and Banff National Parks, two of the best national parks in Canada. Start planning your trip to the Canadian Rockies with our travel guide.

5 Top U.S. Destinations for Solo Female Travel

5 Top U.S. Destinations for Solo Female Travel

Finding cities that offer great food, entertainment and culture is crucial when choosing a vacation spot. Before you start planning your next independent trip, see our list of five great cities for solo female travel.

About the Author


Kristin Addis

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.