There’s something incredibly and simplistically magical about discovering the beauty in your own backyard.”

– anonymous

Fellow Winnipeggers, nomads, travellers and lovers of new experiences, I’m talking to you! With more restrictions on the rise and travel still very limited between borders and new places, it can be difficult to fulfill our travel bug.

However, I recently discovered the magic of embracing my own backyard as a play ground for exploration and new discoveries; creating a space to see my city with new eyes and a new perspective.

I was partnered with #TourismWinnipeg to promote their “Winnipeg – Here For It” campaign. We collaborated on an epic itinerary for the weekend, to create my very own “staycation”.

It began on a warm summer’s day, the sun was shining bright and I had a buzz of excitement in the pit of my stomach as I packed my bags to embark on an adventure around town.

I decided to ditch my wheels at home and dig out my cruiser bike to get me from place to place. My first stop was for brunch at the new Bijou Patio in the Exchange District.

I was impressed by the newly designed system and the innovative way of having lunch. I chose a picnic table and scanned a QR code which brought up a list of all of the beautiful local restaurants in the area. Once you choose one, you pick from their menu and they deliver your meal right to your picnic table! Honestly, it took me awhile to figure it out and I had to be that person to google, “how to scan a QR code” haha getting old with this techy stuff. It was fun, to wait like a little eager child in the hustle and bustle of our downtown, getting a little bit of work done and recieve my fresh food delivered right to me.

Once I gobbled up my sandwich with much satisfaction, I headed over to a local Indigenous business called the Urban Shaman Gallery. They were having a Tea and Network event at their “Norval Morriseau” exhibition, which will be on until October 31st, 2020. They were serving locally made sage, blueberry and mixed teas, with desserts, bannock and smiling faces. I had always wanted to wander into the gallery and learn more about it, so I was enthralled to finally have the chance to do so. I was able to speak to the director and the woman behind bringing in the Norval Morriseau pieces. It was a beautiful time, connecting to each painting and piece and to hear about the wonderful work that the gallery does in our city and their overall mission.

Next place on my list was the Manitoba Museum. I hadn’t been there since I was back in grade school on field trips, so I was excited to visit it again with a new perspective. I took my time walking through the exhibits. Unfortunately a lot of the exhibits were closed or sectioned off due to renovations or covid policies and all of the fun interactive parts were taped off. There was honestly more security guards than people when I went and I had to wear a mask the whole time. So this recent experience of checking out the museum wasn’t the best due to all of this but I’m glad I made it out anyway.

Then it was time to check into my room at the Norwood Hotel. When I arrived, I was greeted by the sweetest friendliest staff at reception and a warm, funky, calming atmosphere. I checked into my beautiful 4th floor room and instantly felt at home in my space. I loved the clean, comfy room with a big King Size bed all to myself. I also loved how conveniently close it was to everything. Nestled in a beautiful corner of St. Boniface and close enough to downtown to walk, bike or drive to any place I desired.

After I settled into my room and dropped off my personal items, I met up with a friend for dinner. To explore a local plant based restaurant that recently opened. A place called “Roughage Eatery”, on Sherbrook. I enjoyed that they still had a dine in experience in their beautiful welcoming indoor space. They have created a sustainable system as well including a QR scan code much like the Bijou Patio to bring up their diverse delicious menu. I ended up ordering their penne pasta along with a fancy mimosa. We cheered our glasses and devoured our tasty cuisine.

After dinner, I was exhausted and ready to settle in for the night to be rested up for another full day of exploring the next day. When I awoke, I made my way further down St. Mary’s to a beautiful cozy brunch spot, which just opened, called, “Juneberry”. I was blown away by their friendly welcoming staff who helped construct the most perfect latte I’ve ever had with local oat milk, cashew milk for taste, vanilla and dark beautiful coffee. Once I graced their menu I was instantly drawn to their first item on the menu, their Sourdough French toast with fresh mandarin oranges, local berries, walnuts and whipped cream for toppings. I went right as they opened at 8am and enjoyed my own space watching as people bustled through their doors, eager for a fresh tasty brunch, at the same time, supporting local organic food produce.

After fuelling up for the day, I was recommended to go on a self guided audio tour around Upper Fort Garry and The Forks. These are two places I have always been to or passed by but never really dived deep into the history and the details of the place. I was shocked at how easy it was to pull up the audio tours online and shocked at how much I actually learned about these places in my own city. It was wonderful to have the Indigenous perspective included in these audios as well, honouring the ancestry of these places and their teachings that were passed down for generations through oral history. I had so much fun, walking around the area, listening and engaging in a new relationship with these places that I had never felt before.

After a long walk, I was ready for lunch and decided to invite another companion to join me on the experience. Even though we couldn’t physically travel, we decided to travel through what we consumed. I chose a particularly yummy Sri Lanka plant based cuisine of roasted eggplant, chickpeas, mushrooms and rice. Whereas my friend went for a Caribbean meal. It was fun to dive into the diversity and have so much options of delicious food and beverage.

After catching up on life, consuming our meals and enjoying each other’s company, we headed out to the corn maze. It was a gorgeous drive amongst hues of autumn colours, change in the leaves, winding highways between spruce and oak. When we arrived, we were surprised at the amount of people who also had the corn maze in their plans for a chill Sunday adventure. We lined up like excited little children choosing from a list of activities to add to our itinerary. Some of those activities including the maze itself, a petting zoo, pony rides and a sunflower expedition. We grabbed our tickets, hurried in with excitement and ordered ourselves a lemonade before heading into the maze.

What a beautiful way to end our day and to end an excellent staycation weekend within my own city and to discover and re-discover some hidden gems and unearth some new magic during this time. To check out more content head on over to www.hereforitwpg.com or tag us or check out the hashtags #hereforitwpg, #exploremb, #onlyinthepeg #summersavedwpg

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