It’s a common feeling: spring shifts to summer and ushers in a rush of excitement that warmer days and longer nights are on the way. For many, this feeling gives rise to planning summer vacations and getaways to some of Canada’s furthest reaches. And while Canada is bookended by two oceans, there are countless vacation destinations between them — and you don’t need to rely on VIA to get there! From the Atlantic to the Pacific, our country is filled with natural beauty, humans’ testaments to architecture and design, and seemingly endless history predating our arrival to the Americas. But did you know you don’t have to travel far outside of Winnipeg to experience some of Canada’s best architecture, food, fun, and natural splendor? Moreover, did you know that many of these destinations are easily accessible in your wheelchair van, and offer wheelchair-friendly attractions? If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug or think you might be contracting some symptoms (which include, but are not limited to: daydreams, wanderlust, and a strong desire to feel the winds against your face as your wheelchair van takes you across the plains), read on to learn more about some of our favorite destinations for a close-to-home vacation that can feel like a world away.
Humanity & Architecture
Before we begin our journey out into the many lovely landscapes Manitoba has to offer, we start at home, in Winnipeg. While it might be a fixture you’ve seen from the window of your wheelchair van before, we implore you to experience the testament to the struggle for a more peaceful and respectful human existence found in The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Found just a way’s away from The Forks National Historic Site off the Red River, the museum offers visitors the chance to gain perspective on pressing human rights issues across the globe through different media, including revolving galleries focused on specific human rights issues. Truly, this is an impactful stop on your Manitoba tour. The museum earns top marks from us not only because of the subject matter they offer visitors’, but also because of their care and dedication in ensuring all persons have access to their works via a series of gently inclined ramps to all galleries, as well as elevators and wheelchair-accessible amenities.
Fill Up Your Tanks
After an afternoon of taking in the awe-inspiring galleries at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, you’re likely to find your stomach empty now that your brain and heart are full of new and impactful knowledge still being digested. Winnipeg offers some of the best dining in all of the Prairie Provinces, and there are seemingly limitless options for you and your family to choose from. If you’re looking for a refreshing take on classic, quintessential Canadian cuisine, take the time to check out Chew, one of Winnipeg’s most adventurous restaurants. Comprised of nearly all-local ingredients (with the exception of a few delicious dishes that come from the sea), Chew offers guests the chance to taste Canada’s culinary history, present, and — quite possibly — its future. However, if some members of your family or group aren’t keen on tasting some of Canada’s more exotic offerings, there are plenty of other palate pleasing places to fill your respective stomachs. For family-friendly plates, stop in to Moxie’s Grill & Bar on Portage Avenue. With an elegant offering of more refined menu for the adults, the younger members of your party are sure to find something familiar, but with amped up flavor and found in a cool, laid-back environment. Chew and Moxie’s offer wheelchair accessible facilities, as do all restaurants found in Winnipeg, as part of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.
The Country Calls
Now that you’ve had your fill of the city (and filled your stomach), it’s time to take your wheelchair van outside the city limits and into Manitoba’s sprawling natural beauty. Just over an hour and 100 kilometres north of Winnipeg lies the lovely Rural Municipality of Gimli. Part of Canada’s New Iceland region, Gimli offers visitors a glimpse into Canada’s immigrant past, as well as picturesque views of lively lakes and lush landscapes. Should you and your wheelchair van find your way to Gimli in August of this year, do make sure to check out the Icelandic Festival of Manitoba. The festival gives visitors a chance to experience new and traditional Icelandic food, handicrafts, culture, history, and just about everything in between. However, if Nordic nuances don’t draw you north, Gimli is an excellent point for getting a glimpse of rural Manitoba’s beauty.
Southwest of Gimli and just 85 kilometres from Winnipeg lies the quaint and historic town of Portage la Prairie, a small city that boasts the sunniest days during Canada’s warmer months and offers visitors a chance to explore Canada’s fur trading history while soaking in some of the town’s unspoiled beauty. Once your wheelchair van has brought you into town, head straight for Island Park, Portage la Prairie’s lovely city park that offers plenty of wheelchair accessible sights and sounds. If you’re traveling with younger travel companions, make sure to bring some snacks for the friendly deer that dot the island. If deer aren’t your thing, stay along the smooth, concrete paths that crisscross the park for some offbeat attractions. We don’t want to give away all of Island Park’s secrets, but if you and your family are looking for a day to relax while taking in excellent green space design coupled with lively locals, make sure to add Portage la Prairie to the list of stops on your summer road trip.
Freedom to Roam
No matter where you decide to let your wheelchair van take you this summer, Manitoba is sure to satiate your wanderlust. Or, if you’re like the many who revel in the region’s beauty, you’ll find yourself wanting to add many more kilometres to your wheelchair van’s odometer. But before you set out on your adventure, please take the time to make sure your wheelchair van is road-ready, and all safety boxes have been ticked. If you have any concerns, questions, or comments, please reach out to us; we’re always happy to assist. Now, — as always — get movin’!