Sand and Sun – Manitoba’s Beautiful Beaches
Recite your Beach-time ABCs: From A to ZED Lake
A is for the amazing abundance of pristine parks and lakes in Manitoba. B is for the bevy of beaches, beaches and more beaches found throughout the entire province. And C is for catching plenty of fish, sun and family fun this summer.
Sample Manitoba's cottage country beaches, provincial parks and 100,000 lakes at their best in high summer, when the skies glow bright, clear blue over white sand crescents and craggy, glacier-carved granite. Tucked into forests fringing those sandy beaches, cottage communities drowse happily in green-dappled sunlight. Life is a beach for the family holiday, with your choice of activities and accommodations, from cabins and campgrounds to hotel vacation suites.
- Sun, Sandcastles and Surf at Lake Winnipeg
- Perfect Play-cations in Manitoba Provincial Parks
- Kid-Approved, Un-Crowded Campgrounds
Sun, Sandcastles and Surf at Lake Winnipeg
Life's grand at Grand Beach. Sift your toes through powdery white sandy beaches and gaze at grass-topped dunes at the aptly-named Grand Beach Provincial Park. Snuggled along the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg, its shallow waters are perfect for wading, and the sculpted golden dunes that reach as high as eight metres cater to shorebirds such as the delicate and endangered piping plover. Take to the water to swim and windsurf, or stay high and dry hiking one of three self-guided walks—Spirit Rock Trail, Wild Wings Trail or the Ancient Beach Trail.
Overnight at the park campground and take in the full Grand Beach experience with a concert at the magnificent outdoor amphitheatre and a family picnic in one of the many shelters. Indulge in an ice cream cone (or two!) and, spend some more time playing on the beach. Break up your trip to Grand Beach with a stop in Lockport for kid-favourite Skinner's or Half Moon's hot dogs and a ramble along River Road to see how the catfish are biting.
Find your beach home away from home with a cottage rental from Bear Country Cottages. Located a few minutes away from Grand Beach by car, these cottages provide the perfect family getaway. Sign up for the Complete Family Summer Vacation Package to enjoy a two-bedroom luxury cottage for a week, a family day pass to Thunder Mountain Waterslide Park, a round of mini golf and ice cream, and access to an on-site playground, sports equipment and toys.
Savour freshly prepared and baked pizzas available for take-out or cottage delivery from the new on-site Niakwa Pizza. Satisfy your family's sweet tooth (teeth?) with the Fireside Treat Package that serves up firewood, marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers to make your very own smores, and grab some corn to pop over your campfire. Test the waters along Lake Winnipeg's shores with a day trip to Winnipeg Beach for Boardwalk Days in July or head to Victoria Beach to indulge in heavenly imperial cookies and fresh baked breads and rolls at the renowned Einfeld's Bakery—earlier is better, as the baked temptations tend to fly off the shelves!Plan your family beach getaway:
- Grand Beach Provincial Park: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/central/grand.html
- Grand Beach Visitor's Guide: www.grandbeachtourism.com
- Skinner's Restaurant (Lockport MB): (204) 757-2951
- Half Moon Drive In: www.halfmoondrivein.com
- Bear Country Cottages: www.bearcountrycottages.com
- Thunder Mountain Water Park: www.thundermountainwaterslides.ca/page1.aspx
- Town of Winnipeg Beach: www.winnipegbeach.ca
- Victoria Beach: www.eastern-beaches.mb.ca/the-beaches/victoria-beach.html
- Einfeld's Bakery: (204) 756-2533
Experience Vikings and vinaterta in Gimli. Find the ideal overnight stay or weeklong family holiday in Gimli. Located on the western shore of the massive Lake Winnipeg, Gimli is the heart of New Iceland. Trace the historic connection with a visit to The New Icelandic Heritage Museum or time your stay to take part in Islendingadagurinn—The Icelandic Festival of Manitoba held on the August long weekend. Wander along Main Street in this beachside resort town to check out the sea-themed restaurants, unique boutiques and galleries.
Not to be missed are H.P. Tergesen & Sons General Store, part of the same family for four generations, and Central Bakery for a taste of vinaterta, the famous Icelandic shortbread cake. There's plenty of beach to stroll amidst the marina's bustle of sailboats, small fishing vessels and personal yachts. Play around in the water or throw in a fishing line to catch a pickerel for supper. With ice cream in hand, amble along the Gimli boardwalk to soak in the murals painted along the seawall by local artists.
Settle into a specially designed vacation suite at Lakeview Resort that combines all the space and amenities of a cottage with all the conveniences of a full-service resort. Rainy day? No problem, the whole family will stay well-entertained with the many resort perks: Seagulls Restaurant overlooking the lake, an indoor (and outdoor) pool, whirlpool, sauna, exercise room, games room, free movies, and several unique shops and boutiques.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Town of Gimli: www.gimli.ca
- New Iceland Heritage Museum: www.nihm.ca
- H.P. Tergesen & Sons General Store: (204) 642-5958
- Central Bakery: (204) 642-5544
- Islendingadagurinn (Icelandic Festival): www.icelandicfestival.com
- Lakeview Resort and Conference Centre: www.lakeviewhotels.com/mb-gimli.php
Perfect Play-cations in Manitoba Provincial Parks
Water, waves and wilderness in the Whiteshell. Spend a day or more in Whiteshell Provincial Park's 2,800 square kilometres of forest, lakes and rivers. Dozens of family-friendly resorts make the perfect base for every type of summertime play: hiking, fishing, swimming, canoeing, cycling, birdwatching, horseback riding or just relaxing on the beach.
Gaze at Canada geese at the Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary then stop at the Whiteshell Trappers Museum to learn about fur-trapping history. Take a tour of the sacred Bannock Point petroforms through the Whiteshell Natural History Museum at Nutimik Lake or discover how volcanoes and glaciers shaped the park's landscape with a trip to the West Hawk Geological Museum. Look an endangered lake sturgeon eye-to-eye at the Whiteshell Fish Hatchery and Visitor Centre.
Put up your feet in a lakefront cabin at Whiteshell Lake Resort, a relaxing four-season family haven located in the heart of the provincial park. Enjoy the resort's private, quiet beach or take a two-minute stroll to the larger public beach with its playground and roped-off swimming area. Choose from fully furnished cottages ranging from rustic to modern with easy access to a general store and fully licenced restaurant and patio serving homemade food, pizza and appetizers. Great fishing and hiking is right off your doorstep, and a five-minute saunter takes your family to the famous Rainbow Falls.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Whiteshell Provincial Park: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/eastern/whiteshell.html
- Alfred Hole Goose Sanctuary: (204) 369-5246
- Whiteshell Trappers Museum: www.whiteshell.mb.ca/area.html
- Whiteshell Natural History Museum: (204) 348-4004
- Nutimik Lake campground: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/pdf/park_maps
- Bannock Point Petroforms: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/popular_parks/petroforms/
- West Hawk Geological Museum: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/education/centres/westhawk.html
- Whiteshell Fish Hatchery and Visitor Centre: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/education/centres/fish_hatchery.html
- Whiteshell Lake Resort: www.granite.mb.ca/wlr
- White Lake Resort: www.whitelakeresort.com
Sifting dunes and sands at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. Step into the desert-like conditions at Spirit Sands without leaving Manitoba. Located near Glenboro in the southwest corner of Manitoba, Spruce Woods Provincial Park is home to Spirit Sands, five square kilometres of open blowing sand dunes that tower 30 metres above the surrounding prairie. Watch for the northern prairie skink, Manitoba's only lizard, along with the Western hognose snake and two species of cacti—all of which are unique in Manitoba. Hike along self-guided trails or join a horse-drawn covered wagon ride to explore rolling hills of native prairie, lush deciduous forests and mysterious blue-green ponds.
Set up your tent or trailer in the modern campground that offers showers, laundromat, outdoor games area, groceries and treats at the concession, and a gift shop operated by Friends of Spruce Woods, along with the popular Kiche Manitou Beach. If you'd prefer, leave the tent or RV at home and try a family-sized yurt, complete with a skylight and rustic log furniture. Fill your family's days with a wide range of interpretive programs including slide shows at the amphitheatre, campfire talks, guided hikes, children's events, and exhibits at the interpretive centre.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Spruce Woods Provincial Park: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/western/spruce.html
- Town of Glenboro: www.glenboro.com/Tourism/tourism_the_park.htm
- Yurts in Manitoba Provincial Parks: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/camping/comfort/yurts.html
- Friends of Spruce Woods: www.townofcarberry.ca/FOSWI.htm
- Spruce Woods Visitor Services Centre: (204) 827-8850
History and hospitality at Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park. Named after Mount Hekla, an Icelandic volcano, this gem of a park is home to lush forest, rugged shorelines, bountiful wildlife and, of course, scenic beaches. Crossing the causeway to reach this protected island is a scenic event in itself.
Ever have a beach entirely to yourselves? Make arrangements at Gull Harbour Marina to escape for a day to Black Island, where you can wade in the warm, shallow water of secluded bays while the kids hunt for gigantic freshwater clam shells on the fine sand beach.
Venture through Hecla's many hiking, birding, wildlife viewing and interpretive trails, or join a guided walk led by an interpreter. Stay in the campground, at a vacation cabin, bed and breakfast or a luxurious resort. Swing a club at the championship 18-hole golf course or rent a kayak at the marina. Bring along the family's bikes to ride the many paths to the beach, tennis courts or to explore nearby Hecla village.
Tap into the island's heritage by sauntering the one-kilometre self-guiding trail that winds through the village tracing the history of Icelandic settlement in the area, highlighting restored buildings that include a church, community hall, 1920s school, Icelandic home and a village store still in operation.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks
- Hecla Tourism Association: www.heclatourism.mb.ca
- Gull Harbour Marina and Lighthouse Inn: www.gullharbour.com
- Hecla Oasis Resort: www.heclaoasis.com
Kid-Approved, Un-Crowded Campgrounds
Roam, relax or go spelunking at Steep Rock Beach Park. Uncover this special place on the shores of Lake Manitoba, a mere two-hour drive northwest of Winnipeg. Discover open-breezy campsites, dramatic sunsets and abundant fish and wildlife. From the village built atop a large limestone outcrop you can look down upon the beautiful and unique cliffs formed by waves crashing against the shore.
Frolic on the sandy beaches that seemingly stretch forever. Let your kids create their own adventure going 'batty' exploring the limestone caves and checking out the little brown creatures in their natural habitat. Take the whole family for a round of golf on the 9-hole chip'n'putt course. Launch your boat from the park's marina or spend the day swimming in crystal clear water.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Steep Rock Beach Park & Campground: www.steeprockbeach.ca
Look for Lake Manitoba's legendary sea monster at Manipogo. Shhhh! Manipogo Beach and Campground remains a well-kept secret among campers, kids, beach lovers and anglers. Find it all at this scenic spot on Lake Manitoba—secluded or lakefront campsites sheltered by canopies of poplar and spruce, a spacious beach and children's playgrounds, prime fishing and boating, and even possibly a mythical lake monster!
Since the early 1900s, sightings of this serpentine creature continue to surface, but no conclusive evidence has yet been found. Investigate the lake with your kids and be the first ones to solve this monstrous mystery!Plan your family beach getaway:
- Manipogo Beach and Campground: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks
Fish, fun and fire pits at Zed Lake: Families looking for a secluded, scenic getaway are sure to appreciate northwestern Manitoba's Zed Lake and its rarely-crowded, quiet campground. The ten walk-up, non-electrical sites are suitable for tents, while some can accommodate large motor homes. Pit privy bathrooms, hand water pump and complimentary firewood complete the rustic, outdoor experience. Take advantage of the group-use picnic shelter that is ideal for family reunions or friendly get-togethers.
Catch some zzz's on Zed Lake's sandy beach, or cool off with a dip. Ideal for swimming or boating, the lake's clean water and nearby playground will please parents and kids alike. Land a lake trout, pickerel or pike for supper, made easy and convenient with a fish-cleaning shed, dock and boat launch.
Be sure to include a day trip to nearby Lynn Lake, where you'll find true wilderness adventure right outside your doorway. Explore the landscape surrounding Lynn Lake known as the 'Land of Little Sticks', sculpted thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers that left behind snaking formations of gravel and sand called eskers.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Zed Lake: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/popular_parks/northeast/zed.html
- Lynn Lake: http://www.lynnlake.ca/Recreation/provparks.html
Now that you know your beach-time ABCs, you can start over again next summer, visiting all the beaches in-between. Discover a plethora of picture-perfect lakes and beaches throughout the province that are waiting for you and your family.Plan your family beach getaway:
- Alphabetical beach listing (government tested for water quality): www.gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/quality/alpha_list.html
- Eastern beaches of Lake Winnipeg: www.eastern-beaches.mb.ca/home.html
- Serviced beaches in Manitoba's Provincial Parks: www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks