Exploring Norwood and picturesque Old St. Vital provides a perfect staycation

With the pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives, particularly travel, looking close to home for our vacation getaway is the new normal. Fortunately, we don’t have to look very far to find new and interesting things to do. In fact, your own neighbourhood probably offers adventures that you didn’t know existed. We can help!

Beyond what is considered central St. Boniface in Winnipeg you’ll find the neighbourhoods of Norwood and Old St. Vital. Tucked between the Red River and Seine River, this area offers enough restaurants and shops to fill a weekend. So enjoy a staycation in the St. Boniface area.


Where to start your day

The hardest part about getting breakfast in this area is having to make a decision about where to go! There are many great breakfast options, both classic casual and contemporary, that will keep you coming back to this area again and again for a weekend morning pick-me-up. We won’t list every option you’ve got, but here are a few suggestions to get your day started.

On Marion Street you’ll find two options for a great breakfast. Marion Street Eatery offers a wide range of options from a classic hearty breakfast to eggs benedict to a “pancake bowl” (we’ll let you look that one up on the menu for yourself). If you’re looking for something lighter and maybe a bit healthier, try Fortify Wellness. In their building you’ll find a store, a wellness clinic and a small restaurant area where you can get fuel to start your morning (there’s actually a smoothie called “Fuel” on their menu!)

The newest brunch addition to the Old St. Vital area is Juneberry. At this stylish brunch joint you can get a breakfast Bahn Mi, sourdough french toast or Honduran balaedas with a pomegranate and sage mimosa on the side. Their patio is now open for early spring.

Inside the Norwood Hotel is Pauline Bistro. Opened in 2019, this restaurant is reminiscent of a 1920s French bistro with chic art hanging on the walls. They serve chia bowls, smoked salmon, vegan hash and more.

If you’re not a big morning eater, head to the Yellow Derny Cafe. Located inside Woodcock Cycle Works, a local bike shop, the cafe is open for takeout.


Where to shop

After fueling up on a coffee or hearty breakfast, take the time to stop at a few local shops in the area.

As mentioned above, Fortify Wellness offers more than just a meal. The front of the building has shelves lined with wellness goods including hair and skin products, makeup and natural health remedies.

Further down St. Mary’s Road you’ll find another small but intriguing shop — Mike’s General Store. It’s easy to spot as you drive by as the outside is painted with old logos and signs and an antique gas pump sits out front by the door. Inside, the narrow rooms are lined with antiques and collectibles — metal signs, toys, records, bottles, tin boxes — you name it, they’ve probably got it.

Currently still closed for the season, you’ll soon be able to visit Jardins St-Léon Jardin|Gardens. This local market sells fruit, veggies and local foods that you can snack on right away or take home to cook later. This seasonal outdoor market will be open until mid-October (weather dependent).


Where to stop

Along your route, you may want to take the time to enjoy a couple of interesting stops in the neighbourhood. Walk East down Edgewood Street to find one of Cool Streets Winnipeg’s painted pedestrian bridges. There are five in the St. Vital & St. Boniface area this year and this specific one is rainbow themed.

While in the Norwood area you may also want to stop to admire the architectural wonder that is Église Précieux-Sang (Precious Blood Catholic Church). Designed by Winnipeg architect Étienne de Gaboury, the church’s crowning feature is the spiraled cedar roof that sets it far apart from the typical shape of a church.


Where to end the day

A long day of shopping and sightseeing deserves a delicious meal to finish it off. The biggest question is what are you in the mood for? This area is packed with both casual and more formal dining options. Here are just a few to get the gears turning.

For a true diner-style meal (burgers, fries, onion rings, etc.) go to Red Top Drive Inn. This burger joint was opened in 1960 so when we say it’s got a retro feel, you know it’s not just for show, it’s authentically retro.

Inferno’s Bistro offers something a little more formal. The two-storey restaurant serves frog legs, escargot and duck confit pot stickers (and those are just the appetizers!). The food is delicious and the ambiance is warm and moody, ideal conditions for ordering a three course meal and a glass of wine.

On Marion Street between Traverse Avenue and Kenny Street, you’ll find three small restaurants offering different fare. Boun’s Restaurant serves summer rolls, pad thai, Shanghai noodles, curry and much more. Two doors down is Vientiane, a Laotian-Thai restaurant that claims the best tom kao peak (a Laotian soup) in the city. And in the same building is Shahi Flames serving Indian and Hakka cuisine.

Is it ever too cold outside to indulge in ice cream? We don’t think so! Stop at Dug & Betty’s for small batch gourmet ice cream made right here in Winnipeg. For the more adventurous try the Strawberry Balsamic Honey & Black Pepper or Dark Chocolate & Sour Cherry.


Where to stay

At the end of your full day exploring the Old St. Vital and Norwood areas, put your feet up at the Norwood Hotel. Grab an evening drink at The Wood Tavern, which conveniently shares a space with Pauline restaurant, then head up to the newly renovated rooms for a relaxing evening. As an added treat, order room service and enjoy breakfast in bed before you check out in the morning.

Wherever you travel in Manitoba, please remember to stay safe by keeping six feet of physical distance from others, gathering in group sizes in accordance to public health guidelines, avoiding crowds, and staying home if you’re sick.

— For more Manitoba travel ideas please visit www.travelmanitoba.com