Consider taking the kids to Grandma's and doing one of these four fun-filled day-hops -- north, south, east and west of Winnipeg — or try them all!
You'll leave the city for an adventure in the morning and end up back in Winnipeg in your own comfy bed, relaxed and restored that evening.
"Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway! Lookin for adventure and whatever comes our way." Thank you, Steppenwolf. I'll take it from here.
Up early, you're off to the merry hamlet of Fannystelle to investigate a quaint downtown restaurant called Sausages and Spankings, owned and operated by local character Cori Audet. Stop quaking! It's just a funny name, with a great breakfast menu, and the woman sells sex toys at parties. It opens 6:30 a.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. weekends, closing in mid-afternoon. S and S is 25 minutes from Winnipeg on Highway 2.
After that, you can make your way to Carman to enjoy the town's spectacular golf course or keep on going south to Morden, home of the Corn and Apple Festival (August 23 to 25). In a mood for Manitoba dinosaurs? Check out the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, found in the lower level of the Access Event Centre as you enter town.
Morden is located on the lake bed of the mighty glacial Lake Agassiz that used to cover most of Manitoba before it receded and left puddles like Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba. A few million years before that, it was a tropical seabed. See an amazing collection of marine reptile fossils. You'll love "Bruce," the 13-metre, 80-million-year-old mosasaur, the largest found in Canada. He liked to swim in the sea you are standing on.
Time for a dip now? Check out Lake Minnewasta, a man-made lake created by damming the Dead Horse Creek more than half a century ago.
Cooled off and ready to go adventuring? Drive further west on Highway 3 to picturesque Holiday Mountain, outside La Rivi®re, to bike, golf and/or zip-line. There are parallel zip-lines here, so people can race! Golf carts take you up to the top of the hills, so there's no exhausting uphill climbs.
Speaking of golf, the Holiday Mountain golf course is highly unusual for the Prairies -- built on the bottom and sides of the ski hills, with a sensational hole where you hit your ball off a cliff.
On your way home, you can hit the Starlight Drive-in theatre near Morden for a movie.
"Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long." Thank you, that'll be enough, Tom Cochrane.
You're heading out on Trans-Canada Highway East with the Royal Canadian Mint shining like an outmoded penny nearby. You may want to stop for go-kart racing or mini-golf at Grand Prix Amusements just to get yourself jazzed up. Your major move is to drive 40 minutes down the highway and veer south on Highway 12 past Ste. Anne's heading towards the rapidly growing city of Steinbach. Just short of the city, turn left at Clearspring Road and hang a tight right down the parallel service road. Then deke between businesses marked 275 and 277 and find hidden Hangar 289. Here at this colourful playhouse/hangar you can go to for a tandem ultralight ride with pilot Barry Morwick. Call Adventure at Altitude at 333-WING to reserve.
Lunch is at Cherry Hill Estate, which means a three-minute drive (east) off Highway 12. Go down Park Road past the Quarry Oaks golf course. A few minutes later, in the middle of farmland, you'll suddenly spot an oasis. There's a pristine man-made lake with a geyser. Cherry Hill Estate and Harry's Bar, behind the lake, boasts a giant main-floor barbecue pit and a top floor and deck with modern stretch umbrellas that give you a breathtaking view over the land and water. Lunches and dinners range from barbecue to stylish gourmet. After lunch, you're back to the mighty Trans-Canada and off to Falcon Lake to golf, ride horses or swim on the sandy beach.
As bush pilots know, the outline of Lake Winnipeg at night looks like a necklace, with sparkling diamonds in a curve around the bottom caused by the twinkling lights of resort towns. Plan a trip north to hit the biggest open-beach resort towns such as Gimli, Winnipeg Beach and Grand Beach. And here's a hot tip: On Aug. 10, you can hit two big events in one day: the 15-team sandcastle-building competition is happening Saturday (and Sunday) at Grand Beach. While you check out the growing castles, you can swim on the famous silver-sand beaches. Then slip round the bottom of the lake (quickest route is Highway 59 south from Grand Beach to Highway 4, to Highway 9 back north). Roll into Gimli for a pickerel dinner and the Elvis Festival that evening, organized by "the blond Elvis," Dave Greene.
Your next day-hop adventure is a trip due west on the Trans-Canada Highway. You start out at Nick's Inn at Headingley for one of their famous big breakfasts and head off for Portage la Prairie. Whatever you do, don't stay on the bypass and miss the entrance to Portage la Prairie. Turn left at the lights at city hall and head for sparkling Crescent Lake on Crescent Road. Take the bridge over to the island and Mayfair Gardens, the golf course, waterslides and a pool for your late-morning swim. People have loved to canoe on the lake that historically held water-skiing events. You'll eat lunch at Bill's Sticky Fingers, famous for ribs, found at 210 E. Saskatchewan Ave. Call 204-857-9999 if you get lost.
Lick your sticky fingers, wipe your face, and head west on the Trans-Canada for about an hour's drive, ending up in rolling hills. Look for a well-marked turn south onto Highway 5 heading towards Carberry. You're going to the Spirit Sands desert in Spruce Woods Provincial Park, with critters seen nowhere else in Canada. You may want to bring a harem costume.
At the end of these day trips, you are a tired and happy person and you have me to thank. Take lots of pictures to show the people at work who don't have the gumption to get out of bed early.
Maureen Scurfield is an intrepid adventurer who has spent five years taking people on exciting adventures. She accounts for her generally upbeat mood by always having a new one ready to go.