Beat the heat this weekend: 11 of the best beaches within a quick drive of Winnipeg

The easiest way to remain cool this steamy weekend is to submerge your sweaty self in a lake. Luckily, there are hundreds within a few hours of Winnipeg, not to mention dozens of easily accessible beaches.

With temperatures expected to peak at 33 to 36 C all weekend, it's time to plan a getaway

Grand Beach on Lake Winnipeg is three kilometres long. (CBC/Seven Wonders of Canada)

If you have the means to escape the city this weekend, clear your schedule and make it happen. Winnipeg is expecting highs of 33 to 36 C from Friday to Sunday, meaning this is bound to be one of the steamiest stretches of what's already been a sweltering summer.

The easiest way to remain cool is to submerge your sweaty self in a lake. Luckily, there are hundreds within a few hours of the city, not to mention dozens of easily accessible beaches.

Here are 11 of the best of them, for beach-goers of every personality:

Birds Hill Park

Distance from the Perimeter: 17 kilometres

Nearby options: An inflatable wading pool in your front yard

Why go: The artificial lake in Birds Hill Provincial Park is among the closest bodies of water you can reach outside the city. The lake is shallow and the beach is often crowded, but it takes less time to get here than it does to pack your lunch. 

St. Malo Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 58 kilometres

Other nearby options: Lake Bronson State Park, Minn.

Why go: If you live in southeast Winnipeg, your closest beach option is St. Malo Provincial Park, which encompasses a beach a reservoir — officially St. Malo Lake — created by a dam on the Rat River. The small beach is packed with campground-goers, but the crowds here are still smaller than the throngs you find along the big lakes. Stay away from the spillway. 

Winnipeg Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 64 kilometres

Other nearby options: Matlock, Chalet Beach

Why go: The public beach extending along the community Winnipeg Beach to the provincial park of the same name is one of the most popular in the province. That's partly because it's close to Winnipeg but also because of the tourist-friendly amenities along the Lake Winnipeg-facing boardwalk. If you prefer people to solitude, this is your beach.

Twin Lakes Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 66 kilometres

Other nearby options: Delta Beach, St. Ambroise

​Why go: If you've never sampled a Lake Manitoba beach before, Twin Lakes is the closest option to Winnipeg. The undeveloped stretch of sand lies west of the cottage area. This beach was submerged entirely during the 2011 flood and suffers from erosion, but water levels this summer are reasonable.

Gimli has a working marina, along with its beach. (Submitted by David Christianson)

Patricia Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 68 kilometres

Other nearby options: Beaconia, Grand Beach

Why go: The closest beach to Winnipeg on the east side of Lake Winnipeg's southern basin is also gorgeous. And this summer, there's a lot more of it, thanks to the lake sitting close to its historic average level rather than well above. There's not much in the way of services — there's a washroom and a food kiosk — but almost always plenty of room to stretch out.

Beaconia Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 72 kilometres

Other nearby options: Patricia Beach, Grand Beach

Why go: Although accessible by a (lousy) road, Beaconia Beach on Lake Winnipeg remains free of development. There's nothing here but sand and water, making it the perfect place to go to approximate the experience of visiting a wilderness beach. This is the beach to visit to avoid other people. It's no coincidence there is a clothing-optional section, albeit unofficially.


Distance from the Perimeter: 76 kilometres

Other nearby options: Hnausa Beach, Camp Morton Beach

Why go: The town of Gimli has more cultural attractions than any other Lake Winnipeg beach destination, so this is the beach for the easily bored. Gimli's downtown will also feed you better than any other beach town in the province; tourists to Manitoba can finally find the fried pickerel they can't find at a reasonable price in Winnipeg.

Limestone cliffs are the main attraction at Steep Rock, on Lake Manitoba. (University of Manitoba)

Grand Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 86 kilometres

Other nearby options: Lester Beach, Hillside Beach

Why go: This north-facing Lake Winnipeg beach boasts fine white sand that stretches for three kilometres. It also offers some diversity: The west side of the beach is for people watching, while you can hide from people in the dunes in the middle of the beach or on the east side. Weekend crowds can be enormous on very warm days.

Falcon Beach

Distance from the Perimeter: 130 kilometres

Other nearby options: Toniata, West Hawk Lake 

Why go: If you prefer Canadian Shield conifers and granite to the scrubby Manitoba lowlands scenery along the province's big bodies of water, Falcon Lake is your closest option. There's a public beach on the west side of the lake, south of the main townsite. 

Lake Bronson State Park

Distance from the Perimeter: 136 kilometres

Nearby options: St. Malo Provincial Park

Why go: Many Winnipeggers don't realize there's a Minnesota State Park just over an hour away from the city. Lake Bronson is a lot like St. Malo Lake, in that's it's actually reservoir on a river dam. If you're heading south to Fargo or Minneapolis, this is your beach stop.

Steep Rock

Distance from the Perimeter: 214 kilometres

Other nearby options: Lundar Beach, Watchorn Provincial Park

Why go: The limestone cliffs at Steep Rock are fun to photograph, even if a two-hour drive is a little long for the sole purposes of procuring a dramatic selfie. Fans of this Lake Manitoba destination extol the virtues of the tiny crowds. It's worth a detour off Highway 6 if you're heading to northern Manitoba.

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.


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