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If you’ve got a little aviation buff on your hands, there are a number of must-visit museums and attractions around the world that will help to fuel their fascination with flight. The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC is probably number one on that list. Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum, located in Ottawa, is ranked as one of the world’s best. And at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina’s Wright Brothers National Memorial, you can retrace Wilbur and Orville Wright’s journey to that historic first flight, which was made possible by utilizing the ocean winds that blast across the dunes of the Outer Banks.
But if you’re within driving distance of Winnipeg, there’s no need to book a flight to learn more about flying. The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada is the country’s second-largest aviation museum, and budding pilots and wannabe engineers can explore the impressive collection of aircraft—ranging from bush planes to fighter jets—housed within a converted hangar at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. The museum even boasts an enclosed flight deck for watching the planes land and take off into the vast prairie sky.
Local schools and youth groups often plan field trips that align with their science classes and even book sleepovers that include ghost stories and night tours conducted by flashlight. But non-Winnipegger kids can still enjoy the museum’s family-friendly tours (offered Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 2 pm—private tours can be arranged in advance), the paper airplane factory, scavenger hunts, craft workshops, and seasonal events like their annual Easter Egg Hangar Hunt and making Reindeer Boomerangs in December.
While some of the aircraft on display are open to explore, most are hands-off. So allow yourselves enough time to relax and let the little ones loose at Skyways, the museum’s interactive play area for kids aged 2-12 located on the second floor. At Skyways kids are actually encouraged to climb into cockpits and push all of the buttons! Plans are underway to renovate and expand the museum, but locals and visitors all agree that visiting The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada with kids is a must when travelling to Winnipeg.
Downtown is roughly thirty minutes away, even if you’re taking the bus instead of driving. But if Winnipeg is just a stop instead of your final destination, a trip to The Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada is a great way to take advantage of a stopover instead of slouching in a restaurant or chasing the kids around the airport. The Holiday Inn Winnipeg Airport Polo Park Hotel is also right on site, so there’s no need to navigate transit times or worry about hitting traffic.
(Photo credit: Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada)