If you want to see polar bears without the frigid temperatures, Churchill, Manitoba Canada is the place families can experience the tundra without the arctic chill. Here, July temperatures average a warm high of 61°F or 16°C — great summer weather for viewing the wildlife that make the town of Churchill an ideal eco-adventure destination.
With human settlements dating as far back as 1700 BC, the town of Churchill offers visitors a wide variety of historical activities. What really makes this town special, however, are its close encounters of the natural kind. Starting every summer, families can charter local excursions for the chance to spot polar bears and beluga whales out in the uninterrupted landscape.
Summers, Snorkel with the Whales off Canada’s Coast
For families looking to see the beluga whales, be sure to book a trip between late June and August, the best months in Churchill’s whale watching season. With over 3,000 beluga whales in Churchill throughout these months, visitors are sure to catch a glimpse of one of these 3,500 pound “canaries” of the sea. Guests are encouraged to take a trip up to the Cape Merry National Historic Site just outside of Churchill for a stunning view of the Churchill River and the beluga whales swimming there.
Want an even closer experience with the whales? Try scheduling a guided whale watching trip on one of the many local Zodiacs or larger charter boats. Not only do these trips allow families to go out and sail with the whales, but guests are also invited to don a wetsuit, grab a snorkel, and get out to swim with the whales. Age restrictions do apply, and the town of Churchill asks that all guests participating in whale excursions are at least 12 years-old.
Autumn, Manitoba is the Polar Bear Capital of the World
If jumping into the Churchill River isn’t for you, try booking a trip in October or November when polar bear sightings in Churchill are at their peak. During this season, nearly 1,000 polar bears migrate from their summer habitat on the Manitoba tundra to the ice-pack that forms out over Canada’s Hudson Bay.
Visitors who want to make a day of seeing Churchill’s “Lords of the Arctic” can book a trip with a local tundra vehicle (vendors found on the Town of Churchill website), schedule a guided walk through the tundra, or take a canoe trip down Seal River. For a more extended visit, guests can also stay at one of Churchill’s wilderness lodges — local hotels, complete with fence, built in the polar bears’ migration path. These tend to be quite expensive and book up early in the year, so you may want to opt for your own visit to this region and then book guided tours on arrival.
More Family Fun In and Around Manitoba
While out on the tundra, Hudson Bay, and especially Churchill’s Akudlik Marsh, be sure to keep a look out for the more than 250 bird species that live in and around Churchill. Families can also take a walk along Grand Beach or hike through the Spruce Woods Provincial Park to see some of Churchill’s 400+ native species of plants. From frontier forests to fields of wildflowers, the sights are naturally breathtaking.
For rainy-day fun, families are invited to visit the Manitoba Children’s Museum, Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, the Canadian Fossil Discovery Center, and the Churchill Rocket Research Range.
Booking Your Trip to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Recommended accommodations — from wilderness lodges to Churchill’s three-star hotel — can be found on the Town of Churchill website. Most rooms are quaintly rustic, with a true flair for the outdoors.
A list of recommended tour guides to help facilitate your outdoor excursions can also be found on the Churchill page on TravelManitoba.com. Many of these guide services are affiliated with hotels in the town, so be sure to ask about saving money by scheduling excursions when booking your accommodations. Tour services offering complete trip itineraries can also be found here.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.