At the junction of the Red and Assiniboine rivers is the Forks National Historic Site, which has been a trade and meeting place for over 6,000 years. First Natives, then fur traders and settlers, found this river confluence a propitious place for settlement. The area was redeveloped in the late 1980s when the old Canadian National rail yard was redeveloped into the bustling Forks Market (tel. 888/942-6302 or 204/957-7618; www.theforks.com). A major draw is the fresh-food market and inexpensive market restaurants in the historic rail warehouses -- this is a good spot to come for lunch or a light supper. A number of shops and boutiques offer gifts and housewares, while street musicians and magicians entertain.
Other Forks attractions include the Oodena Celebration Circle, a shallow, bowl-like platform surrounded by a set of astronomically arranged metal structures that look like fanciful sci-fi creatures, commemorating the region's First Nations people; Prairie Garden, which is filled with regional plants; and Festival Park, the site of summer concerts such as Folklorama and Canada Day celebrations. The Manitoba Children's Museum (tel. 204/924-4000) and the Manitoba Theatre for Young People (tel. 204/947-0394) are both here at the Forks, as well. In summer, you can stroll on the river walks along the Red and Assiniboine rivers, picnic by the riverside, and catch water taxis to other parts of the city; in winter, there's free skating on outdoor artificial ice or along groomed river trails. Free Downtown Spirit buses connect the Forks to the rest of downtown Winnipeg from beside Forks Market.