Saskatchewan is known for its grasslands, lakes, rivers, and immense beauty. In addition to being a great place for outdoor exploration, there are also many unique experiences and hidden gems in its quaint towns and cities for travelers interested in quirky and off-the-beaten path experiences.
Relax on the beaches of Waskesiu Lake, Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park is a popular spot for hiking, biking, paddling, and fishing, but it also has eight sandy beaches on the shores of Waskesiu Lake. You can choose days full of adventure on the water by renting stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, pontoon boats and fishing boats, or simply sunbathe and picnic all day. At the main beach and marina there are restaurants and washroom facilities with hot showers. If you need to cool down while you’re there, stop in Big Olaf Sundaes for a milkshake or giant scoop of ice cream served in a waffle cone.
Take a small-town culinary tour, Nipawin
Two hours southeast of Prince Albert National Park, you’ll find the charming town of Nipawin. If you’re a barbeque fan, don’t miss The Dam Smokehouse where steaks, brisket, ribs, burgers, pulled pork and schnitzels are on the menu along with a good selection of craft beers. Mabel Hill has gained traction with farmhouse foodies for its seasonally inspired dishes made from homegrown and locally sourced ingredients as well as its atmosphere. It serves poutine, bison, and lamb, as well as scallops, cod, and fish tacos. For something different, try the family-style option, which features a multi-course menu chosen by the chef. If you’re traveling with vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free eaters, go to The Spot restaurant and lounge, where you can find healthy dishes. The Thai noodle salad, green curry rice bowl, and veggie burger are customer favorites.
Do a pub crawl, Saskatoon
Take a tasty tour of the local libations in Saskatoon. There’s nothing quite like a pub crawl to get a sense of the local vibe. Start at Lucky Bastard Distillers, where you can enjoy an absinthe cocktail in a prohibition-era style lounge and take a distillery tour. Then, head to High Key Brewing to sample their Sasquatch Pale Ale, which features Canada’s first patented, proprietary hop, grown only in Canada. After that, visit 9 Mile Legacy, a nanobrewery – smaller than a microbrewery – run by two guys who started home brewing and turned it into a thriving business. Try the classic 9 Mile ale, a true English-style Pale Ale or one of their many collaboration brews, like the Lavender Menace Lager, made with blueberries and tea. Next on the tour is Shelter Brewing Company, another nanobrewery that serves small batch brews and offers a beer delivery service. It has uniquely flavorful beers on its menu, such as a Honeydew Sour Wit and a Ginger Turmeric Pale Ale. For the last stop of the tour, go to Better Brother Brewing and finish the evening with their desserty Chocolate Oatmeal Stout or a classic West Coast IPA.
Visit the Dead Sea of Canada, Watrous
Located an hour southeast of Saskatoon, travelers flock to the small resort village of Manitou Beach near Watrous because it's home to Little Manitou Lake. The springs are often compared to Israel’s Dead Sea because it has similar attributes like buoyancy, salt content, and mineral-rich properties.
Even quirkier is Danceland, a ‘world famous’ dance hall built in 1928, with a wood floor supported by coils of horse hair. The ‘floating’ floor has more than an inch of give, which dancers love, and the acoustics of the facility make for outstanding musical performances.
Visitors who are not staying at the Manitou Springs Resort can buy a day pass to swim and soak in the soothing waters of Canada’s largest indoor mineral spa or go to Little Manitou Lake for an open-air float.
Feed your inner foodie, Regina
Regina has a wealth of options for travelers in search of farm-to-table fare and other fun foodie experiences. If you’re looking for farm-to-table eats, visit Skye Cafe & Bistro, which was founded by a husband-and-wife team focusing on serving sustainable seed-to-plate dishes that are fresh, seasonal, and flavorful. Not only does it have options for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free diets, it also has specialty dishes like a wild-caught blue crab cake cobb salad and Skye beef short ribs Benedict with merlot-braised AAA beef. Crave Kitchen + Wine Bar is a local hotspot for farm-to-table meat-lovers. It serves dishes like locally raised, daily cut pork, bison burgers, smoked brisket, and duck confit.
If you visit between May and October, sign up for supper or a picnic at the Over the Hill Orchards and Winery. A rotation of local chefs create multi-course meals using ingredients from the orchard and nearby farms. They happily accommodate dietary restrictions and pair wines with the courses.
Ride the rails, The Wheatland Express
For a train experience like no other, check out the Wheatland Express, the event passenger train in the heart of East-Central Saskatchewan’s prairieland. Round-trip excursions are easily accessible from Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina and last at least three hours, with interactive themed shows such as train heist, murder mystery, cowboy showdown and other onboard character entertainment. Foodies will enjoy the dining excursions, which include prairie-inspired menus with all the fixin’s. The top-tier option includes a 3-course meal and a concert after the journey. Experience a bygone era, get a guided tour of the prairie and meet other interesting characters in this unique excursion.