"Saskatoon in June, Saskatoon in June!,” was a song I made up, and drove everyone I knew nuts with. “You’re going to Saskatoon? Why there?” they’d all ask. The answer was simple: Why not? We liked the idea of adding a spot in the Prairies to our family’s growing list of places we’ve been in Canada. With thousands of people moving to Saskatchewan’s most populous city every year, the province best known for agriculture, flat land and big skies is now reaping the harvest of an influx of young families. There are tons of fun attractions and festivals, and Saskatoon’s city-meets-country vibe was a dream for our urban-but-outdoorsy family.
With the incredibly located Holiday Inn Saskatoon Downtown as our home base (our kids—Nate, 9, and Lucine, 6, loved swimming in the pool even more than their daily pancake breakfast, which was free with our stay), just about everything was 10 minutes away by car or on foot.
Guidebook in hand, we set off on the perfect vacation for families who love farm-to-fork market-style eats, Canadian history and nature. Bring your bug spray, lots of layers (the weather can be unpredictable) and some of that pioneering spirit the city was built upon.
Share giant milkshakes and other retro diner fare at the affordable Broadway Café.
Prairie dog gawking grounds
The University of Saskatchewan Sculpture Garden is a great place to squeal at cute critters while taking in some free outdoor art.
Rainy day activity
Play pioneer at the Western Development Museum with a walk down a Prairie boomtown’s circa 1910 main (indoor!) street.
Way to get your bearings
Take the Prairie Lily Cruise Sail the South Saskatchewan River tour and learn fun facts about spots to explore.
The waterfront along the Saskatchewan River includes a promenade and cool public art.
Our stop at Wanuskewin Heritage Park made the biggest impact on us. During a tour through the ancient grounds—people have been gathering here for an estimated 6,000 years—we learned about the history and traditions of the Northern Plains people. My kids loved hearing about how tribes would hunt buffalo here, or learning that rubbing your hands on poplar bark and then wiping the residue on your skin made natural sunscreen. Make sure you use bug spray with DEET before you go—there are ticks in the grasses. And don’t forget to stop at the gift shop for beautiful handicrafts. I snagged a pair of hand-beaded earrings that I’m still getting complimented on.
We also loved hitting the amazing Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.
Find more photos of Nadine’s trip on our TABLET edition.
Call ahead for dinner. Some foodie restaurants aren’t kid-friendly and won’t even seat families. But we were so happy that culinary hot spot The Hollows accommodated us with a simple steak and frites for the kids so that the grown-ups could try the elk carpaccio and gnocchi with stinging nettles. Yum!
After frigid winters, Saskatwonians celebrate spring and summer with great festivals like the PotashCorp Children’s Festival of Saskatchewan each June.
A version of this article appeared in our March 2015 issue with the title “Postcard From Saskatoon,” p.24.