If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I love seeking out experiences exclusive to the destinations I visit. Whether it’s a tour or a treat, I’m always game! With this being my first visit to Saskatchewan, I knew I had to make the most of my trip to the largest city in the province. Here are some of the unique things to do in Saskatoon that will have you planning a visit to the prairies!
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
10 Top Unique Things to Do in Saskatoon
Known as the city of bridges, Saskatoon is one rad destination. The province may be landlocked but it certainly has plenty to offer! I’ve been asked so many times about why I would want to visit Saskatchewan. While my go-to answer is “Why not?“, I think this post will show you that Saskatoon has plenty to offer that will make you want to plan a visit!
Hike Through an Ancient River Channel
The Meewasin Northeast Swale is an ancient river channel that was carved out by receding glaciers over 10,000 years ago. These glacial rivers deposited large limestone boulders which were important for crafting mortar, stones and fertilizer for human civilization. The Meewasin Northeast Swale is also where you’ll find one of the largest pieces of unbroken prairie grasslands, riparian forest and wetlands in the region around Saskatoon. As native grasslands are one of the most at-risk ecosystems on the planet, it’s imperative that this area be preserved!
Beginning at Peturrson’s Ravine, you’ll find a 26-kilometre-long path that follows the South Saskatchewan River. Meewasin (actual spelling being miýwâsin) is from the nȇhiyawȇwin/Cree language meaning ‘it is beautiful’. A walk along the trail and you’ll quickly see why it’s the perfect name for the Meewasin Valley!
Grab a Treat from the Double Decker Bus
A Saskatoon icon, no trip to the city is complete without a visit to Bus Stop Refreshments. Located across from the historically elegant Bessborough Hotel, this bright red double-decker bus has been serving up eats and treats since 1989. While it originally crossed the pond from the United Kingdom with two other buses, it is now the only surviving “low bridge bus” in the country.
Bus Stop Refreshments has been a go-to destination along the downtown riverbanks for decades. Their repertoire of classic ice cream flavours like mint chip, cookie dough, and my personal favourite, bubblegum, has brought generations of families over the decades. If you’re looking for something a little more hearty, one of their riverbank franks should hit the spot!
Walk Next to Live Tracks on the CP Railway Bridge
The second-oldest surviving bridge in Saskatoon, the CP Railway Bridge connects the Meewasin Valley trails to Innovation Place Research Park. Often referred to as the Train Bridge or Railway Bridge by locals, it sits 19.5 metres (64 feet) above the South Saskatchewan River.
Unlike many pedestrian bridges that are often converted from railway lines that have been abandoned, the CP Railway Bridge is still actively used. Yes, that means you can walk along it as a live train comes barrelling along the tracks! Unfortunately, I didn’t get to experience a train rumbling by during my visit to the CP Railway Bridge but my prairie pal Ashlyn says it’s quite the experience. Hopefully I’ll have better timing during my next visit!
Technically a part of the Meewasin Valley and a fantastic 5 kilometre trek from Peturrson’s Ravine, you can check two of the unique things to do in Saskatoon off this list in one go. Gold star for you! Before you depart, make your way downstream to the South Saskatchewan River Weir. A depression-era relief project, it has become a hot spot to watch pelicans as they fish during the summer months.
Fuel Yourself Prairie-Style at Hearth
With a heavy focus on locally grown ingredients (even going as far as to forage for some!), Hearth is the epitome of Saskatoon eats. Owners Beth Rogers and Thayne Robstad know that we live in a world where you can order pretty much anything from anywhere on Earth. Their goal is to showcase as many ingredients from Saskatchewan as possible to share a taste of the prairies with others.
Chanterelles are one of their favourite ingredients to use and are included in Hearth’s mushroom dish amongst other funghi while mingling with a creamy mornay sauce. Think béchamel sauce but better and more cheesy. I dare you to not smother their in-house ciabatta with it! Hearth’s fish fry is another dish that’s not to be overlooked as you’ll be treated to local trout, pike and pickerel, each prepared in the perfect way to bring out their unique flavours. Both of these pair perfectly with their housemade root beer made with foraged Saskatchewan sasparilla, dandelion, ginger root, birch bark and secret spices.
With its new home at the renowned Remai Modern art gallery, Hearth is opening up a whole new realm of possibilities. This central location will certainly allow more visitors to enjoy a taste of Saskatchewan!
Visit Canada’s Longest Running Archaeological Site
In my opinion, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is one of, if not the most important of all the Saskatoon attractions. A sacred gathering place for the Northern Plains Indigenous for over 6,400 years, there is no better representation of how important the relationship is between land and people. The combination of bison driveline, medicine wheels, tipi circles and most recently, petroglyphs, speak to the (at least) nine different nations that have called these lands home. With more and more clues being unearthed by the archeological dig led by Dr. Ernie Walker, the importance of this site only continues to grow!
Wanuskewin’s location above Opimihaw Creek and the South Saskatchewan River is no coincidence. Explore the stunning interpretive centre to learn more about the importance of this site and the longstanding traditions of the Aaniiih, Anihšināpē, Dakota, Dene, Lakota, Michif, Nakoda, Nēhiyawak, and Niitsitapi peoples. Wanuskewin has a number of interactive experiences as well including guided walks, scavenger hunts, hoop dance performances, musical demonstrations and more. Many are drop-in and don’t require reservations. Take a look at their schedule online so you can make the most of your visit!
Since you’ll be planning to spend the day, I highly recommend eating at the restaurant on-site. Here you can try traditional Indigenous cuisine with a modern twist. Indulge in a real bison burger (I say real because I feel a lot of items labelled ‘bison’ these days aren’t actually and it’s a marketing ploy, but I digress…) or the hot elk on bannock. Make sure you get the Wanuskewin house salad because the Saskatoon berry vinaigrette is UNREAL.
You’ll be fighting food coma so hop on the six kilometres of trails throughout the site. My personal favourite was the Path of the People where you’ll find the tipi village and brilliant views of Opimihaw Creek. While there is some elevation, it’s nothing too strenuous and the trail is flat and even. Wanuskewin is certainly one of the top things to do in Saskatoon with family, no matter the age. Make sure you check out the bison viewing trail before you depart! I’m forever thankful to Andrew and the team at Wanuskewin for taking me to get a closer view of these beautiful creatures.
Road Trip to Stay in a Grain Bin
Just 75 minutes from Saskatoon, you can stay on a working farm where you’ll find some of the cutest accommodations in the province – possibly even the country. Enter, Alive Sky Lodge and their BINcredible accommodations!
Bins that were previously used to house grain have been converted into adorable hotels you can rent by the night. These grain bins are given new life as they’re integrated into the frame of the building and therefore diverted from landfills, making them an eco-friendly option for accommodation in Saskatchewan. I mean, does it get any more prairies than that?! With two bins to choose from, you can opt for luxury or boho chic. Either way, you’ll be absolutely delighted by all of the little details including a private patio, fireplace, coffee maker with pods or fresh beans, and a personal hot tub. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Owner and operator, April, can take your stay to the next level with her incredible breakfasts that are delivered right to your door. Enjoy inside your impeccably decorated bin or soak up the sun on the patio. If you’re unsure what to do for dinner, I cannot recommend one of her fantastic charcuterie boards enough. Ashlyn and I are fairly big eaters and we barely got through half of it! It was the perfect way to end a day of adventuring in Saskatchewan. Read more about the Alive Sky Lodge and its accommodation options here. For more photos, check out Ashlyn’s article about the bin accommodation here!
Raise a Tipi at Dakota Dunes Resort
Say hello to Saskatoon’s first full-service resort! Located just 20 minutes from downtown, Dakota Dunes Resort is located on the unceded traditional territory of the Whitecap Dakota Nation. Experience the impeccable grounds and stunning resort featuring 155 rooms all designed with tributes to the Indigenous heritage of the area. Earthy tones and beautiful artwork adorn the walls as you immediately feel calm and connected to your surroundings. You will certainly rest easy, especially with everything Dakota Dunes Resort has to offer!
Whether you visit because of business or your own accord, you’ll be blown away by the unique services and activities Dakota Dunes Resort offers. From e-biking across the grounds to Saskatchewan’s top-ranked golf course and a pool on the top floor of the hotel, there is no shortage of entertainment to be had.
However, what really sets Dakota Dunes apart is its Indigenous programming. Guests can book cultural experiences like their Mini Tipi Set Up. Their incredible staff will share with you some of the Dakota teachings that accompany the raising of a tipi, teach you about the difference between Dakota style and Blackfoot style, and more. I won’t go into details because this really is an experience to have! Afterwards, enjoy some bannock and tea while asking your guide any additional questions you may have.
If you’re looking to be spoiled on a getaway that isn’t too far from the city’s core, Dakota Dunes Resort is the perfect place to go. Book a room online now or take a look at what other guests have to say about their experience.
Experience the World’s Only Perogy Drive-Thru at Baba’s
We would be amiss to say that our society is often trying to do too much with too little. Whether it’s not enough hours in a day or not enough energy to commit to everything we need to accomplish, there are days when convenience is king. The drive-thru has certainly become a novelty we take for granted with so many fast food joints opting for them to increase revenue through efficiency. However when you find out that Saskatoon is home to the world’s only perogy drive-thru… it’s not so much convenience as it is a novelty. Needless to say, I HAD to stop at Baba’s Homestyle Perogies!
While I’m not of Ukrainian or Eastern European descent (I’ve never done an ancestry test but even if this is the case, my guess is that it would be a very little percentage), perogies have been a big staple in my diet for as long as I can remember. A comfort food of sorts, it’s one of those easy meals that fills your heart and soul – and that’s exactly what you’ll get at Baba’s.
Perogies, cabbage rolls, and borsht soup are made fresh daily and in just minutes, you can roll up to the window, order your combo of choice (the super combo is where it’s at) and for $15 or less, have a homemade meal that’s ready in minutes. Sorry, not sorry fast food – Baba’s has you beat any day of the week!
Snag a Unique Prairie-Inspired Souvenir
Some folks out there are content to collect shot glasses and cookie-cutter souvenir shirts and hey, all the power to them! Do what makes your heart happy. Personally though, I absolutely love picking up items that may not scream souvenir but you know where you got them. Those items that you look at and remember a taste of your destination or that make the memories from your trip come flooding back. Saskatoon has a number of amazing local shops where you can find gems like this!
Prairie Proud features unique clothing designs focused on Saskatchewan as well as Manitoba and Alberta. You’ll also be supporting prairie-based projects and foundations as they donate a small portion of every sale to continuously support local communities in the prairies. You can find their shop in the Broadway neighbourhood of Saskatoon.
SaskMade Marketplace is another fantastic option that unites products from local farmers, processors and artisans all under one roof. Located in the Grosvenor Park neighbourhood of the city, you’ll find everything from hand creams to cribbage boards to bison meat and haskap berry jam. Take a look at their website and you’ll see what I mean. I dare you to go in and not walk out with something truly Saskatchewanian!
Of course, Wanuskewin has a gift shop that offers a number of great Saskatchewan-based items as well as Indigenous artwork, jewellery and more that make the perfect souvenir from your visit. If you are unable to make it to the heritage park, they also have gift shops at Dakota Dunes Resort and on Broadway. The Broadway location is extra special as there are two neighbouring storefronts to check out that are beautifully curated with Indigenous artists and companies from Saskatchewan and Canada!
Eat Saskatoon Berry Everything
Okay so you might be able to find Saskatoon berry in destinations other than Saskatchewan, but I swear it tastes the best here. Plus you won’t find anywhere else that has Saskatoon berry in so many delicious forms!
One of the most iconic ways is Saskatoon berry pie which you can most certainly find at the Berry Barn. Just one of many adorable places to visit in Saskatoon, you can also indulge in Saskatoon berry scones, perogies, iced tea and even Saskatoon berry barbecue chicken wings… I need this in my face during my next visit. On a hot summer day though, you can’t go wrong with Homestead Ice Cream‘s Saskatoon berry frozen yoghurt. If it’s not available, their birthday cake ice cream with Saskatoon berry topping is a fantastic alternative – and yes, I’m speaking from experience.
Unmissable Restaurants in Saskatoon
Eating well is always a priority, especially when there is so much exploring to do. There is no shortage of fantastic Saskatoon restaurants. This is just a tiny taste of what the city has to offer and I’m already chomping at the bit to return and check out some more!
For 10 years now, Bon Temps Cafe has been serving up a taste of Louisiana in downtown Saskatoon. You’ll find a range of tastes from Louisiana on the menu including eats inspired by New Orleans’ Creole cuisine to the homey meals of the Cajun Bayous. You’ll immediately notice the unique decor as it sets the vibe with dark accents and intricate ironwork. It certainly doesn’t feel like you’re in Saskatchewan anymore!
You’ll find daily specials (except for Saturdays) with the most notable being $3 oysters on Wednesdays as well as peel-and-eat shrimp on Thursdays. They also have “voodoo hour” aka happy hour from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm every day (yes, even Saturdays!) as well as from 9:00 pm until close. This includes a variety of appetizers along with wine and cocktails.
If you’re planning to eat from the menu, I highly recommend the Seafood Creole featuring crawfish, crab, scallops and red snapper all simmered in a flavourful Creole sauce. Served over your choice of steamed rice or fettuccine, the dish is adorned with a corn cobette and a biscuit. And trust me when I say you want it with cheese!
Head to the Riversdale neighbourhood to start your day off right! Hometown Diner is serving up delectable brunch items in one seriously homey setting. Whether you settle in at a booth or at one of the high-top tables, you’ll be surrounded by warm, earthy tones and vibrant plants that are guaranteed to revitalize you.
Chef Cole and his team make every dish from scratch using the freshest ingredients possible sourced from local suppliers whenever they can. On the menu, you’ll find classics like omelettes and eggs benedicts. Guests can also enjoy some of their unique offerings such as carrot cake pancakes and their Ukrainian breakfast. Personally, I decided to divert from my norm and went with their scrambler where hashbrowns mix and mingle with sausage, ham, shallots, tomatoes and cheese curds alongside a soft poached egg that’s then doused with hollandaise sauce. It’s like a deconstructed eggs benedict and I’m here for it!
While I missed out this time, apparently Hometown Diner’s donuts have a somewhat cult following. I’ll be sure to indulge during my next visit!
Las Palapas Resort Grill
For a taste of the tropics in Saskatoon, make your way to Las Palapas Resort Grill. It may look unassuming on the outside but you’ll be greeted with cheery colours that will transport you to the beautiful beaches of Mexico. You’ll quickly understand why when you realize that all of their glassware, furniture, decorations, etc are all sourced directly from our very southern neighbours! It’s no wonder Las Palapas has been a staple Mexican restaurant for Saskatooners for the almost 20 years it’s been operating.
You’ll find some of the freshest tropical eats that will warm you up from the inside out. Enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, and more, everything will taste as if it was prepared in a kitchen straight from Mexico! With plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, everyone will find something delicious to eat here. Personally, I recommend starting with their “Camarones de coco yucateco” aka coconut shrimp which are the perfect mix of sweet and spicy. Afterwards, sink your teeth into their fantastic tacos – the fish and shrimp are my favourites!
The Top Saskatoon Hotel to Stay At
Don’t get me wrong, there are a number of incredible hotels in Saskatoon that are perfect for your stay in the city. While the iconic Bessborough Hotel is a top contender along with the Alt Hotel as it has some of the best views of Saskatoon, I have to say that I cannot remember the last time I felt as spoiled as I did during my stay at The James Hotel.
This family-owned and operated hotel is built by three generations of top-quality hoteliers. The Leier Family has spared no attention to detail since opening their doors in 1935. From the time you step in the door, you’ll feel as though you’re being welcomed home. The staff are so endearing and will do anything they can to the best of their ability to ensure your stay is absolute perfection.
I had the pleasure of staying in one of their one bedroom suites. The living room features a five-seat sofa, large desk, flat screen television, Lavazza espresso machine, and a full balcony complete with a patio set. As for the bedroom, I struggled every day to get out of the incredibly lush king bed adorned with some of the softest sheets I’ve ever had the pleasure of sleeping in. And I’m not even going to get started about how obsessed I am with their deep soaker tubs!
While many contemporary boutique hotels don’t offer breakfast, this isn’t the case at The James Hotel. Not only do you have a number of options from their hot breakfast bar but they also have a chef who will whip up eggs to your preference as well as whatever feature they have for the day. Whether it be an eggs benedict or a breakfast quesadilla, The James Hotel will ensure you start your day off right!
All of this on top of The James Hotel’s close proximity to so many activities in Saskatoon make staying here a must. Book your stay at The James Hotel now or if my glowing review doesn’t convince you, take a look at what other guests have to say about their experience.
More Fun Things to Do in Saskatoon
Have you knocked off all the unique things to do in Saskatoon that I mentioned earlier? Looking for more things to do in this beautiful city? Or just curious to know what else Saskatoon has to offer? Here are a few more recommendations of fun things to do in Saskatoon.
Hunt for Street Art in Saskatoon – There is no shortage of beautiful murals to be found in the city! I recommend starting in downtown Saskatoon and making your way to the Riversdale area. Make sure to enjoy the trails along the river as well as they feature a number of beautiful sculptures from a variety of talented artists!
Indulge at Darkside Donuts -Whether you’re puttering around Saskatoon or heading out on a local road trip, you need to join the dark side and grab some. Yeah, I went there. Being a little bit of a donut snob as I’m absolutely spoiled by Beechwood Doughnuts in my hometown of St Catharines in Niagara, I have to say that Darkside Donuts does a stellar job. Some flavours are old favourites like Boston Cream, they have a variety of unique flavours that I’ve never seen before! Caramel apple? Piña colada? Count me in!
Experience the Remai Modern – I briefly mentioned the Remai when talking about Hearth but it really does deserve some dedicated time in your itinerary. Thanks to a generous donation by the Frank and Ella Remai Foundation, admission will be by donation until 2042! If you’re looking for free things to do in Saskatoon, this is definitely a top contender.
Live Your Best Princess Life at Beaver Creek Conservation Area – The chickadees aren’t quite as hungry in the warmer months as they are when the temperatures drop, making Beaver Creek Conservation Area one of the top things to do in Saskatoon in winter. Don’t let this deter you from visiting in the summer though as we still managed to feed a few of our feathered friends!
Things to Know For Your Visit to Saskatoon
Now that you’ve seen all the fun in Saskatoon you can experience, it’s time to get planning your trip. Here are some things to know so you can thoroughly enjoy all of the aforementioned Saskatoon activities!
What is Saskatoon Most Known For?
The city is home to Nutrien, the world’s largest Potash producer which is a key ingredient in agricultural fertilizer. However, Saskatoon is also home to Canada’s longest-running archeological dig at Wanuskewin, the largest event venue in Saskatchewan with the SaskTel Centre, as well as being Joni Mitchell’s hometown!
How Easy is It To Get to Toronto from Saskatoon?
It’s very easy to get to Toronto from Saskatoon! There are a number of direct flights daily with Air Canada, Flair Airlines and WestJet. Click here to compare prices for your flight from Toronto Pearson before booking. Don’t forget to reserve a rental car in Saskatoon so you’re ready to rumble as soon as you land!
What is the Best Way to Get Around Saskatoon?
The downtown core is extremely walkable with a plethora of Saskatoon things to do including restaurants, shops, attractions and green spaces. If you’re looking to mainly stick along both sides of the river, then you won’t need a car. However, if you’re planning on visiting additional destinations (like Alive Sky Lodge, Dakota Dunes and Wanuskewin as I’ve mentioned earlier), you will want to rent a car. Luckily there are a number of rental companies at the airport to make this very easy! Click here to book a rental car in Saskatoon.
What is Driving Like in Saskatoon?
The city is fairly easy to navigate thanks to the largely utilized grid style of its streets. However, along the river, you will run into some unique exits and one-way streets that can get you turned around. Take a deep breath, pull into a parking lot if need be and get re-oriented. Also, most parking is paid in the heart of the city so either be prepared to walk quite a distance from more residential neighbourhoods or ensure you have some change for the meter.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Tourism Saskatchewan. However, all of the content and opinions here are honest and speak to my personal experience as always!