Full disclosure: I’ve been singing Saskatoon’s praises for a while now and not just because it’s a hop, skip and a jump from my home base in Regina. From its dynamic food scene and access to world-class culture, to the city’s immense family friendliness thanks to a smorgasbord of indoor activities and outdoor adventures, I’m fiercely proud of this dynamic Prairie city. As the main city stop when coming through the lovely province of Saskatchewan by train, I implore you to hop off and spend a few days exploring Saskatoon, especially if you have your family in tow.
When travelling there with my family I try to sandwich a little culture and learning in between a whole lot of fun and adventure. Here are some of my go-to spots when visiting.
Get Outside this Autumn
Though there is no bad time to visit, autumn is a particularly beautiful time to set foot in Saskatoon. Warm earthy tones of the season pop along the outskirts of the South Saskatchewan River flowing directly through the city. Winding its way riverside is the 80-kilometer-long Meewasin Trail where one can walk or bike (or scooter!). For those with young families, plan a stop at the River Landing Area, where a nature-themed plan park can be found.
For kids old enough to pitch in and lend a paddle, consider a guided canoe outing or rental from CanoeSki. We really enjoyed an early morning paddle along the river where we saw several bird species including pelicans, swallows, kingbirds and cormorants. Another great way to see the city from the water is hopping aboard the Prairie Lily for a riverboat cruise.
Known as a spot where one can hand-feed curious chickadees and spot other wildlife, Beaver Creek Conservation Area (13 km outside the city) is a local’s favourite and our family’s happy spot. Make a day of it by ambling nature trails or taking part in interpretive programs.
Hiking is just one of the ways to get the kids moving outdoors and if that is something your family enjoys, beeline to Wanuskewin Heritage Park where you can choose from 6 kms of trails that follow the ancient footsteps of the Northern Plains Peoples. While there, expect to learn about the cultural and archaeological significance of the park while taking in a slew of interactive activities such as traditional games – which my kids loved, along with tipi raising, crafts, dance performances and more.
Black Fox Farm and Distillery embraces the fall season with its annual Pumpkin Festival running multiple days. Complete with games, wagon and pony rides, families can also enjoy pumpkin-themed food from donuts and soup to pie.
Hands-On Prairie Culture
One of the most creative family activities we have tried while visiting Saskatoon was a cooking class at The Local Kitchen. Admittedly, I was a bit nervous allowing my sons—who haven’t cooked anything beyond a microwaveable pizza—learn how to prep an entire meal, however I was pleasantly surprised. From cutting vegetables to stirring pots, decorating cookies and plating their dishes, this is one activity that has inspired more interest in the kitchen, which is a total win in my books.
If creating is something your kids really enjoy, the Remai Modern art gallery may inspire them to create their own masterpieces. View the incredible galleries that feature work by local, national and international artists (there are even Picassos to see!) and then drop into the family learning studio for artmaking on Saturdays and Sundays.
The recently opened Nutrien WONDERHUB Children’s Museum is another fantastic spot where kids can run, discover and learn through play! Interactive and fun exhibits such as the tactile Cosmic Connection and Blast Off spark imagination, curiosity and connection.
Indoors Saskatoon Adventure
If the weather isn’t cooperating or you’re looking for more active adventure indoors, there’s plenty to choose from. My sons love going fast, so when we visited the Stoked Centre in Wilson’s Lifestyle Centre, they darted directly to the Velocity Raceway, an indoors electric go-kart circuit. The Centre also features the Skyrail + Skytrail, a 12-circuit ropes course and 220-degree, 200-foot zipline!
Climbing is second nature to kids, so if you have a little monkey in your family, set them loose to tackle the terrain atop 8’ to 50’ high walls at Grip it Climbing. Completely safe, climbers use an auto-belaying system allowing them to scale upwards independently with no need for a partner to hold the ropes.
Whether indoors or outdoors, creative or culture-based, Saskatoon provides plenty of opportunities for families to enjoy together time. The hard part is fitting it all in!
Header image: Hiking the trails at Beaver Creek Conservation Area
All images by Jenn Smith Nelson