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Located in south central Saskatchewan, Saskatoon is divided into east and west by the South Saskatchewan River. The city is known as the “Bridge City”, boasting several bridges over the river. Its metro population bests a quarter million, with the highest percentage of First Nations residents in Canada at almost 9%. Their rich heritage, blended with the other people who call Saskatoon “home”, makes this growing city an interesting place to visit!
If you wish to fly, eight airlines serve Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker International Airport (YXE) with non-stop service to a dozen cities and two more seasonally. Once you’ve arrived, Saskatoon Transit provides scheduled city bus service and the highway system gets one around efficiently as well if you choose to rent a car. The city experiences 4 distinct seasons, attracting many visitors with its warm summers, but the city's south Canada location makes it a popular destination year-round.
Saskatoon is home to the University of Saskatchewan, with a lovely campus of historic buildings and beautiful gardens. Sporting and cultural events are popular activities at the various college venues, and choosing a hotel near the University of Saskatchewan can be quite convenient. If you enjoy artwork, plan to spend some time at the well-regarded Mendel Art Gallery (soon to be replaced by the Art Gallery of Saskatchewan), offering free admission to its outstanding collection of exhibits; a conservatory offering displays of flowers is located next door. The city’s premier performing arts centre, TCU Place, has been upgraded with the best acoustics; it’s the place to watch Broadway shows and Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra performances.
Are you a sports buff? You are in luck, because the Credit Union Centre offers a wide variety of events throughout the year, including major rodeos and the WHL Saskatoon Blades’ hockey matches. Big name concerts are held here as well.
The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park and Zoo features 80 species of animals, historic buildings, a fishing pond and relaxing gardens. Ride its Kinsmen Express Peoplemover to see the exhibits without overdoing it.
Continue your outdoor exploration of the area at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, a National Historic Site which introduces you to the culture and history of the First Peoples who originally inhabited the region. Things to do here include hiking trails, photographing incredible vistas and enjoying planned programs at the Interpretive Center and the outdoor amphitheater.
The 60 km long Meewasin Valley Trail follows the river, and people love to walk, cycle, ski and canoe here. A popular attraction along the Trail, sporting family-oriented activities, is Kiwanis Memorial Park, where you will find a fountain honoring war veterans as well as picnic tables, a bandshell and Meesawin skating rink, open in the winter. Two of the city’s most well-attended festivals are held at this park: the Children’s Festival of Saskatchewan, attracting 20,000 fun-loving fest-goers to its parade and petting zoo, promising crafts and other hands-on activities for the kiddos, held each June, and July’s food festival extraordinaire, A Taste of Saskatchewan. While your taste buds enjoy explosions of flavor, your ears can groove to the sounds of dozens of live, local bands. It’s a blast!
Another excellent local park is Fort Carlton Provincial Park, a historic setting which offers seasonal tours of a reconstructed fur-trading post from the early 1800’s near the beautiful North Saskatchewan River. Meesawin Valley Centre is also located near the Trail, offering information about the trail and Saskatoon in general.
Dakota Dunes Casino and Golf Links are both located about 32 km south of Saskatoon, keeping golfers and gamblers happy. And speaking of wagering, you can bet on the ponies at Marquis Downs at Prairieland Park, with live weekend racing May-September.
As you would expect, summer’s warm temperatures are perfect for outdoor festivals. Some of the favorites are the Great Plains Comedy Festival, a laugh-til-you-cry fest held in June, the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival which attracts tens of thousands to both free and paid events, and August’s Folkfest, which sets up pavilions to introduce attendees to cultures from all over the world. Each of these festivals utilizes venues throughout Saskatoon.
Interested in spending even more time outdoors? There are a couple local parks which might be of interest to you, each about 25 miles south of Saskatoon. First, Blackstrap Provincial Park, named for its iconic mountain, offers fishing, sailing, boating, hiking and other summer activities, and you can cross-country ski here in the winter. The other is Pike Lake Provincial Park, getting you away from the city into the countryside, boasting a popular outdoor pool with waterslide, a terrific nature trail from which to observe diverse ecosystems, and plenty of plants and animals to discover.
As you can see, Saskatoon is one of Saskatchewan’s true gems. Outdoor activities reign supreme, so plan to be as busy as you desire during your visit – there’s more to do than you could imagine!