Take everything you think you know about Saskatchewan and then throw it right out the window. Did you know that the first season of Amazing Race Canada (2013) featured a pit stop at the RCMP Depot in Regina, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police train every member across Canada? Or that they later came back in 2015 and 2017 to film in Regina, Moose Jaw and Rouleau, also the place where Corner Gas was filmed? Did you also know that the original Snowbirds reign from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you need to read the below. You’ll find tons of reasons to make a road trip through Saskatchewan, from top to bottom exploring quaint cities and towns along the way.
Did you know that Saskatoon is the largest mustard seed exporter in the world? Or that the city was named after the Saskatoon Berry (not the other way around)? This prairie city is also home to some of the finest culinary experiences, craft beer scenes that offer local ingredients you wouldn’t usually think of (e.g. lentil beer), and 80k of urban parkland trails and scenic paths that run along the South Saskatchewan River. The revitalised neighbourhoods of River Landing and Riversdale feature local shops and restaurants, with the newest addition of the Remai Modern Art Museum, the ‘Toon is guaranteed to suit all family member’s culinary and activity needs.
Nokomis: (Driving time from Saskatoon: approx. 1h 40 min)
If you build it, they will come. And that’s exactly what happened to Nokomis Craft Ales owner and brewer Jeff Allport who received tons of support from the town to help build his dream and make it a reality in August 2014. Stop into this quaint town’s microbrewery for a pint of beer enjoyed in a tranquil outdoor setting. Make sure their Kettle sour (the champagne of beer) and the Satori is on your list to try!
Manitou Beach: (Driving time from Nokomis: 40 min)
Second only to the Dead Sea, Lake Manitou houses minerals that have healing properties for eczema, psoriasis, infections and the list goes on. Staying overnight at Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa not only gives you easy access to this beautifully scenic town but access to these minerals in their heated and non-heated indoor pools.
A great little place to grab dinner is across the street at Oda Coffee + Wine Bar. The staff is excellent, the food delicious and affordable and you’ll be surrounded by beautiful Manitou Lake.
Mortlach: (Driving time from Manitou Beach: 2 hours)
Little Red Market Café is an adorable place to stop in for Sunday brunch. Tons of options for the little ones but attention adults; you must try the Crepes Bananas Foster drenched in bourbon syrup. Who says it’s wrong to have bourbon before 5 pm?
Moose Jaw-(Driving time from Mortlach: 30 min)
Here you’ll find the famous giant sculpture of Mac The Moose, standing at 32 feet and weighing approx. 10,000kg! Located on the grounds of Moose Jaw’s Visitor Centre, just off the Trans-Canada Highway, Mac was built in 1984 with the goal of attracting visitors to the city. When you’re done taking your selfie, walk over to see the Snowbird on display, one of the aircraft flown by Canada’s military flight demonstration team. From there, head into town where you can find tours on the Tunnels of Moose Jaw; heading beneath the streets and reliving Al Capone’s bootlegging days.
Regina: (Driving time from Moose Jaw: approx. 55 min)
Welcome to the capital! Here you’ll find tons of family-friendly activities, as well as places to eat, drink and sleep.
RCMP Heritage Centre:
The entire family will enjoy a stop at the RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina. Dedicated to telling the story of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, here you’ll find Interactive exhibits, take part in the RCMP Musical Ride, and try your hand at solving a murder. Plus, there are detailed artefacts of our ancestors that will help place where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
Take a ride around the camp and check out where the RCMP sleep and train, as well as learn all about the RCMP chapel which is the oldest building in Regina dating back to 1883.
Wascana Centre is a 930-hectare urban park located right in the heart of Regina. It is said to be on par with Stanley Park in Vancouver and Central Park in New York. It features tranquil walking trails and encompasses a 120-hectare lake. You’ll also find species of flora and fauna, the University of Regina, First Nations University of Canada and the Legislative building. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, be sure to grab a table at Willow on Wascana for a great view and locals eats.
Where to Stay:
The Hotel Saskatchewan, Autograph Collection, takes 20th-century architecture and adds contemporary modern fixtures and amenities. Each of the 227 spacious guestrooms comes complete with comfortable beds, a walk-in closet, free wi-fi, and a refrigerator. The views are spectacular as you overlook the city and you’ll find the location right across the street from Victoria Park, perfect for exploring and getting something to eat.
Food & Drinks:
The Capitol: Within walking distance of Hotel Saskatchewan, this triple threat eatery, cocktail bar and jazz club offers a cosy venue where the cocktails are creative, and the food is easy to please everyone from hot and cheesy pizza for the kiddies to paella for the adults.
Avenue Restaurant: This might be one where you drop the kids off at the hotel and enjoy a romantic and unforgettable dining experience with your partner. Part of Grassroots Restaurant Group’s fourth restaurant and the first to be featured in Regina opening its doors on June 11th, 2018, Avenue Restaurant will tantalise your pallet from start to finish. Winner of the first season of Top Chef Canada, Dale MacKay and his team take comfort food to a whole new modern level, with French inspiration and flavours from around the world. Head Chef, Nathan Guggenheimer has mastered the rotisserie chicken and my personal favourite, the Beef Wellington. GM and mixologist master, Christopher Cho is an artist with his work as you watch him create your cocktail. One must try the Mint Condition, featuring Botanist gin and finished with watermelon ice cubes!
Italian star Deli: Since the 1960s, the Giambattista’s have been serving customers Italian delights from sandwiches, to cold cuts, to homemade you name it. The welcome you receive is just like walking into an Italian home, where you’re treated like family. It’s the perfect stop to grab some goods, maybe a cannolo or two, and head off for a picnic in the park.
Malty National Brewing offers something for the whole family! Kids can play with the many games and activities that are on site, pets are also welcome and for non-beer drinkers, grab yourself a cup of joe from 33 1/3 Roasters that share the space. For those having a pint or a flight, be sure to add
the Lightly Toasted Pale Ale to your experience.
Rebellion Brewing’s motto is Be a Rebel, Drink Great Beer. And great beer it is. With their tap room featuring all kinds of cool gear, pinball machines and an inviting atmosphere, you’ll be spending some time in here. Mainly because there are so many different options to choose from including oatmeal stout, gluten-free Lentil Ale (made with Saskatchewan lentils), Prairie Cherry Mead or the Bourbon Imperial Stout. Just name a few!
If you’re like me, you’ll be leaving your Prairie experience with more knowledge than you came in with, a full, satisfied belly and a better appreciation of local foods and craft breweries. Saskatchewan, for the most part, might be flat, but the people and community in this province bring mountainous heights of memorable experiences that you will always remember.