Experiencing a different side of Saskatchewan
Many people know Saskatchewan for the beautiful nature that calls it home. But there are two sides to the province. In addition to the wonderful outdoors, Saskatchewan is home to urban centers filled with entertainment, cultural landmarks and great dining.
From festivals to fine dining, here’s how to experience urban Saskatchewan to the fullest.
Eat and drink your way through the big cities
Some people say a city is only as good as its food, which is sort of a compliment to Saskatoon.
It is there, in Saskatchewan's biggest city, that you'll find Ayden Kitchen & Bar. This is the restaurant of Chef Dale McKay, winner of the first season of Top Chef Canada, whose love of food seeps into every dish. The menu is full of comfort foods like gnocchi, burgers and chicken breast, made up with a modern spin. The "and Bar" of the restaurant name is also important, as cocktails crafted by the pros add that little something special.
Other locally loved restaurants include Truffles Bistro, home to French cuisine made from local ingredients, and Las Palapas, for great Mexican food in a tropical setting. Saskatoon also has a fantastic farmers' market that features the delicious produce, specialty foods and other products grown, raised or sourced in the community.
In capital city Regina, La Bodega tapas bar and grill is a must-stop for delicious Latin American cuisine any time of day. Stop by for a weekend brunch before heading out shopping, or enjoy a tapas dinner before a night on the town.
And if you enjoy a good beer, the Bushwakker Brewpub has been serving the city for 25 years and is considered by many to be the top brewpub in Canada. Though the walls of the pub are said to house the ghost of a former owner, you'll feel right at home sipping down a pint or two of Regina Pale Ale or Cheryl's Blond.
Wall-to-wall arts and culture, with a sprinkle of the outdoors
In the time between meals, Saskatchewan's cities house an array of worthwhile arts and culture landmarks and experiences to keep you busy.
In Regina, spend a day roaming the Wascana Centre Park. This 2,300-acre park allows you to enjoy nature in the city, from walking trails to dragon boat races, picnics to birdwatching. But the real draw of the park is all of the cultural institutions that sit around its edges. Visit the Saskatchewan Legislative Building for a dose of provincial history, the MacKenzie Art Gallery to see works from across the globe, the Saskatchewan Science Centre for 180 hands-on exhibits, or the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, which covers the province's biological diversity, rich Aboriginal history, and dinosaur-filled roots.
You shouldn't leave the city without paying a visit to the RCMP Heritage Centre, where the rich history of the legendary Royal Canadian Mounted Police is explored in several art and multimedia exhibits.
And, if you like performing arts, take in a play at the popular Globe Theatre or time your visit to the annual Sasktel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and Regina Folk Festival, and dance along to acts like Ms. Lauryn Hill, Metric, the Cat Empire and the Sam Roberts Band.
Saskatoon has its own little oasis near the city. The Meewasin Valley contains over 35-miles of walkable, joggable, bikeable, or even skiable trails through conserved land full of parks and wildlife.
For a dose of culture, though, you're going to want to head into downtown Saskatoon. There you might stop in at the Ukrainian Museum of Canada or see actors embrace Shakespeare with the Saskatchewan River as a backdrop, before heading to the trendy Riversdale neighborhood -- one of the oldest in the city -- for a walk through history.
Venture to the southern edge of town for a visit to the Saskatoon Western Development Museum, the largest human history museum in the province, and experience life as it was 100 years ago in a boomtown. Or venture north, to the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, and go even further back in time, exploring 6,000-year-old archeological digs while learning about First Nations history and tradition.