Visiting Saskatoon in the Winter

saskatoon-in-the-winter-in-saskatchewan

How to spend 3-days in February in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada

Things to see and do in Saskatoon on Family Day Long Weekend

Visiting Saskatoon in the Winter over the Family Day long weekend in February is actually a lot of fun. A little chilly, but still fun. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan has plenty of sites, festivals and great places to eat to keep you entertained. Here are the highlights of our trip along with some tips on how to spend 3-days in Saskatoon.
Visiting Saskatoon in the Winter with a stop at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Photo Credit: Janet Guthrie

Visiting Saskatoon in the Winter includes Wanuskewin Heritage Park

Perhaps the most interesting place that we visited was Wanuskewin Heritage Park. It is located just 5 minutes from Saskatoon. For over 6,000 years Wanuskewin has been a gathering place, for nearly all the pre-contact northern plains indigenous peoples. Now it welcomes people from all over the world. It is a fascinating place. One could easily spend an entire day there. Because it has been a gathering place for thousands of years it is a significant archaeological site. In fact, 19 pre-contact sites have been found that include tipi rings, an intact medicine wheel, bison rubbing stone and a buffalo jump. With its rich history, Wanuskewin has become the most significant pre-contact archeological site in North America.

Re-Introducing Bison To Their First Nation Lands

The park works to preserve and celebrate the Northern Plains First Nations cultures and the land on which they gathered. Now that their prairies have been restored with native grasses, Wanuskewin has begun re-introducing bison to the park. The first 6 were carefully selected from a herd in the United States that are direct descendants of the herds that roamed Wanuskewin 150 years ago. The re-introduction has been going well as the first four calves were born in the park in 2020.

Nutrien Kona Winter Festival at Wanuskewin Heritage Park

Wanuskewin Heritage Park holds the Nutrien Kona Winter Festival annually on the third Saturday in February (Family Day Long Weekend). Running from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., the festival is a celebration of First Nations culture and traditional winter activities. All of the activities are included in the cost of admission, which is by donation, making this a very affordable day for families. 

Wanuskewin Dog Sledding in Saskatchewan

Quite possibly the most popular activity of the day, when visiting Saskatoon in the winter, is dog sledding. Knowing this would have massive line ups and that parking is limited in Wanuskewin we decided to head out early and go dog sledding first. This was a smart call as the line up grew and the winds picked up by the time we were done. Back inside, we warmed by the fire and enjoyed some traditional Indigenous and Canadian foods like Bannock, muskeg tea and poutine.

Jigging and Pow Wow Indigenous Dancers 

Indoors we enjoyed the Indigenous artisan market and a mix of jigging and square dance performed by the Creeland Dancers. A father and his two young daughters (about 3 and 6 years of age) performed traditional pow wow dances. The girls grandmother gave us a beginners lesson on speaking Cree. In addition we checked out 'The Really, Really Antique Roadshow", a drumming session and the various galleries in the Visitor Centre. Heading back outside for one last activity we took the Bison Trail to see the bison herd before heading back to town.

Other activities, that we ran out of time for included guided hikes on the trails, moccasin and voyageur games, snowshoeing and kick sledding.

Here is a video on a young girl performing a Jingle Dress, traditional pow wow dance.

Saskatoon Meewasin Trail

Saskatoon's Meewasin Trail is 105km long and runs along both sides of the river through the city and to Wanuskewin Heritage Park on one end and Chief whitecap Park on the other. Meewasin is a Cree word meaning beautiful which it is. 

Saskatoon has quite a bit of public art, cultural and historic monuments., especially along the Meewasin Trail. In Rivers Landing there is a monument that looks like a tipi. This one is called the "Spirit of Alliance" which commemorates the War of 1812. It was commissioned by the Whitecap Dakota First Nations for Canada's bicentennial in 2014. This monument honours the multicultural allies who fought together in defense of Canada. It represents the descendants of those who fought and still reside in the prairies and is a reminder of the various partnerships that founded our country.

Spirit of Alliance Monument. Photo Credit: Janet Guthrie
View of Meewasin Valley from Rivers Landing Park. Photo Credit: Janet Guthrie

Nutrien Wintershines Festival

The Nutrien Wintershines Festival occurs over several weeks in February with the bulk of the activities happening over Family Day long weekend. The festival is a celebration of winter outdoor activities and foods to keep you warm. We visited Friendship Park to see the activities taking place there. As we were earlier in the day a number of things were still being set up. However, we enjoyed watching the snow carving workshop, seeing the colourful little igloos built for the competition along with ice sculptures and kids playing on an ice slide.

Snow Carvings at the Nutrien WinterShines Festival. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

rRemai mModern Museum

Having walked by the rRemai mModern museum on our way to Friendship Park we decided to check it out. Plus it was a pretty cold day, so by then I was looking for something warm to do. The museum is a contemporary art gallery that is open year round from Wednesday to Sundays and is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is by donation and those under the age of 18 are free. There are also free coat check lockers, which is handy when you are dressed to be outside in February.

The exhibits that were on when we visited included the Stan Douglass 2011 /1848, Storied Objects Metis Art in Relation, Dawna Rose and Betsy Rosenwald: Journal of the Plague Year(s), Functional Picasso and In the Middle of Everywhere: Artists on the Great Plains. The museum has a few permanent installations as well. These include the Nick Cave: Spinner Forest, Celine Condorelli: Conversation Piece (spinning) and Pae White's Lucky Charms.  

rRemai mModern Museum. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
Nick Cave's Spinner Forest. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Riversdale in Saskatoon

One of the oldest neighbourhood's in Saskatoon, Riversdale is an eclectic and diverse area that is in the midst of a revitalization. Sometimes referred to as Alphabet City since the names of the avenues go from A to Y. This used to be the undesirable part of town where people lived in poverty. Nowadays it is an eclectic area that is rich with diversity and fun to explore. There are lots of cozy cafes, excellent restaurants, public art everywhere and the streets are filled with locally owned shops.

Saskatchewan Inclusive Communities Care

I know what you are thinking. If this was the poor area of town and is now becoming the "it" place to be, what happened to the original residents? Did they get pushed out like when other areas become gentrified? Nope. That's not Saskatoon's way. Both Saskatoon and Riversdale are caring and inclusive communities. The neighbourhood's revitalization is integrated with the numerous social service programs that those living in poverty need. For instance, the Salvation Army (Sally Ann) runs an overnight shelter and the Saskatoon Food Bank is located nearby.

We rented a fantastic Airbnb overlooking the river and near the Sally Ann. We were comfortable walking around and felt safe. One thing to keep in mind in regards to the shelter is that they have rules that their guests need to follow, like no loitering and being good neighbours. Never-the-less, people experiencing houselessness often have complex health and social issues. As you would with any trip, be sure to pack your common sense. We didn't have any issues at all and like most people in Saskatchewan, even people experiencing houselessness were polite and respectful.

Riverdale Shops and Restaurants in Saskatoon

Hopefully, I'm not scaring you off on exploring this area. Just, trying to keep it real. We absolutely loved Riversdale. It is a really cool neighbourhood that we are looking forward to exploring more during our future visits. A number of our favourite spots are in Riversdale, like the Meewasin River Valley Trail, parks, a Farmer's Market, The Odd Couple restaurant, Cohen's Beer Revolution, 9 Mile Legacy Brewing Company, Home Quarter Café, and Butte Persian Café. There were a number of other shops and restaurants that we didn't get to. So they are all on our list for next time.

Black Fox Distillery

Locally owned and operated, Black Fox Distillery has over 32 hectares of fresh fruit, flowers and grains that are harvested on site. These form the ingredients that become their well-known whiskeys, gins and liqueurs. All of their spirits are single origin and small batch.

They offer tours, tastings and cocktails. Black Fox hosts events and also has a store. In the summer, the patio overlooking the farm is open for tastings and there is a U-Pick for flowers and pumpkins.

Black Fox Distillery is located 5 minutes south west of Saskatoon. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. 

Black Fox Distillery. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie
Gin Cocktail Flight. Photo credit: Janet Guthrie

Where to Eat in Saskatoon?

Being the bread basket of the world, one shouldn't be surprised by the number of fantastic and innovative restaurants, cafes and breweries that Saskatoon has. What better way is there to spend time when visiting Saskatoon in the winter, then discovering all the fine eateries and cozy coffee shops. On this trip we enjoyed;
  • 9 Mile Legacy Brewing Company, run by two friends whose family homesteads have been 9 miles from each other for over a century.
  • Odd Couple, a family owned and operated casual Asian dining restaurant ranked as one of the best restaurants in Saskatoon.
  • HomeQuarter Coffee House and Bakery, prides itself on coffee that warms the soul and food that satisfies. Both excellent qualities on a cold winter's day.
  • Botte Persian Café, accurately self described as an oasis of tranquility and taste. Their menu is inspired by Iranian culinary traditions and is oh so good!
  • Una Pizza & wine, rated as the best pizza in Saskatoon, again, the ratings are not wrong. This is really good pizza.
  • Cohen's Beer Republic is a family friendly restaurant and pub serving comfort foods and a large selection of local and Canadian craft beers as well as beers from around the world.
  • Meltwich Food Co. is a chain that we discovered on this trip. It specializes in all kinds of grilled cheeses, burgers and poutine. That is a lot of ooey gooey goodness.

Where to Stay in Saskatoon

Visiting Saskatoon in the winter calls for somewhere to stay that is cozy and comfortable. We chose to go with AirBnb this time and picked  Deb's Place. Deb's condo is ideally located in Riversdale, steps away from the Meewasin Trail and is within walking distance to just about everything including the rRemai mModern and the shops and restaurants that Riversdale is famous for. Deb is a super host and it shows. Her place is very clean, modern and comfortable. Although, in February, the best feature of all is probably the underground parking lot. Here's to not scraping windows every morning!

Visiting Saskatoon in the Winter

Visiting Saskatoon in the winter over the Family Day long weekend in February was  a lot of fun. We discovered new and interesting places like Riversdale, Meewasin trail,  the rRemai mModern, and Wanuskewin Heritage Park. As it turns out, Saskatoon is a great destination for foodies and those that enjoy craft beers and spirits. All in all, Saskatoon is a great place to spend a long weekend during the winter.

How to spend 3-days Visiting Saskatoon in the Winter in Saskatchewan Canada

Things to see and do in Saskatoon on Family Day Long Weekend


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Comments 10

Janel Coe on Friday, 17 March 2023 00:57

Nice blog post, Janet! Saskatoon looks like a great place to visit. I'm really fascinated by the Nick Cave: Spinner Forest exhibit.

Nice blog post, Janet! Saskatoon looks like a great place to visit. I'm really fascinated by the Nick Cave: Spinner Forest exhibit.
EH Canada Marketing Group on Friday, 17 March 2023 01:50

Well written article Janet Guthrie . Saskatoon has one of the most beautiful waterfront walkways in the province. Good to give them some cred.

Well written article Janet Guthrie . Saskatoon has one of the most beautiful waterfront walkways in the province. Good to give them some cred.
Janet Guthrie on Friday, 17 March 2023 03:23

Janel Coe The Spinner Forest is really neat. It is mesmerizing to look at.

Janel Coe The Spinner Forest is really neat. It is mesmerizing to look at.
Janet Guthrie on Friday, 17 March 2023 03:25

EH Canada Marketing Group Thank you. Saskatoon's waterfront is beautiful. I am looking forward to exploring more of it the next time we go back.

EH Canada Marketing Group Thank you. Saskatoon's waterfront is beautiful. I am looking forward to exploring more of it the next time we go back.
Andrea Horning on Friday, 17 March 2023 03:54

Great article. I enjoy Saskatoon and actually spent family day there last year in 2022. You gave me lots of great ideas for the next time I am there!

Great article. I enjoy Saskatoon and actually spent family day there last year in 2022. You gave me lots of great ideas for the next time I am there!
Diana Mohrsen on Saturday, 18 March 2023 07:05

I really enjoyed your article. Loved your many photos of food and drink, and of your accommodation. So many possibilities for a weekend.

I really enjoyed your article. Loved your many photos of food and drink, and of your accommodation. So many possibilities for a weekend.
Janet Guthrie on Saturday, 18 March 2023 22:04

Thank you Diana.

Thank you Diana.
Sonya Richmond on Saturday, 18 March 2023 21:30

I love the mix of indoor and outdoor activities - even in the middle of winter! I loved Saskatoon, especially the Meewasin Trail, which is also part of the Trans Canada Trail.

I love the mix of indoor and outdoor activities - even in the middle of winter! I loved Saskatoon, especially the Meewasin Trail, which is also part of the Trans Canada Trail.
Cora Lee Rennie on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 02:16

Great article Janet ! I’ve only stayed in Saskatoon on a stopover for the night !

Great article Janet ! I’ve only stayed in Saskatoon on a stopover for the night !
Janet Guthrie on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 13:28

Thank you Cora Lee.

Thank you Cora Lee.
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