Saskatoon in winter can be tough. Make no mistake. The winter is long and it can be cold, numbingly cold. But Saskatoon is a city where it’s possible to not only survive the winter – but to thrive in it. Here are 10 plus fun things you and your family can do in Saskatoon in winter. Just be sure to dress warmly in layers, pack a thermos of something hot to drink, and have the right attitude.
Pick a section of the Meewasin Valley trail to walk – either within the city or through the Rural Municipality of Corman Park. The trail is over 105 km long and runs on both sides of the South Saskatchewan River. It takes you under bridges and through some of Saskatoon’s beautiful parks.
The stretch I walked in downtown Saskatoon was beautiful, even on a -30°C day. Picture deep blue skies, sparkling snow, and brilliant sunshine – all the hallmarks of a Saskatoon winter.
Visit Black Fox Farm and Distillery
You’ll find the Black Fox Farm and Distillery just 15 minutes and a world away from downtown Saskatoon. A visit here is one of the top things to do in Saskatoon in winter – or at any time of the year for that matter. Not only is it fun, but it’s educational and you walk away knowing a whole lot more about whiskey and gin.
The two passionate owners, husband and wife team John Cote and Barb Stefanyshyn-Cote are grain farmers by training. They are also both Nuffield scholars which basically means they are extremely smart when it comes to farming and are two out of only 1,500 Nuffield scholars worldwide.
When they made the move to switch to distilling they said “How hard could it be?” It’s one thing to learn about distilling and other to market a product so they’ve had some steep learning curves since they opened in 2015.
What they have done differently – mainly because of cash flow – is to age their whiskey outdoors year round in old wine barrels. It’s now thought that the whiskey ages faster outside because of the temperature fluctuations and the constant pressurization and contraction inside the barrel. In fact, what they are doing is being closely studied around the world as they turn the world of whiskey ageing upside down.
It’s a fun experience to come here as you can enjoy tastings, try a cocktail, sit with a glass of whiskey in their lovely geodesic dome or on fine days outside in the garden. I loved my visit here.
Check out downtown Saskatoon in winter on foot
Take a walk through the parks and around the downtown area looking for colourful murals and statues erected to honour historical figures. If you have time visit Remai Modern at River Landing. By all reports it’s an amazing place especially with the world’s largest number of Picasso linocuts featured in the Picasso gallery.
Cross-country ski in downtown Saskatoon in winter
Go cross-country skiing for a few hours to get those happy hormones going. If you’re short on time, make a few laps around Kinsmen Park in downtown Saskatoon.
But if you’ve got a whole day then definitely head for Eb’s Ski Trails – a 55-kilometre wilderness ski trail system maintained and groomed by the Saskatoon Nordic Club. And if you need help getting started cross-country skiing give Cliff at CanoeSki a call.
If you don’t mind a longer drive, enjoy a full day on cross-country skis in Prince Albert National Park. I skied the 19.6 km Crean Crosscountry Ski trail – an easy trail despite it’s length that takes you to a warming cabin on the lake.
Go for a tasting at Lucky Bastard Distillers
For an indoors activity take a tour or arrange a tasting at Saskatoon’s LB Distillers. They manufacture vodka, gin, whiskey, and liqueurs with names like Lucky Bastard Spiced Honey Apple Liqueur and Lucky Bastard Haskap Liqueur. They bill themselves out as making the only gin in the world that includes Saskatoon berries in the recipe.
Some of the other interesting products they sell include Lucky Bastard Knock on Wood Amber Rum, Lucky Bastard Bacon Bitters, and Lucky Bastard Coconut Lime Vodka.
Try kick-sledding in Saskatoon
Rent a kick sled from Escape Sports and work up a sweat on the trails in the city no matter what the temperature is outside. Look for some hills because I can assure you from my kick sledding experience that you’ll get an adrenaline jolt on the way down. Kick sleds differ significantly from dog sleds in that they are designed to be propelled by humans.
Go ice-skating in downtown Saskatoon
Go skating at the Cameco Meewasin skating rink – next to the Bessborough Hotel. Skating and skate rentals are free – and the warm-up lodge is a pleasure to hang out in. The outdoor wood burning fireplace only adds to the charm.
One of the new offerings available at the skating rink is a Sip and Skate experience. Grab some friends, buy a ticket and enjoy a quiet skating rink (closed to the public when this is happening) along with delicious local treats. Choose either a savoury Charcuterie Box or sweet Fireside S’Mores along with a hot drink featuring spirits by LB Distillers in a large take-home Meewasin mug.
There are many more outdoor skating rinks around Sakatoon as well as five municipal indoor rinks and a skating oval.
Explore Saskatoon’s Broadway neighbourhood
Take a stroll down Broadway– a dynamic area rich in the arts that is easily accessed on foot from downtown via the Broadway Bridge. Look for unique and locally owned retail shops, small cafes, pubs, restaurants, and art galleries.
Attend a winter festival – a fun way to spend time in Saskatoon in winter
Plan to attend the annual Nutrien WinterShines Festival in January and February. The Festival celebrates winter and features something for everyone including ice carving by international ice carvers, a soup cook-off with the Heart and Stroke Foundation as the beneficiary, an outdoor ice climbing wall and a petting zoo.
I would like to mention that the chef I was teamed up with on my visit – Doug Hyndford from the Saskatoon Inn – won the Judge’s Choice Award for his soup – Gin Rickey Rabbit soup.
Dine in one of the excellent restaurants in Saskatoon
Tired of cooking? Then visit one of Saskatoon’s great restaurants – of which there are many for a small city. Perhaps the start-up costs for new restaurants are less expensive than other cities in Canada or there are just a lot of talented chefs in the area, but Saskatoon surprised and delighted me with its restaurants. Look for creative cooking with local ingredients at affordable prices.
Odla, located on Broadway serves farm to table meals. Enjoy local favourites like fried chicken sandwiches or the popular quinoa bowl at very reasonable prices. Purchase items like candied jalapeno hummus, smoked dill yogurt and herb gnocchi at the front of the restaurant.
Shelter Brewing Companyis a fantastic place to go and grab a beer and some Mexican food. Their nachos are yummy and the tacos are mouthwatering.
Primal is known for its creative pasta dishes and pizza. All the pasta is handmade using Saskatchewan heritage grains and non-mainstream animal parts like beef heart is used in many of the dishes. I had the pork agnolotti and can tell you it’s mouthwatering – and the portion size was perfect – and not overwhelmingly large.
Odd Couple is a great choice if you like Asian influences in your meals. Their spring rolls are memorable as is their Asian mango avocado salad. They serve lunch and dinner.
Thirteen Pies Pizza + Bar, a few doors down from Shelter Brewing reportedly serves the best pizza in the city but I haven’t had a chance to try it.
Go for a winter bike ride in Saskatoon
If you’re completely crazy – go for a winter bike ride. Just bundle up in layers so you don’t end up with frostbite. Fat bikes take more energy to ride that any bike you ride in the summer, so I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how warm you stay.
There are several places that rent fat bikes – like Bike Doctor on Broadway. They can provide local intel on the best places to cycle.
Location map of things to do in Saskatoon in winter
What other things to do in Saskatoon in winter would you recommend?
Where to stay in Saskatoon in winter
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