Pick 10: Spring Day Trippin’ from Saskatoon

Good trips from Saskatoon
Here are ten good road trips from Saskatoon. All of these picks are within an hour or so of the city.

Now that the snow has more or less melted I’ve got the itch to do some spring travelling on the open road.  Finding good road trips from Saskatoon can be a cost-effective way to satisfy your wanderlust to more exotic destinations. And these places definitely won’t break the bank.

If you’re planning to get out of town for the weekend, here are ten of the best spots to check out within an hour of Saskatoon’s city limits. Each of these destinations will take you to an unexpected locale that’s far enough away while remaining close enough that you won’t need to get a room for the night.

Got the spring travelers’ itch? Scratch it off at one of these destinations. This is your pick ten for good road trips from Saskatoon.

Kick up your heels at Danceland on Manitou Beach.

If you’re like me you love to dance in the moonlight. But it can really wear you out if you’re on your feet all night at a regular bar or club. That’s when it’s time to take a special trip to Danceland, or “the world famous dancefloor built on horsehair”. Your tootsies will love you for it!

When I was around 16 years old my Aunt Alison planned a family trip to Danceland to celebrate with my grandma and her brother (my great uncle). I can’t remember what the celebration was for, but I do remember everyone having a really great time all night on the dance floor (including the grand kids all the way up to the grandparents).

Manitou Beach is also home to Canada’s largest indoor mineral spa, so make sure to plan accordingly for a truly memorable day trip.

Spook yourself silly at the Crooked Bush near Hafford.

#Hafford #saskatchewan #crookedbush #autumn #fall #phenomenon

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Scientists have yet to explain why the Aspen trees are growing every which way but up. (Especially considering there is another set of Aspens right next to the crooked ones that are perfectly normal.) So locals have taken it upon themselves to develop many different explanations ranging from UFOs to lightening strikes.

While everyone is busy trying to explain the unexplained, I’ll be busy packing lunch for a picnic lunch with the paranormal*.

*This natural phenomenon is considered a national treasure and one of Canada’s 54 Wonders. Please be respectful, so that it remains intact.

Go day drinking at Wolf Willow Winery in Outlook.

WolfWIllowWinery-2-647x292
Photo via Wolf Willow Winery.

Saskatchewan has a new winery?! Why yes, it does! Wolf Willow is a seasonal winery that uses locally grown fruit to make their Cherry and Haskap vino. Plus, they have light fare to keep you grounded during an afternoon of non-stop sipping*.

Make sure you check out old Outlook standbys the SkyTrail**, Orange Bridge** and Gardiner Dam on your way home.

*Buy your designated driver a bottle to sip when they get home.
**Pedestrian access is restricted on both bridges until enough funds can be raised to repair them. 

FYI: If you remember swimming in the Regional Park as a kid, you’ll be happy to hear that they’re breaking ground on a new public swimming pool set to open in summer 2018.

Visit Zealandia, a town so small it doesn’t even have a website.

My mom Linda took my brother Todd and I to a Medieval Festival around Zealandia when we were kids. I remember that we spent an entire day jousting and shooting arrows. I couldn’t find relevant details on that event for this post, but Zealandia is still worth checking out if only for the northern light show on a quiet spring night.

If you can confirm the Medieval Festival is still a thing – get in touch with me!

SUP in the sun at Pike Lake.

Date with my favourite mate #wakatipu #supping #views #lakehangs @katefairmaid ?☀️???‍♀️

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SUP stands for Standup Paddleboarding. Supping is an offshoot of surfing that originated in Hawaii, only you use a paddle to propel yourself instead of the waves.

Good thing you don’t need ocean waves to SUP because Saskatchewan is renowned for our lakes. And Pike Lake is only about 20 minutes away from Saskatoon! It’s the perfect day trip where you can get comfortable on the board and relax in the sun before you head to a larger lake in the summer.

Pike Lake offers canoe, paddleboat, aquabike, surfbike, and kayak rentals from their boat shack. The season opens on May Long Weekend.

Note: due to the short distance to Pike Lake from Saskatoon, it can be insanely busy during the summer months.  So take advantage of the cooler weather before it gets nuts.

Learn about Canada’s bloody past at Batoche and Fort Carlton near Duck Lake.

Both locations straddle Duck Lake, a town that steeped in history as told from three perspectives: Cree, French and English. It’s also famous for being the home of prolific Canadian artist Glen Scrimshaw.

If you’re a history buff, this is the perfect spot to check out. Batoche tells the authentic story of Louis Reil and Gabriel Dumont with thousands of artifacts, including bullet holes in the church and a real cemetery just a few steps away. Fort Carlton tells the other side of the story from the perspective of the RCMP and the Hudson Bay Company.

Duck Lake is a must-see for tourists, but you can make it your own by hiking, canoeing, and geocaching through the landscape.

Adventure at Blue Mountain Park near North Battleford.

Blue Moutain_MSC3272
Photo via Blue Mountain Adventure Park.

If testing your limits is one of your favourite pastimes than Blue Mountain is the perfect spot for you. Get a group together for paintball, zip-lines, high ropes, trail rides and more. Plus, funding supports the Lighthouse Supported Living. It’s a win-win day trip you can feel really good about.

Slip away for a quiet afternoon tea at the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern.

Is there anything more quintessentially Saskatchewan than a slice of fresh-made Saskatoon Berry crumble? That’s a rhetorical question.

Head to Rosthern to enjoy a slice for yourself. You may like it so much that you’ll want to stay a little longer for one of their many arts events (check their calendar beforehand).

Go surfing at Lake Deifenbaker.

First day back on the water #wakesurf #tige #z3 #hang10 #lakedeifenbaker

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If you’re willing to get really creative with your time off it’s possible to catch a wave on the flatlands. Surf Anywhere, a Calgary-based collective, thought that Lake Deifenbaker would make a great spot to ride a wave. According to this article from CBC, Lake Diefenbaker Tourism supports the idea. Safety is still a concern that they’re working on getting permission from SaskPower who controls the Dam. In the meantime, there are plenty of other things to do at Lake Diefenbaker.

Hike up and down Blackstrap Mountain then relax with your fishing pole by the water.

Located just 40 minutes south of the city, it’s good day trip from Saskatoon that you’ll find super relaxing.  The trail up to the top of mountain and back is only about 5 km loop, so you can spend the rest of the day with your fishing rod at the beach*.

When I was a kid, after we were done swimming at Blackstrap Lake we came out caked in algae. Wiping away all the gooey-gunk was honestly part of the fun, but I’m not totally sure if things have changed much since then (please correct me if they have).

*If you decide to catch your dinner ensure you purchase a valid fishing license.

BONUS TRIPS that are slightly more than an hour away, but worth checking out this spring.

Tuck and roll down the sand dunes at Douglas Provincial Park.

This is one of many sand dunes in Saskatchewan, it just happens to be a bit closer to Saskatoon than most.

Although I have never been my friend Diane highly recommends it. She says, “When you arrive a park staff will give you directions to two beaches. One is the main resort and the other is further down the highway. The latter is harder to reach, but there’s a private beach with clear water that goes for miles.
It’s a one lane road and it doesn’t have bathrooms, but it’s worth the effort for those with a sense of adventure. You’ll also spot cacti on your way to the dunes. Saskatchewan has cacti!”

Slither onto a Springtime Snake Orgy at Fort Livingstone.

Little miss had a photoshoot at the #saskatchewan #snakepit #snakeorgy @themjcox

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I had you at snake orgy, didn’t I?

Full disclosure: this place is NOT within an hour of Saskatoon, but it’s so odd that I had to add it to the list.

Whether or not you can appreciate a tangled mass of writhing Discovery Channel sex or not, you must be intrigued about the history of the Fort Livingstone Snake Pit.

In the middle of winter back in the late 1800’s, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police set up a permanent camp on the banks of Swan River. Little did they know it was a thriving snake den. According to many journals when spring came around they learned of their mistake and spent most of their days catching (relatively) harmless serpents.

Although the Mounties and the Fort are long gone the snakes make a big appearance every spring for the first few weeks in May.

Do you like these ten Spring picks for good day trips from saskatoon, or did I miss your favourite? Join the Do Sask Facebook group to have your say in the discussion.
Become a contributor!

Contact Do Sask, or reach out on Facebook if you would like everyone to know your pick 10.

Saskatoon Speed Dating Connects People with Purpose

Throw out the old rules of speed dating for a more interactive and connective experience.
90% of our dates matched with at least one other person.

Last week, the people of YXE got out of their comfort zones and off of Tinder for the first ever Saskatoon Speed Dating Night presented by Do Sask.

They met face-to-face with great new people in a casual, relaxed atmosphere courtesy of The Hose & Hydrant.

I asked all attendees to ditch their smartphones in favour or real connection for a night of socializing.

We turned traditional “speed dating” upside down for a more interactive experience by providing conversation starters, games, and plenty of nibbles at the start.

The only rules of the night were:

  1. Don’t ask about your dates’ profession.
  2. Don’t ask where your dates live.

Instead, I encouraged the singles to ask each other about their favourite hobbies, food, activities, and interests. When folks talk about the things they love doing it makes them come alive while demonstrating the best parts of their personalities.

Jolene Watson, Certified Myers-Briggs Personality Practitioner of Clarity Coaching dropped by.

She briefly talked about the myth of opposite attractions, having clear goals in mind, and knowing exactly what type of personality you have before looking for an ideal partner.  As a Certified Myers-Briggs Practitioner, she also provided insight on overcoming stressful social situations as an introvert.

People Bingo was a fun ice breaker game to kick off night.

I gave participants 10 minutes to mingle, introduce themselves, and find people who match the traits on the card. They had to put the person’s name in the corresponding box or have the person sign the appropriate square.  The first person to fill five boxes across or down yelled BINGO!

Then it was go time! Speed dating ran for the rest of the night.

Each date was 4 minutes long. They only had 30 seconds in between each one to choose whether their date was a friend, a yes, or a no on their match card. This gave people a chance to go with their gut instincts. At the end of the night, I asked each participant to hand in their match cards.

Contact details were only shared if there was a mutual match.

Over 90% of people had at least one match!

Of the people attending, 9/10 walked away with at least one match.

That’s what I call a successful start to Do Sask’s singles night!

Here’s what the singles had to say about Saskatoon Speed Dating:

4 stars –  “Fun & interesting – great new thing to do to push yourself out of your comfort zone.  :)”

5 stars – “Casual, no pressure, easy, comfortable.”

5 stars – “Very easy environment to start talking to people. Host has good energy. Opener game was an awesome ice breaker.”

4 stars – “More single people should try this! Much better way to meet people.”

4 stars – “It was a lovely evening.”

5 stars – “GREAT TIME! Amy was great. A group of us stayed drinking together until around midnight.”

5 stars – “Casual, low pressure, cool people.”

“I had fun 🙂 I hope you get more ppl and it grows cause it’s a great idea and a nice environment to meet people 🙂 good luck!!”

Want to take part in our next Saskatoon speed dating event? Signup to the VIP Doers newsletter to get notified when there are more events happening near you!

Pick 10: Have the Best 420 Ever with These Things to Do in Saskatoon

If you’ve been reading the news lately, there’s been a lot of hubbub about Canada’s stance on marijuana’s legality. Trudeau’s government says there will be major changes to its policy in the very near future with recreational use legalized on Canada Day 2018. However there’s still a lot of murkiness regarding where it stands today and how it effects us right now.

It’s a confusing time, but that isn’t stopping some from celebrating like true stoners. 420 is tomorrow, so in the spirit of the holiday Chester wrote this Pick 10 about ways to enjoy a pot-filled day of fun on April 20th.

This week’s Pick 10 is guaranteed to help satisfy your munchies… and help you contemplate the universe in Saskatoon.

Munchie-Satisfying Pub Grub

Walk, or taxi to binge-eating paradise with a plate full of greasy pub food. Thursday is prime time for sweet deals on wings and ribs. Chester likes the Hose and Hydrant, Dino’s, Crackers, and Whiskey Jacks (you can warble out a rendition of “One Love” after you’ve had your fill of deep-fried bites from the last two joints – see what I did there?).

Stroll the Meewasin

The beaver sees you and he knows what you’re doing.

Take to the Valley to find a quiet place to enjoy nature. The last time Chester walked on the Meewasin he spotted a beaver and about a dozen freshly-chewed tree trunks. Nature is profound.

Picnic in Furdale

Pack a blanket and some popcorn, then relax and look up to watch the land of the living skies at its finest.

Over-sized Slurpee from Sev

Thirsty? Head over to your nearest 7-Eleven for an over-sized slurpee with a side of penny candy. Take your time to ensure you give the cashier a painstakingly accurate count.

Hacky Sack in the Bowl

Head to the centre of all the action at the University to unleash the power of your hacky sack. Bonus points if the hacky sack is a Poke Ball and someone is playing a guitar while you’re doing it.

Get Your Game On

Go to Ruckers to play some games of moderate skill-level, and win some tickets which you can cash in for awesome novelty items. You never know how they’ll come in handy.

Playland at Kinsmen Park

Ask a young child to step aside, so that they can watch and learn as a pro uses the 12 and under zip-line. (Sarcasm, folks.)

Netflix and Sleep

Recommended viewing No No: A Dockumentary, an episode of Life, Blue Planet, Trailer Park Boys, and Half Baked.

Ride Along

Get onto one of those weird animals at Market Mall for 10 minute ride you’ll never forget… or maybe you will. Cap it off with something greasy at the food court.

Dance Walk

Go to a park and turn up the beat of your own drum. Strut along to these recommended tracks: Uptown Funk, Staying Alive, and Billy Jean.

 

Now that your 420 plans are locked down, tell me: do you agree with these ten picks, or did Chester miss your favourite? Join the Do Sask Facebook group to have your say in the discussion on your favourite activities in Saskatoon.

Become a contributor!

Contact Do Sask, or reach out on Facebook if you would like everyone to know your pick 10.

Do Sask Special Agents Went on a City-Wide Chase to Capture a Fugitive

We had 2 hours, a city full of secrets, and no detective experience.

On Good Friday, a special group of Do Sask agents assembled to escape a Russian Spy-themed scavenger hunt in Saskatoon.

BreakOut Escape Rooms is a popular activity in Saskatoon where groups of people have to find their way out of a locked room. They’re given clues and a limited amount of time to find the code to escape.

I’ve talked about how much I love to do geeky things like Escape Rooms before. So when BreakOut invited Do Sask members to take part in “Russian Around”, a special one-day city-wide scavenger hunt, we couldn’t say no. The contest was simple: our private Facebook group members told me the name of their favourite spy to win their way in.

Last week, after the winners were notified we received the following mission orders:

“Agents,

You have been recruited for a top secret time sensitive assignment. As you are aware there was recently a breach at Ft.  Wallaby Army Base. Top secret documents were stolen and an attempt was made to launch a nuclear strike on our own country.  We were able to thwart that attempt and recover the documents.  All but one member of the team that infiltrated Ft. Wallaby have been located and detained. However, one fugitive remains at large. Intelligence reports suggests this remaining fugitive was the team leader and therefore the acquisition of this fugitive is our top priority. We have managed to track the fugitive to Saskatoon, Sk. This is where you will begin your hunt!

Your mission: Follow the trail the fugitive has left. We have sent support agents into the field who will make contact and provide you with updated information as it becomes available.  Our best agents have tried and failed to locate and capture the fugitive. It is up to you and your team to locate and capture the suspect before they are able to leave the area. This is our last chance. Everything is riding on your success.

Col. Johnston”

Our team of five recruits faced the complicated task of finding the Russian Spy on a city-wide chase.

BreakOut Escape Rooms Contest
Receiving our Black Storm Mission documents at BreakOut Escape Rooms.

We arrived at the starting point greeted by two special agents with neutral faces and dark sunglasses. They handed us a special envelope and said, “Team Black Storm: this is your mission, should you choose to accept it.”

The envelope contained a map, rules, and a set of laminated paper keys. We tried to use the keys on the map until we noticed a strip mall across the street from Prairie Sun Brewery had a small spy symbol. It could only be… Create Café 3D Printing.

We gathered our intel, packed into the tiny car like a bunch of clowns, and sped off to the next location.

Meet the agents:

Agent Kowalchuk made sure everyone was on task and kept a close eye on the time. Favourite spy: Harriet the Spy.

Agent Davis used his competitive spirit to ensure that the team was solving puzzles faster than the other teams (even though we were told it was not a race). Favourite spy: Carrie Mathison.

Agent Adams wasn’t afraid to dive right in to the assignment with a stellar ability to translate symbols into words. Favourite spy: Susan Cooper.

Agent Schwabe was in the pilot’s seat and drove the team across the city with an unwavering demeanor. Favourite spy: Austin Powers.

Agent Rederburg expertly decoded maps, hustled at pinball, and recorded the day’s events. Favourite spy: Harry Tasker.

Create Cafe 3d Printing

Once we arrived at Create Café we searched high and low for the symbol. (And we got totally distracted by all of the cool stuff they had made with their printers.) After about 5 minutes we found clues right in front of our noses. They were a coffee cup, a poster with symbols from the old country, and a poster in the same style with different types of coffee.

BreakOut Escape Rooms Contest Create Cafe
Agent Adams putting the clues together at Create Cafe.

Using both posters to translate, Agent Adams took the lead to determine the secret message was “Pinball”. The barista handed us a hot drink and our next clue which was the address to Pokey’s Pinball.

Pokey’s Pinball Cafe

At Pokey’s Pinball we were told to look for 3 digits. Since there are numbers everywhere in a pinball shop we had a hard time narrowing down our selection until we started looking at the bigger picture.

BreakOut Escape Rooms Contest Pokey's Pinball
Agent Davis puts on his game face at Pokey’s Pinball.

Agent Davis successfully spotted the numbers “3-4-7” which unlocked two credits each for pinball and a clue that led the agents to our next location: Crave Cupcakes. We spent 30 minutes distracted by the fun pinball selection, but all of the agents admitted they had CUPCAKES on their minds.

Crave Cupcakes

At Crave Cupcakes we got to make use of our paper keys from the beginning of the mission. There was a poster full of letters and outlines where the paper keys would fit. All we could smell was fresh cupcakes, so deciphering the code proved to be a challenging task. We worked together to find the phrase “Shaken Not Stirred”.

BreakOut Escape Rooms Contest Crave Cupcakes
Unlocking the secret phrase using our paper keys at Crave Cupcakes.

We stopped to eat about a million cupcakes. Literally. And since we were the last team they gave us a pack of the ones the other teams left behind. Then we got our next clue which pointed us to…

Mastermind Live Escape

We walked in Mastermind to find a floor puzzle that linked letters together spelling the name of our fugitive: Nastasha Ivanahumpski. It didn’t take us too long to solve, so we took our clue and went on our way to the food court at Midtown.

Midtown Plaza

Since parking at Midtown is pricey, Agent Adams and Agent Schwabe dropped the rest of us off and drove around the mall taking selfies.

Agent Kowalski, Agent Davis and I walked around the food court until we found another agent with a briefcase and ball cap. The agent said she would only give us our next clue if we could uncover her name, so she gave us a riddle that led us past the bitten fruit, beyond the forbidden box and up the stairs to a sweet surprise: it could only be…

Laura Secord

Hung all over the walls there were posters that gave clues about the agent’s name through the process of elimination. We were definitely stumped at this point, but we made a guess at Agent Black and it turned out to be correct. They gave us a handful of chocolates and we made our way back to Agent Black.

When we arrived at Agent Black’s station we were given another clue which used numbers corresponding with letters in the alphabet. The letters spelled out Bartari, a video game bar on 20th Avenue. Agent Schwabe and Agent Adams were ready and waiting, so we wasted no time in getting to our last location of the day.

Bartari 

At Bartari we were finally face-to-face with the elusive fugitive Natasha Ivanahumpski. By the time we arrived she bared a striking resemblance to one of the agents from our starting point. (The fugitive in the picture below had to leave before 5 pm due to licensing, so we all had a good laugh.)

Catch me if you can….. #russianaroundbreakoutsask #breakoutsask #1team1room1hour

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Ivanahumpski gave us two options: 1) take a bribe and let her go, or 2) do what we came there to do and arrest her.

We chose the latter option, but sadly it was the wrong choice. (Bad behaviour is rewarded in this game!)

BreakOut Escape Rooms Contest Bartari
From left: Agent Kowalski, Agent Davis, Agent Adams, Agent Schwabe, and Agent Rederburg relaxing after a hard day of spy hunting at Bartari.

Even though Ivanahumpski got away we felt good about valuing justice over greed. Plus, BreakOut covered a bar tab and free gaming. So we ordered a platta, popped a few drinks, and played a Yoshi’s Island.

Here are our final thoughts on the mission:

Agent Davis: “In the end as in life the heroes get shot. Next time I’ll be sure to take the bribery route so that I can actually feel like I earned something for all my hard work. The chase itself was really fun and got me into some new businesses that I had never been to before. I’d like to try one of BreakOut’s rooms next, as this was my first experience with an escape-type game.”

Agent Adams: “I really loved getting to try out so many new Saskatoon activities, and realized how many neat places and neighborhoods the city has to offer. Especially since I am new to town! Getting to actually talk, taste and try new things was the highlight. The puzzles were just the right difficulty for the event. Tip: leave yourself lots of time to chat with other teams, business owners and take photos with your team! Make a day of it.”

Agent Schwabe: “Since I was the driver, I had some fun and… some frustration. Finding new places was an “adventure”- good thing I’m cool-headed. Put your team’s road-ragers in the backseat! My favourite stop was the Pinball Bar – the free tokens were a nice touch.  Also nom nom nom’ed the Crave Cupcakes. My only advice to the organizers would be to avoid areas where parking is hard to find/expensive, or organize one that can be done on-foot in Downtown/Riversdale.  We waited in the car while the rest of the team played at Midtown to avoid dealing with pay lots.”

Agent Rederburg: “We had a great time figuring out the puzzles and putting clues together. It was good to see local businesses collaborating to make this event happen across the city. And the escape rooms partnered to create something better than they could do on their own. All of our Do Sask agents naturally fell into different roles and helped each other get to the next step. There were so many irresistible treats that I definitely felt like I had a food baby at the end of the day. I can’t wait to do it again!”

Check out all of our “Russian Around” highlights in the slideshow below.

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Find out more information about where you can play the next scavenger hunt at BreakOut Escape Rooms.