Here is your ACN-Approved Healthy City Guide to the best vibrant living Saskatoon, SK has to offer!
I’ve been living in Saskatoon off and on for over four years and am in the process of moving back there as I type. Often when I tell people where I’m from, the first response is “But why?” Well friends, I’m here to tell you once and for all why Saskatoon is one of the best cities I’ve ever lived in, thanks to its fabulous food scene, great music, beautiful bridges and incredible community. It’s easy to live a vibrant, happy lifestyle when new businesses are popping up all over the place that are geared towards making our people and the planet a healthier place.
Where to Eat
- Leyda’s Café. This restaurant is completely gluten- and nut-free and the menu focuses on creating nourishing dishes from whole food ingredients. They also make an effort to purchase their meat and produce from local, organic farmers so you can feel good about everything you put on your plate. I love the grass-fed bison burger sliders and the Ayurvedic soup.
- Nosh Tap House and Eatery. This vegetarian-focused menu proves that you don’t need meat to make a delicious main. They have celiac and vegan-friendly dishes as well as a couple of meals that cater to any carnivores in your group. You will definitely find something delicious for everyone! I love the beet chips, quinoa salad and steak sandwich, though all the fish dishes are also fantastic (and local!). As a bonus, they also do a Sunday brunch with everything from gluten-free carrot coconut pancakes to mushroom eggs benny.
- Ayden Kitchen and Bar. For those who want something a little fancier, definitely check out Ayden Kitchen and Bar. This restaurant is owned and operated by season 1 winner of Top Chef Canada, Dale McKay, and the food definitely reflects a more refined take on local, home-style cooking. The restaurant sources local, organic ingredients as much as possible and is dedicated to creating a cozy atmosphere that will help you enjoy its seasonal and globally inspired menu. They also make their own charcuterie so you know it’s a fancy place! I love the scallop and tuna starters and the pork and fish mains. The menu changes regularly so you can go back as often as you like.
- Sushiro. If you want fresh, high quality sushi, this is the best place in town. I know it’s odd to have a sushi restaurant on a Prairie city guide, but trust me you will not want to miss out on this deliciousness. My favourite dishes are the wakame salad, mackerel ceviche, and the omega roll, which is salmon sashimi on a tuna roll with avocado and hemp hearts. Pro-tip: save the ginger and sauce from the ceviche and eat it with your sushi rolls. It’s pretty much a religious experience.
- Prairie Ink. In the last couple of years this sweet little café found inside of a bookstore (yep, it’s heaven) has been focusing on local, fresh, whole foods. They have plenty of gluten-free options, make their own fresh-pressed juices, and I had the best pumpkin soup of my life there. I’ve been trying to recreate it unsuccessfully for 2 years.
- The Hollows. This little gem is found in the Riversdale community in an old Chinese restaurant that still maintains a lot of that charm in its décor. Their menu focuses on natural and seasonal foods, with an emphasis on local, heirloom produce, wild-harvested leaves, mushrooms, roots, flowers and sap; and sustainably raised meat and poultry. They use traditional cooking techniques such as brining, smoking and curing alongside more conventional methods. Their menu changes regularly, but is always delicious!
- Inside Out Bakery and Catering. This bakery is the first gluten- and dairy-free, allergen-friendly facility in the city and focuses on using whole foods to make delicious alternatives for anyone living with food allergies or intolerances. They do everything from soups and sandwiches to specialty cakes and desserts that can be tailored to virtually any dietary preference or restriction. I am obsessed with the sweet pepper Thai soup, the lazy man’s cabbage rolls, and pretty much every muffin. Luckily for my waistline they hide lots of healthy fibre, fats and proteins in all of their baked goods.
- Saskatoon Farmer’s Market. There’s no more vibrant place to be on a Saturday morning than the market! They have tons of vendors from the surrounding area selling fruits and veggies, handcrafted soups and soaps, local organic meats and lots of freshly prepared goodies. In the spring you can go to the market to pick up lots of cool seedlings such as Jerusalem artichokes, Hungarian peppers, and catnip to give you a head start on the short Saskatoon growing season.
- The Better Good. While not a food market, this local store has been committed to donating profits from their business to charities around the world for over five years. They exclusively stock products from businesses and producers that are working to create a healthier planet. You can get everything from an organic, fair trade mattress to stainless steel drinking straws all in one place. They also run a free yoga in the park series every Sunday all summer long because they’re awesome.
- Herbs ‘n Health. This health food store is my favourite place to go for specialty products such as various seaweeds, miso, gluten-free treats, natural and ethical beauty products, salt crystal lamps and supplements. The staff are all friendly and knowledgeable, the store is super charming, and you can definitely spend a solid amount of time browsing all the sections for goodies. Plus, they sell delicious smoothies made with fresh ingredients, not just a bunch of sugar.
- Steep Hill Food Co-Op. You can join this co-op for $20 a year and if you volunteer there for two hours a month, you get a great discount on bulk organic products, from produce to spices to specialty health food items. It’s the best place in the city to buy pastured eggs, grass-fed beef and organic butter, plus it’s located in the fun and fabulous Broadway shopping district.
- Dad’s Organic Market. This is another locally-owned health food store and they have great sales on organic produce if you check the discount bin. It’s where I go to stock up on produce for soups, smoothies and juicing. They also sell cool items such as kefir grains, kombucha starter kits and Dandy Blend.
- Sunday Morning Organic Salon and Spa. This sweet little salon focuses on using clean, organic, toxin-free products so that you can leave with your fingers and toes looking jazzy, but without the formaldehyde! I usually go for the athlete pedicure because it includes a really solid foot massage. They also give you a little goodie bag with your nail polish, nail file and those little toe separating things so you can keep up your pretty look. Though I’ve never had one of their massages, a good friend of mine came out feeling like a whole new woman, so I feel pretty confident putting my stamp of approval on their services.
Yoga and Fitness
- Grip It Climbing Gym. I’ve only been climbing a few times, but I loved the variety of routes they had at Grip It. They take the time to teach us newbies how to belay and speak the proper lingo, then you can be set free in the sweet climbing room. They have routes from 8ft all the way up to 50ft, plus a sweet bouldering room to play in. There’s a yin class Thursday nights so you can spend an evening climbing, then zen out with some sweet stretching.
- One Yoga. I have a deep and abiding love in my soul for all the people who teach, practice, and run this studio. They are all beautiful and have created a community of love and support for anyone to join. And their yoga classes are just so damn good! They have everything: super fiery vinyasa classes, restorative yin classes, therapeutic yoga and super fun acro-yoga. They’re always hosting workshops, clinics and running events to raise money for different groups around the city and country. Plus the owner and his partner are personally involved in the creation of two different charities: Vinyasa Yoga for Youth and the Fierce Grace Foundation.
- Yerrama Yoga Sanctuary. This yoga studio opened recently and offers a breadth of classes from hatha to candlelight yin to ashtanga. The owner, Kevin Naidoo, has one of the best teaching styles of any teacher I’ve had and his classes are always a safe place to express your body and soul. His studio is beautiful and full of windows looking over the treetops downtown. If you’re in town, definitely take the time to catch one of his special classes!
- Ground Yoga. Another great studio in the Broadway district, it offers a great schedule of classes and lots of fun workshops. They’re very involved in the local yoga and Saskatoon community. Check out Dorman’s classes to get your daily dose of love and power or practice with Vincent for a hit of humour and a ton of motivation.
- Freedom Functional Fitness. This gym is amazing. It’s based on functional movement patterns and offers totally fun, but ass-kicking workouts. The facility is 19, 000 square feet, so there’s plenty of space for crafting your own workout. They have kettle bells, sandbags, climbing ropes, Olympic rings, tractor tires, sledgehammers, power wheels, free weights, monkey bars, a bouldering wall, exercise balls, weight sleds, medicine balls, rowing machines and incline trainers. Plus they have a 600-foot infrared sauna, offer vinyasa yoga classes, and have environmental punch cards for patrons who walk, run, cycle, longboard, or take public transit to Freedom.
- Saskatoon Jazz Festival. This festival is 100% one of the highlights of my year. They always bring in amazing acts to play the main stage, which is in the beautiful Delta Bessborough Gardens beside the river. It’s not uncommon to see acts such as Lauryn Hill, Michael Franti, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Tegan & Sarah, John Legend, Ziggy Marley, Metric and tons of other great performers on the mainstage. However, for 11 days there are sweet shows featuring local and international artists at different venues all over the city, including at least 3 free performances every night from on the riverbank.
- Taste of Saskatchewan. Saskatoon hosts just a ridiculous number of festivals and events in the summer months, likely because we get such a short amount of time in which to host them. One of my favourites is the Taste of Saskatchewan. It’s a great chance for local restaurants to showcase their signature dishes and for people to try new types of food. It’s set up in Kiwanis Park on the river and in addition to tons of delicious food, there is typically about 55 different Saskatchewan bands and artists playing everything from pop to salsa to Celtic music. It runs for six days and it’s definitely worth checking out every day!
- Hiking the Meewasin. The trails that line either bank of the Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon are an amazing place to explore and reconnect with nature in the heart of the city. One of my favourite places in the whole town is found on the bike path between the Broadway and University Bridges. It’s like a little cathedral made out of trees and I often go there to meditate and think. You can spend the whole afternoon walking the trails and still not see them in their entirety.
- Mendel Art Gallery. This gallery is located just off of the Meewasin trail near downtown and is home to some truly beautiful traveling exhibits. You can easily spend an afternoon wandering through the exhibits, getting a cup of artisanal coffee at Museo, or sitting in the beautiful conservatory listening to the waterfall and breathing in the fragrant scent of the wide variety of gorgeous flowers that bloom year round, even during our -40 snaps!
- Wanuskewin Heritage Park. This historical archeological site is located only about 10 minutes outside of town and is nestled in a beautiful little valley right on the Saskatchewan River. The staff are super friendly and knowledgeable and do guided historical walks of the grounds, where you can learn about the healing properties of local plants and how traditional societies lived thousands of years ago. There are often powerful exhibits on display and lots of amazing cultural events to participate in year round. They also have a delicious cafeteria with lots of gluten-free options and freshly made meals. Bonus: you can host events there and camp out in tipis!
- Fringe Theatre Festival. Another must-attend festival is Fringe, which takes place at the beginning of August and brings lots of incredibly talented playwrights and performers to the city. There are lots of showings of every performance and plenty of time to take in as many plays as you care to enjoy. Plus, every evening Broadway is shut down as local vendors and performers take to the street to create an atmosphere of creativity, fun and adventure.
Where to Stay
- Sheraton Cavalier. I have lots of fond memories of this hotel because it’s where my parents (and my friends’ parents) always stay when they’re in town. It’s centrally located and just a hop, skip and a jump from downtown and the Meewasin walking trails. My favourite part about this hotel though is the swimming area that boasts two awesome waterslides!
- Delta Bessborough. The historic Bess looks like a grand old estate smack dab in the heart of Saskatoon. It’s across the street from the Cavalier, so it’s also steps from the water and downtown. If you stay there during the Jazz fest you get the bonus of being in the heart of all the fun!
Are you from Saskatoon? Taken your own healthy adventures there? What did we miss? What are your favourite health spots?