With its laid-back vibe and serene setting of windswept hills, big skies and a peaceful river that winds through the heart of the city, Saskatoon is the perfect place to hit the reset button.
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While this beautiful prairie city has a small town feel, it has everything you need to unwind, revive and recharge: think creative cuisine, luxe accommodations, inventive elixirs, rejuvenating body treatments and incredible natural areas on its doorstep. From outdoor adventures to medicine walks, here are some of the best ways to get your wellness fix in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Sip at: Three Treasures Tonics
Forget that java jolt to get your day going: at Three Treasures Tonics, their beautifully curated selection of superfoods, teas and tonic herbal remedies will have your brain buzzing in no time.
Located in downtown Saskatoon, this Pinterest-worthy elixir bar draws from principles in Chinese medicine like Jing, Qi and Shen (prenatal, cellular and spiritual energy, respectively) to craft their custom drinks. The consistency is similar to a latte or tea depending on what’s ordered, and packed full of natural ingredients like ginseng, dandelion root, turmeric and hemp hearts designed to give your body a boost.
Got a big event coming up? Try the Hello Gorgeous, a pretty-pink blend of pearl powder to add lustre to skin and eyes, beet root powder which is packed with antioxidants, and collagen to keep youthfulness in your skin. Those facing a big deadline will want to order the Natural Mystic elixir, which combines reishi tea, cacao, coconut crystals and monkfruit to get those creative juices flowing. The cacao makes it tastes like a rich hot chocolate, and is guaranteed to give you a serious natural high. Feel a cold coming on? Sip on their immune-boosting Chaga tea, which also has cancer fighting properties.
Acupuncture, reiki and massage services can also be booked through Three Treasures Tonics.
Nosh at: Leyda’s and Odla
Being in the heart of a province known for agriculture, it’s no wonder many of the talented chefs in Saskatoon focus on the farm-to-table premise by locally sourcing most of the items on their menu. There are a couple standout spots that take it one step further, by serving up dishes that also have a holistic focus, such as Leyda’s which bills itself as an experiential cafe which uses food as a fuel for both the soul and body–essentially, “whole food for your whole life.” Their carefully curated menus are completely gluten and nut free, and use as many organic and seasonal ingredients as possible in things like their soul-warming ayurvedic soup or fresh poke bowl.
Another great option is newcomer Odla, which means “to farm, cultivate or grow” in Swedish. The next best thing to eating right in a farmhouse, this beautiful restaurant is all about sustainability. Dialing it back with a menu based on tradition and simplicity, many ingredients are sourced right from their property, Farm One Forty. Dig into feel-good dishes like fried chicken, poutine and grilled steelhead trout, or go lighter with the fresh Market Salad which is overflowing with leafy greens, fried chickpeas, hemp seeds and a pickled egg.
Explore in: the Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Just 20 minutes north of Saskatoon is a spiritual spot with a long history of healing and serenity: the Wanuskewin Heritage Park, which is an archaeological site up for consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its name comes from a Cree word meaning “seeking peace of mind” and “living in harmony”, and that’s exactly what you’ll find while wandering the trails through this peaceful park.
Opened in 1992 as a way to educate people about the plains Indigenous people who settled here for generations, the centre’s tours and cultural programs provide a glimpse into what life was like as they hunted bison, gathered food and herbs, and lived off these sacred lands. A highlight is taking part in one of the medicine walks that runs between April and October, to learn how the plants were used.
“You always offer something to the plant before you take it,” archeology interpretive guide Katie Willie explained, adding that the Indigenous people traditionally would offer dried, crumbled tobacco to the plant before plucking anything, as it’s one of four sacred medicines traditionally used in ceremonies. “So you’re not just taking everything, you’re giving back to the plant.”
It’s fascinating to learn about the healing properties of these plants found in the surrounding Opimihaw Valley, such as the zinc oxide found in aspen and poplar bark which acts as a natural sunscreen, antioxidants in chokecherries, anti-inflammatory properties in willow, and how both yarrow and sage can be used as a mosquito repellent.
Birders also love wandering these trails, as there are 140 species in the area including warblers and red-winged blackbirds. To up the experience, stay overnight at Wanuskewin by booking one of their teepee sleepovers, where the cozy room is outfitted with authentic cots, lanterns and even bison robes.
Unwind with: A Dead Sea treatment
Betcha didn’t know that Canada has its own version of the famous Dead Sea–and it’s just a 90-minute drive from Saskatoon! Manitou Springs centres around Manitou Lake, which is known as the Dead Sea of Canada thanks to its incredible mineral concentration which is only found in two other places in the world: Israel’s Dead Sea, and Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic.
Magnesium acts as a natural skin toner, sulphate helps maintain the nervous system, mineral salts assist with hydration, and sulphur helps clear your complexion and keep hair glossy, which has earned it the nickname ‘nature’s beauty mineral.’ While you won’t be able to effortlessly float the same way you can in the Middle East, the water in the mineral spa has therapeutic properties that does wonders for your skin and will leave you feeling blissfully relaxed.
RELATED: The do’s and don’ts of swimming in the Dead Sea
If you’re not up for a road trip, you can do the next best thing to a Dead Sea mud bath at Damara Day Spa which has two locations in Saskatoon. Their Grotto Giusti Mud Body Wrap uses warm mud enriched with mineral salt and thermal waters found in Italy’s Grotto Giusti river banks, which is said to relieve aching joints and muscle pain. The exfoliating scrub will leave your skin baby-smooth, while the wrap helps with detoxifying and promoting lymphatic flow. The 90-minute treatment ends with a hydrating and relaxing massage.
Hit the trails at: the South Saskatchewan River
Cap off your wellness getaway by exploring one of the many pathways that hugs the South Saskatchewan River, soaking in the great views of the downtown skyline while wandering through the many parks. Bike rentals are available from select tour operators and hotels, making it easy to explore the multi-use Meewasin Trail which runs along both sides of the river and links up with the Great Trail which connects 1000 communities across Canada.
For an even more active adventure, hop on a standup paddleboard and SUP all the way from the sandy shores of Cranberry Flats in the Poplar Bluffs Conservation Area right into downtown. Escape Sports leads tours down the 12-kilometre stretch, which is sure to give your muscles a workout as you glide through the clear (and surprisingly warm) water past sandbars and under photogenic train bridges. All that hard work pays off when you make it back to the city centre and are rewarded with a gorgeous view of the skyline.
Where to stay in Saskatoon:
Delta Hotels Bessborough: With an invigorating salt water pool, fitness centre, spa and walking trails in its backyard, the historic Bessborough makes the perfect base for a wellness retreat. The castle-like property sits on five acres of gardens facing the South Saskatchewan River, which many of the large, elegant rooms look out over. The hotel also has an incredible location just blocks from downtown and the waterfront, and there are a handful of restaurants as well as parking on-site. Click here to book
Alt Hotel Saskatoon: This modern property boasts great city views, and is in the heart of the action with river trails and the Remai Modern art gallery across the street. Guests love the clean, well-appointed rooms and friendly staff. Click here to book
Globe Guide explored Saskatoon in collaboration with Tourism Saskatchewan. As always, hosts have no editorial influence on articles.
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