Saskatchewan may not be the exotic locale one dreams of when planning a mini vacay, but my mom lives plunk dab in the middle of the 3 largest cities; Saskatoon, Moose Jaw and Regina so we headed out for an Easter break getaway with mom as our tour guide to the area! We decided that our first day together would be best spent at the spa and after much testing and trial, my mom has decided that Spa Ahava in Saskatoon wins the honour of her favorite spa so off we headed to the City of Bridges.
With its seven river crossings, Saskatoon is the most populous city in the province and is a very artsy, eclectic, eco minded population. While this progressive influence may come from the University of Saskatchewan student body, it’s evidentially embraced by Saskatonians as live theatre, music and dance is abundant as are organic and natural shops, restaurants and cafes. In sunny spring and summer weather it is a great city to walk as well kept trails wind along the Saskatchewan River and you can even take a riverboat ride! http://www.tourismsaskatoon.com/
The downtown is small but a few hours can be spent browsing in and out of the boutique shops and the downtown mall. A great places to eat downtown is 6Twelve. We went when it first opened and I was hard core gluten free, we had beet chips to start and the servers had no trouble checking with the kitchen to ensure my order was gluten free. I had the local trout and it was outstanding. While it is a lounge, which I imagine attracts the after work crowd and would get very busy very quickly, we went in the late afternoon and had a well presented locally sourced meal that was huge value for the price. I would happily dine there again and I wouldn’t mind checking out a Friday night there too! http://www.6twelve.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=1
Another fave I have downtown is Souleio http://souleio.net/ This is an organic restaurant, cafe, deli, bakery shop that does take out, curb side pick up and delivery!! I love it because it is an everything kind of place, very relaxed and easy to eat most of the menu. They do a number of salads, boast gluten free-vegetarian paninis everyday, make gluten free bread (need to pre-order) and have a number of sweet bakery items available gluten free. You can pick up the items you need in the deli-shop area which features Pine View Farms all natural meats http://www.pineviewfarms.com/ in order to cook up a storm yourself at home, or take home Souleio family suppers which actually work out to be amazing bang for the buck! My fave is the their drink board – from hot to cold the choice is daunting. The lattes are to die for and I can highly recommend the Mexican, the Caribbean, the Canadian and the Turkish – you simply can’t go wrong with any of these choices. Today I noticed that they have a pretty sophisticated wine selection in the shop area and have bottled their own Souleio Spirits which I hope to try next time I am in town. It is worth picking up a latte and spending some time browsing the shop.
After a stroll downtown it is time to cross the bridge and head to Broadway. The shops of Broadway really only extended about 2 1/2 blocks, but they are interesting and make for a great hour or so of poking around on a warm day. There are a tonne of salons and yoga studios as well as bakeries and gift shops on Broadway so it is well worth a visit. As you cross the bridge you will see Broadway Roastery which makes an excellent Chai Latte with real chai tea- yummy! Next stop is Hats and That; boasting an outstanding selection of hats and jewelry from Canadian and international designers hitting various price points. Next stop; The Better Good http://thebettergood.com/ This is one of my all time fave shops. You can find everything here from shoes to dental floss that promotes a sustainable lifestyle so if organic, handmade, fair trade, local, recycled and natural is your thing – you will be in heaven in this shop plus 10% of the company’s profits go to charity. They also carry Toms shoes Toms Shoes The premise of Toms; for every pair someone buys they give a pair to a child in need. http://www.tomsshoes.ca/ It is a pretty cool story and sadly the only women’s shoes in stock were flats but they do have a pair of hot red wedges on their website…hmmmmm….One more notable delight on Broadways is the Bulk Cheese Warehouse . Meats, cheese, homemade pastas and sauce await your palate, this is a perfect place to collect all the ingredients for a lovely picnic by the river!
Spa Ahava was our final destination on our stroll along Broadway, as you enter you are greeted by a sensational selection of purses, jewelry and large selection of Canadian made skin care products. The seating area is large and comfy with abundant supply of water, tea and coffee and the spa has a relaxed and welcoming calmness. We had chosen to get spa pedicures (caramel macchiato pedicure for mom, and chocolate raspberry for myself) and anti-aging facials. We had a room together which was great so we could share the experience and a number of laughs and our aestheticians, Chantel and Tristan, were outstanding. I don’t think I have ever had a better pedicure anywhere and the arm, neck and scalp message during the facial was true bliss. We will definitely return to Spa Ahava, the price point is really really reasonable as I pay double in Calgary and the service top notch! http://www.spaahava.com/
Of course all that pampering works up an appetite and happily enough The Yard and Flagon is right next door. With an extensive list of Canadian beer plus Strongbow on tap and a worldly menu, the moment we sat down I knew I was in love with this pub. A warm relaxing atmosphere with an incredibly diverse menu, how can you go wrong. It is easy to be vegetarian as there are two house-made veggie burgers on the menu plus a number of exciting looking salads. We decided to share an elk burger and a moon burger (potato, spinach and jalapeno peppers) with fries. The fries were amazing!! House-made and fried to perfection, the elk burger was 100% Saskatchewan elk and was paired with brie which was a party for the palate. The moon burger was excellent and it was nice to see a pub making a real effort and not just serving some frozen vegetarian burger that tastes like, and probably is, sawdust! We would go back to the Yard and Flagon in a second! Hmmmm after writing this I am starting to think we will need to visit Toon town much more often and that Saskatchewan may simply be the perfect getaway destination after all!