As a tourist, you’ll never be lost in Saskatoon. Open a map on any street corner, and you’ll be assisted by friendly locals offering their help. This city feels like one big, tight-knit community—and that was never truer than when my car battery died just outside of the Delta Bessborough. In no time, people passing by brought my car back to life while sharing stories and local traditions of the great city these good Samaritans called home.
One of my favourite traditions is affectionately known as “Getting Saskatoon’ed” and takes place in the city’s breweries, pubs, and some hotel lounges. In a show of toughness, you drop a shot of Saskatoon Liqueur in a glass of Great Western Original 16 beer and throw it back with vigour. To do it properly, you need to pound your chest and clink glasses with your fellow Saskatoonians, at which point you join their community as an honorary local.
Perhaps the friendly and welcoming vibe that locals give off is just part of Saskatoon culture, or maybe it has to do with the city’s unique heritage. The Saskatoon population is mostly made up of newcomers, so being open and helpful is a way of life in Saskatchewan’s largest city. As one Saskatoonian put it: “We’re all immigrants here,” which is why you’ll find so many proud business owners eager to welcome travellers and put their stamp on Prairie hospitality.
The majority of Saskatoon’s hotels are located on Spadina Crescent E—ideally within the heart of the city. I love how live jazz, modern art, and restaurants are all within walking distance from Spadina, which runs along the South Saskatchewan River. Unbeknownst to outsiders, Saskatoon has recently experienced a boom in contemporary art culture, making it an up-and-coming Canadian travel destination that has held onto its small-town feel. I’ve rounded up the top hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes in this buzzing city.