With a nickname like Paris of the Prairies, one might expect that Saskatoon and Paris would have something in common. They’d be right. However I hadn’t imagined one thing in common would be romance. My very first visit to the city was with my girlfriend for what turned out to be a very romantic couple of days.
Over the course of a weekend, we quickly discovered why earlier this year, Saskatoon was the only Canadian city to make the list of The New York Times’ “52 Places to go in 2018”. They may not have mentioned romantic offerings in the NY Times, however the city’s beauty, thriving food scene and diverse experiences go hand in hand, making it a great spot for a couple’s getaway.
Stop one was a restaurant named Calories, found along trendy Broadway Avenue. Overwhelmed with the lunch options, I finally chose a sandwich topped with goat cheese, spinach and prosciutto. I am not exaggerating when I say that this sandwich was incredible! It was only to be shown up however, by a slice of Saskatoon Berry Lemon Yogurt Cheesecake . I’m pretty sure that if my girlfriend wasn’t along, I could have polished off the entire cheesecake by myself.
I had heard that one of the most popular places to take your significant other is the Meewasin Skating Rink along the river valley and adjacent to the historic Delta Bessborough Hotel. So naturally we headed there. It’s pretty easy to have an intimate experience when you need to hold each other’s hands to stay upright. Skating is free to the public, with free rental skates available until 9pm daily in their warming shack.
Next it was time to warm things up with a visit to award-winning micro-distillery, Lucky Bastard Distillers. From one of the owners (the lucky bastard himself) Michael Goldney, we learnt about the locally-sourced ingredients in their highly sought after vodka, gin, rum, whisky and liqueurs. We thankfully thought to stock up on some spirits before leaving, thinking a nightcap would definitely be in order upon our return to our uber-chic and very romantic room at The James Hotel.
That would have to wait though because it was time for dinner. With my girlfriend being gluten-free, we were recommended Leyda's Café. With masterfully designed and crafted dishes, our meals were pure perfection, and all of their offerings are gluten and nut free. Leyda’s actually has a private space with a single, heart-shaped table surrounded by plush red and white pillows. Made for lovebirds? I’d say so!
If you are planning your own romantic getaway to Saskatoon, I’d also highly recommend a visit the Remai Modern, one of the city’s newest attractions. This exceptional art gallery (whose architecture alone impresses), focuses on the modern and post-modern contemporary artists of the 21st century, including everything from works by the renowned Group of Seven to Picasso linocuts. It’s the perfect place to wander around with your sweetheart, take selfies and stand united with your perplexed-yet-contemplative art stare.
If you’re anything like me and thinking makes you hungry, Shift is a restaurant right inside the Remai Modern. Offering an impeccable view of South Saskatchewan River through floor-to-ceiling glass windows and delectable contemporary cuisine, it’s definitely worth a visit to enjoy the food, the views and the company of your beloved.
Although Saskatoon is half a world away from The City of Light, the romance, art, attractions and food are nevertheless comparable. Where Paris has the Seine, Saskatoon has the South Saskatchewan River, and where Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Saskatoon has the Delta Bessborough. French wine is replaced by prairie spirits, and classic art replaced by contemporary creations. We certainly found romance on our trip to the Paris of the Prairies, and know we’ll be back again soon.