Why Saskatoon is a Must Visit

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What comes to mind when you think of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan? Probably not a must see destination. Well guess what, the Paris of the Prairies really is a must see. In fact,when the New York Times released their list of the top 52 places to visit in 2018, Saskatoon came it at number 18. Even more surprising, it was the only Canadian city to make the final cut.

When I first took the job as the Saskatchewan Rush’s TV and in game host and reporter, I didn’t really know what to expect. The first thing that came to mind when I thought of Saskatoon was I better bring my warmest winter jacket. Yet after a few trips, I soon found out why it is so easy to fall in love with Saskatoon.

What makes this place special?

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This city offers so much to see and do. Located right on the Saskatchewan River there are beautiful hiking trails to explore. There is an extensive art and culture scene, which has grown even more with a brand new modern and contemporary art museum, Remai Modern. The local cuisine scene offers a variety of must visit restaurants. Oh and there is a professional lacrosse team called the Saskatchewan Rush which sells out every game. 15,185 members or Rush nation come to cheer on their first place team every home game. Today, I get to take you behind the scenes as I head to Saskatoon for this week’s Rush game.

Day 1: 

When I arrive in Saskatoon, I head straight to our downtown Radisson Hotel. I love staying here because it overlooks the river. In the summer this is a spot for boat rides and kayaking. In the winter it is covered in a layer of snow and offers picturesque walks and outdoor skating.

I don’t have time to explore because I need to get ready for our first shoot of the day at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. Saskatoon has a rich Indigenous culture, which we had the chance to learn more about at the park. In fact, there have been archaeological finds that pre-date the pyramids of Egypt.

Today, the players and myself are treated to an amazing history lesson. After our lesson our skills are put to the test in a game of double ball. Similar to lacrosse where they use a stick and get this, two bison testicles attached by a string. After we head out back to see the beautiful plains. There are even teepees for summer camping. Today it is a little too cold for that. Before we leave, we are treated to a performance from a traditional dancer.

Once the shoot is done we head  to dinner. Saskatoon has so many quaint local restaurants that it is hard to pick just one. Tonight we decide to stop into The Rook and Raven. A cross between a pub and fine dining, the menu has endless options. What I love about this spot is its laid back feel but uncommon decor. Oh and while you are here you need to get Saskatoon’ed. Confused? I was too at first. Basically a shot with part Great Western Brewery’s Original 16 beer and part Lucky Bastard Distillery’s Liqueur. Once you complete the shot, you get a card showing your status as an honorary local.

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Day 2: 

I wake up with butterflies in my stomach because it is game day, but I can’t get too excited just yet. There is still plenty of work to do.

I start the morning with a delicious breakfast at Poached, which doubles as a cocktail bar at night. Sitting at my high top, I once again see why this town gets compared to Paris. While here you have to try the PB&J hot chocolate with a shot of expresso is a must.

Walking back to the hotel, I am so giddy over all the Rush jerseys I see out and about. This city really does love their team.

Next stop, axe throwing at Timberjaxe. The owners say the goal of Timberjaxe was to bring some good old fashion fun to Saskatoon, and they have done just that. The rustic design makes it one of the best looking axe throwing centres I have seen. While we tried to keep it all fun and games, with professional athletes in the house there is bound to be some competition with bragging rights on the line.

Now it is time to head to Sasktel Centre and start getting ready for game time. The Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders are in town for tonight’s event so it is sure going to be a show. For me, the greatest moment of the entire weekend is when the lights go down and I know it is time for the pre game show to start. I walk out on to the field with my co-host and look out onto 15,180 screaming fans. Well, that and when we score a goal and everyone in the arena takes part in our goal tradition of pounding your chest.

I know lacrosse isn’t the most mainstream sport, but all it takes is seeing the excitement, intensity, and none stop action in one game to get you hooked for life. The Rush do such a good job on putting on a show. From pyro acts, to a DJ spinning the tunes the fun never stops.  It also doesn’t hurt that our team is currently first overall in the league.

After the game the adrenaline is pumping, but I have to try and get some sleep because I fly out early the next morning. The weekend always goes by so fast and I am never ready to leave. There is so much I still want to explore here. Then I get my schedule for the next game and see that I get to go to the art gallery, and I start counting down the days until I am back. This Prairie city has stolen my heart.

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getting here

The unforgettable powder of Mt. Baker

 

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“Adventure is Worthwhile in itself”

-Amelia Earhart

For as long as I can remember, adventure has fuelled my soul. It has ignited my passions. When I moved to British Columbia, I knew that adventure would be knock knock knocking right on my doorstep. Big, and small, I knew it would be mine for the taking. And on a recent trip to Mt. Baker in Washington State, I had one of my more unique adventure experiences. I wanted to share my experience with you, and give you some tips, tricks, and ideas to make a Mt. Baker trip of your own.

Now I should start off by saying I love to ski, but I am no expert skier that is for sure. I grew up in Ontario where I thought Blue “Mountain” was a challenging place. Even now a days, I feel more comfortable in the pizza formation then french fry and you will find me on the blue squares and never on the black diamonds. Yet this year for my birthday I was surprised with a brand new and super cool pair of skis and so I decided it would be my mission to make the most of this ski season.

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About Mt. Baker:

  • Just a short two hour drive from Vancouver but bring your passport because you have to cross the U.S. Boarder
  • It is the third highest mountain in Washington
  • It gets epic snowfalls every year. In fact back in 1999 it set a world record (1140 inches)
  • Mt Baker is home to twelve glaciers

Best time to visit:

Mt. Baker is one of those places that offers activity all year long. The town really revolves around the mountain so expect plenty of skiing in the winter and hikes + mountain biking in the summer. It is really up to you your preference.

Where to Stay:

A small ski town, there are no real hotels in the air. If you are planning a trip to Mt. Baker I would suggest looking into airbnb in the area. We were able to snag a beautiful wood cabin complete with a hot tub for post ski relaxation.

Who is this for?

Do you love adventure? skiing? snowboarding? biking? Then Mt. Baker should be on your check list. The small ski town won’t be as busy as the resorts and so you really get to enjoy the great outdoors without the crowds of people.

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Our  Day at Mt. Baker 

We left for the mountain bright and early. The 20 minute drive to the mountain was filled with twist and turns. Winding through the green forest that slowly turned to snow covered trees.

As we took the first chairlift up, I noticed the powder was even deeper than I had expected. Down below there were ski causalities buried deep below. Snowboarders trying to wiggle their way out of waist deep snow. I knew at that point this was going to be a ski experience like none other.

Once at the top, I was really surprised at how many options and slopes there were. Four different chairlifts and three different ski sides of the mountain. It really was a place for people of all levels.

Skiing down, the snow was even deeper than I imagined. I could feel my skies sinking as I glided past spectacular views. Snow covered trip tops sparkled in the sunning. It was a real life winter wonderland.

After a full day on the slopes it was time to make our way back down, but not before a quick pit stop for lunch.  We stopped into the Raven Hut Lounge where we were welcomed and warmed by not one but two fireplaces, and ordered a delicious burger with fries which we chowed down. Just a little side not, this is the smaller restaurant so if it is overcrowded try the White Salmon Day Lodge.

With full bellies and warmer fingers and toes we made our way all the way down to the bottom of the slopes.

Mt. Baker was a unique and wonderful skiing experience. It is the perfect spot if you are looking for a quieter slope that revolves around skiing. There are no villages, or shopping. This is purely about enjoying the mountain. You should also check out their website for special events that will make your trip even more memorable.

Happy adventuring my friends,

xo

Mia

**some more snaps of Mt. Baker **

There’s No Place Like Home: Pemberton

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Beautiful mountains? Check 

Crystal clear lakes? Check 

Picturesque views? Check 

Outdoor activities? Check 

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Pemberton sure has a lot of check marks making it the perfect place to escape for a weekend. It is a beautiful town located just 20 minutes North of Whistler and is nestled at the foot of the majestic Mt Currie. The town offers everything from summertime hikes and bike rides to winter skiing and snowshoeing.

 

I had a chance to explore beautiful Pemberton this fall. The leaves were changing colour while the sun was still shining bright. It made for breathtaking views and plenty of fun.

I think Pemberton is the perfect getaway for a weekend adventure outside of Vancouver and here are some tips to make sure you have the best time there.

 

Where to Stay

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On our trip we stayed at Sweetwater Lane Farm B&B and I honestly cannot say enough good things about this adorable spot. This B&B is located on secluded 7 acre farm just outside of Pemberton. Inside there are four large bedrooms that offer incredible views of Mount Currie. A dinning place and open kitchen made for the perfect spot to relax. The B&B also offers fresh daily breakfast picked straight from the garden outside.

 

The farm itself offers so much to do and see. It is home to pastured poultry (there was even a fresh chicken for us to eat upon arrival), pigs, a milk cow, and two miniature donkey’s called Leroy and Lilly. They were basically like giant dogs. There is also a vegetable farm and fruit trees, and of course stunning views.

 

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Day 1: Exploring, walking, and biking 

Exploring: I started the day off just walking around the farm. There was so much to see right in the backyard, literally. From picking some of my own vegetables to playing with the Lilly and Leory, it was hard to even get off the property

Walking: Alas, I finally set off to explore outside. I was told there was a beautiful river not too far from the property so I started walking to find out more. The river is part of Lillooet Lake. To access we had to walk through a forest area, with Mount Currie constantly the view point. The river was truly beautiful and a little bonus it was the salmon crossing season so we saw a ton of fish.

Biking: What happens when you put mountains and breathtaking views together? You get the perfect combination for some mountain biking. Pemberton has plenty of biking trails, even for beginners like myself. You are basically riding right on the Sea to Sky corridor so you really are in for a treat when it comes to the views.

Day 2: go on the most epic hike 

The main reason I wanted to come to Pemberton in the first place was to hike Joffre Lakes. I had seen pictures of this amazing spot, but needed to experience it for myself. I was totally unprepared for the hike ( I didn’t even have a water bottle so please make sure you are more prepared for me). But it was so worth the struggles.

Know before you go: Like I mentioned I was really unprepared and Joffre Lakes is a pretty strenuous hike. It is 11km total and it took us about 3 hours round trip. So make sure you got your 10 essentials 

As for the actual hike, it includes three stages. Stage one is the first lake, which is located on the lower level and is a beautiful spot, but just wait until you get to the second lake. The water was crystal clear, the trees were a mixture of red, orange, yellow, and green, and the sun was beating down. I have never seen something so beautiful in my entire life.

We thought about going down after the second lake, but we kept pushing ourselves and I am so thankful we did. We stumbled upon a waterfall on the way up to the third lake. Once we arrived at the final lake we were greeted by deep blue water, rocks, trees, and above it all a glacier that was streaming downwards. We spent about 20 minutes at the top just taking in the sights and the fresh air. It was magical.

I can honestly tell you this was the most incredible hike I have ever done, and that the views were the most beautiful I have seen in my whole life. It was one of those places that you don’t truly believe in the magic until you have expierneced it for yourself and even when it is right in front of your eyes, it is hard to believe that this beauty is real.
Joffre Lakes is a must do, and definietely a hike that I will be doing again, over and over, and over again.

 

Well there you have it. Your guide to a weekend getaway in Pemberton. I cannot wait to explore this amazing spot again and would love any recommendations of what else I should see and do when I am there.

In the meantime happy exploring my friends.

xo

Mia

Pemberton in pictures 

 

There’s No Place Like Home: Whistler

 My most recent trip to Whistler was pretty magical. It was early in the season, probably the second weekend the slopes were open. The night before we went up there was a huge snow fall. About three feet of fresh snow covered the mountains when we arrived bright and early. We were one of the first in line when the lifts opened.
We made our way over to the far end of Blackcomb and were literally the first run of the day. The sun was shining bright in the sky and felt warm on my face. Blue above and white below as my skies sunk into the fresh powder. I sped down the hill taking in the picturesque views along the way. From white covered trees to hidden creeks it was like I had the entire mountain all to myself. I could smell how fresh the snow was below me, and with the sun beating down it was actually the perfect day.

Where to stay

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While it is pricier to stay in the Village I would highly recommend shelling out the extra dollars for the experience. You are closer to all the Apres parties, shopping, restaurants, and of course, mountains.
I also recommend that if you are a skier you will want ski in ski out access because trust me after a day on the slopes, the last thing you want to do is carry those skis while walking in those snow boots for a long time.

 

Budget Friendly 
Pinnacle Hotel: This beautiful boutique hotel is right in the heart of Whistler’s pedestrian village and is seconds away from the mountains as well as fine dining and a bustling nightlife.
Luxury Stay 
Delta Whistler Village and Suites: I felt like an absolute princess when I had a chance to stay at the Delta Whistler Village and Suites. From the beautiful newly renovated bedrooms to the 2 outdoor hot tubs and relaxing sauna this is the place to feel pampered for your entire stay.
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Relax at the spa
The Scandinavia Spa Whistler is the perfect place to rejuvenate and recover after a hard day on the hills. The spa provides an age-old Finnish tradition of soaking in soothing outdoor baths, transitioning from hot water to cold. The unique spa is located in the forest and has breathtaking scenery. It is secluded and tranquil which offers the perfect relaxing environment.
Après Ski like a pro 
You earned it. That cold beer at the end of a hard day on the hills. Reward yourself like the champ you are and find the best après spot in the village. Toast to a successful day.
Whistler Après Guide 
  • The Longhorn: This is the après of après. Located right at the bottom of Whistler Mountain it is the perfect spot to grab a drink after a long day. The heated patio is the perfect spot to sit and take in the scenery. They also serve delicious nachosThe Longhorn is the most noticeable après mountain establishment in Whistler. Located right between Blackcomb and Whistler Gondolas in the Village looking up
  • Dusty’s: This is the original watering hole in Whistler. Located right at the base of Creekside Gondola, Dusty’s has delicious wings and Caesar to satisfy you after a long day.
  • Whistler Brewing Company: Why not try some delicious crafted and local brews and even take a tour of the brewery while you are out.

Eat world class food

Sushi Village 

Hands down my favourite restaurant in Whistler. It is located right in the heart of Whistler and is famous for its casual yet vibrant atmosphere. Eating here is an experience from start to finish. When we arrived we were asked to take off our shoes and sit on billows at a square table. You cannot go wrong with the sushi and I highly recommend trying some of the sake margaritas. My personal favourite is a mix of the strawberry and lime!

The Mexican Corner 

In the mood for tacos and margaritas? This is your spot. It is a fun latin atmosphere that serves up some spicy authentic Mexican cuisine and some of the best margaritas I have ever tasted.  Choose from originally, strawberry, and mango. Trust me you cannot go wrong.

El Furniture Warehouse

I don’t usually like putting chains on here, but I love the Warehouse. Good food and super affordable it is the perfect place for lunch or dinner. I mean Whistler is expensive, so why not enjoy a full meal for $4.95. Plus there are daily drink specials to complete your dining experience and with a live DJ the party never stops.

 

Whistler in Pictures

 

 

Well there you have it. My guide to everything Whistler. This truly is a spectacular place that you have to see to believe. Whether an avid skier or not, this is a must do.

Happy traveling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

There is No Place Like Home: Tofino

Tofino 

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Start the day with a good cup of coffee…
We started the day at  Common Loaf Bake Shop. This little restaurant located in an adorably colourful house had a variety of fresh and delicious options. The perfect way to start the day.
Visit the world famous beaches…
We then made our way to Long Beach to take some pictures. Long Beach is the longest beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island. 10km of soft sand and a stunning panoramic view of the ocean and sky made for the perfect snaps.
Indulge in some tacos…
 On the way back from Long Beach we stopped at the original Tacofino. I had Tacofino in Vancouver before, but I heard the original was even better. I knew it was a food truck, but I was still surprised by the set up. A lone food truck in a parking lot with a long line. The truck was colourful and so was the menu. I got the fish and veggie tacos and it was definitely worth the wait.
Hang ten on the waves…
After filling our bellies with tacos, it was then time for our surf lesson. I tried surfing once before and it ended terribly, but Estuardo at Tofino Surf Adventures promised that by the end of my lesson I would be surfing. He was right. It was a little bit of a shaky start, but by the fourth try I was standing up on my board. I won’t be competing in any surf competitions any time soon but it definitely was a thrill. The best part about surfing was the perfect day we had. Despite it being October, the sun was out, the water was relatively warm, and the skies were blue. It was an amazing experience.
 Indulge in world class cuisine…
A quick hot tub to help our aching muscles, it was time to try and choose from the list of amazing restaurants in the area. I have the Sobo cookbook at home, so it only made sense to enjoy a meal at their Tofino restaurant. With their wood fire oven, it was hard not to pick from the pizza menu. I ordered a mushroom pizza and it was delicious.
Day 2: Hot springs, whales, and walks
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Relax in the hot springs… 
Day two started bright and early as we set out on about an hour and a half boat ride with West Coast Aquatic Safaris to Hot Springs Cove. Hot Springs Cove is home to seven natural geothermal rock pools that cool down the closer you get to the ocean.
On the way there we saw a grey whale, my first time seeing one up close. Once we arrived, we walked about 1.5 km through a beautiful forest until we arrived at the springs. I warmed up under a small waterfall and sat in the hottest bath as the waves crashed in around us. The view of the ocean on the cool damp day was spectacular.
On the way back we were in for another treat, we spotted some Orcas which were quite rare in October. Two species of whales in one day is pretty special.
Admire local art…
In the afternoon we took a stroll and explored the adorable town of Tofino. During the walk we stumbled into the Eagle Aerie Art Gallery. The gallery was filled with west coast inspired paintings, prints, carvings, and even jewelry. I really suggest taking your time to read about each painting. They all tell a beautifully unique story.
Indulge in some wine and food… 
The weekend ended at Shelter. What I love about this restaurant is they aim to minimize their global footprint and the majority of ingredients used are local, organic, and ethically raised. The majority of the fish is caught by Tofino fisherman so of course I had to give the salmon a try. It was delicious! Another amazing fact is in the back of the restaurant there is a garden where they produce fresh herbs and vegetables. You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu.

What to pack?

Tofino is one of those magical places that you can visit year round. In the summer packed beaches and plenty of surfing. In the winter storm watching and still plenty of surfing. I went in October and it was fairly wet and cool.

Arc’teryx Durant Jacket: I find this the perfect jacket for the wet and slightly cooler days. It is waterproof and insulated so perfect for when you are out on the water trying to stay warm

Emu Roadside BootsThese waterproof boots are comfy on the inside but stylish on the outside. Perfect for wet and colder days

Ryu Tough Tight High-rise BottomsFor the outdoor hikes and walks you want to make sure you have pants that look good, are comfortable, and can stretch. I found these pants perfect for hikes to dinner.

Your camera: Tofino is so beautiful you are going to want to make sure you have the perfect camera to remember them memories. Most of mine are shot on a Cannon 5D.

Tofino offers the perfect combination of outdoor adventure, fine dining, and stunning scenery to make it the perfect weekend getaway spot.