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

Mia goes M.I.A: Whistler B.C.

The World Ski and Snowboard Festival in Whistler B.C. is an annual event that highlights some of the best local talent in music, photography, and film. It is one of the largest free outdoor festivals in the world. With the mountains still covered in snow well into April, the festival also offers some of the best spring skiing in the world. In other words, this is a must not miss event.

Last year I was fortunate enough to check out the festival and hit the slopes for some of the best skiing of my life. On top of that I fell in love with Whistler. It’s amazing restaurants, bars, and shops made me never want to leave.

Whether you are going for the festival, or just a trip to Whistler, the following are some of my recommendations of things to do, places to eat, and must not miss spots.

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Must Do’s

Whistler is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. The following are some of my recommendations of things to see and do to really appreciate what it has to offer

  • Take a road trip: I know that this isn’t in Whistler exactly, but one of my favourite parts of the trip was the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. The Sea to Sky Highway was breathtaking. You start off at sea level on the Ocean and then start the climb up into the air and mountains. There are such beautiful views along the way that I highly recommend leaving enough time to stop to take a ton of pictures
  • Shred it… Duh: Whether a skier or snowboarder, whether advanced or beginner, Whistler is the perfect place to hit the slopes. There are over 8,000 acres of snow covered slopes and more than 200 marked trails and hills that offer the perfect ski or snowboarding experience for all levels. Even skiing in April offered perfect conditions.
  • Take the Peak to Peak Gondola: I don’t care if you are skiing or not, you have to make your way on this Gondola. It takes you from the Whistler mountains to the Blackomb side and the 360 degree views are spectacular. I honestly felt on top of the world.
  • Relax and Rejuvenate at the Spa:  After a few long days of skiing, my body was begging me for a break. I did what any girl would do and hit up the Scandinave Spa. The location of the spa is stunning, surrounded by forrest and right on a lake. As for the spa itself, it was so relaxing and peaceful. No cells phones allowed so you can truly unwind. I recommend giving their baths a go!

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Must Eat’s

After a long day on the slopes, you are going to be on a mission for some grub. Whistler has so many option of great places to eat and drink. From delicious family run bakeries, to upscale spots, Whistler has something for everyone. The following are some of my favourite places to grab a bite.

 

  • Sushi Village: Sushi Village came highly recommended and so I decided to give it a Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 2.43.39 PMtry on my fist night in town. What can I say, it exceeded my expectations. I am have been a fan of sushi my whole life, but this was by far the best I have ever eaten. With so many options on the menu, we decided to go with the Chef’s option, which is basically a surprise platter. Each maki and roll was so fresh and delicious. I highly recommend trying some of the house specials. My personal favourite was the hot volcano roll. You also have to try a sake margarita!
  • The Mexican Corner: We were told the margaritas at the Mexican Corner were the world’s best so how could we not give it a try. They were right. I gave the Mango Margarita a go, and for the first time ever the drink wasn’t overly sweet. On top of their delicious drinks, they also have amazing food. From authentic Mexican cuisine like civiche and tacos, to some very different options everything was so tasty. I highly recommend their Chile en Nogada. Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 2.43.56 PM
  • Purebread: Looking for a breakfast treat before you hit the slopes? Look no further than Purebread. This family run bakery has the largest selection of bread I have ever seen in my entire life. I ate an entire loaf of the olive rosemary. Soft and warm like it was straight out of the oven. And don’t worry, you will work off the calories on the hills.
  • Bar Oso: Looking for something a little more upscale? Bar Oso is the perfect place to wine and dine. One of the newer restaurants in Whistler, this Spanish style spot is incredible. From the ambiance to the food you are going to love it. Plus they have a really creative cocktail list. My personal favourite, the Powder Day.
Must Après

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Almost as important as hitting the slopes is getting your après on. The following are some of my favourite spots in Whistler to grab a bevy and unwind.

  • Longhorn Saloon: This might be my fav après anywhere. The location of this bar is absolutely perfect. Their patio’s view is of the mountains so you can watch all the skiers and boarders. Grab a beer, head outside, and enjoy the sunshine and live music. Just beware, the patio fills up fast. Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 2.44.17 PM
  • Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill: Also known as GLC, this is another prime real estate spot. Located below the GLC lift you get a perfect view. Their patio is open all year round so you can enjoy some fresh air while enjoying beers with friends.
  • Merlins: I have never seen a place like this before. It is famous for table top dancing and their insane nacho platters. Watch the game while enjoying a bevy. They also offer karaoke nights.

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Whether you are going for the WSSF, a ski weekend, or just a little getaway, Whistler is a magical place. I fell in love with the laid back vibe, beautiful views, and challenging slopes. I highly recommend a visit. I would also love to hear any suggestions of places I should check out there next time.

Can’t wait to share the next place I go M.I.A

xo

Mia