13 (out-of-the-ordinary) Family-Friendly Saskatchewan Day Trips
Spending ages in travel time seems a given when you live smack dab in the middle of Canada. We Saskatchewanians do plenty of planning, packing, and waiting, all before we jump in a car or on a plane. However, COVID had other plans and suddenly we all did too. Flights have been grounded and borders closed, meaning my family’s Disneyland dream stayed just that. But though you might expect my kids to be mourning their mouse ears, they instead delighted in embracing the opportunity to spend our summer discovering our own backyard of Saskatchewan. Daytrips off the beaten path became our family’s M.O., and no matter what the future holds travel-restriction-wise, I recommend you give these day trips a go. They’re easy, fun, affordable, and really prove how much Saskatchewan has to offer.
Without further ado, here’s my list of unique, family-friendly day trips, some that we’ve enjoyed already and some that are still waiting to be checked off. Please let me know if you’ve got another out-of-the-ordinary destination I should add to my queue because we plan to keep on keepin’ on.
1. Fort Battleford National Historic Site
Fort Battleford is an immersive historical experience with period-correct exhibits that showcase how the Métis, settlers, Indigenous peoples, and RCMP lived. My five-year-old appreciated the activity book she was given at the beginning of the self-guided tour, which included a scavenger hunt. My two-year-old was a fan of the tattoos. There are many historic forts in Saskatchewan, 10 of which are run by Parks Canada, but the thing I like about Fort Battleford is that the city is right there. The Battlefords CO-OP Aquatic Centre, which features great indoor waterslides, has opened back up and you can dive into history with the many themed rooms at the Fred Light Museum.
2. Danielson Provincial Park
There are a lot of lakes to hit up but not all of them double as educational destinations. The Gardiner Dam is a source of awe for kids, and the interpretive centre at Danielson Provincial Park does a good job explaining it before you go have a peek, walking along the giant boulders in which you might just spy a fossil or two. But let’s talk about the beach – it’s a great one! The sand grains are big enough that the water stays crystal clear and if it’s summer season, take a swim out to the giant inflatable Sask Aquatic Adventures water park. It’s unreal!
3. Champêtre County
Located in St. Denis, Champêtre County lets you step back in time to the world of general stores and saloons. Explore the photogenic property, play horseshoes, climb on old tractors, pet pigs and goats, walk the trails, and give their wooden maze a go—it was featured on Amazing Race Canada, did you know?
As a child, Rosthern was synonymous with “the big slide.” And yes, Valley Regional Park still has that amazing playground that includes a zipline and 80-ft. slide, but Rosthern is also home to the Youth Farm Corn Maze which offers so much more than a maze. Pedal go-carts, a climbing rock, an enormous jumping pillow, wagon rides, and animal feeding make it a must-do. So, do!
5. Cochin Lighthouse
It seems like a big ol’ drive to climb the steps of a landlocked lighthouse but it’s a pretty surreal experience and my kids looove it. Plus, you’re a stone’s throw from Cochin, Murray Lake, and Jackfish Lake, so pack a picnic and enjoy some lunch on the beach.
6. Pike Lake Provincial Park
Powdery soft sand, clean water, and rentable paddleboats and boards are all a draw at Pike Lake Provincial Park, but you know what sells me on it? How close it is to Saskatoon – and the facilities! Washrooms, a concession, a playground, and an outdoor swimming pool mean this mama is a frequent flyer on that drive.
7. Manitou Beach
Manitou Beach is on the shores of our very own “Dead Sea” and is just a drive away! But don’t think this is just another beach post… you can also spend the day at the Watrous Manitou Beach Heritage Centre, mini golfing, and catching a flick at The Drive In at Manitou Beach.
8. Saskatchewan Railway Museum
If you have a train-obsessed kiddo like I do, plan to visit the Saskatchewan Railway Museum southeast of Saskatoon. Climb aboard all sorts of different train cars and engines, learn about the history of rail in the province, take advantage of the endless photo ops and ring the bell at the end. Valley Road is super close so hop over to Crickle Creek for outdoor bouncy castle fun and be sure to pop into the Berry Barn for a piece of pie. While you’re at the Barn, let the kids run free on the playground and if you’re there on a September weekend, check out the pony rides and petting zoo.
9. Cannington Manor Provincial Historic Park
Still on my list to hit is Cannington Manor Provincial Historic Park. This village was abandoned in 1900 but has been reconstructed to reflect its heyday with the additions of signage for self-guided tours. If you’re reading this after Labour Day, be sure to pop a reminder in your calendar to visit next year.
10. Petrofka Orchard
I’ve always known Petrofka Orchard for its stunning views but had only visited for the first time this summer. Its beautiful trails are a pleasure to walk and it has a little store in which you can shop local fare (yes, they’ve got apple everything!). Grab a bowl of borscht and eat on the patio overlooking the valley. Round out your daytrip by stopping into Sunnyside Dairy on your way back to pet calves and fill a souvenir glass bottle with some coin-op milk.
11. Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre
Do you love owls? There’s really only one answer – Yes! The Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Centre gives you the chance to view owls in their outdoor enclosures, see wild hawks, coyotes, rabbits and more in the adjacent field and possibly even meet an owl. Call ahead to make arrangements. Now, this trip will take you to Moose Jaw where you will find the famous tunnels and Sukanen Ship Pioneer Village and Museum. You should also tour the Murals of Moose Jaw, visit the Western Development Museum, and stop for a photo with Mac the Moose.
12. Wolseley Swinging Bridge
The charming town of Wolseley’s biggest claim to fame is it’s walkable swinging bridge that stretches across a pond and ends at a garden setting full of fairy doors. And, if you don’t mind the kids sleeping on the way home, stay in town for a movie at the Twilite Drive-In Theatre. It often plays family movies and showtime is at 8 p.m.
13. Wapiti Valley Ski Hill
Located just north of Melfort, the Wapiti Valley Ski Hill looks so fun, it deserved to make the list. There are private lessons for any age and group lessons for three and up, a cool terrain park, chalet and a setting amongst birch trees that would be made all the cooler with its night ski offering!
How’s that for a starter? I’d personally like to visit the Restoring 71 eco-preserve and of course the Crooked Bush is beautiful, but each destination had to pass my five-year-old’s interest test. Happily, I can report that everything on this list was met with big smiles and raised eyebrows. So, why not stray from your everyday? Pack up the kids, gas up the car, and go explore Saskatchewan!
Author: Maygen Kardash
Maygen is a writer based out of Saskatoon. You can find her sharing stories, fashion tips and recipes on her blog Sneakers & Lipstick and on Instagram.