Bison, Black Footed Ferret, Carefree Adventures, Clearwater Drive In, Cypress Hills Eco Adventure, Duncairn Dam, EcoTour Road, Elbow, Frenchman River Gospel Jamboree, Frenchman River Valley, Golfing, Grasslands National Park, Hwy 21, kayaking, Lac Pelletier, Lac Pelletier Golf Course, Lake Diefenbaker, Long Days Night Music Festival, Movies, Riverhurst, Sailing, Sand, Sask Landing, Saskatchewan, Sceptre, Simmie, Southwest Quest, Southwest Saskatchewan, Summer Chautauqua, The Great Sandhills, Toboganning, Travel Saskatchewan, Treasure Valley Market, U-Pick, Windscape Kite Festival, ziplining
It’s not an easy task to narrow down all the extraordinary places to go, people to see, and things to do in the Southwest, but tasked I was with this monumental decision, for an article in the Gull Lake Advance. So, faced with absolutely having to narrow it down to just ten (when there are so many more), these are the top attractions that made the list for me – with one caveat – I’m sure if you ask me again in a week, I will have seen or experienced something new and the list would change! That’s how many great things there are to discover when you #GoHere!
1) Lake Diefenbaker: Whether you’re a fan of the Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, or prefer the cozy close-knit feel of Cabri Regional Park, Riverhurst, Beechy all the way up to Elbow – the common denominator is Lake Diefenbaker itself. A magnet for campers, fisherman, boat enthusiasts of both the motor and sail variety as well as kayaks and canoes, its nearly 800 km of undeveloped shoreline means that there are plenty of eddys and bays in which to escape into, and plenty of lake to enjoy. Folks in Calgary would kill to have something this uncrowded and pristine, and lucky us it’s ours all ours! http://www.saskregionalparks.ca
2) Cypress Hills Eco-Adventures: Offering six different zip lines 40 feet above the ground to give you a birds-eye view of the tree-top canopy; a climbing wall that will challenge even the most ardent climbers; and slacklines that I simply cannot do for the life of me, this year they’ve added to the experiences with their new Tree Top Adventure Park. Comprised of 15 unique challenges on three different levels, as a new attraction added to the line-up only this year, it’s the one I have yet to experience, and the one that’s highest up on my summer bucket list. www.zipcypresshills.ca
3) The Southwest Quest: Part self-guided tour, part festival, all fantastic, the Southwest Quest gives you an up close and personal look at the amazing artists and history that make up the bottom most southerly portion of the province. Running from June until September, with a designated Festival weekend from July 19-21 in Eastend, the Southwest Quest Art & History Tour, lets you meet and discover potters, painters, photographers, woodcrafters, and other incredible artists that make their home in the Southwest. But more than just a drive from one artist to another, the Quest also gives you a glimpse into some of the area’s historical stories and attractions, and if you head down for the weekend festival you’ll have a chance to experience it all! www.swquest.ca
4) Carefree Adventures: Located in the seemingly unlikely locale of Simmie, Carefree Adventures offers visitors an intimate introduction to the wonderful world of kayaking. Whether you’re a novice looking for a “how to” or a long-time kayaker who finds themselves sans kayak at this point in time, John at Carefree Adventures can set you up to have a great, peaceful, relaxing day out on the water. Operated out of Carefree Park in Simmie you can paddle the Swift Current Creek, or tackle the wide open spaces of Duncairn Dam. This year owner John will also be offering a couple of special paddling events on the Frenchman River through Grasslands National Park and out at Lac Pelletier. It’s the opportunity of a lifetime to see wildlife from a new perspective and to enjoy the challenge of mastering a new skill. www.carefreeadventures.ca
5) Grasslands National Park: One of the first things you’ll notice when you enter Grasslands National Park is the complete and utter silence that greets you. Here you can simply enjoy the space and abundant wildlife that surrounds you. Wildlife that includes: free roaming Plains Buffalo (they’re quite the site to see), deer, pheasants, coyotes, the residents of Dogs Town (Prairie Dogs that is), and for those who are extremely lucky and happen to be there at night, there’s also a chance you might see the infamous Black Footed Ferret, saved from extinction and reintroduced to the prairie just a few years back. This year at Grasslands I can’t wait to tryout some of their fun new programs that include “My Family’s Great Adventure,” “S’mores and More” and the new “Sleep Under the Stars Party” to name but a few. http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/sk/grasslands/activ/activ1.aspx
6) The Great Sandhills: Every time I tell people about the Sandhills I’m simply amazed by how many people who have lived in the area most of their lives, have never even been. Located north of Sceptre (where there’s a Visitor’s Centre that tells a bit of it’s history), and accessible from Hwy 21 on the road to Leader, it’s a huge sand dune, that offers trails and hikes that encircle the sand from all directions. Aside from the hiking though, the best possible thing to do at the Sandhills is to go toboganning down them! Grab a crazy carpet, and prepare for sand in places you never knew existed! http://www.greatsandhillsmuseum.com/
7) Treasure Valley Market: A literal treasure for those who know of it, Treasure Valley Market can no longer be considered just a “U-pick” for great berries, and vegetables, it’s also its own full-on family destination. With paddle boats, a petting zoo, on-site geocaching, a picnic area, trampoline, and ice cream, it’s the best way you’ll ever find to get kids to actually look forward to picking and eating fruits and vegetables. http://www.treasurevalleymarkets.com
8) Lac Pelletier Golf Course: There are a number of challenging, high skill golf courses located throughout the Southwest, but none which offer the ease of play or grand views that Lac Pelletier does. Nine holes of grass greens that offers a bit of challenge to the pro-golfers and just the right amount of ease for beginners, its laid back pace and lack of pressure, makes it one of the best places to learn the game, or to share it with friends. Pack a picnic to share on the beach afterwards, or have a “cool down” beverage in the clubhouse, either way it’s a great way to spend a day. http://www.saskregionalparks.ca/images/pdf/golfPDF2010/LacPelletier.pdf
9) Clearwater Drive-In: Going to the drive-in was a summer staple when I was a child, from which I forever have an aversion to sharks (thanks Jaws!), and the Clearwater Drive-In is one of the last few places in the country to offer this unique movie-going experience. Play at the park before the movie starts, visit with the other movie-goers, grab your snacks, plump up your pillows, and swat at the mosquitoes on bathroom breaks. It’s a must-do thing for every summer! Who cares what movie is playing! http://www.clearwaterdrivein.com/
10) Windscape Kite Festival/Long Day’s Night Music Festival: Where else are you going to get two festivals in one location at one time? A great way to spend a summer day and evening, here you can watch champion fliers from all around the world fly kites with precision, learn how to juggle, build a kite, and get lost in the hay bales maze by day, and listen to award winning musical guests by night (including this year Juno Award winning Serena Ryder). It’s all under the big top at the flying field just to the south of Swift Current and one of my favourite places to “go” each summer. http://www.windscapekitefestival.ca/ – but since you missed that festival for this year – the next best thing depending on your tastes are: 1) the Summer Chautauqua July 11-14th at the Lyric Theatre in Swift Current – a fringe-like festival with added entertainment between plays, and/or 2) The Frenchman River Gospel Jamboree held each year in Shaunavon over the August long weekend Aug 2-4th) – while I’m not a huge old-time “gospel” music fan myself – the feel good festival atmosphere, the great talent they have lined up (can you say George Canyon – yum!), Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder, makes this a great family-friendly event.
Ha! See – I did more than 10! Cause once you start – you just can’t stop GOing Here!
If you’re interested in learning about more of the best GoHere Destinations in the Southwest keep visiting us at here at www.goheredestinations.com – I’m sure I’ll have a very different list for you next time!