Earlier this month I spent a couple of days exploring the Watrous and Manitou, Saskatchewan area. While the region is known for the special properties of its lake, there’s a lot more happening in the town and nearby resort village.
*This post was created in collaboration with the Watrous Manitou Marketing Group. But as always, all thoughts, opinions and experiences are genuinely my own. All COVID-19 restrictions, precautions and regulations were followed in the creation of this content.
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4 Things to Do in Watrous and Manitou, Saskatchewan
These are just a few things you’ll want to check out when visiting Watrous and Manitou:
1. Paddleboard The Lake
Little Manitou Lake is called The Dead Sea of Canada due to its high salt and mineral properties. Created during the last ice age, the lake is unique to the northern hemisphere. (You can read more about what all is in the water here.) But floating and getting the benefits from the water isn’t all there is to do. This year, the region is offering paddleboard tours. But just like the lake, these aren’t your standard paddleboard trips either – they include a hearty charcuterie board picnic with a bottle of wine on a beach.
I met up with the rest of the crew down by the dock next to the Manitou Reflections Project on the main road. There, we geared up with lifejackets and paddleboards ready for the afternoon. We paddled a kilometre across the lake and landed at a sandy beach nearby a rock formation at the base of the valley hills. Created years ago by a local, the rock design is now an iconic feature of the lake.
On the beach, we set up our picnic for the next hour and had time to explore the rocks as well as swim in the lake. The charcuterie board, supplied locally by Oda Coffee + Wine Bar, had a great selection of meats, cheeses, crackers and a fresh salad with dressing. For dessert, we had mini cheesecakes with berries on top.
If getting on the water isn’t quite your thing, you can float at the nearby resort. The Manitou Springs Hotel has heated pools that are open to both the public and its guests. There’s an outdoor patio that serves drinks on weekends and is a great place to relax and catch a few rays.
2. Enjoy a Night at The Drive-In
With only four left in the province, Manitou is home to one of the last remaining drive-in movie theatres. A weekend under the sky while watching old flicks is a must-do in the summertime. It’s also a safe activity to enjoy outside with friends.
I pulled my SUV in backwards and popped the hatch to catch a double-feature of two cult classics. It’s especially beautiful at twilight when the sun goes down or if you’re lucky enough to catch a lightning show.
An up-to-date schedule with listings can be found on the Facebook Page here.
On Sundays, the drive-in parking lot becomes a local flea market that attracts a variety of vendors from around the area. It’s a great place find a few gems to take home.
3. Go on a Farm Tour
If you’ve ever wanted to visit a real grain farm, Watrous and Manitou have teamed up with Evergreen Woodcrest Farms (Lesley from High Heels & Canola Fields, if you’re familiar).
Lesley and her husband and brother took us out into their fields to see wheat, lentil and cover crops. They shared all about what it’s like being farmers in today’s world. No question was off-limits from the group. Then we headed back to their farmyard and got to check out all their machinery as well as make flour from both wheat and lentils to take home with us. We also got to learn how to test the moisture of their canola as a hands-on activity.
To wrap up the afternoon in very Saskatchewan-esque tradition, we had a big meal together catered by Oda Coffee + Wine Bar which included garlic mashed potatoes, roast beef, cold salads and rhubarb cake..
4. Enjoy Pizza, Wine & Art in the Park
The Manitou area attracts creative individuals and is home to dozens of talented artists. But getting a personal drawing lesson from renowned artist Michael Gaudet – who also owns G-G’s Gallery & Gifts with his partner Sharon – was a treat.
We met at the gazebo in Wellington Park as our home base. Then we set off to explore along the creek in search of local flora. Our goal was to draw our findings using negative space on our sketch pads (pencils and pads are provided). Michael was a patient and encouraging instructor, especially for those of us like me who are not as artistically inclined with a pencil.
While we worked away on our drawings, Andrea was preparing Italian and four-cheese pizzas from the Peppertree in Watrous in the public pizza oven. (Yup – there really is a pizza oven anyone is welcome to use in the park!)
- Hot Tip: You can pick up a peel (used to pull the pizza in and out) from the town office. Bring a thermometer and preheat the oven to 500F. Make sure the wood is burned down to hot coals so the pizza cooks evenly.
While the pizza was cooking, we cracked a bottle of wine to share at the nearby picnic table. After the tour, a stroll up Wellington Park to the labyrinth is a great way to finish off the afternoon.
When visiting Manitou, I recommend stopping in at Little Manitou Art Gallery. It’s owned by local artists Sarah McKen and Clayton Cave. While they create unique sculptures and hand-carved goods, you’ll find an oasis featuring the work of more than 150 local artists for sale in their outdoor gardens and shops. On weekends, they often have live music.
Don’t Forget to Check out These Businesses
Watrous and Manitou offer so much to see and do that several days are needed to experience it all. Don’t forget to check out these other great local businesses:
- Accommodation: There are several options to stay overnight in Watrous and Manitou. Consider camping at the Regional Park or booking a night in The Lake House at Manitou – a recently renovated farmhouse with the perfect view of the sunset from the balcony.
- Dining: Mike’s Beach Bar is a great place to stop in for a pub-style grub, a patio beer and a game of volleyball. Next door, Oda serves up tasty breakfast bowls and coffee and wine on their beachfront patio. Stop in at Manitou Mini-Mart in the evening for extra-large helpings of ice cream. In town, pick up donuts and longjohns at the Watrous Bakery.
- Activities: while the beach is a popular spot to hang out, there’s also mini-golf for the kids and a 9-hole golf course for adults. On Saturdays, there’s a Farmer’s Market on the main strip and weekend events at Danceland.