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SASKATOON This city has taken huge strides in the last few years, with increasingly hip spots for foodies and a significant transformation to the riverfront. Here a look at some great things to do in Saskatoon.

COOL NEIGHBOURHOODS: Riversdale is an area a lot of folks in this city didn go to 10 years ago. But it now one of the trendiest areas of town, with cool galleries and cutting edge Collective Coffee, where baristas slowly pour water heated to just the right temperature over beans ground just the right way for the perfect java. The Saskatoon Farmers Market also is found in the area, with local produce, baked goods made by local Hutterites, Vietnamese spring rolls and more. The Broadway area is a bit more mainstream, but still with interesting shops selling Mexican imports, classic vinyl discs and nice restaurants with summer patios.

DOWN BY THE RIVER: The city has done a terrific job with its waterfront, adding beautiful parks and walkways with activities for kids along the South Saskatchewan River. If you cross over the Broadway Bridge, you find hundreds of large rocks painted with Mickey Mouse faces or testaments of love. Paradise Beach is on the river about 25 kilometres east of downtown and has a clothing optional area nicknamed Beach. The Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan troupe does a fantastic job with both traditional Shakespeare works and other plays. I saw a wonderfully inventive, modernized version of The Taming of the Shrew,
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with great music and very good acting. This year the lineup includes a version of Julius Caesar set in the year 2416, with Rome set up as an all female city state made up of vengeful warriors. The Saskatoon Folk Fest features food and entertainment from around the world and runs Aug. 18 20 this year. The Broadway Theatre has been restored to its former glory and hosts both movies and live performances. Definitely worth checking out.

GREAT GOLF: Dakota Dunes is one of the unsung great golf spots of Canada. Located less than an hour south of the city, it a links style affair that rises and falls and swirls around small hills near the South Saskatchewan River. There a surprising (for folks from outside the province, anyway) amount of elevation change and some devilish holes. The course is kept in beautiful condition, with deep green fairways and greens surrounded by golden prairie grass that ablaze with wildflowers in summer.

FOOD and DRINK: Ayden Kitchen and Bar is one of my favourite restaurants in Canada, with properly bearded and tattooed young chefs who can produce a wide range of great meals. The Thai wings with lemongrass and kaffir lime are to die for, and they do great pasta and fish, too. In Riversdale, Drift Caf and Vista Lounge offers everything from coffee to handcrafted cocktails. Lucky Bastards is a fun, local distillery that makes a spiced vodka that would kick butt in a Caesar and a nice gin with Saskatoon berries and other botanicals, while Paddock Wood is a fine spot for beer that billed as the first craft brewery in Saskatchewan.

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cotton polo Five musts in Saskatoon