A weekend escape should offer you something new, something fun, something relaxing, and something different. It should be to a place where you can lazily wander, or get your blood pumping.
When it’s time to break the routine and quickly get out of town for a couple of nights of “different,” Medicine Hat offers the perfect option. With 330 days of sunshine a year, the Gas City boasts a burgeoning food scene, a laid back small town pace, and arts attractions mixed with something for adrenaline seekers. Medicine Hat makes for a great weekend getaway, less than a tank of gas away.
There are 8 golf courses around Medicine Hat ranging from the quick Par 3 course at Paradise Valley to the challenge of Desert Blume. If you’re headed out with younger kids, you could even get a round in at Hoopla’s, a mini putt course just off the Trans Canada.
Just a few minutes east of Medicine Hat is the Dunmore Dugout, a play area with go-karts, batting cages, laser tag, trampolines, and a wild collection of vintage arcade games.
Panorama Lanes serves up both 5 pin and 10 pin bowling action.
The Medicine Hat Speedway is a great way to spend a summer night cheering on the drivers. And amateurs can get in on the action too, anyone with a helmet, street legal car, license, registration, insurance, and $30 can rip down the only NHRA sanctioned strip in the province on Friday nights.
With the South Saskatchewan River running right through town, you know there’s great fishing to be had in the Hat. Get out with River Run Adventures and you could find yourself hooking into a prehistoric beast. Yes, sturgeon fishing is possible right out of Medicine Hat where you could land a 100 year old monster while also seeking out walleye, goldeye, pike, and burbot.
The historic clay district of Medicine Hat centres around Medalta. For decades this factory was an important industry for the prairies pumping out boxcars of crockery for the entire British Empire. Today the area is a place where artists can hone their craft and visitors can wander about the huge kilns and old machinery imagining what life was like in the industrial era.
The Esplanade is where arts and heritage come to life in Medicine Hat. Music, dance, and theatre are all performed here alongside an art gallery and museum.
The Saamis Teepee is “the big thing” in town, located just off the Trans Canada highway. The world’s biggest teepee was a centrepiece for the 1988 Calgary Olympics before it was bought by a Medicine Hat businessman and brought to town to attract tourists.
Downtown Medicine Hat is home to a number of galleries and 8 of them have gotten together to have occasional Medicine Hat art walks. You can wander the galleries, see the creations, and get more of the history. You could also take a self-guided Historical Walking Tour of Medicine Hat to see the gorgeous old homes and building around downtown.
The pathways through the coulee around Strathcona Island, and through to Police Point Park are great places to explore in Medicine Hat. Whether you’re taking the kids to splash or climb in one of the parks, place some ball at Kin Coulee, go for an early morning run, or seek out some geocaches, they’re all filled with areas to explore.
The Windmill Garden Centre is more than just a place to get your annuals, perennials, and gardening knick knacks – it’s also home to a collection of butterflies. John Van Dam, one of the co-founders of the centre, visited Florida often and fell in love with the flutterers. It became a dream to recreate that tropical paradise in Medicine Hat, and the Butterfly House was born.
Saskatchewan is right there, when you’re in Medicine Hat. Just 30 minutes down the road you can knock a province off your bucket list and make a visit. Just don’t stay too long–those Rider Fans are unpredictable.
The Red Rock Coulee Natural Area is a provincial park about 30 minutes south of Medicine Hat. The area has some large red spherical sandstone rocks that have eroded out of the softer bedrock. Some measure up to 2.5 metres across and are believed to be among largest in the world. Keep your eyes peeled for animals too. The usual suspects of jack rabbits, mule deer, call this area home along with western rattlesnakes and short-horned lizards!
Medicine Hat has a burgeoning food scene. Each spring they host the Sunshine Skillet which features chef competitions, long table dinners, and a big celebration of eats.
The most classic joint to visit when in Medicine Hat is Tino’s. The family run burger drive-in opened in July 1967, and still serves up burgers, fries, and shakes to a long line of locals. The shake menu is eclectic, to say the least. Are you brave enough to go for cucumber?
Rustic Kitchen + Bar is a place to find a celebration of fresh, local ingredients. They source the veggies from the greenhouses next door in Redcliff, their meats all from local suppliers. If you want to know what Alberta tastes like, this is it.
Skinny’s Smoke House is as about an authentic BBQ joint as you can find outside the Carolinas. Stacks of hickory wood line the serving counter and you will be smelling the sweet smoke of barbecue on your clothes hours after you leave. I’m all about the brisket here, baby.
Local has literally taken over downtown Medicine Hat. The pub has pushed their patio out onto the sidewalk, detouring pedestrian traffic to where street parking used to be. There’s lots of tvs inside, there’s lots of sunshine and seating outside, and the beer and food flow.
McBride’s Bakery offers donuts (seek out the Big Elvis, a bacon and peanut butter covered gem), cookies, bread (get an extra loaf to bring home), croissants, cakes, and and and .. all made locally.
I didn’t know what soft serve ice cream was supposed to taste like until I went to Swirls. Imagine greek yogurt as soft serve, that’s what this Medicine Hat legend serves up. It’s not grainy and airy like the fast food places, it’s thick, and rich, and ZOMG.
If you’re self catering or need some suds for back in the room at the end of the day, make a visit to Trackside Liquor. I have never seen a better selection of craft brews in the province. Keep your eyes open for Hell’s Basement Brewery products, the local craft brewery is expected to be online by summer 2016