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A Weekend Away in Medicine Hat  

Tucked away in the southeastern corner of Alberta is Canada’s sunniest metropolis of Medicine Hat. Often boasting some of the hottest temperatures in the province during summer, this city should definitely be on the hit list of avid staycationers, Alberta-bound roadtrippers, and local daytrippers alike. I spent a weekend this summer being a tourist in a town I’d only ever past through. Let me tell you, it takes a little effort to actually be a tourist. It’s easy to say you’ve been there done that, but you’d be missing out on a whole world of experience if you did. Every town across Alberta has a story to tell, and the best place to start is by talking to and hanging out with ‘those in the know’ - locals. 


For my visit, I was able to get some advice from Tourism Medicine Hat on what to do and where to stay in the city. Here’s some of the highlights of my weekend adventure in this vibrant and historic city.


Without a doubt Medicine Hat is well-known for having the worlds largest tepee. You can see it from the air if you’re visiting via plane, and its hard to miss as you drive into the city. It’s a beautiful structure, and makes for some really great views. If you can manage it time and weather-wise, try to make your visit near sunset. The geometric structure on a backdrop of blues, yellows, oranges and reds of the setting sun makes for some really cool and unique photos. While there, you’ll also notice you're sitting on the edge of badlands with coulees and really cool rock formations just a short drive away. There’s plenty of trails in that area, so do take advantage if you can.


The problem with only passing through a place is that most thoroughfares don’t bring you into the downtown core, and Medicine Hat should be proud of their historical downtown area. They have gone through great lengths to retain the architecture and charm of their historic city, and as a tourist this was a refreshing find. A stone's throw from the hundred year-old Finlay Bridge, you’ll find the heart of Medicine Hat. With great places for coffee like Station Coffee Co. and Madhatter Coffee Roastery - it’s an awesome place to start your day. My weekend visit was a lucky one, as it was also the week of the Downtown Art Walk, which meant that the many art galleries downtown were available for walk-throughs, which was an excellent way to talk to and meet locals. One of my many questions revolved around lunch, and while there were many recommendations for places downtown, one specific place was the theme of my conversations: Zucchini Blossom.


A short drive away from downtown in a residential area lined with poplars is where we found our lunch spot. The restaurant/cafe is a hard place to find - but look for the yellow ZB that adorns its facade to find your way. This cafe offers locally roasted coffee as well as salads, paninis, sandwiches and desserts. I devoured the goat cheese, arugula and pecan salad, and enjoyed a lemonade pop with a ginger cookie. Not only did this place have great eats, but also a really cool vibe. The locals were there working, gossiping, eating and relaxing on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The patio out front is also a neat place to people watch, or sit down to read a nice book.


After talking to a few locals, I found out about the next two things I wanted to check out while in town. To start (and I didn’t know this), Medicine Hat is well known for it’s historic clay district. The city was literally built on it. The river beds of the South Saskatchewan river were found to hold excellent brick making clay, and in the early 1900’s this clay brought about an industrial boom to the city - where the bricks were often used to build the buildings still standing today. This history is still being taught today at Medalta. Medalta is now an innovative museum, contemporary ceramic arts facility and art gallery built in a century-old brick factory. You can check out some cool restorations of old equipment, archaeology and even workshops and live entertainment. My visit here was for the Dirty Hands festival which happens at the end of September - where visitors can get dirty and make their own pots and bowls from the clay, while enjoying local music, food and drinks.


The second thing I was told about was right up my alley: craft beer. While I had already tried some local beers from the Medicine Hat Brewery - specifically their Burnside Blood Orange Ale (which went perfectly after a round of golf I might add), I was told to head over to Hell’s Basement Brewery for a tasting and brewery tour. The owner was very welcoming, happy to answer any of my questions along the tour, and gladly had me try over eight different types of craft beer from their season.  They had everything from lighter fruity lagers, to wheat beers, to deep, dark stouts. If you do get a chance to spend a day in Medicine Hat, this stop is highly recommended. With rotating taps every season, you can go back year in and out, and never get tired of the selection of beers here.


Last on my list of must-dos in Medicine Hat is a combo. You really do need to take the opportunity to hike or even bike in the huge hiking and biking trail system this city boasts. The unique landscape is best seen by foot, but if you’re more inclined to see it by golf cart, like I am, you can definitely do that as well.  The Medicine Hat Golf & Country Club has some beautiful views of the river valley and Police Point Park. If you’re lucky enough to play this course in fall, the colors of the aspen trees will blow you away. Desert Blume Golf Resort is a championship golf course carved into the badlands landscape - which is really a treat to play for golfers of all levels. This undulated course, was by far my highlight of my stay, and is a must-play for any hardcore golfers. Redcliff Riverview is another course a short drive out of the city, straddling the badlands canyons with coulees visible throughout the back nine. 


For most visitors, my weekend was utterly jam packed. For those looking for a more laid back vacation, Medicine Hat can cater to your needs. No matter your pace, the city delivers. Whether you’re interested in sports, history, photography, dining or drinks - Medicine Hat has you covered.

By: Duncan McGillivray
A Weekend Away in Medicine Hat


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Tourism Medicine Hat
#330 Gehring Road S.W
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada T1B 4W1

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Monday - Saturday: 9:00AM - 4:30PM

May Long - Labour Day
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Tourism Medicine Hat

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