25 Fun Things to Do in Medicine Hat, Alberta

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In Edmonton where I live, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has been down to Medicine Hat. It’s a 5.5-hour drive, longer than it takes us to reach Jasper or Banff (but for those in Calgary, it’s within day tripping distance!)

In the southwestern corner of Alberta, it is the sixth largest city in Alberta by population. “The Hat” is more commonly visited by travelers on the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs through town between Calgary and Regina. Surrounded by arid grasslands and with 2554 hours (330 days) of sunshine per year, it has been called the sunniest city in Canada and the “oasis of the prairies.”

Deciding to finally make the trip and check Medicine Hat (as well as nearby Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park and the city of Lethbridge) off my Alberta bucket list, I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of things to do in Medicine Hat, from top-notch breweries and cafes in historic buildings to stunning green spaces and even a few ‘Giants of the Prairies’.

 

Street mural that says

 

Medicine Hat is also rich in history, being one of the oldest cities in Western Canada. It was once a border area between Blackfoot and Cree-Assiniboine lands. In 1883, the Canadian Pacific Railway first crossed the South Saskatchewan and established the frontier settlement, naming it Medicine Hat after indigenous legends.

As the town developed, it had the first hospital west of Winnipeg. It saw rapid industrial development due to its rich natural gas deposits (lending it the name “Gas City”) and clay highly suitable for pottery, for which the town became famous.

Today this history can be experienced in the super cute and totally walkable Medicine Hat downtown, as well as Medalta Historic Clay District in the east of the city.

After a whirlwind tour of Medicine Hat, I’ve put together this comprehensive list of my recommended sights & experiences for your Medicine Hat itinerary, whether you’re just passing through or staying for a few days like I did!

 

Table of Contents

Where to Stay in Medicine Hat

You’ll find the highest concentration of chain hotels and aging motels along the Trans-Canada running through town, though none are really convenient for visiting most Medicine Hat sights.

 

Inside of an Airbnb I chose, one of the best places to stay in Medicine Hat
I carefully chose this one-of-a-kind Airbnb in Medicine Hat!

 

For a more unique experience, I chose to stay in this Airbnb, which is run by local artist Kari Kanvas, who has done some of the awesome murals in town (see #5 below). The Airbnb features a wicked 60s retro themed living and dining room and loads of stunning artwork. Kari lives upstairs while the Airbnb is found on the main floor and basement, and I got to meet her super friendly dog and three cats.

The Airbnb was in a lovely, quiet neighborhood only a couple minutes’ walk from Swirls (see #12), Kin Coulee Park (#21), and about 15 minutes on foot to downtown. (As an Airbnb associate, I earn a small commission if you book through the above links, at no extra cost to you. Join Airbnb here and you’ll get up to $50 off your first stay!)

You can also search here for the best hotel deals in Medicine Hat!

 

Things to Do in Medicine Hat with Kids

If you’re visiting Medicine Hat with kids, then you may want to prioritize Saamis Teepee (#1), which is so big that even kids will be impressed, Page & Whisker (#11) for seeing cats, Swirls (#12) for icy treats, Windmill Garden Center (#18) for their petting zoo and butterfly garden, and all the parks I mention (#19-22).

You can also try Six One Entertainment for virtual reality games, swimming pools in town, or Col. Pepper’s Paintball out of town.

In summer, the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede is a popular multi-day event.

 

Top Medicine Hat Attractions

I arranged the below as follows: the top two sights in Medicine Hat, places to visit in Medicine Hat’s downtown, parks around the city, and finally a few day trips from Medicine Hat. At the end of the article, I’ve also listed some of the best places to eat in Medicine Hat.

 

1. See Saamis Teepee, the world’s largest!

Saamis Teepee, one of the most famous attractions in Medicine Hat

 

Standing a staggering 65.5 meters tall, Saamis Teepee is the city’s most iconic sight and one of the top things to do in Medicine Hat. If you’re arriving in town on the Trans-Canada Highway, you’ll see it towering beside the highway.

The metal teepee was originally designed by Steve Illes, in consultation with local indigenous tribes, for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. It was later purchased by Italian immigrant Rick Filanti and donated to the city of Medicine Hat. Today’s it’s a popular tourist attraction by day and hangout for local teens at night.

 

Saamis teepee looking down on Seven Persons Coulee and the Saamis Archaeological site
The teepee looks down over an important archaeological site

 

The teepee pays homage to Medicine Hat’s indigenous roots, and I felt humbled by its sheer size. I also enjoyed peering down into Seven Persons Coulee, beside which the teepee stands. The coulee is the location of the Saamis Archaeological Site, where millions of artifacts still lie in situ.

Saamis Teepee is free to visit and is only a few minutes (by car) from Medicine Hat’s Visitor Information Center. Due to the location, it’s best to arrive by car.

 

Related Article: Read 25 fun things to do in Fort McMurray and 25 fun things to do in Drumheller, two other fascinating Alberta towns!

 

2. Uncover pottery history at Medalta

Medalta Potteries factory exterior at the historic clay district in Medicine Hat, Alberta

 

Medicine Hat’s other most significant attraction is undoubtedly Medalta, the heart of the historic clay district. In the early 1900s, abundant gas and clay in the Medicine Hat area contributed to its development into the most important ceramics production center in Western Canada.

Today, the Medalta Potteries National Historic Site preserves a ceramics factory that operated from 1912 to 1954, including four beautifully maintained brick beehive kilns that visitors can enter today.

 

Exterior of beehive kilns at Medata, Medicine Hat
Beehive Kilns used for firing pottery

 

Interior of Beehive Kilns at Medalta National Historic Site in Medicine Hat
And here’s one of them from the inside

 

When I visited Medalta, I opted for the self-guided tour (which you can book online here). This included full access to the facilities and museum, including seeing the original foundations below the building and the impressive factory, which seems to have been left untouched since it closed down. Did you know that ceramic cowboy hat ashtrays were once a quintessential Medicine Hat souvenir? This was just one of the many things I learned during my visit.

Medalta also has guided and group tours available and hosts a variety of other events activities. The factory is at the east end of town; for a fun way to arrive you, can hop on the Medicine Hat Sunshine Trolley (see #13 below).

 

Cookie pots on display at Medalta historic site
Learning cool pottery facts at Medalta

 

3. Explore historic downtown Medicine Hat

A street view of brick buildings in downtown Medicine Hat
Golden Hour in downtown Medicine Hat

 

The next 15 or so entries are all located in downtown Medicine Hat, the historic city center on the south side of the South Saskatchewan River. The downtown core is located on 1st, 2nd and 3rd street SE, between McLeod Trail SE and S Railway Street. Coming from the south or west, all roads go downhill into the downtown area.

 

Canadian Bank of Commerce building, one of the historic buildings in downtown Medicine Hat
The Canadian Bank of Commerce Building (1908)

 

Original sign on a brick store front of King Edward Billiard Hall & Bowling Alley, dating to 1907.

 

You could easily spend a whole day downtown doing all the things mentioned below, but make sure you dedicate at least some of that time to simply strolling and admiring some of the historic buildings still standing and housing businesses today. I was particularly impressed by St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Monarch Theater (#15 below), the Canadian Bank of Commerce, Ewart Duggan House (#7), the Medicine Hat Railway Station, Kerr Wallace House, and St Patrick’s Church (#10 below).

See here for a full list of historic buildings in Medicine Hat, including a recommended walking tour of the best ones.

 

4. Support local craft beer breweries

I am an avid lover of craft beer. And while it’s hard to find a city or major town in Alberta that isn’t creating excellent suds these days, I must say I was still thoroughly impressed at the quality of brews being put out by Medicine Hat’s three craft breweries.

 

1. Hell’s Basement

Flight of beers on picnic table in the outdoor patio at Hell's Basement, the best brewery in Medicine Hat

Started in 2016, Hell’s Basement is Medicine Hat’s first modern-day brewery (there were breweries back in the old days; see more on that in #6 below). Their name comes from a quote that you’ll see all over town from Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling. After passing through town in 1907, Kipling famously said, “This part of the country seems to have All Hell for a basement, and the only trap door appears to be in Medicine Hat.”

Refreshingly satisfying brews like The Yard Pineapple Milkshake IPA, HuruHuru Pale Ale (made with New Zealand hops), award winning Ryes Against The Machine, and a dozen other choices make the quick hop to their homey taproom on the other side of the Trans-Canada Highway absolutely worth the trip. Even if you don’t make it  over, you can find their beers at liquor stores and bars such as the Yard (see below) in town.

 

2. Travois Ale Works

Travois Ale Works, serving some of the best beer in Medicine Hat

Travois gets extra points for having the best location, right on 3rd street downtown. But the reasons to visit don’t stop there. First you get to choose between sitting in the handsome brick interior of a building dating to 1939, from where you can peer into the brewing facility at the back, or on the stellar patio affording ideal downtown views for a late afternoon buzz.

And the beer itself? “Damn,” is all I can say. The focus here is on small batches of seasonal brews alongside longstanding staples. I was especially smitten with the guava lime blonde. A hibiscus mead also added some color to my beer flight. As if that weren’t enough, some locals told me that Travois also does excellent pizzas during normal times.

 

3. Medicine Hat Brewing Company

A can of beer from Medicine Hat Brewery
Photographed and and enjoyed this one in my Airbnb

 

Although I never made it over to the Medicine Hat Brewing Company (it’s at the north end of town, and driving would have meant I wouldn’t be able to enjoy much beer), their beers are available at liquor stores and bars in town.

I tried their Burnside Blood Orange on tap at The Local (see the “Where to Eat in Medicine Hat” section at the end) as well as their February Frost White India Pale Ale. Both were exceptional! If you do make it over, they also serve food in normal times (the restaurant was closed when I was in town).

 

The Yard

The Yard Medicine Hat, a pop-up craft beer bar
The Yard, Medicine Hat

 

Even if you don’t make it to one of the three Medicine Hat breweries (shame!), you can try all their beers at the Yard, a pop-up beer bar sandwiched between two buildings in downtown Medicine Hat. It’s across the street and just over from Travois. It’s pretty much THE place to be in summertime in Medicine Hat, but sadly was closed when I visited on a weekday in September; they had just reverted to off-season hours.

 

5. Go on a street art tour

Street art in Medicine Hat

 

Little Medicine Hat has a high concentration of awesome street art thanks in large part to Mural Fest, an event that was held in July 2019. Local artists as well as a few international ones (from California and Australia) painted several murals in town for the event, transforming the core downtown area into an outdoor art exhibit.

For a super detailed intro to Medicine Hat’s street art, including locations of all the murals, see this awesome guide to the Instagrammable walls of Medicine Hat from fellow Edmonton blogger Linda Hoang! Her site also features several articles covering Medicine Hat that were valuable resources when I visited, so do check it out!

In parks around town, including Central Park, you can also find artworks by local chainsaw artist Marina Cole!

 

A painted mural on the side of a brick wall in Medicine Hat
A mural painted by the host of my Airbnb!

 

6. Experience local arts & culture at The Esplanade

Exterior of the Esplanade building, an arts center and venue in Medicine Hat

 

The Esplanade is Medicine Hat’s primary center of local arts & heritage. The galleries and theater halls there showcase local music, dance, theater, painting, sculpture, & more. The center is named after the original riverfront street where the building now stands. It is located on the same street as the Medicine Hat Public Library, Court House, and City Hall, all worth a quick look when you’re in the area.

When I visited the Esplanade, there was a small exhibition on local street artist Jeff Goring and Regina-based pastel drawing and ceramic artist Zachari Logan. I was also able to visit the Esplanade Museum, a small but highly informative exhibit which covers Medicine Hat history. I was fascinated to learn that Medicine Hat has a beer brewing history that goes back to 1885 and thriving until the prohibition era!

Entrance to both was PWYW (Pay What You Will). Under normal times, there are drinks served on site during theater events. Check out the Esplanade website for information on what’s going on now.

You can also try the Medicine Hat Musical Theater for live events in town!

 

7. Admire Ewart Duggan House

Ewart Duggan House in Medicine Hat

 

At the northeast corner of the Esplanade stands Ewart Duggan House, a well-preserved 1.5-story red brick Victorian house dating to 1887. The house is believed to be the oldest brick residence in all of Canada. It was originally built for a local businessman and his wife, daughter of an important pioneer. You can walk right up to the house and read more about its history on the plaques.

Some important features to note include its remarkable condition, corbelled chimney, painted wooden sills and lintels, front bay window, and decorative gingerbread trim.

 

8. Play on the world’s largest chess set

The world's largest chess set, located in Medicine Hat Canada

 

That’s right, Medicine Hat is home to the world’s largest chess set, certified by the Guinness World Records. It is located on the lawn between Court of Queen’s Bench Building and the Medicine Hat Public Library, with pretty river valley views just a few steps away. The chess set was made by the Medicine Hat Chess Club.

To actually play the chess set, with pieces up to 4 foot in height, you’ll have to book it online up to two days in advance, with a suggested donation of $10/hour.

 

9. Chill out in a local café

There are some fine choices in downtown Medicine Hat when it comes to coffee time!

 

1. The Station

The Station, one of the best cafes in Medicine Hat
The Station is housed in a historic building

 

I got my fix at The Station, a few steps away from the railway tracks on 2nd street SE. The historic brick building was originally a Japanese-owned grocery store. It was later occupied by a sewing store for 20-some years. The café owners retained the sewing store sign, an old clock, and the gorgeous wooden floors.

The Station is highly atmospheric; they’ve really preserved the historic feel, right down to details like black piping holding up the tables. Highly recommended!

 

A cup of coffee on a table inside The Station, Medicine Hat
Coffee inside a grocery store tunred sewing shop turned cafe!

 

2. Madhattter Coffee Roastery

Another local favorite, Madhatter roasts its coffee beans in house. The smell inside will have you lingering! The café is run by a passionate young couple who support local causes. You can read their story and more on their website.

 

3. Inspire Café

For a unique experience, try Inspire Café, which is a café within an art gallery showcasing local artwork. It is located inside the historic Hargrave-Sissons Block by the railway line. They also serve comfort foods, desserts, and occasionally host live music.

 

10. Cross Finlay Bridge to see St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

Finlay Bridge and the South Saskatchewan River in Medicine Hat

 

Dating to 1908, the 274-meter Finlay Bridge was the largest steel bridge in Western Canada when it was first constructed to connect northern and southern Medicine Hat. Before it was built, residents could only cross the river by ferry or by riding across the train bridge next to it.

Today, you can follow 2nd Ave NE past City Hall to cross the bridge and enjoy lovely South Saskatchewan river valley views. On the other side, you’ll be taken right to stunning Saint Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church

The church is one of the most beautiful buildings in all of Medicine Hat. It is a fine example of the Gothic Revival Style and is recognized as a national historic site.

 

Saint Patricks Roman Catholic Church, a national historic site in Medicine Hat, Alberta

 

11. Support street cats at The Page & Whisker

Inside the Page & Whisker used bookstore in Medicine Hat

 

Just opened in January 2020, The Page & Whisker is an awesome new addition to Downtown Medicine Hat. All purchases from their large selection of used books go towards helping street cats. Several frisky felines from the local animal shelter inhabit the bookstore, waiting for you to adopt them.

According to the super friendly staff when I visited, they’ve had great luck so far, finding homes for 40+ cats, despite 2020 difficulties and temporary closure.

 

A cat waiting to be adopted from Page & Whisker used bookstore
“Adopt me plz!”

 

12. Find out why Swirls’ ice cream is so famous

A XXX at Swirls Ice Cream in Medicine Hat
A cherry iceberg from the walk-up window at Swirls

 

If you don’t stop at local institution Swirls for an ice cream, then you haven’t really been to Medicine Hat. The walk-up ice creamery has been operating for over 35 years. The menu features soft ice cream with flavorbursts or dips, milkshakes with 30+ flavors, arctic swirls (like a blizzard/McFlury but with way more of the good stuff added), icebergs (slushies with soft ice cream), floats, parfaits, and more.

A word of warning; the sizes are insane. I couldn’t even finish my small! They’ve also got a branch in Lethbridge and some trucks that cruise around town, plus a new one operating in White City/Regina!

 

13. Pay your respects at the Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park

An old train car at Riverside Veterans' Memorial Park, Medicine Hat
Retired trains cars

 

Facing the South Saskatchewan just east of Finlay Bridge, Riverside Veterans’ Memorial Park is dedicated to local veterans who’ve fought or died in wars. The park is a peaceful escape affording pleasant river views, and there’s a beautiful mural by local artist Jim Marshall depicting local history. You can see other works by Marshall at the beautiful Medicine City Hall building, which details the history of the town, as well as a piece on the life of Christ north of the river.

You’ll also want to check out the two Canadian Pacific diesel trains on site, which traveled over seven million miles before being retired, as well as the World War II Sherman tank which was donated to the city in 1967.

 

14. Ride the Medicine Hat Sunshine Trolley

The coolest way to travel between the major sites of Medicine Hat is by hopping on the restored Medicine Hat Sunshine Trolley. There are three scheduled routes, which can get you to the Visitor’s Information Center (for Saamis Teepee), downtown, Police Point Park, and Medalta.

A day pass costs $10, while kids ride free! You’ll want to purchase your ticket online to guarantee a spot, as the trolley isn’t always running (it wasn’t on the day I visited, hence I didn’t get a photo of it). The bus can also be rented for private tours, including a brewery tour. Find ticket info, schedules, and everything else you need to know on the official site.

 

15. See a Movie at Monarch Theater

The outside of Monarch Theater in Medicine Hat, one of the oldest continously running theaters in the world

 

Located on 2nd street SE, The Monarch is the oldest continually running theater is Western Canada, dating to 1911. Movies are shown on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 7:30 p.m. See what’s currently showing on the official site!

 

16. Shop for olive oil & vinegar at The Hat’s Olive Tap

The Hat's Olive Tap, an olive oil shop in Medicine Hat, one of the best places to buy Medicine Hat souvenirs
Too many choices…

 

This was my top accidental find when exploring downtown Medicine Hat. The Hat’s Olive Tap has dozens of top-end, flavor-infused, and artisanal olive oils and dark & white balsamic vinegars from around the word. You can taste anything before you buy, and if you’ve come to shop, you are going to be hard-pressed to narrow down your choices. They’ll fill up a fresh new bottle for you when you buy.

Not only did I stock up on Christmas presents for my family, but I left wishing I hadn’t just eaten, as they also serve what looks like an incredible menu of focaccia, salads, soups, chips and salsa, and more.

 

17. Stock up on booze at Aberdeen Spirits & Track Side

Aberdeen Spirits, one of the best liquor strores in Medicine Hat
Flashy interior of Aberdeen Spirits, housed in a historic building

 

If touring breweries wasn’t quite enough for you, you can also purchase bottles of your beverage of choice at some great local liquor stores. Aberdeeen Spirits is just a few blocks up the hill south of downtown and has a decent selection of wines, spirits, and local beers. It’s housed in a century old building that has in the past been a grocery store, drugstore, and bookstore. The shop even won the Alberta Liquor Store Association for best liquor store in Alberta, South Zone, a few years ago. I had the pleasure of meeting a super friendly Sue manning the shop when I visited!

If beer is your thing, Track Side Liquor Store has by far the most varieties on offer in town.

 

18. See butterflies at Windmill Garden Center

Another special business worth visiting in Medicine Hat, just west of downtown, is the Windmill Garden Center. Besides the multitude of plants available for purchase in the greenhouse, you can also pop into John’s Butterfly House, where you can spot owl butterflies, monarchs, blue morphos, atlas moths, and more. There are also turtles, coi, and a petting zoo complete with bunnies, ducks and more, so it’s a great place to take the kids!

See the entrance fees on the Windmill Garden Center website.

 

19. Go for a stroll at Strathcona Island Park

Walking path and beautiful view of South Saskatchewan River in Strathcona Island Park

 

For a green retreat, head to Strathcona Island Park at the eastern end of town, on the southern bank of the South Saskatchewan. It may not look like an island on the map, but creeks around the park make it so at certain times of the year. The island was originally inhabited by indigenous people, but frequent flooding and difficulty accessing the island when water levels were high forced them to abandon the settlement.

I’d recommend driving in to the far end of the park, then following the walking trail along the river to the end (trail pictured above), where I enjoyed awesome views of the cliffs and looking across to Police Point Park on the other side (see #20 below). There’s also a spray park and playground on site for the kids, as well as a river boat launch and baseball facilities.

This park was totally flooded by the great 2013 Medicine Hat flood, and they’ve since installed flood gates that you’ll drive though on the way in.

 

Spotted deer, Strathcona Island Park
Deer I spotted at Strathcona Island Park

 

20. See the Cottonwoods at Police Point Park

Cottonwood tree, Police Point Park, Medicine Hat
Impressive cottonwoods in Police Point Park

 

Across the South Saskatchewan from Strathcona Island, Police Point Park has a totally different feel and is equally worth a visit. The park preserves nearly 100 hectares of untouched nature; even after the 2013 flood they left all the accumulated wood piles as they were. The park is named after the fact that it was once the site of the Northwest Mounted Police outpost in Medicine Hat.

Many people come here to see the beautiful cottonwood trees in their final stages of life. The park also has some of the best hiking trails in Medicine Hat. To access the park, park your car at the Police Point Park Interpretive Center, and step inside first to get a map of the walking trails, learn about local plants & animals, and get answers to any questions you may have from the super informative staff on duty.

 

21. Get fit at Kin Coulee Park

Skateboarding park in Kin Coulee Park
Skate Park at Kin Coulee

 

Closer to the Medicine Hat city center than the above two parks, Kin Coulee Park occupies a coulee adjacent to Highway 1 just south of downtown. The park is a go-to place among locals for recreational activities such as picnicking, tennis, basketball, and skateboarding/scootering at the dedicated skatepark.

 

Field, tree, and cliffs at Kin Coulee Park in Central Medicine Hat
Pretty Kin Coulee Park

 

22. Gaze at red cliffs at Echo Dale Regional Park

Red cliff towering above a river at Echo Dale Regional Park
Eponymous red cliff on the Redcliff side of the river, viewed from Echo Dale

 

A 15-minute drive from Medicine Hat will bring you to Echo Dale, one of the best parks in the greater Medicine Hat area. Before driving down into the park, you can stop for an epic view looking down on the two man-made lakes and the cliffs on the opposite bank of the South Saskatchewan.

At the smaller of the two lakes, there’s a fine beach, playground, and swim center. There are also some good walking trails, campfire and picnic spots, and boat rentals on the larger lake. Follow the trails east along the river to get a close-up view of the impressive red cliffs, which give the town of Redcliff on the other side its name.

If you’re driving into Medicine Hat on Highway 1 from the northwest, you can also stop at Redcliff and go for a stroll along the river in River Valley Park, but to actually see the red cliffs, Echo Dale is best! If you do happen to stop in Redcliff, the Redcliff Museum also comes highly recommended by one reader, who says it features giant photo murals of the town taken in the 1920s. The museum was closed at the time I visited.

 

View from above of lake at Echo Dale, one of the best places for swimming in Medicine Hat
One of the twin lakes at Echo Dale

 

23. Experience the surreal landscape of Red Rock Coulee

Me on a rock at Red Rock Coulee
More redness at Red Rock Coulee (Yup, that’s me. Thank you tripod!)

 

About 50 kilometers southwest of town (35 minutes by car), Red Rock Coulee Natural Area is an off-the-beaten track spot that is worth the effort. There the arid coulee slopes are dotted with huge red sandstone concretions. These spherical boulders are formed when the sediment around them erodes away, and they range in size from 1.5 to 2.5 meters in diameter.

When I visited in the early morning, I was the only one there (unless you count the rabbits). The concretions are an unusual but awe-inspiring sight. Note that there are no facilities on site besides one picnic table a sign explaining the landscape. You can visit Red Rock Coulee en route to Writing-on-Stone (see #24).

 

Day Trips from Medicine Hat

My final three entries are more like day trips from Medicine Hat, or overnighters if you’ve got the time.

 

24. Hunt for Dino Fossils at Dinosaur Provincial Park

A girl sitting beside of real dinosaur leg bone on a Dinosaur Provincial Park Interpretive tour

An hour and 15 minutes’ drive to the northwest will bring you to yet another incredible place: Dinosaur Provincial Park. More than 50 dinosaur species have discovered in the park, and it is the largest badlands are in all of Canada. The park features an excellent campsite and some amazing hiking trails & interpretive tours, on which you could even find dinosaur fossils (we did!)

See my information in my guide to things to do in Dinosaur Provincial Park.

 

25. See the rock art and hoodoos at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

Cliffs and hoodoos beside Milk River in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, Alberta

 

The incredible Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is an hour and 45 minutes drive from Medicine Hat, near the United States border.

Writing-on-Stone features some of the best-preserved indigenous rock art in North America, impressive hoodoos, walking trails, a great campsite with a beach on the Milk River, and out-of-this-world scenery. It’s really the kind of place you must see in your lifetime.

 

Impressive hoodoos at Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
Towering hoodoos

 

26. Get back to nature at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta

 

An impressive park that spans the Alberta-Saskatchewan border is Cypress Hills. The whole area was not glaciated, so it has a lush, green, hilly landscape that is rich in plant and animal life and is in complete contrast to the surrounding dry, flat grasslands. There are numerous campsites, lakes, and other activities to enjoy within the park.

The Alberta side of Cypress Hills is centered on Elkwater Lake, which is only a 45-minute drive from Medicine Hat. Find more information on the park’s official site. For winter visitors, there’s also decent skiing at Hidden Valley Ski Resort nearby! If you’re heading to the area, you can also consider visiting Fort Walsh, a national historic site, across the Saskatchewan border.

 

Where to Eat in Medicine Hat

Veggie plate at Fatuma's Ethiopian Restaurant
Try Fatuma’s for some of the best vegetarian food in Medicine Hat!

 

You definitely aren’t going to be short for dining options in Medicine Hat. My favorite meals while in town were at The Local, a popular pub restaurant, and the excellent vegan lunch I had at Fatuma’s Ethiopian Restaurant, both downtown.

Travois Ale Works apparently does excellent pizzas, while Medicine Hat Brewing also has good meals to go along with their fine beers. Try The Kommon for healthy eats, Thai Orchid Room for Thai, Tsuki for Japanese, Redcliff Bakery for baked goods, and The Donut People and of course Swirls for dessert.

 

Fish tacos at the Local, one of the most popular bars in Medicine Hat
Fish tacos at The Local

 

Ranchmen Motel sign, one of the most famous places in Medicine Hat
The iconic Ranchmen Motel sign along the Trans-Canada in Medicine Hat

 

I hope you’ve found more than enough ideas for things to do in Medicine Hat so that you can plan an epic visit. If anything needs to be updated or you think I’ve missed something great, please let me know in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “25 Fun Things to Do in Medicine Hat, Alberta”

  1. I have to say, this is the best and most comprehensive list of things to see and do in Medicine Hat!! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Reply
  2. There are numerous beautiful golf courses, Hidden Valley ski resort near Elkwater, lots of shopping (both conventional and a great farmer’s market), The Beefeater restaurant, and the leisure centre and MH Tigers games for families once they are playing again. The Medicine Hat Musical Theatre also puts on some great shows. Some parks have wooden sculptures done by a local chainsaw artist. There are about 115 km of walking trails throughout the city (but watch for rattlesnakes)!

    Back in downtown, City Hall is beautiful and has a brick mural (also by James Marshall) of the story of how we got our name, and my favourite house is the Kerr Wallace house, across the street from the public library 🙂 Medicine Hat is quite a unique city I think most people take for granted.

    Oh, and the town of Redcliff is one word.

    Your pictures of the city are beautiful! The places you chose to visit are great as well 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful article!

    Reply
    • Thanks a lot; I wish I had all these great tips before I went there! I may add some of them to the article to give even more ideas to readers.
      I have a habit of writing “Red Cliff” (two words) because I have two friends who made a band with this name ha ha! No relation to the town though, just a coincidence. Thanks again!

      Reply
  3. James Marshall created a very impressive tableau on the life of Christ, somewhere near the Roman Catholic church that you have pictured. I’ll stick a link at the end. Worth seeing whether you are religious or not.
    Personally, I would put Medalta at #1, far ahead of anything else. I was raised in the Med. Hat area and visit on every return trip. You can also see Medalta pottery at the national museum in Ottawa.
    The Redcliff Museum is great. Especially noteworthy are the giant, high definition photo murals of the town taken in the 1920s.
    And I would mention in connection with the various parks that there’s an extensive trail network for cycling and hiking covering many miles.
    The red cliffs visible from Echo Dale park are quite climbable (at least, I did as a kid, and still do on visits) and there is a trail along the north side of the river. You have to drive across Redcliff in order to find it.
    In the summer the Medicine Hat Rodeo and Stampede is a major event.
    Finally, Fort Walsh – national historic site – is not all that far away. I’ve never been so can’t comment personally. I also have visited East End and Shaunovan but they’re probably out of scope for those interested in Medicine Hat.

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    • Thank you so much for these detailed suggestions, Henry! I’m going to add a few to the article, and your comment will surely be useful to other people planning trips to Medicine Hat!

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