You don’t need to get away for a full week to get away from it all. Even a weekend staycation is enough to recharge the batteries and get back to the grind.
Less than a tank of gas away, Medicine Hat, makes for a perfect place to get out of town, do something different, and come back smiling and refreshed. We piled into a Ford Edge and made the trek for a weekend escape to start summer. Here are our pick of the highlights you and the family can explore in Medicine Hat.
Things To Do On A Family Weekend In Medicine Hat:
It’s less than 3 hours to Medicine Hat, so you can leave after work on Friday and still get there with the summer twilight twinkling. We stayed at the Days Inn Medicine Hat for our stay, it has easy access to the Trans Canada, but most importantly it has an indoor waterslide.
Breakfast is included at the Days Inn Medicine Hat, but you’ll still want to get up early and head over to McBride’s Bakery to grab some sweet treats for the day. A favourite Medicine Hat bakery, you’ll want to seek out the Big Elvis, a donut that could feed the family.
— McBrides Bakery (@McBridesBakery) June 20, 2015
After breakfast, take a quick drive over to the Saamis Teepee to explore the First Nations history of the area. The kids will have fun chasing groundhogs, and you could even wander down the path into the coulee for a different view. Be careful, what goes down needs to hike back up!
After a morning of wandering and exploring, a visit to Tino’s will hit the spot. This drive-in burger joint has been open since July 1, 1967 and is a must-visit for tourists and locals alike. Burgers, hot dogs, and shakes are the heart of the operation. I chose a saskatoonberry shake, but was very tempted by the cucumber offering.
After a big lunch, head into the Historical Clay District of Medicine Hat to wander Medalta. Decades ago, this area was home to a vibrant industry manufacturing pottery for Canada. Boxcars of dishes, beanpots, and more would come out of this factory every day. The facilities have been partially restored and it’s a wonderful area to spend some time and maybe even run into a modern artist in residence.
Head back to the hotel for a few more slides at the pool and maybe a quick nap before heading out for the evening.
If you’d like to have a dinner out, you could choose the Rustic Kitchen + Bar, a place that prides itself on serving a taste of Alberta across its menu with a wealth of local suppliers. Or you could head into the coulee below the Saamis teepee for dinner at Paradise Valley Golf Club.
Then again, you might just want to grab a hot dog at the track, because on summer nights in Medicine Hat, you want to head to the track. The Medicine Hat Speedway has racing on most Saturday nights through the summer (Friday nights you can bring your street legal car, papers, and helmet and tear down the drag strip on your own).
It’s a great place to watch some hot rods and trucks do laps and the kids will have fun dreaming of Mater and Lightning McQueen.
If you need a coffee to get going after a loud night, a pop over to Medicine Hat’s Mad Hatter Coffee Roastery should provide the fuel you need to start the day.
After that wander over to the Windmill Garden Centre and their famous Butterfly House. It’s your usual garden centre with bedding plants, perennials, and garden gnomes, but the treasure is the Butterfly House. The late co-owner of the shop, John Van Dam, started the attraction after a visit to Florida. He wanted to recreate the tropics in the badlands, and the Butterfly House was born.
Once you’ve got your green thumbs all satisfied, it’s time to put a smile on your stomach. Head over the bridge to the other side of the South Saskatchewan River for lunch.
Skinny’s Smoke House is the real deal, my friends. Chicken, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, corn bread, potato salad, cherry cokes, and more. The smell hits you when you walk in the door and the great taste stays with you all day. A couple of 3 meat combos should be good to feed your family, and give everyone a taste of everything on the menu.
Fully sated, stay on the north side of the South Saskatchewan River to head into Police Point Park. This is a great place to go for a walk to seek out some geocaches or spend some time exploring the Nature Center.
As Sunday afternoon wanes on, you’ll want to leave yourself enough room in your stomach and enough time in the day to drop into Swirls for an ice cream treat before hitting the road to head home.
Swirls has been around for more than 30 years and serves up fun concoctions of both soft-serve and hard ice cream. But go for the soft-serve, it is the thickest and richest I’ve ever had. Fabulous.
Have more time than just a weekend?
If you’ve got some extra time to kill, or don’t like what I’ve suggested, you can head out on the highway and stretch your road trip just a little further. 60km south of Medicine Hat is the Red Rock Coulee. Here you can head down some long, straight dirt roads to see big round red rocks eroded from the badlands.
Or you can point your ride east and hit up the Dunmore Dugout just outside Medicine Hat for some bouncing on trampolines, games of laser tag, or go-kart races. Head a little further, and you’ll find yourself in Saskatchewan.
We made a run for that border, just to get this picture as my wife had never been before. Bucket list check!
These are just some of our highlights after a long weekend in Medicine Hat. What are your favorite places to discover?
Disclosure: We were guests of Stay In Medicine Hat for our visit.