Once a wild whiskey trading post, Lethbridge is Alberta’s third largest city. This sunny city sits in the heart of southern Alberta’s ranch country and has an incredible amount of parkland. The deep coulees of the Oldman River literally divide the city and create a fascinating space for hiking and other activities. On a recent visit, we found some amazing things to do in Lethbridge – a place that retains the fun-loving spirit of its past.
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Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
First opened in 1967, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden is the perfect cure for whatever ails you. It’s a 3.75-acre paradise of trees, water features, pathways and peace designed by Dr. Masami Sugimoto and Dr. Tadashi Kubo of Japan. The pavilion, shelter, bridges and gates were built in Kyoto, Japan and then reassembled in Lethbridge. These beautiful gardens are a lasting tribute to the many citizens of Japanese ancestry that contributed to the city. We dressed up in a traditional Japanese yukata, participated in a tea ceremony and strolled through the gardens. It’s a truly unique experience that is one of the best things to do in Lethbridge.
Related: Lethbridge is a short 90-minute drive from Castle Provincial Park. Check out our post Table Mountain, Alberta – A Most Instagramable Hike.
Inside Indian Battle Park, Fort Whoop-up is a replica of the original fur trading fort built in the late 1800s. It was originally called Fort Hamilton, but the nickname was Fort Whoop-up and that’s the name that stuck. If you visit the fort, you’ll learn about its whiskey trading past from the mid-1860s to the early 1890s. You’ll also learn about the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), Métis and other people who traded here. Managed by the Galt Museum, there is a whole lot of fascinating history to explore in this site. There are also wagon rides, animals and wildlife to see.
Roadtripping with Kids
These inexpensive backseat car organizers are a lifesaver if you’re on the road with kids. They protect your seats and have lots of great storage spots including a tablet holder, so kids can watch movies
Broxburn Vegetables & Café
Located in Lethbridge County, Broxburn Vegetables & Café is near the top of our list of things to do in Lethrbidge. That’s probably because we like food – a lot. This family-owned and operated business has a great onsite restaurant that serves delicious food made from locally produced ingredients. It’s also a great place to purchase organic fruits and vegetables. The farm also has U-Pick strawberries and raspberries. It’s a great place to get a taste of southern Alberta – literally.
Alberta Birds of Prey Centre
Less than 20-minutes outside Lethbridge, the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre is Canada’s largest birds of prey facility. Located on a 70-acre wetland, it is dedicated to the preservation of the hawks, falcons, eagles and owls of Alberta. Orphaned and injured birds of prey are nursed back to health and released back into the wild. Some birds that cannot be released are permanent residents at the centre. There are birds of prey shows and educational displays. You can walk through the facility and see a wide variety of raptors. You can also feed the ducks and geese and get a picture with an owl or hawk on your arm. The staff are passionate about wildlife and a visit to the centre helps support the important work they do. For us, visiting the centre was one of the most unforgettable things we did in Lethbridge.
For five days in August, the City of Lethbridge celebrates its wild past with a fantastic annual festival. A parade, rodeo, midway and music festival are all part of Whoop-up Days. We attended this festival in 2019 and it was incredibly fun! StagEx added a fantastic music festival with outdoor concerts by big name bands. It was a chance to see Canadian country artists like Corb Lund and Sam Roberts Band up close. Attending Whoop-up Days is one of the best things to do in Lethbridge during the summer.
Water Tower Grill
The Water Tower Grill is one of the most unique dining venues in Canada. Constructed between 1957 and 1959, this water tower is one of the most iconic structures in the city. Dubbed the “Green Goliath,” the structure held 1.9 million litres of pressurized potable water. When it was decommissioned in 1999, it was converted into a restaurant. As of 2019, the restaurant is under the management of Vintage Group and has a new menu and philosophy. It’s the place to go for an impeccable steak served with sides made from fresh local ingredients. The porterhouse steak we had there was quite possibly the best we have had anywhere. Those that enjoyed wine in our group were exceptionally pleased with the wine quality and pairings. Dinner at the Water Tower Grill is a uniquely delicious thing to do in Lethbridge and the views are amazing.
High Level Bridge Sunset Selfie
Lethbridge is home to the longest and highest trestle bridge in the world. It’s something you have to get a picture of. We recommend a sunset selfie in Indian Battle Park. The bridge is 1.6 km long and 96 metres high and when it was built in 1909, it cost $1,334,525.00. to build. It is still an active CPR rail line. Several trains cross the bridge every day.
Mocha Cabana Bistro
Located in a 1930s blacksmith shop, Mocha Cabana Bistro uses locally-sourced ingredients in its casual menu. There’s a great burger menu, big salads, pastas and more. There’s also live music, cocktails, and events like paint nights. They also do catering with 24-hour notice. We ordered a specially prepared picnic lunch and it was delish!
Helen Schuler Nature Centre & Lethbridge Nature Reserve
This nature reserve and discovery centre is located a few minutes from the city’s downtown core. There are walking trails in the nature reserve and educational displays that tell the story of the river valley and coulee. Temporary exhibits focus on bats, insects and other creatures. Take a walk and see if you can spot a porcupine or a great horned owl. There are plenty in the river valley.
Dinner at Italian Table
The old Lethbridge Lodge is now the newly updated Sandman Signature Lethbridge Lodge. Its new dining venue, Italian Table is in a modern space and serves great Italian cuisine made with fresh local ingredients. Standouts on the menu when we dined there were the crispy mushroom risotto aranchini, the lasagne with meat sauce and the beef short rib ragu with polenta. The canoli we had for dessert was also delicious.
What are Your Favourite Things to Do in Lethbridge?
If you’ve have a great time exploring some of the spots on our list, we’d love to hear about it. What else belongs on the list of amazing things to do in Lethbridge? Please comment below.
Related: Waterton Lakes National Park is less than an hour’s drive from Lethbridge. Check out our article, 15 Fantastically Fun Things to do in Waterton.