We had three days. Even though that isn’t much time, my husband and I managed to find a ton of fun things to do in Medicine Hat. There are many unique attractions, restaurants, breweries and activities to enjoy in this little oasis on the prairies. Some are popular attractions and others are real hidden gems. With an average of 330 days of sunshine per year, Medicine Hat is purported to be the sunniest city in Canada. Next time, we’re going to stay longer.
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Table of Contents
Golf & Stay Packages
Medicine Hat is one of the sunniest cities in Canada and it’s home to Alberta’s longest golf season. There are eight courses in the area – from beginner to professional level. Golf and Stay packages at local hotels are one of the best travel deals in the city. On our recent visit, it cost $50 to add 2 rounds of golf with a cart to our hotel booking. We golfed at Desert Blume Golf Course and found it both beautiful and challenging. Spread out through the coulees south of the city, the course is a hybrid between a links course and a desert course. Desert Blume has nice elevation changes with great views, four sets of tee boxes, just enough water hazards and a beautiful clubhouse. The course was in great condition and we were impressed. We’d love to go back and experience some of the other local courses.
Flightseeing – Our Search for the Badlands Guardian
Have you heard of the Badlands Guardian? It’s a geomorphological feature that resembles a human head wearing an Indigenous headdress. It can only be seen from the air. It was discovered in 2005 by Lynn Hickox on Google Earth and it’s not far from Medicine Hat. While we were in the area, we went looking for the guardian. Super T Aviation offers flightseeing trips over the city and the surrounding area. Our pilot Shawn Yuan was also an experienced flight instructor and the ride was incredibly smooth. We headed out to Rattlesnake Lake and followed the South Saskatchewan River out to the general area where the Badlands Guardian is located. Check out our pictures. We think we saw him. One thing we know for sure – a flightseeing trip is one of the most exciting things to do in Medicine Hat.
The world’s largest tepee is pretty hard to miss. You can see it from the road as you drive through town, but you really should stop to have a look inside. On our recent visit, we stopped at the Saamis Tepee on three separate occasions trying to capture the perfect photograph. I walked inside the tepee and looked at the beautiful paintings and read about the history of Indigenous people in this area of Alberta. Here’s one thing I discovered – Medicine Hat got its name from the Indigenous word “Saamis,” which loosely translates to “medicine man’s hat.” There are several Saamis legends and you can read about one of them on an information panel inside the structure. Visiting the Saamis Tepee site is one of the things you just have to do when you’re in Medicine Hat.
Medalta in the Historic Clay District
In its early years, Medicine Hat was an industrial power house. The city was home to many manufacturing companies. Power was cheap thanks to a large natural gas field and the city become known as Gas City. Industries came and went, but the manufacture of clay products remained one of the most important industries in the city. Many homes in Canada had clay items, bricks, tiles and china products that were manufactured in Medicine Hat. Today Medalta is a National Historic Site that has been converted into an industrial heritage museum. It’s a fascinating place to tour and learn about the history of this industry. You can take pottery classes and enjoy other hands-on experiences at Medalta. The artist in residence program attracts pottery and clay artists from around the world.
Paint of Interest
Pottery and ceramics are kind of a big deal in Medicine Hat. There are a lot of local artists and a vast history associated with the clay art industry. While we were in town, we decided create a little art of our own. Paint of Interest is a walk-in art studio for all ages and abilities. You paint your own ceramics and they supply everything you need. Prices start at about $15. There are hundreds of possible projects, paints, glazes and stencils and it’s really fun!
More Canadian Badlands Fun: Read our post, 14 Fun Things to do in Drumheller.
Historic Downtown Walking Tour
The downtown area of Medicine Hat is known for its beautiful historic architecture. Many of the historic buildings have been restored and now house funky shops and cute cafes. We enjoyed walking around the downtown area and looking at the historic architecture. You can find out more about the history of the buildings and take the full historic walking tour by following along in the Experience Medicine Hat Visitor Guide. You can pick up a hard copy of the visitor guide at the Medicine Hat Visitor Centre.
Medicine Hat Murals
Medicine Hat has a great public art collection including a large number of James Marshall Murals and plenty of fun Instagrammable walls. James Marshall was known for his brick relief murals. He created them all over Canada, but Medicine Hat was his home town. There are a large number of James Marshall murals in Medicine Hat. You’ll also want to check out the painted murals (Instagrammable walls) in town. We just wandered around and saw how many we could find on our own. If you want to find all of them, there’s a complete list of all the murals in the visitor guide.
Cycle the City – Free Bike Rentals
There are 115 kilometres of trails inside Medicine Hat and cycling is a great way to explore them. Medicine Hat has free-to-borrow bikes at the visitor centre, Police Point Park Interpretive Centre and Gravity Sports. The bikes are first come, first serve and you must sign a waiver and wear a helmet while using them. If you don’t have your own helmet, there are free-to-borrow helmets too. We used the bikes to explore Police Point Park. They’re really nice bikes and it was very easy to borrow one. There are also some great mountain biking trails in town. You can get a trail map at the Visitor Centre.
Police Point Park
If you’re going to visit one city park, make it this one. The Nature Centre at Police Point Park is open year round and regular programming is offered. You can rent free-to-borrow bikes, go on discovery tours, learn about the history and wildlife in the area or purchase nature items in the gift shop. There are wonderful trails in the park and it’s a great place to go for a walk or a bike ride along the South Saskatchewan River. Giant cottonwood trees are a real highlight of the park and some are estimated to be up to 300 years old. The park gets its name from the fact that it is located on the site of a former Northwest Mounted Police outpost. Look for birds, beavers, porcupines and weed-eating goats in the park.
Explore Local Indigenous History
The Miywasin Story Tour is a new Indigenous tour that was offered before the pandemic. The tour allowed guests to explore the Indigenous history of the region with Indigenous guides. Unfortunately, the tour wasn’t running during our visit, but we were able to explore some of the key sites. Three key stops include the Saamis Tepee, the Saamis Archaeological Site below the tepee and Saratoga Park. Saratoga Park sits at the site of an original Métis community in Medicine Hat. I can’t wait to go back and do the tour with an Indigenous guide. If you really want to experience Indigenous culture, consider attending The Hills are Alive Music & Dance Cultural Festival. It’s a four-day event typically offered in the spring.
Echo Dale Regional Park
Echo Dale Regional Park is the largest park in the Medicine Hat region. It’s located along the South Saskatchewan River west of the city near the town of Redcliff. The park has two man-made lakes. One of the lakes has a beach and is ideal for swimming. The other lake is stocked and is great for fishing and boating. You’ll find playgrounds, beach volleyball, picnic areas with fire pits and many kilometres of trails to explore. A boat launch provides easy access for those who want to canoe or float on the South Saskatchewan River. The Gas City Campground is located near the park. The Echo Dale Historical Farm is located on the west side of the park. The farm includes a blacksmith shop and other attractions.
Unique Local Dining
There are more than 80 restaurants in Medicine Hat and a number of great food trucks serving a variety of different types of cuisine. We spent time exploring the independent eateries that are locally unique. We loved Skinny’s Smokehouse, a great BBQ place on the west end of town. If you enjoy southern barbecue, you’ll love this place. The smoked biscuit was amazing. For a diner-style breakfast or lunch, try Lela’s Place the Chocolate Shop. The food is just like your grandma made – if she was a really, really good cook. We loved the burger and the Monte Cristo sandwich we ordered. The cinnamon bun was also amazing. Another fantastic lunch stop is the Inspire Cafe. Located in a historic building, the cafe is also connected to an art gallery. You can enjoy delicious sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts (the chocolate cake was great) while you look at the work of local artists. We also enjoyed a late night bite at a great place called Local Public Eatery. We shared some nachos and split an Asian noodle salad. The restaurant has good local food, great atmosphere and an extensive beverage menu.
There’s a long history of brewing in the city. Medicine Hat Brew Co. began operating in 1912 – more than a century ago. Brew pubs are a big deal everywhere, but especially in Medicine Hat. The Hat is home to three award-winning microbreweries, a distillery and a Kombucha brewery. You’ll also find a great selection of local coffee shops. Some of the top shops include Station Coffee Company, Cafe Verve and Madhatter Coffee Roastery. Inspire cafe also has good French Press coffee, specialty teas and a locally roasted house blend.
Catch a Flick at the Monarch Theatre
Opened in 1911, the Monarch Theatre is one of the oldest movie theatres in Alberta. It’s super retro, even though the theatre has been restored and updated to a fully digital projection system. They show movies on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and prices are reasonable.
Ride the Sunshine Trolley
Get around the city in style! Riding the Medicine Hat Sunshine Trolley is one of the best things to do in summer. The trolley operates from June through September. It’s a hop-on hop-off bus service that allows access to the top attractions in the city for one low fee.
See a Pronghorn
The pronghorn is one of the most fascinating animals in Canada. Keep your eyes open when you’re driving to Medicine Hat and in the area around the city. We saw about 40 pronghorns in the fields and prairies surrounding the city on our recent visit. They camouflage well with the fields and grasslands, but we almost always see them in this part of Alberta. The pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in North America and the second fastest in the world. The only land mammal faster is the cheetah. That said, pronghorns can maintain high speeds over longer distances and cheetahs cannot.
Did you know? The pronghorn is not an antelope. It belongs to a family all its own.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is 158 km northwest of Medicine Hat. It’s the largest area of badlands in Canada and the scenery is spectacular. You can wander among the hoodoos, coulees, badlands and buttes on a variety of trails. This spot is one of the richest fossil sites in the world. Some of the most important fossil discoveries from the ‘Age of Reptiles’ happened here. Many fossils are still buried and you can take a tour into the area where scientists are still excavating. Some tours allow you to work alongside scientists in a real dinosaur excavation.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
About 75 kilometres southeast of Medicine Hat, the Cypress Hills rise up from the surrounding prairie. The Cypress Hills are the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador and this creates a unique array of ecosystems. There is a vast variety of plants, animals and birds in this park along with a wide array of recreational opportunities year-round. In summer, boating, canoeing, swimming and biking are popular activities. Winter visitors enjoy snowshoeing, skating, skiing and other activities. The park is a dark sky preserve and hosts an annual star party.
Where We Stayed
There are many great accommodation options in Medicine Hat. We booked a golf and stay package at the Home Inn Express Medicine Hat. The package was a fantastic deal, the hotel was clean and comfortable and breakfast was included. Several other hotels offer similar packages.
This post was produced by us and sponsored by Tourism Medicine Hat.