Red Deer's Discovery Canyon Park (photo: AV Wakefield/Travel Alberta)

The Inside Scoop on Spending a Weekend in Red Deer

By Chelsea McKenzie

Bike trails, water activities, great restaurants… There are plenty of reasons to visit Red Deer.

Vicki Raines is the manager of Member and Travel Services at AMA’s Southpointe Centre in the central Alberta municipality. She used to be an active member of the Red Deer Board of Tourism. Here, she gives us the Insider’s scoop on her city.

“Our beautiful city boasts more than 100 kilometres of bike trails and connects to more than 3,000 kilometres of trails within the central region,” Vicki says. “Besides being a great activity on their own, the trails connect to some of the most wonderful attractions for guests and locals.”

If you want to get wet and have fun in the summer, check out this seasonal, outdoor waterpark. It features a man-made river (filled with water from the natural river it overlooks) that flows down a series of turns and swoops into a pool at the bottom. You can bring your own inner tube or rent one for a small fee. “There’s a beautiful sandy beach and plenty of picnic tables, too,” Vicki says. “It’s super family-friendly, great for small kids and has lots of free parking. It’s such a great place to visit on a hot day.”

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Just off the QE2, you’ll find this unique restaurant. “It’s the full diner experience, but in an old rail car,” Vicki says. The staff always go the extra mile to make your visit memorable. And speaking of memorable? “Try the Hangover Poutine,” Vicki says. “Fries, gravy and cheese, topped with two eggs!”

For outdoor fun, no matter the season, Bower Ponds is the place to be. With skate rentals in the winter and paddleboats in the summer, it’s a recreation destination for all ages. “In the summer there are plenty of concession treats, too. And plenty of great picnic spots,” Vicki says. “And every Sunday during the summer, local talent put on free outdoor shows on the mainstage.”

weekend in red deer heritage ranch
Heritage Ranch (photo: Kristina Cajipe)

In the trails network, you’ll find this rustic ranch with a fun western-feel. They offer trail rides, stables, romantic horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice wine-tasting workshops, Easter egg hunts and even a wild boar hunt! “In the summer, you can star in your very own episode of Mantracker,” Vicki says. “You challenge the ranch manager, Joel, to track you through the many acres of trees, trails and ponds.”

Alberta car shows, races and more motoring fun in the summer

If you’re looking for fine dining, you’ll find it here. Located in Heritage Ranch, Westlake Grill’s head chef uses local ingredients to create spectacular five-course meals with perfect wine pairings. “In the summer there’s a lovely patio option, too,” Vicki says. “The brunch is especially wonderful.” Plus, you never know what might happen while you’re there… It’s where Vicki met her spouse!

Cervezas and tacos may not come to mind when you think of Red Deer, but, according to Vicki, they should. “The salsa is so good, I always order extra to go,” she says. “I’m convinced no one else could make it that delicious!” Also famous for their authentic margaritas, Las Palmeras is a reasonably priced gem that shouldn’t be missed.

AMA Travel agents can help you plan the perfect vacation. Contact one of our agents by making an online appointment, calling us at 1-844-771-1522, or visiting your local AMA centre.