A peek inside Medalta Potteries (photo: John Price/Travel Alberta)

How to Make the Most of Medicine Hat’s Sunny Ways

By Craig Moy

Nestled amongst prairie coulees along a bend in the South Saskatchewan River, Medicine Hat was long a gathering place for Indigenous peoples. Now, the resource-rich city is known for its industrial heritage, invariably sunny weather and vibrant café culture.

OUT AND ABOUT
Explore: The beehive kilns of Medalta Potteries once accounted for 75 percent of all ceramics production in Canada. Today, the sprawling complex is a living ode to industrial architecture, machinery and the ceramic arts. 713 Medalta Ave. SE

Sip: You can’t miss Station Coffee’s beautifully detailed, century-old Edwardian digs. Grab your favourite cuppa and a scratch-made pastry, then catch some rays on the patio—or head a block north for a riverside stroll. 644 2nd St. SE

See: Windmill Garden Centre is known for its expert staff and seasonal blooms. From May to October, you can also stroll through its 5,000-square-
foot butterfly house, with striking blue morphos, giant atlas moths and more. 920 1st St. SW

Sample: Inspired by a Rudyard Kipling quote (he said gas-rich Southern Alberta had “all hell for a basement”), award-winning Hell’s Basement Brewery pours over a dozen beers in its taproom. Or buy a six pack to take home. 552 18th St. SW

View of rocky, hilly landscape north of Medicine Hat with two mountain bikers looking out over river
Mountain biking in Redcliff (photo: Tourism Medicine Hat)

Q&A: HAT TRICK
Jace Anderson grew up on Vancouver Island, but he says, “I moved to Medicine Hat the minute I was old enough to make my own decisions.” A resident for more than two decades now, the executive director of Tourism Medicine Hat reveals his favourite things to see and do in the city.

What do you love most about life here?
It’s such a gentle and easygoing place, with a real sense of community. And there’s so much culture and creativity. It’s grown out of the artisanship inherent to the historic ceramics industry at Medalta, but it extends to events like our Tongue on the Post winter folk-music festival and summertime jazz fest. These things are only possible because of how passionate residents are about the arts.

MORE TO READ
Things to do in Crowsnest Pass

What about outdoor pursuits?
We’re incredibly fortunate to enjoy 330 days of sunshine annually. Because of that, our golf courses and other outdoor recreation spaces are generally open three or four weeks earlier—and close later—than elsewhere in the province. We also have 115 km of maintained trails for walking and cycling, and there are excellent mountain biking trails just north of town in Redcliff—or south in the Cypress Hills. 

Where do you go for a drink or bite to eat?
I’m a proud caffeine addict. On a good day of strolling, I’ll stop in at each of the six independent cafés downtown. Visitors can contact the tourism office and we’ll set them up on a coffee walking tour—to sample the drinks and pastries while learning about the history of the city. 

The historic downtown is quite nice, isn’t it?
The fascinating thing is that many of the old buildings were built with red bricks—which were produced in the historic clay district with earth from the river valley we live in. So it brings everything full circle. 

Asian couple holding coffees and walking past colourful brick-wall mural in downtown Medicine Hat
Strolling past one of Medicine Hat’s colourful murals (photo: Chris Ama/Travel Alberta)

SUN-DRENCHED DAYS
Take advantage of Medicine Hat’s practically year-round sunshine with these open-air activities and exploration opportunities

1 Overlooked by the 65-metre-tall Saamis Tepee, Paradise Valley Golf Course’s all-par-3 layout gives newbies a swinging chance, while helping experienced players work on their short game. 

MORE TO READ
Moving mountains: 5 of Alberta’s most scenic geological experiences

2 Landscape photographers find much to love about Red Rock Coulee Natural Area. About 50 km south of Medicine Hat, the rugged park is peppered with otherworldly sandstone boulders that are especially photogenic at sunrise and sunset.

3 It’s not just Medicine Hat’s historic downtown that’s a feast for the eyes. Dozens of colourful murals brighten walls across the city—from a growling neon tiger to a wildly graffitied tunnel connecting North and South Railway streets.