Famous for its wind, sunshine, coulees, bridge and post-secondary education institutions, Lethbridge is a great prairie city to visit. It makes a good day trip from Calgary or weekend trip if you’re coming from further away. (We have two locations in Lethbridge and more in the surrounding communities, so we might be a little biased – we love it down here!)
Explore the River Valley Parks
The Oldman River winds through the coulees, dividing Lethbridge into two parts. The river valley is beautiful and perfect for walking or biking. Most of the valley in and around Lethbridge has been made into parks, including:
- Pavan Park – The northernmost park featuring picnic areas, volleyball court, playground and walking/biking trails. You can explore the coulees, trees and river here.
- Alexander Wilderness Park – If you’re into birding or going for a nature walk, this is the park for you. No bikes or dogs are allowed but there are walking trails, picnic areas and lots of wildlife.
- Peenaquim Park – Take your dog to the off-leash dog park or stroll the walking paths in this park.
- Elizabeth Hall Wetlands – The most northern of the parks on the west side of the river, this park features interpretive walking paths and lots of wildlife. There are also excellent views of the High Level Bridge.
- Indian Battle Park – This park features a variety of trails, picnic areas, and a playground. It’s located right next to Fort Whoop Up, another place to stop if you’re visiting Lethbridge.
- Bull Trail Park – Divided into north and south sections by the highway, Bull Trail Park was the site of a battle between the Cree and the Blackfoot. Today, it has excellent hiking and biking trails as well as beautiful trees and prairie landscapes.
- Botterill Bottom Park – Head to this park if you want to check out a mountain bike park or are interested in walking, cycling or fishing. There’s a playground and off-leash dog area nearby.
- Henderson Lake – A beautiful lake with paths, picnic areas and a community pool.
Visit Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden
This beautiful Japanese Garden is worth a stop! The garden is beautifully manicured with water features and architecture. In the winter, they dress the garden with lights and offer hot drinks for your stroll!
The gardens also have a café, gift store and often feature art and special events.
Nikka Yuko is usually open Thursday through Monday, but be sure to check the hours before you go as they vary seasonally. Admission is $12.50 for adults and $9 for students and children (if they’re five or under, It’s free).
Learn the History of the Area
Lethbridge is home to the Blackfoot Confederacy, including the Kainai, Piikani, Siksika and the Amskapi Pikuni. Settlers arrived in the latter half of the nineteenth century, driven by whiskey trade and mining. The railway arrived soon after as did farmers. You can learn more about the history of the area by visiting:
- Fort Whoop Up – Visit the replica fur trading fort to learn more about what happened in the area between 1860 to 1890, including illegal whiskey trading. Open every Wednesday to Sunday from June to September, this is a great stop for kids and those with an interest in local history. It costs $15 for adults and $10 for children over the age of six.
- Galt Museum – Housed in an old hospital building, the Galt Museum offers rotating exhibits centered around local history.
- Southern Alberta Art Gallery – Open Wednesday to Saturday, visit the art gallery for a look into contemporary art. $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Float or Paddle the River
In the warmer months, you can kayak or float down the Old Man River. There are three approved launch points: Popson Park, Indian Battle Park and the Highway 3 Bridge launch area. Pavan Park is the recommended pull out spot.
Note: If you launch at Popson, you must portage the weir section – watch for signs.
Alternatively, head to Henderson Lake to paddle or float in if the conditions aren’t ideal in the river.
Don’t forget your life jacket, sunscreen, and water! Always tell someone where you’re going and check the weather and river conditions before you head out.
Check Out the Sites Nearby
There are some amazing UNESCO sites nearby:
- Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump – Learn about the Indigenous people of the area, particularly the buffalo hunt and why this animal was so important. Just a 45-minute drive from Lethbridge.
- Waterton Lakes National Park – An incredible national park that’s a little off the beaten path for tourists. An hour and twenty-minute drive brings you to the mountains with tons of outdoor activities.
- Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park – Just an hour and a half drive away, explore the incredible badlands landscape with rock art.
- Castle Mountain Ski Resort – If you’re visiting Lethbridge in the winter, Castle Mountain is a must-visit for any skiers and snowboarders! Just an hour and a half from the city, day lift tickets range from $40 to $120 – discounts available if you purchase ahead!
Of course, this is only a short list of what can be enjoyed in Lethbridge and the surrounding area. There are tons of seasonal local events, great restaurants and outdoor activities to experience. What’s your favourite thing to do in Lethbridge?