Life

Recap: Our Trip to Medicine Hat (and Things You Can Do in ‘The Hat!’)

This weekend Mike and I took a five-hour road trip down to Medicine Hat in Southern Alberta to visit our good friends Jack and Nicole. They’ve been up to visit us in Edmonton many times over the years and so our visit down to The Hat (as the locals call it ;)) was long overdue. 

Welcome to Medicine Hat

I was excited to visit the city (both Mike and I had never been before) and Jack and Nicole were awesome tour guides. We were only there for the weekend (arrived Saturday, drove home Sunday) but I think we packed in quite a bit in our short time. 

Below are the highlights of what we saw & ate and some suggestions on what you should do if you ever visit Medicine Hat. I recommend it! It’s a really nice, small city that’s sunny most days of the year (its new slogan is “A Sunshine State of Mind!”) Jack & Nicole kept joking that there are lots of homes for sale if Mike and I ever wanted to move to Southern Alberta and become “Hatters!” 

Things To Do In Medicine Hat

The Canadian Pacific Railway has a big presence in Medicine Hat!
The Canadian Pacific Railway has a big presence in Medicine Hat!

  • Walk through Downtown Medicine Hat and visit the Riverside Veterans Memorial Park

Downtown Medicine Hat is a great place to explore. There’s some nice restaurants and coffee shops and it gives off a nice small town feel. You have to stop at the Riverside Memorial Veterans Park across from City Hall and check out the Cenotaph, donated Canadian Pacific Railway train and World War II tank. The CPR arrived in Medicine Hat in 1883 and that’s when the city (then-town) was born!

Medicine Hat art
90s band album cover art in front of Medicine Hat mural!
  • Check out all the public art 

There’s a lot of cool murals in Medicine Hat! You don’t have to try very hard to stumble upon some kind of artwork in the city’s public spaces. A lot of the buildings have art on its walls and I think some of the signs on the buildings count as art too – kind of old school and retro. 

The Ewart Duggan House
The Oldest Brick House in Alberta is right in Medicine Hat!

  • Visit Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre and The Oldest Brick House in Alberta

Did you know The Oldest Brick House in Alberta is located in Medicine Hat? The Ewart Duggan House was built in 1887 and is a “testament to the durability of brick.” It’s now owned by the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre and artists in residences live in the house! Stop by and see it and head into Esplanade to see the latest art exhibit, a history of Medicine Hat, a war exhibit, catch a show at their theatre and see other neat programming. When we were there, Medicine Hat College was doing a demo on 3D printers and other technology so we got to play with a cool banana piano and get 3D photo print-outs of ourselves!

Historic Clay District
Learn all about Medicine Hat’s clay industry at Medalta!
  • Head to the Medicine Hat Historic Clay District – Medalta

Nicole actually works at the Medalta Historic Clay District in Medicine Hat so we got a great tour and learned all about Medicine Hat’s clay industry. It’s a Canadian National Historic Site featuring clay factories and beehive kilns. It’s a very cool museum and art studio and a must-visit. I joked with Jack before we came that I would be looking for a Medicine Hat magnet. I didn’t find one but instead came home with a Historic Clay District Medalta pottery mug. I figured if anything is uniquely Medicine Hat – this would be it! 

World's largest teepee
Saamis Teepee – the World’s Largest

  • Stand below the World’s Largest Teepee

Well, I’m told the Saamis Teepee used to be the World’s Largest Teepee until China built a bigger one. (I feel like China just looks to see what holds the World’s Biggest titles and then builds to one-up them – ie. this teepee, West Edmonton Mall, etc. lol) Still, this teepee is gigantic and fun to look at. I’m told there are events and gatherings here throughout the year. It’s right next to the Tourism Centre and you can access the river valley/dog park at the site of the Saamis Teepee!  

Silver Buckle
$4.99 Steak Sandwich from the Silver Buckle

  • Dine at Medicine Hat restaurants – try the $4.99 steak sandwich, go to Lela’s Place The Chocolate Shop diner, and Sabai Thai

If I could have two lunches and two dinners each day, I’d be in heaven. I wanted to squeeze in more restaurants during this trip but there just wasn’t enough time! What we did try, we loved! Jack and Nicole took us to try the $4.99 steak sandwich special (runs all day) at the Silver Buckle pub/restaurant. It was a very good steak sandwich – even better because of how affordable it was! We went to Lela’s Place The Chocolate Shop for breakfast and had the sassiest waitress serve us. You gotta go for this! She was a no-nonsense, right to the point, funny lady who was also working the entire diner by herself. We also tried Sabai Thai, Jack’s favourite Thai restaurant. I’ll be doing separate review blog posts for those so I won’t go into as much detail here but you should hit up all of these when you come! I also saw a Japanese restaurant that I want to try and there’s a couple of Vietnamese spots I’d love to check out when we come back.

Monarch Theatre Medicine Hat
The oldest running theatre in Canada!

  • Catch a flick at the Monarch Theatre, the oldest running theatre in Canada

Although we didn’t have time to see a movie at the Monarch, we did drive by at night and saw a jolly man dressed in a top hat and suit, standing outside the Monarch greeting people into the theatre. Jack & Nicole said the man was the owner of the Monarch – the oldest running theatre in Canada! He apparently does the period piece dress-up greeting regularly, and talks old fashioned / in character too. How neat and what a novelty! I would definitely go see a movie at the Monarch when we come back! 

Medicine Hat real estate
There are some gorgeous homes in Medicine Hat!

  • Take the scenic route

Maybe it’s because Jack & Nicole were joking about convincing Mike and I to move down to The Hat and this may not be as appealing for other visitors but I actually really enjoyed driving around looking at all of the different houses and neighbourhoods in Medicine Hat! There are a number of incredible homes that sit just across the street from more modest dwellings. There’s gorgeous houses on “The Hill” and then houses that are abandoned in the low-lying areas that are more prone to flooding from the river swelling. I thought it was really interesting (an interesting contrast too) and is definitely a nice way to quickly take in different areas of the city.

So those are some of the things I would recommend you do while you’re in Medicine Hat! We are super grateful to Jack & Nicole for all their hospitality and showing us some of the best of The Hat. If we had stayed longer and/or visited during the summer. I know we would uncover more than those top touristy things that make The Hat even better but for our whirlwind trip, I’m glad we got to see some of those main attractions. 

Here are a few other photos from our trip! 

  • More photos from Esplanade:
3D printer, Medicine Hat College
They promoted this as “come get a 3D selfie!”

    Esplanade Hertiage Arts Centre
    The Smells of War (trenches, mustard gas, corpses) at Esplanade!

    • More photos from Medalta
    Medalta kiln
    Inside the Medalta kiln!
    Medalta clay
    An original Medalta clay factory sign! Different types of clay, weighted in relation to wheel barrows lol

    Medalta art studio
    Cool backdrop at the Medalta Art Studio
    • More photos from town

    Medicine Hat Motel
    There are some really old school, cool signs in The Hat!
    Medicine Hat
    Medicine Hat: The only hat of its kind on Earth

    • Olive and Kesha getting acquainted 
    New friends: The Bulldog & The Beagle

    Thanks for the fun weekend in Medicine Hat Jack & Nicole!

    So, have you been to Medicine Hat? 

    What would you recommend visitors do? See? Eat? 

    Linda


    Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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