Explore Alberta: 4 Attractions to Check Out In And Around Red Deer (plus places to eat!)

Anyone who’s driven across Alberta has very likely driven through the Red Deer region. 

Red Deer is located in Central Alberta in the exact middle point 1.5 hours drive between the province’s two biggest cities Edmonton and Calgary, and is therefore a popular spot for many to grab a bite, gas or charge up on the way to your destination. 

This blog post—written in partnership with Tourism Red Deer—is meant to encourage you to consider the Red Deer region AS the destination—not just the place you pass through! 

Or at the very least, carve out an extra few hours on your road trip so you can experience one of the many awesome attractions + local businesses worth a stop in the Red Deer region. 

Note: my tourism partnership does not affect the opinions stated in this guide. I love exploring Alberta and Red Deer was no exception!

Beautiful Red Deer, Alberta!

Whether you’re a local who wants a tourist perspective on where you live (Red Deer area), or you’re from around Alberta (like Edmonton or Calgary), and are looking for ideas for a quick, fun day trip getaway—use the suggestions in this travel guide to Explore Red Deer’s Backyard! 

And keep scrollin’ to enter my Tourism Red Deer Giveaway!

4 Attractions to Check Out in The Red Deer, Alberta Region (plus a few places to eat!) 

Use and share my Guide to Experiences and Food to Check out in and around Red Deer, Alberta!

1. Bower Ponds Recreation

Located right in the heart of Red Deer is Bower Ponds, a beautiful park full of things to see and do!! Bower Ponds Recreation is a family-owned and operated business that runs activity rentals, a cafe, and other services year-round to help make your visit a memorable one. 

There are over 10 km of trails that connect attractions along the Red Deer River (including Bower Ponds). You can fish in the pond, sit and take in the pond’s two fountains, take your dog for a walk (leashed), watch for wildlife (geese, goslings, deer and muskrat are common to the area), play at the playground, and depending on the time of year, rent paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, bikes, ice skates, pull sleds and more! Bower Ponds offers year-round experiences in Red Deer.

We loved taking a paddle boat out with our baby Benjimin (baby’s first paddle boat!) boating by the fountain, under the walking bridge, and around all the trees. It’s a really cute activity. 

You can paddle real close to the fountain!
Baby lifejacket vibes lol.
Another view of Bower Ponds.
Bower Ponds Recreation offers lots of rentals!

2. Ellis Bird Farm

The Ellis Bird Farm is a beautiful place to visit in the Red Deer region, with nature trails, gardens, a cafe, a Wetland Activity Centre, petting zoo, playgrounds and lots of birdhouses + birds! 

Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, and Purple Martins are commonly sighted birds at the Ellis Bird Farm, and the education and conservation site actually oversees an extensive mountain Bluebird, Tree Swallow and Purple Martin monitoring research program.

We loved seeing all the different bird houses (you can really make a bird house out of anything, as you’ll notice when you visit the farm! lol) and also enjoyed our lunch at the Ellis Bird Farm Cafe!

The many bird houses of Ellis Bird Farm.
Baby's first bird house!
I love bird + birdhouse watching at Ellis Bird Farm!
Some birds caught on camera!

At the Ellis Bird Farm Cafe, we loved Chef Khan’s jerk chicken (on salad but is typically made as a wrap), and Chef’s Salad.

There are also other salads, plus a soup of the day option, and you can make most items gluten-free (they do come out to ask if it’s allergy/preference so they can ensure the preparation is correct!). You’ll generally find lighter fare here. And: kids menu options plus from-scratch pies to try!!

Be sure to stop into the cafe as part of your Ellis Bird Farm exploration. 

Which bird house is your favourite?
Birds near the Ellis Bird Farm Cafe.
Can't not take a photo at a cute green archway.
Love the trails at Ellis Bird Farm!
Beautiful views and trails at Ellis Bird Farm!
Fresh Chef's Salad at the Ellis Bird Farm Cafe!
Great jerk chicken salad at Ellis Bird Farm Cafe!

3. Heritage Ranch 

The Heritage Ranch in Red Deer sits on 271 acres of beautiful and wild municipal land just outside the city—surrounded by nature, trails, and the Red Deer River.

At the ranch, you can book horse and carriage rides, play ranch games, do seasonal sleigh rides, take part in city activities, and more. Pop in to see the horses in the stable or book your own trail or pony ride. During the holidays you can find 50,000 Christmas lights strewn across the ranch to create a totally magic feel for the season.

The Heritage Ranch is located in Waskasoo Park, which is also home to the Kerry Wood Nature Centre (Alberta’s first federal migratory bird sanctuary), Bower Ponds (so close!), and 110 kms of trail for walks, hikes, or bikes. And there’s a beautiful lookout (river view!) right next to the Heritage Ranch restaurant the Westlake Grill (more on that in the food section below!) 

Check out the horses at Heritage Ranch in Red Deer, Alberta!
The Heritage Ranch is home to many activities!
Just horsin' around lol.
A view of the Red Deer River from Heritage Ranch!

4. Kraay Family Farm (Corn Maze + More!)

The Red Deer region is home to the Kraay Family Farm, home to a world-famous corn maze and a ton of other ‘farmtastic fun!’

I love that the Kraay Family Farm is more than just the 15-acre corn maze. Your admission gets you access to over 40+ attractions and amenities. There’s so much to do here, especially if you’re coming with kids—plan to spend the whole day! 

From mini golf to the jumping pillows, the corn maze (of course), and zipline—plus food, drinks, picnic areas and really so much more, there’s something for everyone at the Kraay Family Farm. 

This animatronic tractor at Kraay Family Farm was so fun!
Seriously so many photo ops at Kraay Family Farm!
What a lovely day at the Kraay Family Farm!
Some lovely memories at the Kraay Family Farm!

I also love their animatronic tractor, interactive spaces, and all the Instagrammable photo op spots they’ve set up on the grounds! They’ve even got a wheel you can spin to help decide what adventure / activity you should do next. 

The Kraay Family Farm has been a staple attraction in the region for more than 20 years. We saw families, couples, people of all ages enjoying the activities during our visit—and we can’t wait to come back regularly when our baby boy is a bit bigger. 

A 15-acre corn maze.
Seasonal photo ops!
Fun for all ages!
Corn maze fun!
Fun for all ages!
A fun day to explore a 15-acre corn maze!
Having fun at the corn maze!
Getting lost in the corn maze!
Spin the wheel for activity surprises!

Bonus Activity: 

  • Play a round of Disc Golf!
    • Mike has been really into disc golf the last year and a bit so now when we travel we try to find a disc golf course to check out in whatever city / town / region we visit! Red Deer officially has two Disc Golf Courses located in two parks you can check out for free. (Bring Your Own Disc!)
Getting a round of disc golf in!

Plus: A few places to eat in Red Deer…

  • The Donut Mill
    • Even for those just driving through Red Deer’s famed Gasoline Alley, The Donut Mill is has become a must-stop. This family-owned and operated Red Deer County institution—The Donut Mill—has been operating since 1994.
    • The unique windmill-shaped building is sure to catch your eye from the highway, and their donuts will keep you coming back. Plan to pop in every month to try the feature donut of the month! Customers (like us!) also love grabbing homemade soups and stews here too. Make it a combo with a made-to-order sandwich! or get your chili in a housemade bread bowl.
    • From Maple, Honey and Chocolate Dips, to Old Fashioned Glaze, Coconut and Sugar, and more—you can’t leave here without at least one box of donuts! The Donut Mill is a must-stop for your road trip if you’re passing through or coming home—or if you’re doing a dedicated trip to explore the area like we d id. 
No stop to Red Deer area is complete without a visit to the Donut Mill!
Happy with my donuts!
A closer look at The Donut Mill donuts.
  • Solorzano Spa Cafe & Wine Bar
    • Located inside the historic McIntosh House (a 1906 heritage home), is the Solorzano Spa Cafe & Wine Bar. This is a great use of space where one section of the main floor is dedicated to spa services, while the other is a dining room overlooking the big lawn of the home, and the hallway leads you to the home’s kitchen / ordering counter. 
    • Find a variety of  drinks, housemade pastries, and some savoury breakfast and lunch , high tea, or wine on the weekends. We popped in for coffee and a Butterfly Peach Lemonade and enjoyed sitting out on the beautiful patio surrounded by the trees. 
This cafe / spa / wine bar is located in a historic home in downtown Red Deer, Alberta!
Enjoy a drink on the patio!
A fun family trip to Red Deer!
  • Westlake Grill
    • As mentioned, if you’re stopping into the Heritage Ranch or nearby trails, it is well worth a visit to the Westlake Grill. This is a really nice restaurant (“Red Deer’s finest!”) open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, as well as offering a 5-course meal option.
    • The Westlake Grill is all about using local, sustainable and organic ingredients and makes a point to source food, beers, and wines from producers in or near Alberta. 
    • We absolutely loved our lunch here! From the vintage cup charcuterie to the perfectly crispy brussel sprouts with blue cheese and bacon, the beautiful and delicious mushroom ‘scallops’, their popular housemade chips (using nearby Village of Alix, Alberta potatoes), and the special burger of the day (bison!), everything from the flavour to the presentation to the service and overall experience here was really nice. Definitely my favourite meal of this Red Deer trip, with a view looking out onto the treed property.
Inside the Westlake Grill at Heritage Ranch, Red Deer, Alberta.
Loved this charcuterie in a vintage cup!
A great bison burger at Westlake Grill (Heritage Ranch!)
Alix, Alberta housemade chips!
Loved these mushroom "scallops!"
Great brussel sprouts at Westlake Grill!
Inside the Westlake Grill at Heritage Ranch, Red Deer, Alberta.

While we only checked out a few spots for food this time around (Sept 2023 visit), there obviously is so much more eateries to experience in the Red Deer region!

Check out my Feb 2023 travel guide with even MORE food suggestions for Where to Eat in Red Deer, Alberta!

Check out Tourism Red Deer’s food recommendations 

Enter my Tourism Red Deer Giveaway!

To encourage you to Explore Red Deer’s Backyard, I’m giving away a Tourism Red Deer Prize!! 

The Prize Pack ($250 value) includes:

To enter for a chance to win this Tourism Red Deer Prize:

  1. Mandatory entry: Leave a comment below on this blog post telling me what of the things I mentioned in this post, you’d most like to check out on your next visit to Red Deer.
    • Note: This is a mandatory entry. You must leave a blog post comment to qualify for the prize! 
  2. Bonus entries: You can also get additional entries on social media!
    1. Bonus entry on Instagram (check my Instagram for details)
    2. Bonus entry on Facebook (check my Facebook for details)
      1. Note: I will double check that the blog comment entry has been completed before selecting the winner.

Please note: comments are moderated, so if you don’t see your comment appear right away—that’s okay! I will select a winner from all entries received by Oct. 8, 2023. The winner will be contacted via the email included with your blog post comment/entry.

Please be wary of potential scammers. I will never ask for your credit card information or ask you to fill out any forms with personal information. I will email connect the winner with Tourism Red Deer to coordinate your gift cards!

Good luck!! 

And have fun Exploring Red Deer’s Backyard!

I hope my recommendations in this and previous travel guides help you plan your visit! 

Note: my Sept 2023 visit to Red Deer was sponsored. Experiences were hosted by Tourism Red Deer and their members This does not impact opinions or views stated in this post—I love exploring Alberta, including experiences in Central Alberta!

Use and share my Guide to Experiences and Food to Check out in and around Red Deer, Alberta!


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  • Davita says:

    I love the Bower Ponds to Heritage Ranch trail, especially in fall! But I have yet to visit Ellis Bird Farm despite living in Red Deer, so that’s something I would love to check out!

  • Brandon Plaizier says:

    We are big fans of hikes, walks, exploring and have not really done that in the Red Deer area so all of your suggestions sound like a blast. Ellis Bird Farm and the trails around it looked particularly awesome. Kraay family farm seems a lot like Prairie Gardens up this way, which is a lot of fun, so I would like to hit that up to.

    * We love Donut Mill and stop there multiple times a year as we travel through. :-)

  • I’d love to check out the Ellis bird farm

  • Judy says:

    I think we’d love to visit Kraay Family Farm the most, because we have young kids. And Donut Mill is always a staple on our trips south!

  • David Patterson says:

    The Donut Mill is something new to try. Being an EV driver a top up in Red Deer usually takes 30 minutes so ther is time to explore and eat.

  • Chloe says:

    I would love to try Bower Ponds and the Ellis Bird Sanctuary. We (my kids and I) often meet up with my girlfriends and their kiddos from Calgary in Red Deer so we are always looking for fun things to keep them entertained and us well fed! Thanks for your inspo!

  • Kerri Bailey says:

    Great ideas. Definitely going to check out the corn maze!

  • Stefanie says:

    A dear friend recently moved to Red Deer and I would love to visit her there more often! This blog has given me many ideas but the Solorzano Spa Cafe & Wine Bar certainly caught my eye, would love to check it out with her :)

  • Corrina M says:

    I’ve never heard of the Ellis bird farm; would love to go spotting birds there! And stop at the donut mill!

  • Pam Gulbrandsen says:

    Now that my parents live out that way I’ll need to check out all these places! Especially the bird farm with my bird obsessed mom…she would go nuts!

  • Karmen says:

    Would love to check out the bird from. Didn’t even know it was there! Thanks for this list.

  • So many fun things to do in Red Deer! I’ve never been to Solarzano, definitely on my list.

  • Amber Leroux says:

    Kraay family farm to spin the wheel and live my insta life and pose with pumpkins. I joke!! Red Deer keeps surprising me with so many gems

  • Carla says:

    Have to be in Red Deer Oct 13-15. Going to check out Heritage Park plus I want to grab a pic at the “grateful” instagramable wall! Have had that photo opon my Red Deer list since you posted it!

  • Lindsey Zunti says:

    Your blog is so helpful to find the hidden gems! I’d never heard of Heritage Ranch, and now I need to go there during the holidays! And I wouldn’t dream of going near Red Deer without grabbing a lemon donut from Donut Mill ;) also, spa and delicious food and drinks? Sign me up!

  • Christina says:

    I have to admit I’ve never been to The Donut Mill, shocking I know. That is on the bucket list, plus a visit to Ellis bird farm!

  • Vincent Ho says:

    The Kraay Family Farm looks like such a blast for our 2 kiddos!!! Never realized Red Deer had so much fun!!!!

  • Jasmine Seivright says:

    We’re guilty of only making pit stops in Red Deer! We will have to give the Kraay Family Farm a try and stop in at the Donut Mill on our next trip.

  • Alanna W says:

    I would love to take my kids to Heritage Ranch and Kraay Family Farm.

  • Nicki D'Angelo says:

    I’ve been to Red Deer before, but never checked out Ellis Bird Farm. I’ll definitely have to visit the next time we’re in town!

  • Liesel says:

    I’d love to check out westlake grill for dinner and rent e-bikes from
    Sports hall of fame for a fun day.

  • Jennifer Wilson says:

    I think that the Kray Family Farm would make a great daytrip from Edmonton. So much for the family to do!

  • Stuart says:

    That Ellis bird farm looks so awesome, Can’t wait to take my 2 girls there soon hopefully

  • Shannon McKinney says:

    Ellis bird farm looks very cool!

  • Mary Lou says:

    I have always driven by The Donut Mill but never stopped in. Now I want to try it out!

  • Lindsay says:

    I’ve heard about the Kray Family farm and I would love to check it out.

  • Julie Arnold says:

    My husband & I always stop at Donut Mill on road trips. I have always wanted to try Westlake Grill and would love to check out Ellis Bird Farm and all the walking trails. Thanks for sharing!

  • Matthew Jones says:

    I really want to take my family to the Kraay Family Farm!! The kids would love it!!

  • Marlo says:

    I had not heard of the Ellis Bird Farm before but that sounds really interesting. Are they open year round?

  • Thania says:

    A stop at the Donut Mill is a must every time I drive by Red Deer!

  • Melinda Thompson says:

    Used to live and work in Red Deer and miss so many things about the city. Love your blog post of all our fave spots – Bower Ponds, Heritage Ranch, Donut Mill…maybe it’s time to come back for a visit!!

  • Lianne McInnis says:

    I’d check out the Ellis bird farm…thanks

  • Melanie says:

    I’d love to go to the Donut Mill! I always drive by but haven’t had the chance to stop. This would be the perfect opportunity!

  • Katelyn Doan says:

    The Donut Mill and Pete’s Drive Through in Gasoline Alley! They are my favorite place to visit.

  • Carla says:

    I have never actually been to a corn maze; maybe I can make it to the Kraay one before it’s done!

  • Sam says:

    Would love to visit Ellis Bird Farm. How neat!

  • Dianne says:

    Great ideas in RD. One of my good friends lives there, need to go for a visit and explore a little bit. Thanks for the tips!

  • Amanda says:

    Ellis bird farm would be fun!

  • Daina Mogg says:

    We love stopping at the donut mill but would love to check out Kraay Family Farm next time we go to red deer!

  • Christine says:

    We moved to Red Deer two months ago, and the bird farm and Kraay would both be a hit for my young kids! It’s a beautiful area.

  • Stephan says:

    I want to check out Heritage Ranch. That’s a place I had never heard about.

  • Rolin Sandy says:

    Wow they all look like fun would love to visit the bird farm and then heritage ranch and finish it off with the donut mill. Would be a great getaway that’s close since we stayed home all summer :(

  • Lise says:

    My family would love to visit the Kraay Family Farm with all the fun activities.

  • Denise M says:

    I definitely want to check out the Donut Mill and the Frisbee Golf!!

  • Joyce says:

    Our kids would love the Ellis Bird Farm!

  • Esther says:

    We have visited the Home Shows at the Stampede Grounds, but really need to come back again to visit the four attractions and more that Red Deer has to offer. There is so much to see!!

  • Jenny Le says:

    I would love to check out the Ellis Bird Farm!

  • Brittany Humbke says:

    My family and I would love to go to Kraay Family Farm for a day. There’s so much to do!

  • pearl biggar says:

    Bower Ponds sounds like a fun day as well as the bird sanctuary!

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